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Friendship, family and empathy are some of the important themes covered in the following stories, which explore how teenagers find their place in the world. As well as real world settings, the selected books feature historical fiction, fantasy and detective genres. The books have been reviewed for ReadingZone by teachers and librarians.

The Lotterys Plus One
Emma Donoghue

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509803194

The Lotterys are a very happy family, living a unique lifestyle. Having won the lottery, their parents do not have to work, but can devote themselves to family - and community - life. And when your family is composed of four parents, seven children and five pets, that's a really good thing! Nine-year-old Sumac is looking forward to having a One-to-One Lottafun with PopCorn when she finds out her grandfather - one she doesn't know about - is going to have to come and live with them as he is having trouble living alone. Grumpy and intolerant, it soon becomes clear that he is not going to fit easily into their hectic, unorthodox lives. At its heart, this is a book about family and what family really means. The Lotterys are not a conventional family 'unit' - the parents are two same-sex couples and the children are either theirs by birth or adoption - but they embody what family truly means. The house they live in - Camelottery - is full of rooms with wonderful names that suit their purpose - the Loud Lounge, the Mess, the Derriere - and full of life and love. Sumac is the observant, sensitive organised one, keeper of the family stories. She 'always carries three (books), because what if you finish one and the next one sucks?'. Having to give up her ground floor bedroom to her new relative, she watches as things around her change and she sees the life she loves threatened by his presence. However, this is a story with understanding and acceptance at its heart and she comes to realise that he does belong with them after all - 'He's our plus one'. There are many characters in this story - each one a complete individual. From the parents to the children with Aspen's eating issues and inability to keep still, Brian/ Briar's gender fluidity and Oak's developmental delay - each is a part of this loving and chaotic family and each has their own clear identity. There is also a rich tapestry of cultural diversity at play throughout the story which threads its way through as part of family life, customs, food and festivals. Showing that family is what you make it, this is a wonderful story about relationships and family. 320 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

The Lotterys Plus One
The Forever Court (Knights of the Borrowed Dark Book 2)
Dave Rudden

Puffin

ISBN 9780141356617

This is the second in Dave Rudden's trilogy about The Knights of the Borrowed Dark (do read the first one as, not only is it a riot of adventure and wit, but it also gives the background on how the characters have come to this point). It continues the story of Denizen Hardwick as he comes to terms with his new life and the demands it makes of him. Matters are complicated by the sudden summons of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark to the Forever Court, an organisation run by the Endless King, which will mean Denizen's likely reunion with Mercy, daughter of the Endless King and the one who bestowed upon him powers beyond his understanding and control. Interspersed with this story is that of Uriel and Ambrel, twins growing up on an isolated island on a castle that has seen better days. There is clearly going to be a link. This book, like the first, is a fast paced mix of action heroics and humour, against a backdrop of complicated emotions. Denizen is still trying to forge a relationship with the mother he did not know he had and Uriel uncovers a secret that throws into chaos his sense of who he is. So, three factions, (the Knights, the Forever Court and the Croit family) are thrown together in a series of epic tussles, including the destruction of a well-known Dublin landmark. Who can be trusted, where do loyalties lie, is anyone what they seem? All these issues are addressed in this book though not many are resolved and everything is gearing up for a tense final book. The teaser for the next book suggests that at least some of the action takes place back in Crosscaper where it all began for Denizen. Readers will be keen to find out what the author has in store for his characters. 416 pages / Ages 9-14 years / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

The Forever Court (Knights of the Borrowed Dark Book 2)
The Secret Keepers
Trenton Lee Stewart

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781911077282

Reuben lives with his mother in New Umbra, a place ruled by the unseen menace known as The Smoke, and his very much seen henchmen, The Directions, who always travel in groups of four and watch everything and everyone. The townspeople live in fear of coming to the attention of The Smoke and know they need to keep on the right side of The Directions to ensure that does not happen. Reuben, a lonely boy with no friends who routinely skips school in favour of exploring the area, knows to steer clear of them but he has an adventurous streak and a curiosity which is bound to lead him into trouble. One day, while on one of his many excursions, he finds something very unusual - a pocket watch with no hands, seemingly useless until Reuben works out that it has the power to make the person holding it invisible for fifteen minutes at a time. The downside is that, whilst the person is invisible, they are also unable to see. Reuben is desperate to find out more about the watch and where it came from, believing there might be a reward for its return which would solve his mother's dire financial situation, but his search for the owner also brings him to the attention of The Smoke and Reuben and his new found friends, descendants of a past owner of the watch, are in grave danger as they battle to prevent The Smoke achieving the ultimate power. This is an exciting story involving many twists and turns, a legend from long ago and a promise kept down through the generations. It is also a very long story - 510 pages in all. It is advertised as suitable for readers of nine and over and indeed there is nothing in the vocabulary, the story line or the concepts that the competent nine year old reader would find overly challenging. The thickness of the book, however, may be off-putting for many readers of this age group. The book, though, is divided into three parts, the first two of about 150 pages each and the third section a little longer at about 200 pages and it might be more manageable for the young reader to consider this as a trilogy contained within one volume and treat it as three books. 510 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

The Secret Keepers
William Wenton and the Luridium Thief
Bobbie Peers

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406371703

Since the disappearance of his grandfather, William and his parents have been in hiding for eight years, living in Norway. Having a fascination for puzzles, William is a talented code breaker and on a school trip to the History of Science Museum, he is drawn to the 'Impossible Puzzle' exhibition where his extraordinary skills lead to his discovery and kidnap. Taken to the Institute for Post-Human Research, William learns more about his grandfather's disappearance and the strange substance - luridium - which everyone seems to want. From the very start, William is a unique individual. A bit of a loner, fascinated by code breaking, he spends hours poring over his grandfather's old books, happiest on his own as his 'gift' with puzzles 'often got him into trouble'. He is curious, brave and determined - just the skills needed when faced with the challenges which follow! Gadgets and robots abound in this story as the Institute is a place full reseach projects - a 'step-bot' which can only climb stairs, an 'argu-bot' which argues, a vacuum clean which tries to sneak off to watch 'Terminator'. Even the door of William's room is chatty and has a great sense of humour! A very enjoyable read, this is a story packed full of excitement and adventure with the reader kept wondering who William can trust right to the very end. I look forward to reading more about him! 272 pages / Ages 9 - 12 years / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

William Wenton and the Luridium Thief
Thunderstruck
Ali Sparkes

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192739360

The latest novel by Ali Sparkes is another reliably good read. With little preamble the reader is thrust straight into the story which gets off to a suitably explosive start. Misfits Theo and Alisha are doing their level best to avoid Sports Day and whilst sheltering from a storm on the Common, they end up being struck by lightning. Whilst surviving the strike proves to temporarily boost their popularity at school, much more significant side effects soon come to the fore. Intrigued by their common bond and unnerved by strange incidents, they return to the site of the strike and realise that theirs is not a unique experience. The lively but bizarrely dressed Doug and Lizzie suffered the same fate years earlier and although Theo and Alisha soon discover that their new friends are actually ghosts, a warm bond develops between the members of the newly-founded 'Strike Club'. But away from the common, as building work is undertaken at the school, sinister ghostly apparitions soon start to appear and events take a disturbing turn. Frightened and confused, Theo and Alisha realise that their new friends hold the key to the unravelling mystery. This is a short, punchy read with likeable characters and an excellent plot. The fact that two of the friends are dead is expertly handled with a good balance of humour and solemnity and there's a nice touch at the end with Doug's still-grieving sister finally achieving some peace. The supernatural elements are effective without being too scary and the story builds to a satisfying conclusion. This is a lively and entertaining read and the fact that it was inspired by a real-life tragedy adds significant substance to the story. 209 pages / Age: 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Thunderstruck
Sky Thieves
Dan Walker, Jr.

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192747013

This is pure pirates-in-the-sky, swashbuckling adventure! Dan Walker's debut novel is the thrilling tale of rebellious tomboy, Zoya, daring sky raids, evil villains and a long-hidden secret. Snatched away from the orphanage she knows as home, Zoya Delarose's world in thrown into turmoil as the kindly orphanage-owner, Mr Wycherley, is killed and sky thieves take her far away into the clouds and onto the deck of the Dragonfly. Although at first unsure who to trust, Zoya soon comes to depend on the enigmatic Captain Vaspine and his charismatic crew of adventurers. Amidst a world of sword fights, lost treasure and terrifying meteor storms Zoya finds new friends and a fearsome enemy, Lendon Kane. As details of Zoya's past slowly emerge and the beloved locket she wears starts to take on a new significance, she realises that her destiny lies among the sky thieves and that she is prepared to fight alongside them, as her parents did. This is an action-packed book, full of daring adventures and colourful characters. Zoya makes a dogged and determined heroine and you quickly find yourself rooting for her and her comrades. There is no shortage of action and it's a thoroughly entertaining and fast-paced read. A highly promising start to what looks to be a thrilling series. 304 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Sky Thieves
The Island at the End of Everything
Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910002766

Butterflies flutter through the pages of this story set in the Philippines in 1906. The island of Culion is a leper colony but there are children like Amihan born without the disease. She lives with her mother who is very frail and whose nose has almost disappeared because of the leprosy. Along comes Mr. Zamora from the government who announces that all the non-leper children will be removed to an orphanage on an island off the coast of Culion. Mr. Zamora is a lepidopterist and somewhat obsessed with his mission, and with his collection of butterflies. Amihan and the other children sail to the orphanage where she is befriended by Mari with whom she concocts a plan to sail back to Culion to see her mother when she learns is dying. This is the second novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave; the first The Girl of Ink and Stars has just won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. It is a lyrically written story about a horrible disease and the stigmatization to which sufferers were exposed at this time and in deed until quite recently. The Princess of Wales brought this to the public's attention before she died of course. But behind the suffering is the emotional story of a girl's love for her mother and the perilous journey she was prepared to make to be with her before she died. It is also the story of Mari, cast out from her family because of a deformed hand, and her determination to help her friend, and also to escape the fate Mr Zamora had planned for her. Zamora is the villain of the story but the nuns who did their best to help Nanay, Amihan's mother, and the children at the orphanage are shown in a much more sympathetic light. The butterflies people the story too, part of Amihan's knowledge of her father, and the symbol of hope for the children and Nanay and appear on many pages, emphasizing their importance in the story. The description of the children walking through the clouds of butterflies is truly beautiful and stays in the memory long after the book is finished. This is a magical story with a hard centre but a satisfying ending. I was lucky enough to read Ms Hargrave's first novel and this is a totally different and unique second novel, showing clearly what a terrific talent she is. 288 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Janet Fisher, librarian.

The Island at the End of Everything
The Lights Under the Lake (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 4)
Sophie Cleverly

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008218331

This is the fourth adventure in the Scarlet and Ivy series. It's summer and as another new term begins at Rookwood School, a school trip is announced to Shady Pines Hotel on the shores of Lake Seren. Of course Scarlet and Ivy are desperate to sign up, and together with friends Ariadne and Rose they look forward to a few days away from lessons and exploring nature. But the old atmospheric hotel and the waters of the deep lake hide dark secrets and mysterious events start to occur almost as soon as they arrive. Strange objects appear in the hotel, scaring the owners, rooms are ransacked and precious things disappear. A seemingly pleasant couple arrive soon after the girls and offer to organise activities. Very strange things are happening and there might be more than one mystery for the girls to unravel this time. The location of the hotel, a village with the church and graveyard flooded to create the reservoir, the surrounding s of the dark woods and sudden thunder storms all help to build the atmosphere and tension as the story builds to a climax. Local villagers who still resent the loss of their village, hotel residents and even some of the other girls add to the number of suspects. Prefects Elsie and Cassandra are truly bossy and spiteful, adding to the drama and rivalry among the girls and Miss Bowler is wonderful as the archetypal sports teacher, with her loud, blustering and no-nonsense attitude. This is yet another exciting and fast paced mystery for the fearless, resourceful twins and their friends to solve before disaster happens. Can they yet again save the day and make sure that everyone returns to Rookwood School all in one piece? This series is perfect for fans of A Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens. 304 pages / Ages 9-12 years / Reviewed by Caroline Gosden, school librarian.

The Lights Under the Lake (Scarlet and Ivy, Book 4)
And Then We Ran
Katy Cannon

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847157997

It's good to find a 'coming of age' novel that explores that significant time for teenagers when they are deciding the next steps after school and what they really want to make of their lives. Are they brave enough to pursue their passions, whatever they might be? This is what Katy Cannon's And Then We Ran explores, through the dual narratives of Megan and Elliott. Megan is still struggling with the death of her older sister in a boating accident a year previously and feels her parents are now trying to turn her into her sister by demanding she goes to university. What she really wants to do is to study photography. Elliott also has troubles from the past, a father who defrauded many local families with a business scheme that went wrong, and who is now in prison. Both teenagers want to escape their current lives and prospects and, when Megan discovers she is in line to inherit her grandmother's London flat, she sees an escape route for herself. The only problem? If she wants to inherit the flat before she turns 21, she will need to be married. So begins a series of questions - is Elliott up for a no-romance marriage? Can they possibly manage the logistics of a trip to Gretna Green if they decide to go ahead? Megan is a warm and impulsive character who you want to do the right thing and Elliott, although quieter, has an appealing inner strength. The story really delves into how Megan and Elliott each come to the decisions they eventually make and we see them maturing as they do so and as they reach a level of understanding of their pasts. The story is also about family and how parental concern can become overbearing to teenagers struggling with important decisions; but we also see the parents' concerns and how dialogue can help smooth the process. I found this an engaging, enjoyable read and I'm sure I'll be recommending it to teenagers who are moving into this stage of their lives. 352 pages Ages 12+ Reviewed by Susan Hiller.

And Then We Ran
Perfect
Cecelia Ahern

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780008125134

Love this author, so I'm very pleased she has now written two superb YA stories. Perfect is the sequel to the author's debut YA novel, Flawed. If you have not already read this book, go and get it now, you will not be disappointed. Perfect picks up a few days after book one ends. The last time we saw Celestine she was running away from home as The Guild, more importantly Judge Craven, the one who had her branded 'flawed', are desperate to capture her - so much so, he has had her reported as an enemy to the public and will give rewards to anyone who 'whistleblows' on her. The story starts with her having found temporary safety at her grandfather's farm. But she can't stay there forever. as she is still being hunted by the Guild and becomimg more and more a symbol of resistance. Celestine goes back on the run with Carrick her friend, who develops into a love interest, and who is the only person she can trust. She has to find the one thing that will give her the power to destroy Judge Craven and bring down the Guild for good. Perfect is a fantastic read! Everything I hope for in a book and more! Very hard to place in one genre as it has suspence, mystery, unexpected twists and turns, thought-provoking content, intelligent - and at times witty - dialogue, interesting / intriguing characters who experience character growth, and a splash of romance! I would happily recommend it to 12+ readers who enjoy dystopian novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. 427 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Perfect
Windfall
Jennifer E. Smith

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509831708

Windfall is a gem of a book that deals with romance, family, friendships and relationships. The author has not made the romance the focus of the book but the issues that can arise from winning such a huge sum of money at such an early age. It made me think about the English essay title, that is still widely used even today in schools - 'what would I do if I won a million pounds?', yes sadly I fell into the same category as Teddy - have loads of fun with it! If I had the opportunity to have read this book before writing my essay many, many years ago my ideas would have been more thoughtful! I found myself getting really involved at many points throughout this novel as I followed our main character, Alice, adjusting to the changes around her after gifting a winning lottery ticket to her friend Teddy on his eighteenth birthday. The story also delves into themes such as grief, identity, and belonging as Alice struggles to figure out who she is and which direction she wants her life to go after high school. Alice's story really stuck out to me, and I think a lot of others will identify with this character as well because many people spend their late teens and early twenties trying to figure out where they belong. Each of the three main characters were very well thought out and felt totally real, and each of them developed in their own way. The book is set over the first six months after the lottery win, which I believe young readers would like as it is easy to leave and pick up later for the slower readers amongst us. Overall, Windfall is a story about how how life can change in an instant, for better or for worse. 416 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Windfall
The State of Grace
Rachael Lucas

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509839551

What a wonderful book that gets in a range of genres in 218 pages; real life, romance, issues,coming of age, humour, friendship and family. Grace the main character in the book a is a fifteen year old girl living with her younger sister Leah, her mother and 'sometimes' her wildlife filmmaker father. But when her father goes off on his latest shoot, things start to change, and Grace struggles with these changes. Alongside this she also wants to do the right thing by being a best friend to Anna, having a boyfriend for the first time,who happens to be the 'it' boy at school, Gabe, and coping with the first kiss!! All pretty normal teenage stuff,however Grace has Asperger's so pretty normal stuff is exaggerated in high proportions. This is one of the first books I have read where the child with a 'problem' is the main character and is written in the first person. The book gives an excellent insight into being an autistic person and fills the pages with moments that made me smile and cry - the realities of being autistic, the wonders and the drawbacks. Really enjoyed the story so much finished it in one sitting. A must read! 218 pages / Ages 12+ children / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

The State of Grace
Sea
Sarah Driver

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405284677

Mouse knows her destiny; 'the great green fire spirits dance and ripple' telling her Tribe the future and Mouse is destined to be a captain just as her brother, Sparrow, is a whale-singer. Since the death of their Ma, she and Sparrow have grown up aboard The Huntress, their grandmother's ship, as their father is a trader, spending much time away from the family. Then Da goes missing and Grandma brings a new navigator on board. Things rapidly change and Mouse embarks on a quest to save her family and her ship. From the first line, Sea is an amazing adventure story, set in a beautifully crafted world of fantastical creatures, people with magical talents and well drawn characters with their own customs and belief systems. Mouse is full-on and feisty, always in the thick of the action, ready to take on the world to protect her family and her home. Strong and capable, she can run roughshod over others, making her not entirely likeable initially, although she develops over the course of the story. Her bother, Sparrow, is her opposite - 'little too-soon' is vulnerable, prone to shaking-fits, yet he sings with power and beauty, his high voice rising 'like a bell, to chime along with the whales'. Written in beautiful, lyrical prose, the speech of the characters clashes against this like waves against the side of the ship. The use of kennings as part of this adds to the mix, creating a 'heart-bright', 'sizzle-bolt' of a story. Can't wait for the next part! 336 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Sea
Forever Geek (Geek Girl, Book 6)
Holly Smale

HarperCollins

ISBN 9780007574698

The last episode of the popular Geek Girl books is not a disappointment. With all the fun, heartache, accidents, misunderstandings, random facts and great clothes we associate with the inimitable Harriet Masters. All the great characters we have come to love or loathe over the course of the series make an appearance. Harriet and her best friend Nat fly out to Australia for a fabulous holiday with Bunty, Harriet's flamboyant granny. Armed with lists, PowerPoint presentations, and her own unique perspective she means to make this trip count. She is determined to make it count for Nat by using social media to spread the word of her as a new fabulous fashion designer. Harriet is also determined to make this trip count for herself by using her initiative to land a modelling contract, which leads to her nearly drowning on the Great Barrier Reef. Overhearing one of her grandmother's phone conversations, she also selflessly tracks down ex-boyfriend, beautiful lion boy Nick, so that she can support him through some tragic times ahead. Forever Geek brings us a sad but very satisfying ending to the series and leaves Harriet surrounded by those she loves, looking forward to the future as her next amazing adventure. 400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

Forever Geek (Geek Girl, Book 6)
A Dangerous Crossing
Jane Mitchell

Little Island

ISBN 9781910411582

A Dangerous Crossing is a story that gives true insight into the plight of so many refugee children and their families. 13 year old Ghalib and his family have their world turned upside down through no fault of their own. Kobani has been bombarded and is full of ruined buildings making any sort of normal life impossible. Just securing basic food and clothing is dangerous with the constant threat of bombardment. Ghalib and his cousin Hamza are caught up in a barrel bomb explosion that leaves Hamza with life threatening injuries. Add to this the fact that Ghalib and his sister are about to be enrolled as soldiers into the Protection Units to fight ISIS and pro-government forces. Their Father and Mother See no option but to flee the war in Syria and head for Europe, hopefully a safe haven where they can begin to rebuild their lives. The journey is both dangerous and very difficult, taking only what they can carry. Separated and re-united the family finally arrive in Turkey where they then encounter prejudice, increased fear and uncertainty. Finally they secure a passage to Greece with just the clothes on their backs. The crossing is traumatic and leaves you wondering at the way vulnerable, desperate families are being exploited. Through the pages of this book Jane Mitchell takes you on a journey that so many like Ghalib and his family have taken and many more will continue to take in order to secure a safer future for the people they love. It is also a small window into the lives of many children who have no chance of a normal childhood and must act as adults to survive daily. 224 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Marie Dell, school librarian.

A Dangerous Crossing
Dark Matter: Contagion: Book 1
Teri Terry

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408341728

Another award winner from Teri Terry! I really enjoyed this conspiracy / SF / fantasy / thriller! It has elements of all these woven together into a complex and interesting plot that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. Callie, a girl who has 'gone missing' and been subjected to experimentation at a highly secret location in Scotland; and Shay, a girl who may have been the last person to see Callie before she disappeared. A terrible virus begins to sweep the country, with a very low survival rate. The country is on lockdown, with Shay and Kai (Callie's brother) joining forces in the search to find her. However, all is not as it seems. I loved the structure of the super short chapters and the way the dual narratives flowed from one to the other. This style of writing will encourage not just advanced readers but also reluctant ones as they will have a feeling of accomplishment when they see how far they have read into the book. The opening chapters of the book are the countdown to the Contagion being released into the population, you almost can feel the clock ticking down as it is fast paced, with a build up of tension to see what will happen to Callie or subject 369X as she is also referred to. This book is fantasy but thought provoking, much of it chillingly believable. Young Adults will really enjoy the plot of the book as the main characters are also YA and it has so many twists and turns that will keep the reader intrigued. Can't wait for the next one in this trilogy. Get a copy soon and enjoy. 459 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Dark Matter: Contagion: Book 1
Revenge of the Evil Librarian
Michelle Knudsen

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406373967

This wittily written book - the follow-up to The Evil Librarian - took me right back to my days of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Having not read the previous book, I was pleased that it started with a quick recap to set the scene but did not labour the point. I was quickly drawn to the characters in the story, who were lively and engaging. There is a streak of teenage angst running through the book which lends it credibility without being too wearing. Although the book does not set out on a moral crusade, it does address some interesting points about lies within friendships and relationships that might be a good starting point for discussions in PHSE. There are also knowing nods to the fact that some of the plot twists are a bit fantastical e.g. Commenting on wondering how the adults at the camp have not noticed them all sloping off for meetings! This made me laugh and actually helped suspend my disbelief. As is made clear from the author's acknowledgments at the back of the book, she has a love of musical theatre that was clear throughout the book, throwing in references to shows and musicals to add to the plot. There is mild swearing throughout the book and references to sex but no one actually has sex. There is also blood and horror but it is not too graphic. I would say that a mature 12 year old would be fine to read this but if you are of a more conservative persuasion/working in a more conservative setting, you might recommend 14+. The chatty and relationship-driven conversational style of the dialogue is probably more suitable for girls than boys, although it is witty and knowing enough that some boys might find it ok. The hang ups regarding relationships and jealously are obviously written from a female perspective though. I would say there is definitely more crossover from something like the Gallagher Girls than say Charlie Higson or Daren Shan's demon featuring books. I really enjoyed reading this book and it made me want to go back and read the first one. It also left you wondering what will happen in the next book. 288 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Alison Urquhart.

Revenge of the Evil Librarian
Beyond the Wall
Tanya Landman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406366273

Cassia, slave to Cornelius Festus, attacks her master instead of submitting to her role as his mistress. Leaving him maimed, she escapes with the help of Marcus, a Roman trader. Why he helps her to escape and to liberate others is a mystery, but will she make it beyond the wall and to freedom or is there something that Marcus is hiding? This is quite simply an excellent story! A gripping, full on adventure, rich in historical detail, Beyond the Wall is a book which you can't put down! Cassia is an inspiring heroine- her determination, her loyalty, her fierce pride and spirit make her story compelling. Tanya Landman does not shy away from the brutality of life for slaves, particularly women and children, in the Roman Empire and shocking details about their treatment form a backdrop to the narrative which demands empathy and compassion, making the reader support Cassia every step of her journey. An interesting mix of friend and foe, Marcus's story is revealed slowly, offering an insight into his motivations and actions. Also scarred by the might of the Empire, although in a different way, Marcus has his own demons to come to terms with. The wall referred to in the title is Hadrian's, separating England from the land to the north, representing the power of Rome and the bonds of slavery. Once past this, they both are free to pursue their lives. Whether the events in this story would have been possible or not, this is an amazing tale of courage, passion and the desire for freedom, vividly brought to life by a master storyteller. 304 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

Beyond the Wall
The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406372151

I went into this book blind, so to speak. I hadn't read a single review of it - though there were plenty, and all of them congratulatory and effusive in their praise. I didn't know the film rights had already been sold and the main character as good as confirmed. I was unaware that the book was about to top the NY Times best sellers list. You can't achieve any of that without substance; and straight up, it deserves every accolade - and will, no doubt, accrue many more. Angie Thomas' Starr has a very real, very authentic voice and the rest of the cast breathe life as clearly as you or I. Starr is a 16 year old, growing up in Garden Heights, a poor, predominantly black neighbourhood, while being schooled at Williamson Prep, the predominantly white high school a million miles away in terms of shared experiences. She's doing a great job at keeping her two worlds separate - until Khalil is shot dead, by a white police officer. As the only witness to the event, Starr finds her worlds colliding as people at Williamson Prep comment on the death of a drug dealer and gang member while her neighbourhood are up in arms at the unprovoked killing of Khalil. Her silence is a slap in the face to the memory of her friendship with Khalil, knowing full well that if situations were reversed, he would defend her and her name; but to speak out could endanger her and her family. The anger, frustration and hurt around Khalil's death combined with the grand jury deciding not to indict the officer concerned, threaten to inflame an already tense situation in Garden Heights. Black Lives Matter. Inspired to write the book back in 2010/2011 after the death of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by police in California, Angie writes straight from the heart. With The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas's ultimate hope is that 'everyone who reads this book, no matter what their experiences, walks away from it understanding those feelings and sharing them in some way'. This is an important story. 448 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

The Hate U Give
The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville
Ben Davis

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192747952

Joe's life is going great for once. He's living in London sharing a flat with his mates and starting a career in the music industry managing the Sound Experience as they record their first album and take the world by storm. Not only that, but Joe's got a sophisticated, older girlfriend too. At least that's how it was supposed to be, but the gloss soon wears off their new life. As they're underage, they have a strict housekeeper who doesn't let them get away with anything. Since signing the contracts, the record label owns their sound, look, and everything about the band and proceeds to change everything that made them unique. The whole adventure gets out of control when Joe's Dad comes to live with them, and then they head off on tour in an old camper van driven by an army veteran who's as hard as nails. The humour is totally cringeworthy, and there's much bad language, inuendo and immaturity especially with joe's Dad. Joe is the misunderstood boy with a heart of gold and true friends who'll stick together through anything, but this time they are really falling apart as their dreams disintegrate into disaster. Should appeal to boys 14+ with a silly sense of humour. 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian.

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Straight Outta Nerdsville