NEW TITLES

Look out for some fabulous treats this month from debut as well as established writers for teenagers and young adult readers. Here is a selection of what's in store!

Kenneth Oppel

ISBN 9781910200100

Imagine journeying on a train that is seven miles long, deep into the Canadian wilderness, where talk is of mythical characters like Sasquats and the train is haunted by a Hag who lives in the muskeg... Such is the backdrop for Kenneth Oppel's fantastical new adventure, The Boundless, a majestic steam train which is peopled by a whole city of characters, from a mysterious circus troupe to impoverished fortune-seekers, business men to murderers. Will, a teenager, is on board The Boundless because his father helped to build but when he witnesses a murder, Will realises that his father's life is also in danger: a gang of brutal and desperate thugs on board the train will stop at nothing to steal a secret treasure the train carries. Will is forced to enlist the help of the circus troupe and its mysterious circus master to try to reach his father and warn him of the plot. As the dangers mount, Will is also made to confront what he really wants to do with his own future, one that his father has mapped out for him in the steam business... Oppel is a real storyteller and the world he has created on board The Boundless - neatly combining the real world of steam with something a little more fantastical - is completely absorbing. The atmospheric descriptions of the crowded train stations, the detail of the train's workings and the constant sense of movement on board will take you straight back to the Victorian era of steam, which is then merged into a landscape of mythical characters and legends. Plus there are thrills and surprises, literally, at every turn The Boundless makes... 336 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Model Under Cover: Stolen with Style
Carina Axelsson

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409563709

Stolen with Style is the second in the new Model Under Cover series, published by Usborne, which sees upcoming model Axelle going under cover in the world of fashion. Unlike other models, Axelle's greatest ambition isn't to be on the front cover of Chic fashion magazine. What she really wants is to be an ace detective. So when the Big Apple calls for her help to find a stolen diamond, she is straight onto the case. However, Axelle is soon struggling to find the real culprit among a small group of suspects as she has also has to meet an unforgiving schedule of photo shoots and catwalks. Author Carina Axelsson, a former model herself, draws on her own experiences of the fashion world for the story and readers will soon grasp that being a model may look glamorous, but only because of the hard graft that everyone puts into it. Aside from the fashion world, this is also a great detective story that will have readers second-guessing all the way to the finish just who was behind the diamond heist. Look out for the next book in the series, which will be set in London. 320 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Model Under Cover: Stolen with Style
Finding A Voice: Friendship is a Two-Way Street ...
Kim Hood

O'Brien Press Ltd

ISBN 9781847175434

This is a powerful and accomplished debut by Kim Hood that follows isolated and unhappy teenager Jo as she befriends Chris, a severely disabled boy from her school. As their friendship develops, Jo pours out her heart to Chris about her difficult home life and how she copes with her mother, who suffers from mental health problems. Chris doesn't seem to be able to communicate but he understands more than Jo realises and before long, she has devised a system that will help her to communicate directly with him. However, while trying to help Chris find his voice, Jo misunderstands something he tries to tell her and begins an inept and dangerous attempt to improve his life. Along the way, Jo realises that it is she who really needs more help in her life and with that realisation comes the discovery of her own true voice. Both Chris and Jo are very real characters and through them, the story touches on many issues inclusiveness, bullying and mental illness, although these themes are never laboured. Indeed, there is plenty of sharp humour in the story which delivers a fresh and hopeful - if realistic look - at the lives of those who are often on the periphery of our society. 240 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Helen Swathe, librarian

Finding A Voice: Friendship is a Two-Way Street ...
The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 9)
Derek Landy

HarperCollins Children's Books

ISBN 9780007489251

It's hard to believe that we have really come to the end of the Skulduggery Pleasant adventures and there's many a reader who will miss not having any new stories from the wise-cracking, and wise, skeleton detective - but what a treat is in store for those who are new to the series! We're not going to give any spoilers about the final adventure which sees Skulduggery and Stephanie finally confront the evil Darquesse who plans to turn the world to cinders. Who will win this spectacular showdown? And what will become of Skulduggery, the wise-cracking skeleton detective, once this last battle is done...? The series has been a real treat for readers who enjoy adventure, sharp humour and twists aplenty and it has garnered a huge international following. Despite his departure, Skulduggery will remain popular long after current fans have turned the final pages of his last adventure. 608 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 9)
Dave Shelton

ISBN 9781910200162

Jack is drawn to the old house, maybe he shouldn't go inside, but he is a curious boy and can't turn away. Inside he finds 13 chairs, all but one are occupied and Jack is encouraged to take the empty one as there are stories to be told. Are the storytellers alive or dead? Well, each has a ghost story to tell. As their story is told they move their chair into the darkness beyond and the room becomes increasingly darker. Some of the storytellers tell their own story, whilst others tell tales they have been told or overheard. Some of the stories are sombre and others darkly funny but each storyteller has their own unique voice. Maybe the stories are true and maybe they aren't, but as each story is told, the lights go out drawing the narrator and the reader further into the darkness. Finally the narrator is all alone in the dark and outside another storyteller is curious about the house. A very different book from the authors 'A Boy And A Bear In A Boat'. A collection of short, pithy ghost stories that gradually draw the reader into the book and the house. Enjoyable to read alone but would also work well for reading aloud with a group. 256 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser

Heartbreak Cafe: No Experience Required: No. 1
Janet Quin-Harkin

Ellingstar Media

ISBN 9780992933005

Teen girls will love this. Debbie comes from a wealthy American family and has everything- lovely house, flashy car, a boyfriend who’s heading to Harvard after his senior year, posh school and a mother who does everything for her. Then everything changes when her father leaves to become a writer. Now there’s no money, no beautiful house, no membership to the country club and no allowance. To top it all her mother signs up for college and has no time for anything as she is so busy studying. So for the first time in her life Debbie has to find a job herself to pay for her car which she refuses to give up. To spite her parents she gets a job in the Heart break Café serving people who are not 'our sort' of people. She struggles to be taken seriously by Joe Garbarini, the owner's grandson who generally runs the place. There’s a wonderfully predictable tension between the two of them as Debbie tries to prove she can last out a month at the Café. The other regulars are an interesting collection of oddball characters and Debbie learns how to appreciate them all and also realises how shallow and fake a lot of her old life was. This would make a brilliant summer read for any young teenage girl wanting a touch of romance. 212pages / Age 11+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, librarian

Heartbreak Cafe: No Experience Required: No. 1
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting
Holly Bourne

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409562184

At the start of this book I had written it off as another predictable 'chick lit' school book and was ready to hate everything about it including the garish cover. However I found myself being immersed in the world of Bree and it took me back to those anguished school days when it was easy to feel unpopular or ignored. The author has captured the essence of school life, where wearing the wrong top on a non uniform day can have you blacklisted and made the laughing stock for the rest of the year, whilst being an accidental trendsetter can suddenly catapult you into the popular set. Bree is firmly in the geek section until her teacher tells her to 'be someone you would want to read about' and so begins her blog and manifesto on how to be interesting. We are taken into the inner popular circle where to her surprise Bree discovers the students to be just like everyone else but much better at making their lives seem interesting. The book is very up to date with self harm and parental issues addressed. It does have a very American feel even though it is set in England. My only complaint would be the ending as I'm not sure things would work out quite so easily in a real school. That said, I think this book will appeal to teenagers and I'm sure would transport some parents back to their school days too. 464 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by: Lorraine Ansell, librarian

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting

ISBN 9781780621982

Highly original and thought provoking. The book is made up of four individual stories which can be read in any order. Each story follows a different character as they grapple with finding meaning in life and puzzle over the significance and beauty of the spiral. The tales span the whole range of human history and reach into the future, and illustrate that we have at our hearts a quest for understanding and a sense of the divine or the infinite. A spaceship travels through the void looking for another earth-like planet to colonise and Keir Bowman, the only person awake, has to make decisions that will affect the destiny of all on board and change his perception of himself. On Earth, a poet terrified of spirals lives incarcerated in an insane asylum. He knows truths about the dead and yearns to see and understand more. Anna is a loving girl who is caught up in a medieval witch hunt and is hanged for a witch. The fourth story in the quartet is set in prehistory as a girl makes cave paintings to ensure good hunting and sees the need and usefulness of using marks to communicate meaning. Each story has a brilliant sense of place and is hugely absorbing; together they create a work which will provoke a lot of discussion and philosophical debate. I think this is the kind of book that will provoke a huge range of responses as each reader perceives their own meaning in it. 437 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick

War Girls
Adele Geras

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783440603

Among the many First World War themed books published this year, this collection of stories stands out from the crowd. Nine well regarded authors have contributed, with all but one being newly published. The connecting strand is girls and women in the war, so this reflects some different experiences from the more traditional war literature. For instance, “Ghost Story” is set in Gallipoli, with a mother who has lost her family becoming a sniper in an act of revenge, and Sally Nicholls’ story deals with the generation of “spare” women after the war, who never married, because of the huge loss of young men, and maybe because of that achieved much in their lives. In fact one overall theme is that women and girls found roles and opportunities during the war that were way beyond their previous experience, sometimes against the wishes of their families, alongside the grief and loss with so many men killed. Other stories are about ambulance drivers in France, a French girl trying to run her family farm, an entertainer for the troops, and a waitress who discovers a spy plot. The quality of the writing is high, as you would expect from these authors, and the variety of styles and viewpoints makes the book as a whole an enjoyable as well as an emotional and informative read. Melvin Burgess’s contribution has a strong first person narrator, a girl who is horrified by her shell-shocked brother’s apparent cowardice when on leave, but who then becomes a nurse at the Front and discovers the horror for herself. Mary Hooper’s “Storm in a Teashop” has a lighter tone, reflecting the excitement and naivety of a young girl able for the first time to take a paid job. War Girls is ideal for Key Stage 3 readers, and treads a careful balance between not hiding the violence and horror of war, while equally not making it too graphic. Reviewed by: Carol Williams

War Girls
Sleepless
Lou Morgan

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154552

Izzy and her friends attend a school where second place just is not good enough. With exams coming up the group don't know if they can handle the pressure until one of them finds the solution "FokusPro". The pills turn up from a mysterious website and seem to be everything they promise until the hallucinations begin..... This was a truly gripping read and I genuinely would reccomend it to anyone. The characters are varied and well written and the sense of fear and dread amongst the group when they realise that the pills may not be everything they hoped is palpable. There are real moments of terror for the reader and a feeling that the story may not be over by the end. I am reading it again and cannot say enough great things about this book. E-book / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by: Caroline MItchell

Sleepless
Frozen Charlotte
Alex Bell

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847154538

Frozen Charlotte is a well written book that has the reader engrossed from the very beginning. After Sophie and her friend Jay try to contact her dead cousin, Rebecca, events take a disturbing turn and Sophie ends up going to stay with Rebecca's family on a small Scottish island. They live in an old schoolhouse that has been plagued by accidents and death for many years. Sophie's cousins and the miniature 'Frozen Charlotte' dolls are not as they seem and soon events spiral out of control. The author has managed to create a thrilling, frightening story that kept me on the edge of my seat and I would highly recommend this compelling story. E-book / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell

Frozen Charlotte
Robin Talley

ISBN 9781848452923

I found this very difficult to put down. It’s the first day at school and Sarah’s understandably nervous. She’s met at the gates by crowds of angry faces swearing, shouting and spitting at her telling her she’s not wanted and she should go back to her old school. There are police and teachers looking on but they do nothing to help. It’s 1959; Virginia, Southern USA, and today Sarah is starting term at Jefferson High – one of the the first black students in a previously all white school. Sarah and her friends force themselves to remain calm and unresponsive to this abuse while they seethe inside, knowing that the torment they endure will smooth the way for other black students in the coming years. Linda is the daughter of one of the town’s biggest supporters of segregation, and she fully supports it herself by her actions and writing editorials in the school newspaper. The two girls are thrown together as they are forced to work on a French project together. Over time they both confront buried truths about themselves and find their way through the lies they have grown up with. Struggling with issues of race prejudice, but also sexuality they come to accept each other and themselves for what they are. A very strong book which I whole heartedly recommend. The themes make it suitable for use in PHSE, RE and ethics, English, History in fact it would make a great whole school cross-curricular book. 368 Pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick

Replica
Jack Heath

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192737663

This science fiction thriller opens with a particularly effective and shocking first chapter where Chloe sees her own decapitated body lying on a table beside her. We soon learn that Chloe isn't human. She is an android 'being', created in the basement of the family home by the real, human Chloe. The purpose of her creation is to act as a decoy to keep teachers, friends and parents thinking all is normal thus freeing human Chloe to investigate the mystery of the people who she thinks are stalking her. Android Chloe has been given human Chloe's memories and looks and is the main character in the book. After the shooting of human Chloe, android Chloe takes over investigating the mysterious men from a sinister multinational company, Ares Security, who continue to pursue Chloe and her family. The action which follows includes lots of shooting and chases, a gas attack on Chloe's school and hijacking a helicopter! Replica is an extremely fast-paced conspiracy thriller. It is full of frenetic action and plot twists, which, although predictable at times, keep the reader's attention until the end. There are bound to be different opinions about the ending, but it does leave open the possibility of a sequel. As well as being an exciting thriller, interesting issues are raised about the rights of mechanical beings and the ethical issue of programming androids with the ability to 'feel' and show human emotions. At times, the reader almost forgets that Chloe is not human. The book also features a love interest with the introduction of Chloe's friend, Becky. Replica is an action-packed thriller with an extra dimension which should appeal to young adults over the age of 14. 219 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Karen Poolton, librarian

Replica