Books to Read This Month: February Edition

The cold winter (and a pandemic that doesn’t seem to have no end) has gotten you down? Maybe an anthology of powerful black voices, a mysterious death, a teenage disappearance and magical milliner can help makes this short month more bearable? Beat the winter blues by adding these exciting new releases to your TBR shelf.

P.S. I’m currently reading Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard and I’m already feeling amazing emotions about it!

Featured Book of the Month

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped, the eldest sister who freed her older brother and four younger siblings. It’s been easy enough to avoid her parents–her father never made it out of the House of Horrors he created, and her mother spent the rest of her life behind bars. But when her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

What begins as a propulsive tale of escape and survival becomes a gripping psychological family story about the shifting alliances and betrayals of sibling relationships–about the secrets our siblings keep, from themselves and each other. Who have each of these siblings become? How do their memories defy or galvanize Lex’s own? As Lex pins each sibling down to agree to her family’s final act, she discovers how potent the spell of their shared family mythology is, and who among them remains in its thrall and who has truly broken free. (Credit: Viking)


Loud Black Girls : 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

In Loud Black Girls, the authors of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, ask black British female writers to focus on what happens next? – what does the future hold in the uncertain post-Brexit world of Donald Trump and the rise of the far right, where there is also more opportunity for black woman to thrive than there has ever been before? (Credit: Fourth Estate)

Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang

In Made in China, investigative journalist Amelia Pang pulls back the curtain on the labor camps that create the home goods we buy at Kmart, the fast fashion we buy at H&M, and a shocking number of other products besides. The book follows the life of Sun Yi, the Chinese engineer who wrote the note after finding himself a political prisoner, locked in a gulag for joining a forbidden meditation practice and campaigning for the freedom to do so. There he worked alongside petty criminals, civil rights activists, and anyone else the Chinese government decided to “reeducate,” carving foam gravestones and stitching clothing for more than fifteen hours a day. (Credit: Aloquin Books)

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant and illustrated by Paola Escabar

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why . . . (Credit: Norton Young Readers)

I Am the Rage by Martina McGowan and illustrated by Diana Ejaita 

I am The Rage is a poetry collection that explores racial injustice from the raw, unfiltered viewpoint of a Black woman in America. Dr. Martina McGowan is a retired MD, a mother, grandmother, and a poet. Her poetry provides insights that no think piece on racism can; putting readers in the uncomfortable position of feeling, reflecting, and facing what it means to be a Black American.

This entire collection was created during 2020, many shortly after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, to name but a few. (Credit: Sourcebooks)

Rain Is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Expected Publication Date: February 9

It’s been six months since Cassidy Rain Berghoff’s best friend, Galen, died, and up until now she has succeeded in shutting herself off from the world. But when controversy arises around Aunt Georgia’s Indian Camp in their mostly white midwestern community, Rain decides to face the outside world again, with a new job photographing the campers for her town’s newspaper.

Soon, Rain has to decide how involved she wants to become in Indian Camp. Does she want to keep a professional distance from her fellow Native teens? And, though she is still grieving, will she be able to embrace new friends and new beginnings? (Credit: Heartdrum)

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Expected Publication Date: February 9

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself. Credit: Delacorte)

Sylvie by Sylvie Kantorovitz

Expected Publication Date: February 9

Sylvie lives in a school in France. Her father is the principal, and her home is an apartment at the end of a hallway of classrooms. As a young child, Sylvie and her brother explore this most unusual kingdom, full of small mysteries and quirky surprises. But in middle and high school, life grows more complicated. Sylvie becomes aware of her parents’ conflicts, the complexities of shifting friendships, and what it means to be the only Jewish family in town. She also begins to sense that her perceived “success” relies on the pursuit of math and science—even though she loves art. In a funny and perceptive graphic memoir, author-illustrator Sylvie Kantorovitz traces her first steps as an artist and teacher. The text captures her poignant questioning and her blossoming confidence, while the droll illustrations depict her making art as both a means of solace and self-expression. An affecting portrait of a unique childhood, Sylvie connects the ordinary moments of growing up to a life rich in hope and purpose. (Credit: Walker Books US)

Black Widows by Cate Quinn

Expected Publication Date: February 9

Polygamist Blake Nelson built a homestead on a hidden stretch of land—a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah—where he lived with his three wives:

Rachel, the first wife, obedient and doting to a fault, with a past she’d prefer to keep quiet.
Tina, the rebel wife, everything Rachel isn’t, straight from rehab and the Vegas strip.
And Emily, the young wife, naïve and scared, estranged from her Catholic family.

The only thing that they had in common was Blake. Until all three are accused of his murder.

When Blake is found dead under the desert sun, all three wives become suspect—not only to the police, but to each other. As the investigation draws them closer, each wife must decide who can be trusted. With stories surfacing of a notorious cult tucked away in the hills, whispers flying about a fourth wife, and evidence that can’t quite explain what had been keeping Blake busy, the three widows face a reckoning that might shatter all they know to be true. (Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark)

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Expected Publication Date: February 9

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life–and possibly all of existence–is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age. (Credit: Ace Books)

The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper

Expected Publication Date: February 16

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?

The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing twenty-five years earlier, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies. (Credit: G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai

Expected Publication Date: February 16

Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life? (Credit: Avon)

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard

Expected Publication Date: February 23

Peyton King has always wanted to belong. She seizes the opportunity to start over at a new school and finally finds real connections with the friends she’s always dreamed of and even an actual boyfriend

But after flying high in her newfound happiness, Peyton comes crashing down when reality sets in and the ones she cares about let her down. Peyton’s friends can’t fix her and she can’t help them if they won’t let her. If she wants to find real, lasting happiness, Peyton will have to search somewhere else.

With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane. How far will she go to change her story? (Credit: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Raceless: In Search of Family, Identity, and the Truth About Where I Belong by Georgina Lawton

Expected Publication Date: February 23

Raised in sleepy English suburbia, Georgina Lawton was no stranger to homogeneity. Her parents were white; her friends were white; there was no reason for her to think she was any different. But over time her brown skin and dark, kinky hair frequently made her a target of prejudice. In Georgina’s insistently color-blind household, with no acknowledgement of her difference or access to black culture, she lacked the coordinates to make sense of who she was.

It was only after her father’s death that Georgina began to unravel the truth about her parentage—and the racial identity that she had been denied. She fled from England and the turmoil of her home-life to live in black communities around the globe—the US, the UK, Nicaragua, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Morocco—and to explore her identity and what it meant to live in and navigate the world as a black woman. She spoke with psychologists, sociologists, experts in genetic testing, and other individuals whose experiences of racial identity have been fraught or questioned in the hopes of understanding how, exactly, we identify ourselves. (Credit: Harper Perennial)



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