With these favorite indie eBooks of 2021 (so far) we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the year! These popular titles were a hit with readers and it’s obvious why thanks to dynamic, engaging, and unputdownable storytelling. There’s a lot to love from this roster of 20 favorite indie books of 2021 — add them to your summer reading list or if you’re looking for something to start reading today, shop the list to find trending titles that everyone’s talking about and books that we think you absolutely must read.
River, Sing Out by James Wade
Escaping abuse and poverty, young Jonah Hargrove joins the mysterious River—a teenage girl carrying thousands of dollars in stolen drugs. Together, they embark on a southern gothic odyssey through the East Texas river bottoms, while pursued by local drug kingpin John Curtis and his murderous enforcer, Dakota Cade. Meanwhile, keeping tabs on everyone is the Thin Man, a silent assassin who values consequence over mercy. Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in savage fashion as their final paths collide and all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.
What People Are Saying: “I enjoyed the loops of plot lines all centering back to Jonah and his life… I rarely comment on covers but this one stands out. The grace of the scene depicted is a direct contrast to the awkward intensity of the characters’ lives. Perfect juxtaposition.” – Jennie Reads, B&N Reviewer
The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
The six D’Aplièse sisters have each been on their own incredible journey to discover their heritage, but they still have one question left unanswered: who and where is the seventh sister? They only have one clue – an image of a star-shaped emerald ring. The search to find the missing sister will take them across the globe; from New Zealand to Canada, England, France and Ireland, uniting them all in their mission to at last complete their family. In doing so, they will slowly unearth a story of love, strength and sacrifice that began almost one hundred years ago, as other brave young women risk everything to change the world around them.
What People Are Saying: “[This] is book seven and the latest installment in the Seven Sisters Series… in a story that spans many years. A full length story that gave me all the feels. A great read, 4,5 beautiful stars.” – KDRBCK, B&N Reviewer
The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden
Jade Kelly can now add cancer survivor to her list of successes. But while her life looks good on paper, Jade realizes she hardly knows her family anymore. Determined to start over, Jade schedules a family vacation to a lakefront cabin. Then her kids bail. And her husband stays home for work. So, Jade heads to Chammont Point alone, determined to dust herself off and figure out what to do with the rest of her life. While she’s away, the life she thought she had unravels. Secrets, lies, and old wounds drive Jade into new adventures and new relationships. With the help of family and new found friends, Jade learns starting over sometimes means finding a brand new restarting point.
What People Are Saying: “I was hooked from the very outset of this story. I needed to know what happened with Jade and her new friends. I’m very interested to see how things continue to unfold as the series continues! I’d highly recommend picking this one up!” – Heather F., B&N Reviewer
Cormorant Lake by Faith Merino
On a cold November night, Evelyn Van Pelt steals her roommate’s two underfed and neglected little girls from their beds and drives to the northwestern hometown she fled fourteen years earlier—Cormorant Lake. There, hidden in the mountains and woods, Evelyn grapples with the guilt of what she’s done. And, as she attempts to reconcile her wild independence with the responsibilities of parenthood, she reconnects with the two women who raised her—her foster mother, Nan, and her biological mother, Jubilee. But by coming home, she has set in motion a series of events that will revive a decades-old tragedy and lead her to confront the high cost of protecting her secret.
What People Are Saying: “This will be one of the best books I read all year… Merino’s writing blew me away. It’s sparse but full of imagery and I could see everyone and every scene and feel the pain, betrayal, loneliness, and awkwardness to my core. As well as the love and connections and tenderness and interests too. This is a story of women, of daughters, of what connects us and binds us and what doesn’t. You need to read Cormorant Lake.” – JMartin8, B&N Reviewer
Hepburn’s Necklace by Jan Moran
When costume designer Ariana Ricci leaves her groom at the altar, she takes solace at the Palm Springs home of her great-aunt Ruby Raines. Ruby is a Hollywood legend who began her career as an extra in the film<em> Roman Holiday.</em> While opening old letters postmarked from Italy, Ariana discovers relics from her great-aunt’s past, including an intriguing necklace supposedly from Audrey Hepburn herself! Aching for a fresh start and the chance to resolve an unfinished story, the two embark on a journey to the sunny shores of Lake Como, Italy that will illuminate the secrets of a bygone era and offer second chances at love—if they are bold enough to seize them.
What People Are Saying: “The characters of Ruby and Ariana are charming and the descriptions of Lake Como take you to Italy with them. I highly recommend this book for a delightful escape.” – booklvr61, B&N Reviewer
Mystery & Thriller Favorites:
Circle of Bones by Malcolm Richards
For eighteen years, private investigator Blake Hollow has been haunted by the disappearance of her childhood friend. Now, Blake has returned home to Cornwall – just as another local teenager is found dead on the moors. As the police take control, Blake is convinced that this isn’t the killer’s first victim and begins her own investigation to find out the truth. Has she uncovered a secret serial killer whose grisly intentions are about to reach terrifying new heights? To identify him, Blake must confront her past and expose dangerous secrets that lurk beneath the surface of her hometown – before more young lives are taken.
What People Are Saying: “I am a fan of Malcolm Richards books and this one is another awesome read. He develops great characters and provides much detail in his writing… You will not be disappointed with this book. A great read!” – LarryBSR, B&N Reviewer
Jack Frost by Diane Capri
61 Hours almost killed Jack Reacher. Jack Frost might finish the job.
The last time Jack Reacher passed through South Dakota, almost everyone close to him was savagely murdered. A ruthless gangster survived and was imprisoned, until a daring prison break. Now, FBI Special Agent Kim Otto joins with an ex-SEAL to recapture the brutal felon before he disappears forever. But her new partner, William Burke, has got a cloud on his record. Can she trust him?
The Lies She Told by Denise Grover Swank
It’s been a week since Carly Moore’s friend Jerry was run off the road and killed. The sheriff’s department has already struck out on leads. But she’s not about to sit back and let it go, despite knowing it could put more people in danger. Then, a mysterious woman leaves a threatening note. And on the heels of that encounter, she gets shocking news: the crime syndicate her father co-ran has been taken down by the authorities. The deeper Carly digs into her family’s past, the more dirt she finds. But lies are told for a reason, and there are people around her who are willing to kill to keep the truth hidden.
What People Are Saying: “Sooooo Good! I stayed up all night because I just couldn’t put it down, needed to know what happens… Well written, fast paced story with twists that won’t let you go until the end. Denise Grover Swank, well done again!” – Laila N., B&N Reviewer
Animals by Will Staples
When rhino poachers kill two of his fellow rangers, South African Defense Force veteran Cobus Venter reaches his breaking point. Quitting his job, he embarks on a vigilante mission to take down the animal-trafficking syndicate. Meanwhile, in Florida, insurance investigator Randall Knight investigates a virus that wiped out a zoo’s tigers. And the disease is just one species jump away from erupting into a deadly global human pandemic. Both men’s journeys take them from the darkest corners of Southeast Asia to the VIP gambling rooms of Macau, where they must stay alive long enough to stop a vicious international triad from ending wildlife as we know it.
What People Are Saying: “Every chapter I read just had me wanting to keep going to find out what happens. I did find it a lot to follow at some times but it all came together nicely and the characters really felt like real people. I will definitely be recommending this to people I know!” – aane9, B&N Reviewer
Zero Zero by Jack Mars
When Agent Zero visits his doctor in Switzerland, hoping to salvage his deteriorating health, he is met with a shocking surprise. There’s another agent who also has been given a memory implant. And, just like him, this agent has deadly skills—with a singular mission: to kill Agent Zero. Who is this doppelganger? Who does he work for? And who chipped him? What secrets does he hold about Zero’s past? And why does he want Zero dead?
What People Are Saying: “Zero Zero is book 11 in the excellent Agent Zero series… The plot is well executed and I didn’t want to stop reading until the last page and look forward to book 12 with great anticipation.” – Dugald Craig, B&N Reviewer
Lifeless in the Lilies by Dale Mayer
What was supposed to be a nice stroll through a cemetery after a recent funeral turns into the start of a new case! Someone clobbers Doreen over the head and leaves her facedown among the flowers. Then, Doreen’s beloved parrot goes missing only to show up at home different, and all he can talk about is Big Guy. Also sporting an SOS message fastened around his ankle, Doreen sets out to retrace Thaddeus’s path. Between birds and boys, Doreen has her hands full. And that’s before her former lawyer shows up unexpectedly at her home! Off-balance by all these events, Doreen opens her door to someone with a serious grudge to take her down…
What People Are Saying: “The more books that I read in this series the more that I love them.” – Irene S., B&N Reviewer
Marriage and Murder by Penny Reid
Cletus Byron Winston wishes to marry Jennifer Anne Donner-Sylvester (aka The Banana Cake Queen) posthaste! But his future mother-in-law has other plans and, truth be told, he wouldn’t mind if the meddlesome matriarch disappeared for a bit. On the night of Cletus and Jenn’s long-awaited engagement party, a shocking event upends everyone’s best laid plans and sends the small hamlet of Green Valley into complete disarray. The final months leading up to Cletus and Jenn’s matrimonial bliss are plagued with chaos and uncertainty. Will Cletus and Jenn finally make it to the altar? Or will murder and mayhem derail their happily-ever-after? And most importantly, who done it?
What People Are Saying: “[This] is a story of betrayal and vengeance; greed and jealousy; love and forever. The premise is intriguing, suspenseful and intense; the romance is captivating; the characters are animated, dynamic and edgy.” – Sandy Sch, B&N Reviewer
My True Love by Melissa Foster
Can a man who resents the hand he’s been dealt and a woman who spends her days grateful for every little thing find true love in each other’s arms—or are their differences stronger than both of them? After spending years fighting for his country, Grant Silver returns to Silver Island with a prosthetic leg and dark memories. He’d almost forgotten how a man could suffocate from the warmth and caring community in which he’d grown up. As a cancer survivor, Jules Steele knows better than to count on seeing tomorrow. And she isn’t about to let a man who used to be charming and full of life waste the future he’s been blessed with. She’s determined to get through to him…
What People Are Saying: “Beautifully written with passion; makes me want to move to Silver Island and meet everybody. Once again , a masterpiece crafted around real-life dramas, friends and strong family ties.” – Cathy T., B&N Reviewer
State of Affairs by Marie Force
The President is dead. Vice President Nick Cappuano and Lt. Sam Holland get the call. Minutes later Nick takes the oath of office. No other first lady in history has held a job outside the White House. Sam’s determined to be the first. But as a homicide detective, certain compromises will need to be made. While Nick is thrust into the thick of his new responsibilities, Sam must confront a murder investigation with possible ties to a fifteen year old cold case. As everything around them spins out of control, Sam and Nick take refuge with each other, relying on their unbreakable bond to see them through the storm.
What People Are Saying: “Welcome Back Sam and Nick!! What a way to start a new journey for our favorite metro lieutenant and vp turned 1st couple . This story has everything we love about Sam and Nick laughter, thrills , romance , family. Marie has done it again by pivoting the story and having us fall in love with these characters all over again. She has managed to turn this new chapter in the Cappuanos lives into an amazing adventure that we are all looking forward too.” – gwenneff, B&N Reviewer
The House of Hope and Chocolate by Ava Miles
From the time she was a little girl, Alice Bailey dreamt of opening a chocolate shop. After all, chocolate does heal everything, right? But, if Alice has learned anything recently, it’s that life is precious. And she’s ready to put down roots and live her dreams. Only opening up a chocolate shop in a close-knit community proves harder than she imagined, especially when other neighborhood businesses are experiencing hard times. She’s not only an outsider, but resentment over her circumstances breeds distrust. And as she struggles to heal and rebuild, Alice knows she needs to prove to her new friends and neighbors that life offers more richness than they realize.
What People Are Saying: “This is the first book in a new series by Ava Miles where you will also get to revisit some previous characters from other books. The story revolves around two people opening a chocolate shop in the time of covid. The friendships and relationships are always so real in Ava’s books, and this one is no different. This is a very promising and great start to what I know will be another heartwarming series!” – DianeD54, B&N Reviewer
Science Fiction & Fantasy Favorites:
The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness, but first they must free his brother and find hers. Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, and now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown, becoming the Queen of Flesh and Fire. Except, the kingdoms’ dark sins will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head. And the greatest threat to them is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans…
What People Are Saying: “The Crown of Gilded Bones is a thrilling adventure from beginning to end. High fantasy, meet the sassy, badass heroine of the year… I promise you won’t be disappointed so do yourself a favor and get a copy today!!!” – teamlj425, B&N Reviewer
Reset by Sarina Dahlan
In the wake of the Last War, survivors must undergo a memory wipe every four years in a process called tabula rasa. With each new cycle, they begin again. There are no memories. No attachments. And No wars. Aris is a scientist who embraces tabula rasa. But she is haunted by a recurring dream. Then, after meeting Benja her world is turned upside down. Aris becomes obsessed with finding the Dreamers, a secret organization thought to have a way to recover memories. With little time left before the next tabula rasa, Aris and Benja begin a bittersweet romance, navigating love in a world where names, lives, and moments are systematically destroyed.
What People Are Saying: “Where most books of the dystopian genre remove choice from humanity, Dahlan has done something wholly unique. She has removed memory and with it the meritocracy dependent on perpetual knowledge. What we discover is that some things are so important to the human condition that they find a way to shine through all efforts to contain them.” – Bajjajde, B&N Reviewer
Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
As waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy in Atlanta, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse. After eight years away, Julie Lennart is back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder. But an ancient power is stalking her adopted mother. And a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit. If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. Aurelia expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything. One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.
What People Are Saying: “I would highly recommend this book to others. This was a book that was next to impossible to put down once I picked it up and I found it enormously entertaining from beginning to end. I cannot wait to read more of Aurelia Ryder’s adventures.” – Caroles Random Life, B&N Reviewer
The Revelation of Light and Dark by Sawyer Bennett
My mind has always been plagued with things only I could see. Some hauntingly beautiful, others completely terrifying. But I learned how to lock them down and ignore them. And, just when I think my life is getting on track, a moment of weakness causes me to learn a hard, fast lesson. Now I’m faced with a new reality filled with realms and veils, light and dark, fae and daemons, gods and angels—things I don’t understand but am forced to acknowledge. It doesn’t help that the man teaching me about my unique gifts is as handsome as he is rich and powerful. I don’t trust him and yet there’s no one else to help me. One this is crystal clear, however, my life will never be the same again.
What People Are Saying: “This book was full of twists and secrets slowly starting to unravel and it has just left me desperate for the next one. Thank goodness the books are planned to release very quickly after each other. This was a really enjoyable and engrossing read. I’d be happy to recommend this book.” – Dannyjeffbooks, B&N Reviewer
Shadowseer: London by Morgan Rice
In Victorian London, Kaia yearns to escape her horrific orphanage to discover who her parents were. Because Kaia has the unique ability to sense shadows… And when Kaia is arrested, Detective Pinsley thinks she just might be the key to solving a peculiar, mysterious case. Bodies are turning up dead in London, and Pinsley wonders whether it’s the work of a deranged serial killer, or of something else. The methods of murder seem impossible, as does the murderer’s ability to escape death. Without much choice and as unlikely partners, Kaia and Pinsley embark to scour the dark corners and cobblestone streets of 19th century London. Yet what they find may shock and horrify even them.
What People Are Saying: “Great first book setting the scene for hopefully great things to come. It kept me intrigued with great characters. I’m really looking forward to reading more.” – TheFoundSlayer, B&N Reviewer
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