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The Best Books to Look Out for in February 2019

Posted on 21st February 2019 by Martha Greengrass

Two myth-fused masterpieces from Booker-winning stars, post-truth era thrills, eye-opening insights into medicine’s front line and much more besides: we present February’s highlights.

Fiction

£20.00
Hardback
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Already tipped for prize lists in 2019, Marlon James’s follow-up to his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fever-pitched combination of magic, myth and history pitched as ‘an African Game of Thrones’ by the Guardian. The first in a trilogy, set in an alternate world founded on brutal power struggles, it’s a thrilling ride.

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£16.99
Hardback
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Neatly navigating the relationship between two couples as they weather the impact of a sudden tragedy, Tessa Hadley has created a superbly nuanced portrait of friendship and marriage. Echoing the quiet, penetrating observation of Anita Brookner, Hadley writes with subtlety and great skill about the interplay between society, class, history and the passions that shape our everyday experience.

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Hardback
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After her hit bestseller Surprise Me, Sophie Kinsella is back with a perfect spring pick me up about family, independence and the chain reaction that follows a simple act of altruism. Kinsella excels in writing recognisable, likeable characters and her new heroine Fixie is no exception. A breezy romance, written with plenty of humour and charm.
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£12.99
Hardback
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The punishing cold of 17th-century Iceland permeates every page of this tautly compelling, suspense-laden debut. There’s something of Du Maurier to the way Lea winds her tale of a young bride and her potentially dangerous husband and always, on the horizon, lies the deep and ever-treacherous landscape and a community just as forbidding. A superb mystery from a talented new voice.

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£14.99
Hardback
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“This is a novel I have been wanting to write for a long time, a fist of light against a wall of darkness.” Ben Okri’s most significant novel since his Man Booker Prize-winning masterpiece The Famished Road, The Freedom Artist weaves together ancient myth and modern politics for an impassioned story primed for the post-truth age. A story of love and loss, fiercely told and impossible to ignore.
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£12.99
Hardback
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Set deep in the heartland of industrial Lancashire, Stacey Halls’ accomplished debut is a haunting evocation of two women struggling against the crushing expectations and superstitions of their age. Told with an infectious passion for the period, Halls’ blend of compelling plot and vividly drawn landscape crafts an unforgettable story of bewitching power.

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Hardback
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A sleep-bound curse, a brave new world: the author of the Waterstones championed bestseller The Age of Miracles brings spellbinding invention to a brand new dystopian vision of a word beset by a sleeping epidemic. Walker’s writing is hypnotic, focusing on the infectious ripples of paranoia and isolationism that follow the outbreak and how those left behind might learn new ways to live.
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Moving from 1940 to 2010, Frances Liardet’s novel of a woman in wartime who finds herself caring for an evacuee child is a gem. Exposing, inch by inch, the way a closed human heart might be prised open; Liardet explores the way a life may change. The result is an astoundingly adept and profoundly moving portrayal of unexpected love, parental care and the effects of time.
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Crime & Thrillers

£14.99
Hardback
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A new direction for author Tana French that’s already got reviewers abuzz - Stephen King calls is an ‘extraordinary… meditation on luck - the good, the bad and the extremely ugly’ - The Wych Elm is a standalone treat that’s full of the unexpected. Following one man’s descent from untroubled ease into the midst of paranoid mystery, it’s an inventive thriller that grips to the final page.

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£12.99
Hardback
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Having proved herself a leading new voice with her global bestseller The Dry and 2018’s eerie Force of Nature, Australian author Jane Harper returns to make it a hat-trick with The Lost Man. Set against the unforgiving, sun-beaten backdrop of the Australian outback, it offers a gripping trail of sibling relationships riven by malice and death.

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£12.99
Hardback
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One of 2017’s most politically charged and daring thrillers, Sam Bourne’s To Kill the President proved an eerily prescient companion to the inauguration of the Trump presidency. Now, Sam Bourne is back with an explosive game of cat-and-mouse for the post-truth era. Taking on the hot-topics of Black Lives Matter protest, Holocaust denial and deception at the highest level, expect sparks to fly.

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£12.99
Hardback
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The first novel by a rising star of South Korean literature, Kim Un-su, plunges readers headlong into Seoul’s criminal underworld in the company of lone assassin - think Jack Reacher meets Harry Bosch - Reseng. Un-so layers twist upon counter-twist with audacious dexterity as Reseng navigates the nefarious interests of shady agents of state and business and the pace never once lets up.

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£12.99
Hardback
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One of the year’s mostly hotly tipped debuts, Blood Orange follows attorney Alison as she takes on the case of a woman accused of murder whilst dancing on her own fine line between an apparently perfect life and its reckless reality. Tyce treads a dark path, asking searching questions about guilt and innocence whilst cleverly turning the tables on accused and accuser.

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£12.99
Hardback
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This brilliant Swedish debut - impressively translated by Ebba Segerberg - transports some of the atmosphere of Nordic Noir to 18th-century Stockholm as a wounded veteran and a consumptive lawyer pair up on the trail of a monstrous murderer. From well-rounded characters to viscerally intense atmosphere, there’s much to admire in this gritty, filth-caked and gloriously gory thriller.

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Science Fiction & Fantasy

£16.99
Hardback
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In a change of pace from her bestselling series The Bone Season, author Samantha Shannon offers up a new standalone high-fantasy epic, led by an impressive cast of memorable female characters. Set in an impeccably realised world of dragons, warring factions and underground rebellion, The Priory of the Orange Tree has all the hallmarks of a fantasy classic.

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£14.99
Hardback
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Set amidst a divided human colony on a planet beset by all-too-familiar threats of ecological and social breakdown, this is anthropological science fiction at its most inventive and original. Echoing the work of Ursula Le Guin, Ander’s novel is both a thrilling hunt for the truth that lies in the dark and a thoughtful novel about politics, community and how we live alongside others.
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Biography

£18.99
Hardback
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Medicine, but not as we know it: from Afghanistan to Libya, Sierra Leone to Haiti, surgeon David Nott stood amidst trauma and chaos to deliver extraordinary care. This is war seen through the prism of someone bent on saving life rather than taking it, Nott’s 25 years on the world’s frontlines distilled as a moving elegy to the simple, moral desire to do the right thing. Vivid and humbling.

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£14.99
Hardback
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A synthesis of two decades of first-hand experience and detailed study, The Wisdom of Wolves is both a fascinating memoir and a thoughtful study of lupine behaviour. Debunking widely held misconceptions Radinger proves an empathetic tour guide into the wolves' world and her parallels are a reminder of our planet’s interconnectedness and our need to reengage with other species.

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£12.99
Hardback
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Amidst a growing catalogue of medical memoirs, Seven Signs of Life stands out as a brave, luminously written testament of personal experience and deeply affecting wisdom, gleaned from the life-and-death frontier of Intensive Care. As the Irish Times puts it, ‘if [Aoife Abbey] is representative of an emerging generation of healthcare professionals, there is reason to be optimistic.’

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£14.99
Hardback
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Following the acclaim of Bedsit Disco Queen and Naked at the Albert Hall, Tracey Thorn continues her knowing, tenderly-executed excavation of her past, this time diving in to that strange, unique cradle of British creativity – Green Belt suburbia. From the boredom, to the yearning, to the growing inner rebellion, this is the rite of passage that was a song to so many.

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History & Politics

£25.00
Hardback
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The New York Times. The Washington Post. BuzzFeed. VICE. Two are behemoths of the paper age, two are media upstarts driven by the need to own the news. Over a decade, former executive editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson follows their respective fortunes as they ride the dramatic peaks and troughs of a radically shifting media industry.

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£12.99
Hardback
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Now at Brexit’s simmering centre, The Border offers timely insight into the equally contentious, factionalised history of the border between Northern Ireland the Republic over the last century. Providing an objective, well-researched perspective, Ferriter uncovers a legacy clouded in scandal, offering fresh light not only on a troubled past but on what changes now might mean for Ireland's future.

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£20.00
Hardback
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In the company of economist Francis Green, David Kynaston (Modernity Britain, Till Time’s Last Stand) provides a provocative analysis of Britain’s private, fee-paying schools. Engines of Privilege describes nothing less than an educational apartheid, where successive generations of a wealthy elite are destroying all notion of social mobility and promoting a serious democratic deficit.

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£16.99
Hardback
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Warnings don’t come starker that Ece Temelkuran’s stinging seven-step blueprint to dictatorship drawn from observations of the failed 2016 coup against Turkey’s President Erdogan. Disabusing anyone of any cosy ‘it-couldn’t-happen-here’ assumptions, Temelkuran delivers a powerful warning about the widespread lure of populism and the dangers of complacency.

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£14.99
Hardback
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A ground-breaking new anthology, It’s Not About the Burqa brings together the voices of seventeen women, speaking frankly and openly about their experiences of being a Muslim woman living in the west today. Passionately argued and covering issues including community, integration, clothing, queer identity and sex, it’s a revelatory, nuanced collection that is essential reading.

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Popular Science & Philosophy

£20.00
Hardback
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Unflinchingly frank and unapologetically apocalyptic, David Wallace-Wells’ transformative book blows a hole in the polite rhetoric of climate change. Written with a skilful marshalling of leading scientific evidence and offering the starkest possible warnings about our future (from worldwide famine to total economic ruin), this is an impassioned, imperative call to take action now.

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£10.99
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Washington, D.C. 2007: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett and Christopher Hitchens embark on a discussion that will, in time, receive millions of views on YouTube. Accompanied by an introduction by Stephen Fry, The Four Horsemen is the written record of the conversation that became a touchstone of the new atheist movement. Includes additional material from the surviving three.
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£20.00
Hardback
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Ostensibly a book bringing together forgotten female and queer heroes from across a range of disciplines throughout history, Figuring is, in reality, much more. Illuminating connections across lifetimes, ideas and generations, Maria Popova (creator of the popular Brain Pickings blog) opens her readers minds to endless possibility. Written with humour and zest, it’s a genuinely eye-opening read.

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