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Anticipated Reads: February Favourites

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

Release Date: February 4 Publisher: Viking Books

In Caleb Azumah Nelson’s intense and affecting debut, two Black British artists – one a photographer, the other a dancer – navigate life and love in the city of London. Examining the intricate and often neglected relationship between race, masculinity, and vulnerability, Open Water is at once tender and powerful in its depiction of two souls attempting to come together in a world which refuses to truly see them. Through his writing and photography, Nelson captures what he describes as “our beautiful history and painful inheritance.” Yet he also invokes our present, our truth, and our joy. With praise from bestselling authors Yaa Gyasi and Candice Carty-Williams, Open Water is one to look out for this February. - Bayley

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Release Date: February 4 Publisher: Usborne Publishing

In this inspiring and thrilling debut novel, Namina Forna gives readers a narrative that encourages people to stand up for themselves, and to assert their own sense of individuality. Dominated by a patriarchal society, the women of Otera are required to bleed red to prove their purity and value to society. But when Deka bleeds gold – a demonic and impure colour – she is viewed as a dangerous outcast. She soon learns that this is because she is an Alaki, a powerful being with destabilising gifts. The consequences of her lineage are worse than death, and to escape them, she must agree to fight for the Emperor alongside others just like her, or risk losing everything. - Laura

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Release Date: February 4 Publisher: Simon & Schuster

If you adore poignant stories about complex relationships, memories, and moments, Space Hopper by Helen Fisher is a total must-read. The book follows the story of Faye, who despite being happy with her life after becoming a new mother, is weighed down by the death of her own mother as a child. After a strange turn of events, she is placed back in her childhood home in the 1970s and is faced with the opportunity to seek answers to the questions that have built up over a lifetime. This is a fantastic and gripping story about taking an enormous leap of faith. - Hollie

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

Release Date: February 9 Publisher: John Murray Press

Based on the true story of the courageous librarians of World War II, this unforgettable story of courage and betrayal, love and loss celebrates the power of books and their unending ability to change peoples’ lives. We jump between 1940s occupied Paris, where we meet the enchanting Odile who has an obsession with books and has just started her dream new job at the American Library, and 1980s Montana, where lonely teenager Lily is desperate to escape her small hometown. Striking up a friendship with her neighbour, a now elderly Odile, the two discover a shared love of books and language. However, as more of Odile’s past comes to light, Lily discovers a dark secret that Odile has long guarded. A charming and moving novel about the hope that one library can bring in a time of harrowing darkness and despair, this is one for book lovers everywhere. - Genevieve

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

Release Date: February 25 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

This Close to Okay is a heart-wrenching, gripping tale of two strangers who find a connection in an unlikely circumstance that changes the course of their life. Emmett is standing on a bridge, veering dangerously close to the edge, when Tallie drives past him. Tallie doesn’t hesitate to try and coax him away to the safety of her house, but she fails to mention she is an experienced therapist. It isn’t the only secret the pair are keeping from each other. Tallie spends the weekend trying to uncover what drove Emmett to the bridge, whilst also learning the truth about herself. This dual narrative is an emotional and honest exploration of humanity. - Meg



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