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February's top ten books

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A round up of February's best reads.

Our Surrey Libraries team have once again come up with a wonderful selection for this month's top ten books, starting with a collection of fictional stories bound to delight.

1. First up we have The Switch, a story that follows Eileen, newly single and sick of being 79, alongside her granddaughter, Leena, who is just as tired of life in her 20s. The pair strike up a plan to swap homes, Eileen will search for love in London while Leena has a well-earned rest in rural Yorkshire. Unfortunately stepping into each other's shoes proves more difficult than either of the pair expect as Eileen comes up against online dating and Leena faces gossiping neighbours and family dramas.

2. Our next story is set in Brooklyn, 2001 on the evening of 16-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' brownstone. Making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a custom-made dress – a dress made for her mother, for a celebration that never took place. Unfurling the history of Melody's parents and grandparents, Red at the bone looks at how young people must often make long-lasting decisions about their lives even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

3. In Amari and the night brothers Amari's big brother is missing, and no one will talk about it. Knowing it has something to do with her brother's mysterious job, Amari accepts an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and has her eyes opened to a world of were-dragons, mermaids and aliens. It's her one chance to find her brother but with hostile classmates, an evil magician and a gift that could set her against the Bureau itself, passing try-outs will be no easy task.

4. Next a prequal to the award-winning novel 'The Hate U Give' we have Concrete rose which follows Maverick Carter, the 17-year-old son of a drug king, as he balances school, slinging dope, and working two jobs while his dad is in prison. He's got everything under control – until Mav finds out he's a father. With a child to raise, loyalty and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart. So, when Mav is offered the chance to go straight, it's an opportunity to discover for himself what it really is to be a man.

5. For an exhilarating adventure join Razi, a local fisherboy, who's busy watching turtle eggs hatch when a boat bobs into view. With a chill, he notices a small, still hand hanging over the side. Inside is Zheng, who's escaped a shipwreck and is full of tales of sea monsters and missing treasure. But the villains who are after Zheng are soon after Razi and his sister, Shifa. So begins The boy who met a whale an adventure set in the shadow of the biggest sea monster of them all.

6. For a dose of non-fiction pick up The awesome power of sleep where internationally renowned expert on the teenage brain, Nicola Morgan explains why teenagers so desperately need a good night's sleep, explores what a lack of sleep does to their brains, and explains how to have the best sleep possible.

7. Returning to fiction, Luster follows Edie who's struggling with her dead-end admin job in her all white office after failing at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. She meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn't have anyone to show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young, Black woman wasn't already hard enough, Edie finds herself falling headfirst into Eric's home and family.

8. Another brilliant debut, People like her is a twisting thriller about truth and lies in the Instagram age. Emmy Jackson is Instagram sensation Mamabare, famous for always telling the unvarnished truth about parenthood. But Emmy isn't as honest as she'd like the fans to believe and while she thinks she has them fooled, someone out there knows the truth and plans to make her pay. Because people like her have no idea what pain careless words can cause. Because people like her need to learn what it feels like to lose everything.

9. Get an insiders account on medicine in the time of coronavirus with Breathtaking. Written by palliative care doctor, Rachel Clarke, who cared for the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Breathtaking draws on testimony from nursing, acute and intensive care colleagues - as well as, crucially, Rachel's own patients - Clarke argues that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to - and gratitude for - what matters most in life.

10. Lastly we have Dostoevsky in love, a biography that follows a life marked by brilliance and brutality. Sentenced to death he survived mock execution and Siberian exile in a time of seismic change in Russia. His three great love affairs were each overshadowed by epilepsy and addiction, yet he found time to write works recognised as among the finest ever written. Alex Christofi weaves carefully chosen excerpts of the author's work with the historical context to form an illuminating and often surprising whole.

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