NEW TITLES

Time travel, sci-fi, dystopian fiction and fantasy all feature strongly in this month's selection of books for teenaged readers, as well as a wide range of 'real life' stories.

Lucy Locket: Online Disaster
Emma Moss

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509814916

It's about friendships, building self-confidence, cute animals, boyfriends and vlogging. Lucy has a stammer and is targeted by the school bully on the first day at her new school. She soon makes some good new friends though, and starts a Vlog channel to help her build her self-confidence. I'm sure this book will be a hit with many girls, especially those caught up in the narcissistic world of YouTube. The text is interspersed with doodles and text conversations, and regular vlog scripts which all include photos, making the book more fun and also attractive to more reluctant readers. The eye catching cover with its glittery pink writing is sure to attract attention from its target audience. My only reservation is that the girls in the story don't always follow the sensible vlogging advice tips at the end of the book; Lucy tells the world where she works as a volunteer and she doesn't ask for copyright holder's permission to use the music for instance. This is a shame as I'm sure there will be many readers inspired to try their own vlog after reading the book. 261pages / Ages 8-13 / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

Lucy Locket: Online Disaster
The House on Hummingbird Island
Sam Angus

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781447263036

'The air was soft and still as if once a spell was cast over the house that had forever enchanted it and left it there in shimmering dream-like beauty', this is how Idie rediscovers the house on Hummingbird Island after her twelve year absence. Sent to England to live with her grandfather, the spirited and utterly loveable Idie returns to the West Indies plantation home of her inheritance where she finds a menagerie of local wildlife, tales of ghosts and untold secrets about her mother and the past. Whilst Idie attempts to put together the puzzle of her family's history, she earns the respect of all around her and the friendship of Austin. Surrounding themselves with the animals of the island they build a haven that the dark secrets of the past greedily attempts to destroy. Idie's story spans several years and inevitably the effects of the first world war reach her tiny home. She watches as the men of the island slowly leave to serve and fight along side British comrades with the hope of earning for themselves respect and racial equality. Idie watches helplessly as she witnesses the opposite, discrimination of the worst kind, which effects the people she has grown to love. At the end of the war Idie is faced with a choice - does she return as mistress to her childhood home, or resolutely continue to forge a life in her Caribbean home? At the conclusion of the story, it is her unprejudiced care and consideration for others that proves to be the key that finally unlocks the story of her past and brings about a well earned resolution. Sam Angus's characters jump off of the page, either loveable or loathsome, making this book a throughly enjoyable read. The plot has great pace and the inclusion of letters to and from the characters makes for a well rounded addition to the story. A wonderfully written, poignant tale, so eloquently told about how the past can be healed through the sheer grit of a determined young spirit. Readers will adore Idie and the creative unfolding of this beautiful story. Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Emily Beale, school librarian

The House on Hummingbird Island
The Square Root of Summer
Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509808281

Seventeen year old Margot, usually known as Gottie, G or Grots, lives with her unconventional family in a quiet seaside village in Norfolk. She has a brother, Ned, who is at University and a loving but rather distant German father. We learn at the beginning of the book that her grandfather, known as Grey, died the previous year and that she has never known her mother who died when she was born. This is the story of Gottie's summer a year after Grey's death. Her brother is home again and this brings renewed contact with Jason, one of his friends, who she had a secret relationship with the previous summer. Struggling to come to terms with Grey's death while dealing with her feelings for Jason and trying to rebuild her relationship with best friend Sof, she is further thrown into turmoil when Thomas, the boy next door she grew up with, suddenly returns after five years of no contact. The really unusual feature of this book is Gottie's time travel, sending her back to the previous summer and even further back to the day Thomas left. Unlike other books when this just 'happens', Gottie explains these 'wormholes' by maths equations and explanations based on physics. This is, essentially, a book about love, friendship and dealing with grief. The physics elements could be rather daunting for non-scientists (like me), but no doubt some readers would find the challenge of understanding the equations an added attraction. Though the plot is somewhat confusing because of the time travel and the explanations largely unfathomable, the unconventional characters are charming and it is a beautifully written portrayal of a seventeen year old's life-changing summer. This would appeal to 12+ readers who are looking for an unconventional love story and are willing to either embrace or overlook the complicated physics. 323 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Karen Poolton, college librarian.

The Square Root of Summer
Crystal Run: The Crystal Run: Book 1
Sheila O'Flanagan

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444927054

The Crystal Run is the first teenaged novel from bestselling adult author Sheila O'Flanagan and the fantasy story - the first in a possible series - comes packed with adventure and twists. While escaping from school bullies, Joe finds himself transported to a different world, Carcassia, in a training centre for 'Runners' who travel into the enemy territory of Kanabia to place crystals that will keep Carcassia shielded. Mistrusted as a spy, Joe is then sent to accompany one of the Runners, Kaia, on her journey to place a precious 'power crystal'. However, Kaia is ill-prepared for her journey as Kanabia has changed and betrayal is at play. For Joe, this means he may not be able to use the crystal's power to return home. But he also needs to save Kaia; for Runners, the end of the race means death. The focus of the story is the relationship between Kaia and Joe as they get to know, and like, each other and discover their own inner strength in this strange world in which they find themselves. O'Flanagan has produced a nicely paced fantasy adventure set within a beautifully-realised world that will have plenty of appeal to teenaged readers. While the story is completed at the end of the book, Joe and Kaia's journey is not and I for one look forward to seeing where they are taken next. 400 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Alison Hall.

Crystal Run: The Crystal Run: Book 1
Jessica's Ghost
Andrew Norriss

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200568

Jessica's Ghost (now available in paperback) is a strange little book that surprised me as it is very simply written and yet has a topic that is quite shocking. It follows Francis as he emerges from a life of bullying and isolation into a confident boy helping others along the way. The transformation is brought about by a ghost, Jessica, that only he can see and speak to although, as the story progressess, we find out that a few others may be able to see her as well, the reason for which becomes clear. I loved the simplicity of the writing and Francis as a character. The message behind the book is quite clear by the end and the story flows to its natural conclusion. The cynical part of me wonders if young people would be able to make the change in their lives like Francis and his new friends quite so easily but it would be lovely to believe it to be true. The topic is quite startling once revealed and I am not sure how younger readers would feel. That said, it is a compelling read and one that I would recommend - I couldn't put it down! 254 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell

Jessica's Ghost
Riverkeep
Martin Stewart

Penguin Books Ltd

ISBN 9780141362038

Fantasy, friendship, gothic horror, humour, discovery, courage. What is the story about? Here's the blurb: '15-year-old Wulliam is dreading taking up his family's mantle of Riverkeep, tending the river and fishing corpses from its treacherous waters. But then everything changes. One night his father is possessed by a dark spirit, and Wull hears that a cure lurks deep within the great sea-beast known as the Mormorach. He realizes he must go on an epic journey downriver to find it - or lose Papa forever. Interesting. There is such a thing as a Riverkeep. The Glasgow Humane Society, the real life watermen of Glasgow, rescuing and recovering those that have fallen, by accident or grim intent, into the waterways in and around the city. Incredible. My gorgeous copy of Riverkeep (I'm a big fan of cover illustrations) arrived with a bit of detail on the book and also a little about the author, Martin Stewart, which led me on a trail to a newspaper article in The Scotsman from Oct 2013. In that article I met George Parsonage, effectively the last of Glasgow's rivermen, and I see the seeds of Martin's novel, Riverkeep. I'd encourage you to seek out that article, it's fascinating, incredibly fascinating. Riverkeep is born from the combined inspiration of the real life rivermen of Glasgow, members of the Glasgow Humane Society and the young students in Martin's classroom who were carers for family members, - an army of silent heroes, taking care of the people they love. Wulliam takes on the mantle of a position he never wanted, upholding those responsibilities while trying to care for a father who for the most part is unreachable within his own body, catching glimpses of his father riding to the surface momentarily eclipsing and conquering the creature within. Essentially a father with dementia, growing further away. As Wull's quest to restore his father begins (by conquering the mighty Mormorach) they inevitably pick up passengers on the way, each with their own take on life and each with their own journey - Tillinghast being my favourite, though I'd love to know more about Mix. We meet more fantastical creatures, animal and human, in fact the book reads like a fantasy fairytale from the school of Grimm; there are beasts to vanquish (Faelkons and Ursas to name but two) and grotesque people to avoid; the bulk of Mr Pent comes to mind - and the body count is high thanks to the Mormorach - but there is warmth and laughter too! Riverkeep takes you by the hand and wades into the murky waters of the Danek where you are buoyed by the friendship and love, the compassion and the life of the characters and weighted by the frailty and darkness of that same life, the monsters that lurk in the depths. Give it a go! 368 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

Riverkeep
One: WINNER OF THE CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2016
Sarah Crossan

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408827215

Now available in paperback, One (which has been shortlised for the Carnegie Medal) is written in the same style as Crossan's earlier book, 'The Weight of Water'. It is the story of Grace and Tippi, conjoined twins who after being home schooled for all their lives, start at a mainstream school where despite the stares, sneers and cruelty, they find two really good friends. The girls make the momentous decision to have surgery to separate themselves, with heart-breaking results. This was such a good story but I felt it could have been explored so much more had it been written in a more conventional style. 192 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Amanda Allen, school librarian.

One: WINNER OF THE CILIP CARNEGIE MEDAL 2016
Whisper to Me
Nick Lake

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408853863

Cassie and her father, a former Navy SEAL, live in the run-down holiday resort of Oakwood, New Jersey. There is a serial killer on the loose and following the death of her mother three years ago, in a raid on the family restaurant, Cassie is finding it difficult to cope. When she makes a terrible discovery on the beach, it sets her life spiralling out of control. Haunted by a voice which says, and makes her do, awful things, she has to learn to conquer her inner demons. Written as an apology and love letter to the boy she meets that summer, Cassie's story is a rollercoaster of emotion and self-discovery which had me totally gripped. Nick Lake tackles a difficult subject with compelling honesty, so that reader can identify with the turmoil that Cassie is having to live with, and find her way through. Recommended to readers of 13+, this book is published at a time when teenage mental health issues are currently being discussed more widely. Hopefully it will help to give some insight and understanding into some of the issues which can affect young people. 544 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Jayne Gould, librarian.

Whisper to Me
Chasing the Stars
Malorie Blackman

Doubleday Children's Books

ISBN 9780857531414

Deep, passionate love against the power of rumour, lies and jealousy; one of the oldest love stories told amongst the stars of faraway galaxies in a world ruled by the corrupt Authority. Vee and her twin brother Aiden have been travelling alone through space for three years since the rest of their crew were wiped out by an alien virus. Putting their lives on the line, they rescue anti-Authority rebel colonists who are being attacked by merciless aliens. Nathan, the son of the colonists' commander, and Vee quickly fall hopelessly in love. They have both seen too much death, suffering and grief in their lives and so the two teenagers draw strength from each other and their love which promises to heal their emotional scars. But life is not all rosy on board, where the colonists are suspicious of Vee and her brother who they see as part of the Authority which has treated the colonists so atrociously over the years. A number of fatal 'accidents' happen and tensions start to run high. Accusations, suspicions and rumour run rife through the ship. The two lovers start to listen to it and soon each starts to question the love and commitment of the other, and they start to swiftly spiral towards tragedy. The book tackles issues that were around in Othello's day, are certainly rife today, and as the book ably illustrates, will survive as problems well into the future. Guaranteed top quality story telling from the brilliant Malorie Blackman. Recommended for older teens. Contains some sex scenes. 495p / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

Chasing the Stars
North Face: A Deadly Earthquake in the Himalaya. A Climber Trapped High on Everest. an Epic Rescue Attempt is About to Begin.
Matt Dickinson

Vertebrate Publishing

ISBN 9781910240465

Ryan and his friend, Klaus, have made it to Base Camp on Everest to take pictures of the world's highest peak. Soon after arriving, an earthquake causes avalanches which bury and kill many climbers. After Tashi, a local Tibetan girl, helped Ryan save his friend, he learns how difficult life has been for her and her family since Chinese soldiers prevented them visiting their usual grazing lands. Together, they set off on the dangerous climb up Everest to find Tashi's brother. An exciting and well written adventure story, North Face is a must-read for those interested in climbing and mountains. Obviously written by someone with great knowledge and experience in this area, the story would stand up to scrutiny by an expert whilst being thoroughly enjoyable for someone with little or no knowledge of the subject. The book is extremely readable, with excellent description, not hampered by technical jargon. Tashi's story is beautifully told, highlighting the situation of the native people of Tibet and the threat to their culture and beliefs. The warmth and closeness of the family contrasts with the callous treatment they receive at the hands of the army. Tashi is a very strong, convincing character, making the reader cheer her on throughout. North Face is a great read for those looking for something a bit different! A very satisfying read! 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

North Face: A Deadly Earthquake in the Himalaya. A Climber Trapped High on Everest. an Epic Rescue Attempt is About to Begin.
Caramel Hearts
E. R. Murray

Alma Books Ltd

ISBN 9781846883927

Can a book full of secrets unlock the past? That's the question posed on the front cover. Meet Olivia. Olivia has an alcoholic mother in rehab; a father who left when she was a baby; an older sister struggling to keep her out of care by maintaining a family home - at the expense of her own university studies; a friendship that is disintegrating; a bully; a boy. Olivia finds an old recipe book of her mum's, a recipe book that was born in a time before the alcohol, before the abandonment, before the daily struggle of friendship. It creates a picture of a mum who loved and cared and laughed and baked; the sort of mum Olivia desperately wants to rediscover and hopes can still be found within the alcoholic shell of her mum. So Olivia starts baking. Baking is her redemption. Unfortunately however, at the same time as she is reaching for the happiness that the recipes promise, she also makes some bad decisions - compounded by some terrible decisions! Will she ever do the right thing? That was what I liked about the book; Olivia wasn't infallible, she made some mistakes, stupid ridiculous &'aaargh- why-did-you-do-that' mistakes, but she agonised over them afterwards. Admittedly while the consequences unfolded. Her disappointment is painfully felt and the value of friends and family beautifully measured. The inclusion of the recipes that focus Olivia's hope is a nice touch too and I fully intend to try out a couple! Caramel Hearts is Elizabeth Murray's first book for young adults, I'd happily lend it out to an interested Year 7 and would steer Year 8s toward it.

Caramel Hearts
The Bombs That Brought Us Together: Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016
Brian Conaghan

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

ISBN 9781408855744

Charlie Law lives with his Mum and Dad in Little Town, a place run by the Regime, through gangs of Rascals who patrol the town making the residents' lives a misery. There's no freedom of speech and pretty much no 'normal' life, the result being it's a boring but scary existence. Charlie lives by ten rules he's made up, to ensure he doesn't get into trouble. And until now he's done okay, spending most of his time dreaming of being Erin F's boyfriend. The arrival of a new family in the block begins the unravelling of life as Charlie knows it, bringing with it friendship, danger and heartache. Charlie must decide whether his rules still apply... Sometimes you start reading something and you just know it's going to be good. I just loved Charlie, the hero of the story. You can instantly 'hear' his voice; a young teenager caught up in events way out of his control. There are many parallels that can be drawn with events in today's world involving conflict, refugees, bullying and choices of morality. The world the author creates is very real and is at times incredibly uncomfortable, quite fearsome but also downright funny. Living in a regime-oppressed society is so well implied that you can feel the claustrophobia. The characters surrounding Charlie, his parents, the terrifying 'rascals', The Big Man, all echo the fear that is embedded in the plot. The treatment of the new family reflects the impact prejudice can have on society. Thankfully what is most inspiring is Charlie, and the lengths he goes to protect his friends and family. Charlie has to face his fears, and find his feet, in a world that is increasingly unstable. And despite the choices he has to make, ultimately his bravery is rewarded. 368 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly, consultant librarian.

The Bombs That Brought Us Together: Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016
Broken Sky
L. A. Weatherly

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409572022

After The Final War had devastated much of the world a neutral organization, World for Peace, was set up to resolve conflicts by Peacefights, Tier 1,2 or 3. All other weapons are forbidden and countries send their pilots, one on one, to fight at designated places. Amity Vancour is a Tier 2 pilot in the Western Seaboard, whose late father fought before her. Kay, an unbelieving astrologer, lives in the Central States which was split from the Western Seaboard after Senator John Gunnison announced the 'stars' had shown him the way. People there live under a regime of fear ruled by Astrology and where Discordants are sent to correction camps never to be seen again. With chapters flicking between the two countries it soon becomes clear to them both that some Peacefights are rigged, by Gunnison, to ensure that he gains power where necessary for his ultimate plan. Worse than that the corruption goes deeper than either of them thought possible. Meanwhile Amity is reunited with her childhood friend, Collie, who has reappeared after escaping from the Central States and is now also a Peacefighter. Without giving too much away I did guess part of the plot which others may not see coming but this did not spoil the book at all. It is a compelling read with lots of exciting action but can at times be confusing and I had to re-read several parts to ensure I understood how the new world had been set up. I usually prefer standalone books and was wary before reading as the blurb states it is the first book, however, there is so much to this new world and its corruption that I can see why its a trilogy. Who can Amity really trust? I can't wait for the next book to see where the author will take us. 400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Broken Sky
The Ghosts of Heaven: Shortlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal 2016
Marcus Sedgwick

Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's)

ISBN 9781780622217

Four very different stories set in extremely varying circumstances but all linked by the spiral. Each story draws you in and is well written, as you would expect from Marcus Sedgewick. 'Whispers in the Dark' is set in primitive times and is written in short block verses. Stark and frightening, it tells the story of a girl taking part in a ritual with her village, when the village is attacked and everyone is killed, she manages to escape into the caves. When what I imagine was a meteor crash smashes into the earth, she is the only one left alive, to die slowly and alone in the cave. 'The Witch in the Water' is set in medieval times which were deeply suspicious and fearful. When Father Escrove arrives in the village, he is determined to rid the villagers of their pagan beliefs and rituals, this puts Anna, the local wise woman's daughter, in danger. Jealousy, lies and betrayal result in Anna's innocent death. 'The Easiest Room in Hell' is set in America in an asylum for the insane. Widowed Doctor James and his daughter arrive for his new job there. Doctor James becomes increasingly uncomfortable with how things are run in the asylum and the treatment of some of the patients, particularly Charles Dexter, a poet who is writing an entire novel in his head, who seems to know things that he has never been told about Doctor James' wife and finally ends his own mental torment in the sea. 'The Song of Destiny' is set in space; the ship carries a cargo of 500 people who are in 'Longsleep', its mission to find habitable planets. Sentinels wake every 12 hours for their shifts. Keir Bowman eventually realises that someone else is awake on the ship with him, this should be impossible, but the pods are being tampered with and people are dying' the story links in with all the previous ones. An amazing book. 224 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Amanda Allen, school librarian.

The Ghosts of Heaven: Shortlisted for the Cilip Carnegie Medal 2016