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Escapism, Artists, and Magic: February-March Anticipated Reads

Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden

Release Date: February 18

Publisher: Dialogue Books

A director arrives at an Italian film festival for the premiere of his latest movie. When drifting between cafés and walking along winding backstreets one morning, he strikes up a conversation with a local woman. As they walk together, the once unfamiliar city unfolds before him, and the secret heartaches of his companion are revealed. Seeing their chance meeting as fate, the film-maker determines to tell her story – but who, once it has been shared, does it belong to? From the author of the astonishing This Brutal House, Diary of a Film meditates elegantly on queer love, Cinema, and the artist’s struggle to create something that endures. Steeped in nostalgia, Govinden’s evocative prose is an ode to Modernism that is never imitative; it captures artfully the ways in which we yearn for something new, whilst remaining unable to untangle ourselves from the past.

- Bayley

Beauty and the Bin by Joanne O’Connell

Release Date: February 18

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books

Beauty and the Bin is a fun and heart-warming middle grade novel about a young girl, Laurie. The book follows Laurie navigating a school competition, her beauty brand ambitions and her parents, whose well-meaning but embarrassing actions threaten to jeopardise her image and friendships at school. Laurie teams up with the popular and charismatic Charley, to produce ‘Beauty in the Kitchen’, selling home-made beauty products. But Laurie hasn’t mentioned her eco-warrior family, who have some eccentric methods of highlighting the climate crisis – including dumpster diving and eating leftover food in restaurants. Laurie is passionate about sustainability, but she is desperate to ensure no one at school finds out that her popular beauty ingredients came from the bin.

- Meg

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant, Illustrated by Paola Escobar

Release Date: February 18

Publisher: Puffin

The Hatmakers follows Cordelia, a young girl who comes from an old family of Hatmakers, people who can weave magic into hats. In Cordelia’s world, ‘Making’ (creating normal clothing from magical ingredients) is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few families with this special gift remain. So, when Cordelia’s father is lost at sea during a trip to collect magical ingredients, she is determined to find him. But she must do it alone, as the rest of her world is being torn apart by ancient rivalries and the threat of a magical war. So, it’s up to Cordelia to save her family and the Hatmakers from total destruction.

- Laura

Lie Beside Me by Gytha Lodge

Release Date: March 18

Publisher: Penguin Books

With one of the creepiest hooks you can imagine, Lie Beside Me is a chillingly good read. What would you do if you woke up and realised that the man lying next to you, in your bed, is not your husband and he’s not breathing? After Louise finds herself in this situation, she instantly suspects she’s done something terrible, and frantically attempts to piece together her memories from the night before. Detective Jonah Sheens is on the case, though after investigation, it appears that Louise is not the only one with something to hide. This book is perfect for hunkering down with on a chilly evening with a large mug of tea.

- Hollie

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

Release Date: March 4

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Let this wonderfully compelling debut novel transport you to 1841 on an epic sea voyage. The Rajah sets sail from London to Australia, on board are 180 women; daughters, mothers, sisters, all convicted of petty crimes and deemed worthless to society. All they now have is one another, that is until the murder. Everyone is a suspect, and with nowhere to flee, the question on each woman’s mind is ‘will she be next?’. Someone is guarding a deadly secret and questions of innocence, loyalty, and friendship will all be brought to the forefront on this treacherous journey to discover the truth. Based on the real-life voyage of The Rajah, Dangerous Women is a beautifully crafted story of trust, hope and the lengths people will go to survive in the darkest of circumstances.

- Genevieve


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