NEW TITLES

This month's selection includes some powerful, coming-of-age stories as well as plenty of suspense and adventure for both reluctant and confident readers.

Fire Colour One
Jenny Valentine

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007512362

Jenny Valentine excels in coming-of-age narratives and in this startling, beautifully-written story, we see a teenaged girl, Iris, moving from being an impotent pawn in a game to taking control over her own life. Iris is unfortunate in having a mother and step father who care only for money. She grows up in the US where she has an unusual and talented boy friend, Thurston, until her mother announces that their money has run out; they are returning to the UK to go and find her real father who, Iris believes, has never wanted anything to do with her but who, she discovers, is rich. From this moment, Iris begins to lift away layers of the deceptions in her life until she discovers the truth at the centre of it. There are so many delicately-crafted metaphors and moments in this story that deserve exploration, from Iris's rage that is mirrored in her love of fire to some superbly theatrical moments that remind us of the power of creativity in each of us. The story begins with the ending, Iris lighting a fire and burning something precious and bit by bit, as Iris removes the layers of her life story, we uncover both the meaning of her action and discover what is in the fire. Fire Colour One is named after a painting, Fire Colour 1 by Yves Klein, that lies at the centre of the story and which encapsulates many of the themes Valentine explores. This novel would make a rewarding group read from years 8 upwards and could also be used to inspire young people in exploring the work of artist Yves Klein, among others mentioned in the story, and developing their own installations and artwork. You can also visit our Author Interviews section, where Jenny Valentine talks about Fire Colour One. 256 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Fire Colour One
All My Secrets
Sophie McKenzie

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471122217

Sophie McKenzie has a devoted fan base who will thoroughly enjoy All My Secrets, an atmospheric psychological thriller with a romantic twist. When Evie Brown answers the door to a stranger one afternoon, she discovers a family secret that pulls apart everything she has ever known. The woman she believes is her mother is not her birth mother; her parents have lied to her about who she really is. Evie also finds she is about to become really, really rich. Unable to handle this and still feeling she doesn't know the truth, Evie agrees to go and stay on an island with other troubled teens for the summer to work things out. The island is her newly-found uncle's suggestion and it seems to have some kind of link to her late mother. But while she's there, Evie is troubled by strange, ghostly sightings and mysteries that are be emerging from the past. McKenzie also weaves in a love triangle as Evie, distracted by the gorgeous Kit who is part of the group on the island, also finds herself drawn to the cheeky, down-to-earth Josh. There is plenty to keep readers occupied and guessing as the plot develops, with Evie soon realising that she is in desperate danger. Her emotions as she discovers that her family have lied to her and her reactions as she tries to work things through feel very authentic, reflecting how teenagers see things as very black or white. While the main plot lines are neatly tied by the end, there is room for a follow-up, which we hope will come. Visit Author Interviews to read an interview with Sophie McKenzie talking about writing for YA and All My Secrets. 304 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

All My Secrets
The Casebooks of Captain Holloway: The Disappearance of Tom Pile
Ian Beck

Corgi Childrens

ISBN 9780552567763

This is the first in a new series of supernatural mysteries set during the Second World War. Department 116, run by Captain Holloway, was secretly launched in the 1930's to investigate the inexplicable - strange noises, bright lights or unexplained incidences. This was in response to a similar department founded in Germany, called 'The Unexplained and the Supernatural'. Captain Holloway recruits a young man Jack Carmody, who exhibits an ability to see ghosts and sense events before they happen. Just after the start of the War, Jack is sent undercover to Dorset to investigate strange lights and follow up on intercepted German reports. It is Jack who is the main narrator, and through him the reader is given an insight into the re-appearance of a boy, Tom Pile, who disappeared 40 years ago. Tom believes he was spirited away by Angels but what strange gifts have the Angels given him? I found the beginning of the story a little confusing as the author was giving background information on the characters on separate timelines. Once past this however, the story flowed and a sub plot about German spies added a nice twist. The line drawings and extracts from newspapers and confidential files added a reality element to the story. I am looking forward to the sequel but hope that the background to the main characters is introduced as a separate introduction. 278 pages / Age 10-14 / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, school librarian

The Casebooks of Captain Holloway: The Disappearance of Tom Pile
John McNally

ISBN 9780007521654

The Forbidden City is the second book in the Infinity Drake series and like the first, has an edge-of-the-seat storyline that takes our 9mm hero, Infinity (Finn for short), into the beating heart of global technologies; the Forbidden City in Hong Kong. In this story, Finn has just days to help prevent the power-hungry Kaparis from taking control of global communications by unleashing a swarm of nano bots worldwide to take over every gadget out there. This is a fast-paced read with echoes of gaming in the settings and the challenges that its young hero faces so it will have plenty of appeal to readers who enjoy action-based adventure stories. Its exploration of nano technology - and what humans may or may not be capable of developing - gives us a glimpse into the magic of science and hopefully will encourage children to explore this subject further. There are a couple of quite grim scenes, driven by the evil Kaparis, which makes it more suitable for mature readers aged 10+ / 11+, but its wide-ranging, fast-paced storyline with plenty of thrills also give it a wide appeal and especially to fans of Alex Rider. 400 pages / Ages 10/11+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Pike
Anthony McGowan

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781124666

I always look forward to reading a book by Anthony McGowan. He manages to transform a relatively simple storyline into a gripping tale with a fresh outlook and edgy twist. With this book he has surpassed himself. Nick has always looked after his older brother Kenny, who has learning difficulties, since their Mum walked out when Nick was very young. Life has been a struggle and with little money coming into the house Nick's Dad was caught handing stolen goods on behalf of the local gangster Mick Bowen. Luckily he only received community service and has since found a job and a new partner. Whilst fishing in Bacon Pond - where huge pike live that have been known to kill a swan - Kenny and Nick are shocked when their dog Tina gets into difficulty when swimming. But an even bigger shock is in store for Nick when he sees a body in the water wearing a very distinctive and expensive watch. Who does he tell? What should he do? This is a seemingly simple story on the surface, but underneath runs themes of depression, guilt, moral dilemma, suspense, family and brotherly love. How Anthony packs this into a short book is amazing. You cannot put it down until the very end. This is a longer Barrington Stoke story of 127 pages with closely spaced lines. A few non-gratuitous mild swear words are included but they add to the picture of the lead character. I cannot wait to share and discuss this with our readers. 127 pages / Age 12+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian

Pike
Dumb Chocolate Eyes
Emma Shoard

Barrington Stoke Ltd

ISBN 9781781124512

This short story, narrated by a 15 year old boy, is thought provoking and leaves the reader with a dilemma - what would I have done in that situation? Pete Cassidy and the anonymous narrator live in the same village, go to the same school and are the same age. These are the only things they have in common. Pete lives with his family in a bungalow with a huge garden full of outbuildings, cellars, rubbish and even an empty swimming pool. One day he decides to set some traps to catch rats in the garden. Even though this is a short story, Kevin Brooks manages to paint a vivid picture of the two boys and their behaviour and draws the reader into the story through the narrator's dilemma. A wonderful book to read with a group of teenagers as it encourages discussion about friendship, loyalty, choices and growing up. The 63 pages are very well illustrated and the text is double spaced. Certainly a book to read at one sitting. A Barrington Stoke Teen Read 63 pages / Age 12+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton

Dumb Chocolate Eyes
Under My Skin
Juno Dawson

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471402968

Sally Feather is an everyday, average girl with a normal and boring life, until Molly-Sue comes along.....she is trouble! Sally finds herself craving change and, after a scary encounter results in a death, Sally crosses paths with Molly-Sue, a pin up girl with attitude. The main problem? Molly-Sue is a tattoo and now Sally is stuck with her....forever! This novel had me gripped from the fist page. The story is engaging, the characters are likeable and well written, and the fact that the main antagonist is a tattoo adds an element of fear I have rarely experienced in the pages of a book. Sally hears voices and commits acts beyond her control due to Molly-Sue and her powers, meaning you find yourself wondering how this can ever end. I would absolutely reccommend it to anyone looking for a spooky and gripping read, I read it again immediately after finishing my first time through! 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Caroline Mitchell, librarian

Under My Skin
13 Days of Midnight
Leo Hunt

ISBN 9781408337462

Debut author Leo Hunt has created a great mix of humour and suspense in this tale of diversity and courage. Luke Manchett, 16 years old, plays on the right teams, wears the right shoes, and has the right friends. Mr Ordinary really until he receives a letter telling him that his estranged father has died and he is to attend the solicitor's office that afternoon regarding his inheritance. What Luke discovers changes his life. His father has left him six million pounds on condition that Luke takes full responsibility for all of the estate. What Luke does not know is that his father was a necromancer who had summoned and controlled a Host of murderous lost souls. Without control the Host will rebel and revenge themselves on Luke and his family. Elza, a misfit at school, has the second sight and recognises Luke's new gifts. She helps him in his quest to understand the Host and to unlock the mysteries of the Book of Eight. This is a great book to read if you think you have outgrown Skulduggery Pleasant. The author has developed a wide range of characters, many you would not like to meet on a dark night, but some you would like to befriend. I want a dog like Ham and without giving too much away, Chapter 7 contains an insight into his world. There are a couple of niggling textual errors but I am looking forward to the continuing story of Luke and Elza in the next installment due 2016. 378 pages / Age 12+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian.

13 Days of Midnight
Gypsy Girl
Kathryn James

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406353013

Opening with a tantalisingly blood-splattered glimpse of what's to come and ending with the promise of an explosive sequel, Gypsy Girl is a fresh and exciting novel that both thrills and educates. Sammy-Jo comes from a family of fighters and she can hold her own with the best of them, but when she accidentally becomes a witness to something decidedly dodgy she finds herself in real danger. Even worse, she's in charge of making sure her sister's blow-out wedding goes exactly according to plan whilst trying not to lose her heart to a boy she can never have. Gypsy Girl balances action and romance with a very touching family story. The plot whizzes along at a pace that should satisfy even the most impatient of readers and the suspense never lets up. The family dynamic is vibrant and endearing and though I'm no expert, it is clear that the author has done her research when it comes to the Gypsy and Traveller community and culture, which is represented vividly and diversely but also organically. There is a lot of violence and the constant threat of more, but it's never used uncritically or without consequence. Similarly, Sammy-Jo has a variety of both ethnic and gender-based slurs thrown at her throughout the book but this felt (sad to say) realistic rather than gratuitous. The characterisation in particular is great. Sammy-Jo is a gratifyingly no-nonsense, confident heroine with a clear, strong voice. Her sisters all get a moment to shine and her father's presence is faint but poignant. Rocky, Sammy-Jo's roguish charmer of a cousin, is a definite stand-out. Gregory, the love interest, in an industry full of tormented bad boys, is refreshingly nice but never dull, although the romance was the one thing that didn't quite work for me, the declarations of eternal devotion coming a bit too thick and fast for my liking. Gypsy Girl really is an all-rounder - there's action, suspense, culture, romance, family, moments of infectious humour and very real danger...you name it, Gypsy Girl's got it! 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Charlotte Revell, librarian

Gypsy Girl
Nobody Saw No One
Steve Tasane

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406350760

I must admit that when I first heard about this book I had considerable doubts - Oliver Twist meets Operation Yewtree?? It sounded like an attempt to out-dark a market already saturated by the grim and the gloomy. However, I could not have been more wrong. Nobody Saw No One deals with a depressingly relevant issue with sensitivity, tact, depth and hope as well as heapings of humour and heart. Citizen Digit is our contemporary Artful Dodger and a more delightful character you'd be hard-pressed to find. He has a very original, charismatic voice, slang and all - it's humorous, mostly honest and enjoyably hyperactive. Alfi Spar as Oliver is his earnest but naive conscience and together they make a wonderful double act. The book begins with Digit attempting to elope with a television set, running into Alfi, who is begging on the streets. We discover that they have both run away from the same care home after witnessing something terrible and, as the dangerous secret they share is teased out, by both readers and other characters, Digit must decide where his true loyalties lie and if doing the right thing is more important than looking out for oneself. Tasane has created a vibrant tapestry of colourful characters, from the downright despicable to, comparatively, the merely dodgy. Fagin is a smartly-dressed hacker with a variety of questionable apps for every occasion and Nancy and Sykes, themselves both victims of the same system, are given much-needed depth, with Tasane touching upon the cycle of abuse and nudging the reader to ask why these characters have ended up where we now find them. Perhaps most importantly, the issue of sexual abuse is handled with great care - it is never used gratuitously and for most of the book it remains in the background, an ominous shadow, looming over everything. When the truth is revealed to our protagonist for the first time, the shadow finally becomes manifest, and his heart-breaking reaction is raw and painful. Tasane doesn't shy away from the long-reaching consequences such abuse can have on both victims and witnesses as well as the wider society in which these crimes are taking place. Despite the brutal subject matter, Nobody Saw No One is also a very funny, incredibly moving action-packed adventure with a fantastically endearing duo at its heart. I hope it gets the acclaim and audience it deserves. 320 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Charlotte Revelle, librarian.

Nobody Saw No One
Liberty's Fire
Lydia Syson

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471403675

Against the backdrop of Paris 1971, four young people meet and their lives will be forever changed.... Zephyrine is a sixteen year old who has lost everything and is lured into the Revolution with promises of freedom and a better life, that is until she meets Anatole, a gentle violinist who strives for peace and artistry. Anatole's friends Jules and Marie believe his romance will lead him astray but can he and Zephyrine make things work when the world around them is in chaos? I really enjoyed this story, the detail and historical aspects of the French revolution made the book engaging and the love story made the characters relatable. This book is far removed from the usual types of novel I enjoy but I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the History of this period or anyone who believes in Love! The characters are well drawn and sympathetic and I would definitely describe it as a page turner, though not for younger readers given the violence. 368 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Caroline Mitchell, librarian

Liberty's Fire
Conversion
Katherine Howe

Oneworld Publications

ISBN 9781780747729

Conversion, based loosely on true events, is best described as The Crucible meets Gossip Girl and if that combination seems implausible at first, you'll soon discover it's really, really not. Colleen is a high-achieving student at a prestigious girls' school, trying to juggle her grades, her shifting friendships and her currently non-existent love life. But when a mystery epidemic of varying symptoms, from tics to hair loss to paralysis, starts sweeping through the school, Colleen discovers that maybe the past and the present aren't as far apart as they seem. Conversion is based around a very clever idea that draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end. Real or fake? Societal or supernatural? Colleen's story is bookended by the confessions of one of the Salem accusers, Ann, an unfolding tale every bit as interesting as the contemporary mystery. Together they bear witness and fall victim to the immense pressures historically and currently visited upon girls and women, whether it be the inferior status conferred upon Ann due to her age and gender, or the (literally) migraine-inducing strain Collette finds herself under as she tries to navigate society's and her own expectations. I had a couple of reservations: the 'um's and 'like's peppered throughout the dialogue are undoubtedly true to life but I found them quite distracting. I also thought one of Colleen's friends, who had a lot of potential, was underused. There was a random sexual reference thrown in which was fairly graphic compared to the general level of content and, in my opinion, unnecessary. It would have been more appropriate had the book spent any time examining the immense sexual pressure that many girls are currently experiencing, but when it had the chance to do this (a teacher-pupil relationship), the author seemed to back off at the last minute and suggest that once the girl finished school, they could live happily ever after in totally appropriate bliss. Finally, I wasn't entirely convinced by the conclusion, although I had a hard time pinning down why. After reading the author's note, I think I felt that what she said she was trying to show wasn't quite justified in the text. Having said that, Conversion is a refreshingly original, daring and intelligent book that should hopefully provoke some interesting discussion. The blending of past and present is very well done and the romance takes a thankfully supporting role behind Collette's own personal development. Part psychological thriller, part coming of age, part historical document, it is a truly worthy read. 432 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Charlotte

Conversion
It's About Love
Steven Camden

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007511242

Luke and Leila meet at college and their natural 'Star Wars' link ensures they begin to work together on creating movies. In an attempt to make a break from his past Luke has deliberately chosen to attend a college some distance from home. As Luke and Leila's relationship develops it becomes clear that the past has a way of catching up with you. Luke's complicated relationship with his family cannot be ignored and sometimes many of the wrong actions are done for the right reasons, and are done for love. This book starts at the end and leads the reader on a journey of discovery as to how the protagonists arrived at this point. It poses many questions about family, relationships and love, and looks at how a young teenager discovers himself through the many versions of his character we see throughout the story. An enjoyable and thought-provoking read. 434 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Dorne Fraser, librarian.

It's About Love