NEW TITLES

There are some real adventures published for teenaged readers this month, and here we have highlighted a few of those we have enjoyed including fantasy, horror, real life and there's even a glance at super powers!

Railhead: shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017
Philip Reeve

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192742759

As the title suggests, this is a thrilling train ride of a book which hurtles along a track fuelled with imagination and suspense. The wheels turn slowly at first but as the journey takes off with ever more tantalising twists and turns the suspense builds into a thrilling climax. Petty thief Zen Starling is unknowingly dragged into a power struggle between the Guardians, Railforce, Raven and the powerful Noon family. Zen is rescued from Railforce by Raven and encouraged to steal an antiquity from the Noon Family. He is aided by Nova, Raven's Motorik, a free-thinking intelligent robot. What Zen does not realise is that whoever has the antiquity, holds the power over the galaxies. In a world where instant communication is available via headsets, where trains communicate with each other and with humans, where truth is hidden and knowledge is power, how do you escape? Not knowing who to trust is the least of Zen's problems; with his life on the line and his family is in danger, time is running out. Phillip Reeve has designed a new world where travel between planets is as easy as boarding a train and quicker than you can imagine. A world where each train has its own personality a robotic work force for maintenance and guns for security; a world where friendship and trust can mean life or death; a world which took ten years in the imagining and was well worth the wait! 300 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Hambleton, librarian.

Railhead: shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017
Rick Riordan

ISBN 9780141342412

This is the first in a new trilogy from Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan. In the first book, Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer, we dive into a world of Norse gods, magic and sword fights - all of which takes place in contemporary Boston! In the first book, we meet teenaged Magnus Chase, living rough on the streets of Boston following the death of his mum, who was killed in a wolf attack two years previously. But it is not until his 16th birthday that Magnus begins to realise that there is more to Boston than meets the eye. Boston, he discovers, is where the world of the Norse gods and modern humans meet, and however unwilling he is, Magnus has a role to play in the future of humans and the gods. It all begins the day he pulls the Sword of Summer from the river, battles a fire giant, and dies.... I don't want to give too much away, but after his death Percy finds he has been taken to the Halls of Valhalla (now a rather plush and extensive hotel for warriors), and has to discover if that is where he really belongs - and he identy of his dad - in between trying to retrieve various Norse god's lost magical items. Riordan brings his trademark humour and dazzling plotting skills to the story and gives us an accurate (and funny) look at the world of the Norse gods, made contemporary. It is a delicious, packed read, although at 512 pages it will demand stamina. But it's well worth it - and I can't wait to see what the next adventure brings! 512 pages / Ages 10/11+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Silence is Goldfish
Annabel Pitcher

Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's)

ISBN 9781780620008

Pitcher has already made a name for herself in exploring complex, emotional situations with a light touch and a tenderness for her very real characters. In Silence is Goldfish, she returns to this territory, exploring issues around identity, family and communication through her teenaged character Tess Turner. Tess has always wanted to please her father but when she makes a dramatic discovery about him, she finds she is not brave enough to confront him with this truth, and not sure what to say to him if she did. At first, she tries to rebel by running away but, having never rebelled before, she finds she can't so instead, Tess reverts into herself and into silence, refusing to speak to anyone other than a plastic goldfish-shaped torch that she buys from a garage shop. As the story's events unfold, however, Tess gradually comes to realise that true power lies in words, not silence. Pitcher is adept at exploring family relations through this story; the interplay between Tess and each of her parents, but especially her father, sounds very real and we are on Tess's side as she retreats into silence. Despite that silence, Tess's voice comes over loud and clear through the 'silent' chats she has with the goldfish and this lightens the tone of the story, bringing lots of humour, as well as insights into why Tess is behaving as she does. Tess is no victim and nor is she conventionally attractive, and it's good to see a lead character like her in literature for this age range. There is much to explore and discuss in the story. 384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Silence is Goldfish
The Wolf Wilder
Katherine Rundell

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408862582

From the author of the acclaimed Rooftoppers this is a unique, breathtaking, exciting, and moving read about life for a young girl in Pre-Revolution Tsarist Russia. Wolves are a status symbol for the aristocracy who have them in their homes to perform tricks. However, you can never really tame a wolf and eventually they lapse back into their wild state and, because it is believed to be bad luck to kill a wolf, they are sent to a wolf wilder whose job it is to return them to the wild. Feodora and her mother are just such wolf wilders and live a harsh solitary existence in a deep forest with a band of three wolves they are in the midst of untaming. Feo has grown up spending more time with wolves than humans and she loves her life. However, everything changes when General Rakov, one of the Tsar's favoured officers, makes his presence known. He believes that the wolves are dangerous and that the wilders are witches - the prologue describes how you can identify a wilder much like Roald Dahl does when describing how to identify the title characters in The Witches. Feo's life changes dramatically when Rakov's violence escalates - he kills a new addition to her wolf clan, burns her house down, and imprisons her mother. Together with Ilya, an escaped young soldier, her trio of wolves, plus a newly acquired wolf cub, (which spends most of the story hiding down Feo's top or in her hair) she travels through the heavy snow-filled forests of Russia to St Petersburg to rescue her mother and escape Rakov's soldiers who are close behind her. With dramatic scenes of wolf attacks, a very poignant death of one of the wolves, a child army that follows Feo into battle, and evocative descriptions of snow, ice, and cold, this is a very unusual novel with a fairytale quality and is a good introduction to these historical events. Some things irritated me such as the black and white illustrations, which are so blocky and grainy that it is often hard to tell what is being depicted. The child gang made me think of the child fighters in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with their nettle or glass laced snowballs and icicles used as arrows in bows. The battle was short and felt rushed and the hints that Ilya may be gay jarred with the rest of the story - I kept wondering why this was being done in such a way. However, I loved the effect that the immense white space of each page had - as you read how the snow and cold enveloped Feo and the others it felt as if the paper's whiteness was drawing you in - I dare you not to shiver even if you are hot. I also enjoyed how Feo wears a red cloak; how, through her influence the village's children become wild and insurgent instead of docile and meek just as she is teaching the wolves to be and which is in complete contrast with the dithering, wary adults who don't know how best to deal with Rakov. Finally, the moral about using the fear and loss you feel to your advantage to fight against those who want you to cower to it was well achieved. 319 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian

The Wolf Wilder
Zeroes
Scott Westerfeld

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471124891

Superheroes have always gripped our imaginations and in this new series from authors Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti, we discover what it might be like to grow up with a secret power! Zeroes (not 'Heroes') follows six teenagers, all 'millennials', who have very twenty first century super powers; they rely on other people being present to drive the energy of their individual powers, whether that's enhancing a group mood, seeing through others' eyes, or taking leadership of a crowd. Like all superpowers, however, these come with a price and each of the teenagers' lives and relationships are affected by their power. As a group, though, the teenagers realise they can test out their powers, find new ways to channel them, and perhaps do some good. But while they might mean to do the right thing, it doesn't always go to plan... This is an action-packed series, written collaboratively by the three authors, which also takes time to explore what it means to grow up with these kinds of powers - how isolating it can be to be 'different', and how the Zeroes who each have a power don't always like each other. We also see the individual characters develop; in this story, we watch Scam (his power is to have a voice that can speak for him to get him what he wants from other people) confront how devastating his power can be for other people, and he gradually tries to take back his own personal power. There is lots that can be discussed by readers - not least of which is which, if any, of these powers they'd want for themselves! 400 pages / Ages 11/12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Zeroes
These Shallow Graves
Jennifer Donnelly

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471405143

Josephine Montfort attends a private girls' school, is expected shortly to marry the handsome and extremely wealthy Bram Aldrich and lives her life of privilege amongst the social elite of New York. Her world is utterly different from that of Eddie, young news reporter waiting for his big break. He has connections in the seedier side of town, among the pickpockets and prostitutes, as is valiantly trying to better himself with hard work and determination. After the violent suicide of Josephine's father, Josephine cannot accept that he killed himself and starts to secretly investigate the increasingly entangled and dangerous mystery with Eddie's help. Josephine's eyes are opened to a whole underworld she knew nothing of and she makes some fiercely loyal new friends. She begins to question her own life and its values, and long to become an independent reporter herself. She slowly falls in love with Eddie despite knowing that such a relationship would never be allowed, and she would cause a huge scandal with her family disowning her if she persued it. This is a gripping historical murder mystery, filled with surprisingg plot twists, violence, period detail and a touch of romance. Although an historical novel, it covers issues which are highly relevant today such as the huge gap between the affluent and poor of the world and the social structures that ensure this continues. Girls especially will be delighted with Josephine Montfort who has the same pluck, respect, independent will and delight in life as any Eva Ibbotson heroine, though the book should equally appeal to boys. A cracking good read. 482 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

These Shallow Graves
Here be Dragons
Sarah Mussi

Vertebrate Publishing

ISBN 9781910240342

Ellie Morgan lives with her mother in a remote farmhouse on Mount Snowdon. We meet Ellie on Christmas Day with Snowdon in the grip of a severe snowstorm. There is no power and Ellie and her Mum are called out by the Mountain Rescue team to help rescue a girl who has gone missing on the mountain. While searching for the girl, Ellie spots a mysterious boy high above her on a ridge, shrouded in mist and snow. He is handsome and fascinating and, disregarding the danger and terrible conditions, Ellie sets out to find him. So begins a story of love and ancient legend. Ellie falls in love with Henry, the mysterious boy on the mountain and, along with her loyal friend, George, she becomes embroiled in a battle that has been raging for centuries. Warring dragons, ancient feuds and deep magic from the mountain mean that they are in real danger, as the story builds to an exciting final battle. This is a love story and a fantasy but it is firmly rooted in the reality of everyday life for a modern teenage girl. Ellie tells the story in the first person and her account is interspersed with the text messages sent between her group of friends. As well as ancient Welsh legend and dragons, she is concerned with what to wear and the girl who wants to steal her boyfriend! It is a fast-paced read and includes some lovely descriptions of Snowdon as the weather changes. This should appeal to readers of 12+ who enjoy fantasy but may well also draw in readers who prefer a contemporary 'real life' teenage love story. I will eagerly await the next book in the Snowdonia Chronicles! 409 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Karen Poolton, college librarian.

Here be Dragons
Dangerous Lies
Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471125089

Having witnessed a murder, Estella becomes Stella and is relocated to Thunder Basin, Nebraska under witness protection. Resentful and difficult, she hates her new life and longs to be reunited with her boyfriend, Reed. However, meeting her new neighbour, Chet Falconer, and starting to build a new life, she begins to find it increasingly hard to maintain her pretence and danger is never far away. This book leaps straight into the plot with no hesitation. Stella is full of anger and bitterness about the situation she has found herself in, and is not very likable initially as she makes herself as unpleasant as possible. As the plot develops, so does Stella's personality and her growing relationships with her 'foster mother', Chet (the neighbour) and Inny, who she works with at the Sundown, allow the reader to see her in a more favourable light and learn more about how she has come to this point. The story has some surprising twists and was very engaging and enjoyable. A particular strength is how relationships and family loyalties are explored, often making individuals act in strange ways. How realistic the ending is is questionable. Everything neatly ties up allowing Stella/ Estella to have the life she wants- would this really be the outcome of her situation? I'm not so sure, but it didn't stop me enjoying the book overall! 385 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Dangerous Lies
Unbecoming
Jenny Downham

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200643

Reader beware, as you read this book you will think about it - the characters, the plots - all of the time and you will snatch any moment you can to immerse yourself further into the complex lives of seventeen-year-old Katie, her mother Caroline, and her mother Mary. Downham is such a beautiful poetic gentle writer that I re-read many passages over and over, especially those that describe the effects that dementia is having on the grandmother of the story. For this reason the book should be prescribed to all those whose job it is to deal with people suffering from such diseases, although I would be reticent about recommending it to a relative of someone who is suffering. It is poignant, heartfelt, and sensitive - to compare every time a memory is lost to a tree in a forest disappearing and the clearings becoming bigger and bigger as time goes on paints such an evocative and haunting image which stays with you. As the previously estranged Mary becomes a bigger part of Caroline and Katie's lives her memories unravel and with her confusion long-held secrets, distrust, and guilt are released which all make this a captivating chronicle of three women from the 1940s to the present day. As Katie learns through these family dramas that it is important to be true to yourself and not let guilt or others' expectations of you weigh you down, she becomes comfortable with her growing attraction to another girl and realises that the bullying reactions of her former friends is not that important after all. The women of the story are all intriguing and distinct characters but Katie is a wonderful lead. She is smart, brave, funny, kind, very caring, and empathetic and I rooted for her to succeed in her search for the truth, the key to unlock and save Mary's memories, and her growing romance with Simona. She was so real and engaging, and felt like someone I would like to meet. This novel is not an easy read; it features several different plots and interweaves various viewpoints and eras together. It also covers a whole range of very serious subjects such as depression, suicide, homophobia, single parents, grief and so on. There are so many talking points such as what it means to be a good mother or daughter and the importance of "confront[ing] the past and seiz[ing] the present", that I am sure it would make a good reading group or class read. It is engrossing, memorable, touching, haunting, and an intense read. 437 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian.

Unbecoming
Midnight Dolls
Kiki Sullivan

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409584018

Eveny and her sister Queens of Carrefour return with more secrets, more magic and more danger in this gripping sequel to the fabulous Dolls series. Welcome to Carrefour, where long-buried secrets simmer like heat over the bayou and whatever you desire most can be yours - for a price. It's only been a couple of months since Eveny Cheval discovered that she's a powerful queen of 'Zandara', the voodoo-like form of magic that has controlled the town of Carrefour for generations. She has recovered from the Mardi Gras attack by Main de Lumiere which cost her friend, Drew, his life and surely that's the end of it now? Following the return of her long lost Father, Eveny and her sisters discover she is Queen of a second magical 'sosyete' and to keep them safe they travel to a mysterious island where Eveny must decide where her loyalties lie and that's without considering where her heart belongs, with the quiet Caleb or mysterious Bram. The sister queens face a danger more terrifying than one thay have ever faced before and Carrefour will never be the same again. This book kept me turning the pages and fearing for the safety of the characters I so loved from the first novel. The magic and thrills keep coming and I cannot recommend this sequal highly enough. The tension is palpable as the queens face off against the new threat to their way of life, if you liked the first book, you will love this one! 402 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Caroline Mitchell, teacher.

Midnight Dolls