NEW TITLES

This month's selection for teenagers includes a variety of stories based on real life, including living on the street and illicit parties, but there are also some fabulous fantasy stories including the first Summoner story, and the adrenalin-busting Delete.

ISBN 9781444923971

This debut fantasy novel takes us on a journey to the distant village of Pelt where Fletcher lives with his adoptive father, the Blacksmith. Undercurrants run through the village with the mainly poor community struggling to avoid problems with the guards or visiting Pinkertons - lawmakers from the city. A chance encounter with a passing soldier selling his wares enables Fletcher to summon a rare demon and he realises he has magical powers. Without time to think he has to flee the village for a crime he did not commit and travels to Corcillum, the city. He soon encounters trouble and is saved by a passing soldier, Arcturus, who takes him to the Vocans Academy to be trained as a summoner for the forthcoming war with the Orcs. From the outset this book is fraught with danger and Fletcher has to fight not only for his survival but also against prejudice from all sides. It is a true fantasy novel with Summoners, Elves, Dwarves and Orcs as well as class issues between the arrogant Nobles and the Commoners. The different races all view one another with suspicion whilst trying to win a war together against the Orcs. Whilst I quickly fell in love with Ignatius, Fletcher's rare salamander demon, I found the detailed explanations of the various magical laws, history, spells and Ether world confusing and lengthy at times. The author has tried to cram so much into one book that it does falter a little along the way. That said it is a riveting read for the most part and because of the well written characters you find yourself rooting for the underdogs, willing them to succeed. The book is left on a cliffhanger with I'm sure a whole series planned. I can also imagine this would make an amazing film with comparisons to The Lord of the Rings. The book does not really touch on the fighting with the Orcs but that will surely follow in future books. I would certainly read a sequel and would recommend this to all lovers of fantasy. 400 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Cherry Blossom Dreams
Gwyneth Rees

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408852637

When the 15 year old brother of Sasha's best friend decides to have a party, we know things will not run smoothly... these are teenagers after all, however well meaning! I've put the genre as 'friendship' but Cherry Blossom Dreams is a lovely story of friendship and family, love (and loss) and sanctuary in the form of Blossom House. A definite 'must read' for fans of Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson. 288 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, librarian.

Cherry Blossom Dreams
The Last Summer of Us
Maggie Harcourt

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409587699

This book came at the perfect time for me, I'd read a couple of books that had road trips in but they were either journeying away from suicide or toward them and there was a predictable amount of self discovery to be had along the way. Then The Last Summer of Us landed on my doorstep and I'm really glad it did! For starters it's set in Wales and it's been a long time, if ever, since I read a book with fabulous Wales as its backdrop and with this came Welsh teenagers. Not American. Welsh. Refreshing! As the author, Maggie Harcourt herself says, "I grew up reading books from the US, where they have a lot of country. In Wales you tend to run out of road quite quickly. Most of west Wales you can drive around in a day, so it was more of a case of sending the group of friends here and there, which is what we did as teenagers. We'd just park for a few hours and then start driving again." See what I mean? Refreshing! No ultimate destinations as such, just enjoying the journey, no US road trip across huge swathes of country, just welsh teenagers rocking around! Yes they still had things to figure out (they're from Wales not Mars after all) and needed time to expose, to their closest friends, their secrets, worries and fears. Yes they each needed to discover that ultimately children are not responsible for their parents' actions - the book opens with the funeral of Limpet's mother who died as a result of alcoholism. But all of this combines to make this a hugely enjoyable book. Death, deceit, alcoholism, friendship. I've put the suggested age as 14+ but there's no reason why a well read 12+ wouldn't enjoy it too. 304 pages / Ages 12/14+ / Reviewed by Catherine, librarian

The Last Summer of Us
Delete: Shift #2
Jeff Povey

ISBN 9781471118708

Delete manages to maintain the momentum, excitement and all out action of Shift, the first book in the series without falling short of sensible storyline. A group of teenagers were in detention when a flash of light shifts them to an alternate version of the world where they and their evil copies are the only people around. These are not just your average evil clones either, they have metal talons and teeth and each possesses a different superpower such as amazing strength, speed, telepathy and healing powers. In Delete, the teenagers who remain (several die in the first book) are still battling it out against their doppelgangers as each group tries to find a way to get back home. The world itself seems to be working against them, almost as if it is trying to prevent them escaping, sending blizzards and warping their perception of time. These books are liberally splattered with both blood and humour as well as fabulous chases, fights, near misses and disasters you'd expect from a good dystopian thriller. Anyone who liked Michael Grant's Gone will love this. 338 pages / Ages 13+/ Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, librarian.

Delete: Shift #2
Lottery Boy
Michael Byrne

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406358292

At just 12 years old, Bully finds himself living alone on the streets of London. He's resourceful and survives through begging and with occasional help from his street friends - but life is tough. When he discovers that he has a winning lottery ticket, hidden in the last birthday card from his mum, Bully knows how much it could change his life. He has just two problems: who to ask to claim his prize for him since he is underage, and he has just five days to get to the Camelot offices to make his claim. It isn't long before most of those living rough in London knows what Bully has got and are plotting to get it from him. This is when the tension and the pace of the story really start to build as Bully, alone, afraid and on the run, has to think on his feet to save himself and his only companion, his dog, as well as his prize ticket, from all the thugs who are after him. Each chapter heading comes with a 'countdown' of the days left until Bully needs to claim his prize. While an exciting and fast-paced adventure, the story also has a lot to say about young people living rough; the dangers, hunger and loneliness that they face, and this provides plenty of material for group discussions. This is a strong debut and we look forward to seeing more from Michael Byrne, a former teacher who is now writing full time. 288 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Carr.

Lottery Boy
Joe All Alone
Joanna Nadin

Little, Brown Young Readers

ISBN 9780349124551

Thirteen year old Joe is left at home on his own for a week while his mother and her boyfriend Dean go on holiday to Spain. His approach is very positive and he budgets to make his budget stretch to food and electricity for the week; it won't be so bad, and the absence of Dean is a real bonus. His situation soon starts to look more and more grim though, as he is threatened by a school bully, he gets food poisoning and the Dooleys come knocking which probably has something to do with the two thousand pounds Dean has hidden in the toilet cistern. When the week is over and his mum still doesn't return, he really starts to worry. He can't ring the police because he doesn't want to get taken into care or incur the wrath of Dean. Joe's only glimmer of light is the wonderful Asha who Joe meets when she visits her grandfather who lives in the next flat. Together they work out a plan to find Joe's Gran and then surely everything will be OK? This book should appeal to both girls and boys who like the gritty realism of books without a fairy-tale ending. 233 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, librarian

Joe All Alone
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Return of the Geek
Ben Davis

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192736963

Joe and his oddball misfit friends Harry and Ad are back, slightly older and no wiser. Joe's life has improved dramatically since his first blog - he now has a girlfriend, the amazing Natalie! The trouble is, Natalie's Dad despises Joe who is not good enough for his daughter, and does his best to keep them apart. Smarmy Seb, the creep that Natalie's Dad has made into his business protege is also trouble and tries to break them up at every opportunity. When Joe finds out that Seb is entering the DJ competition, he is determined that with help from his own managerial skills, The Sound Experience (Harry and Ad) will beat him. Seb is so obnoxious that soon the whole team is equally determined to beat him, and hopefully humiliate him into the bargain. Even Gav, Joe's ex-bully step-brother, and Greeny the technical whizz wholeheartedly join in. The power of friends is great, even if those friends are all a little weird, so will a broken heart, broken equipment and broken arms really stop them? I'd heartily recommend Joe Cowley to kids who've outgrown Tom Gates and The Wimpy Kid, boys and girls alike. Joe lets his mouth run away with him and backs himself into lots of ridiculous situations which not only provides great humour, but gives the reader plenty to identify with. 350 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, librarian.

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Return of the Geek
Saint Anything
Sarah Dessen

Penguin Books Ltd

ISBN 9780141361734

Sydney's brother Peyton, the golden boy in the family, has gone seriously off the rails and is now serving a sentence in a youth custody establishment for having an accident while drunk and on drugs which has resulted in a boy living his life in a wheelchair. Sydney decides to leave the private school where everyone knows her and enrolls in the local high school. It is very lonely, especially as her mother is consumed with trying to make life better for Peyton, while her father just works. A chance encounter in a pizza cafe gives Sydney the friendship she needs in Layla and her family. Layla's mother has MS but the family rally round and help her and Sydney finds in that family refuge from her home life, especially through her growing relationship with Mac, Layla's brother. However, it all goes horribly wrong when Sydney offers Mac and Layla's band the use of her brother's half-finished recording studio. Sydney is grounded but, when their mother has a heart attack and things come to a head, Sydney manages to break down the barriers between them and have serious discussions about how life is for the family. They move on, balancing Peyton's imprisonment with their lives, while Peyton makes tentative steps to get his life back on track. So the story ends with hope for all the family. This is a quiet story of a family in crisis, told by the person at the centre of it, and it makes for a powerful read. The reader can sympathise with Sydney's mother, trying to help her errant son, with the father caught in the middle, and with Sydney herself whose loneliness seeps from the page until she finds Layla. The reader can feel the warmth of the Chatham family dealing with their own difficulties. Sydney's growing relationship with Mac is well drawn and it provides an anchor for her while things at home are difficult. There is also good talk of future careers, with Layla wanting to carry on her father's pizza cafe business which he of course wants Mac to continue while he himself goes to college. The American background of the story is immaterial in the end as this is a universal subject. 432 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher.

Saint Anything
I'll Give You the Sun
Jandy Nelson

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406326499

Jude and her twin brother Noah are close until a tragedy drives them apart. Now they are barely speaking - and both falling for boys they can't have. Love's complicated. In a passionate, sweeping novel Jandy Nelson explores love in a variety of forms with an intensity that makes the characters, particularly the twins at the centre of the story, leap off the page. Art and its creation, the relationship between the artist and his or her work, are at the centre of the book. Whilst the twins are both talented and encouraged by their mother to apply for art college, it is Noah who she recognises as having a unique gift. Feeling she is overlooked and ignored, Jude commits a terrible act of betrayal, the consequences of which are compounded by an accident which changes their family forever. The story unfolds over a three year period with Jude's sections of the story written as a 16 year old whilst Noah's covers the events of their lives at 13 to 14. The full picture, the links between characters and the secrets they hide, is only gradually revealed, as would the form emerging from the block of stone as the sculptor works on it or as the artist lays down paint on the canvas. Suffused with colour and emotion, lightened by humour, this study of love - romantic, familial, friendship - is ultimately about acceptance, forgiveness and being true to oneself. Highly recommended for readers of 14+. 432 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

I'll Give You the Sun
There Will Be Lies
Nick Lake

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408853832

This intriguing and many-layered novel from Nick Lake - now available in paperback - explores ideas around identity, family and our place in the world. There are a couple of unexpected twists in it, which limits what can be said in this review since they really deliver the impact of the story. Teenaged Shelby has always been kept safe by her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer, so much so that Shelby is home-schooled and rarely communicates with anyone else, let alone anyone her own age. So when she is run down by a car and finds herself communicating with a Coyote, you know that her life is about to turn. Shelby suddenly finds herself on the run with her mom, who grows increasingly violent in her quest to keep her and Shelby 'safe' - but safe from what? Coyote has told Shelby that 'There will be two lies. Then there will be the truth. That will be the hardest of all.' Shelby believes that they are running from her dad, who she has never met, but bit by bit, she begins to question this. In parallel with her 'real life' quest for the truth, Coyote takes her into the 'Dreamtime' where she is set a task, to rescue the crying baby she has always dreamed about. Bit by bit, Shelby's discoveries in the Dreamtime start to converge with her discoveries in her real world until the final, shocking truth is revealed to her. This would make a great novel to discuss as a group read as it raises many issues around family and identity, and the mythical element of the novel also offers much food for thought. You can read a full interview with author Nick Lake here: http://www.readingzone.com/index.php?zone=sz&page=interview&authorid=e549f194ce56073bcb82786564d8e686 464 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

There Will Be Lies