Every Day
David Levithan

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405264426

David Levithan says he wrote Every Day, a book about a character who wakes up in a different body every day, "to answer the questions and to discover what would your life be like if you're not defined by body or gender or race?". Woven into this story are many perceptions on what it is to be human, on love and on gender. The central character, A, turns out to be highly moral and despite the variety of lives he 'dips into' during the course of the novel, his musings and his actions are driven by a desire to do the right thing by those around him and the body he is inhabiting. Mostly, A wants to remain 'invisible' and to simply do what his (or her) host body would normally do. But when A 'connects' with another human being, Rhiannon, A is driven more by the need to be with her and this complicates and already complex life. Through A, we get a glimpse into the life of a drug addict, a suicidal teenager and someone suffering a terrible bereavement, but all addressed through A's level, generous and often profound perceptions. The issues the novel raises make it an ideal 'book group' choice for teenagers, as well as a powerful individual read. 384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Every Day

ISBN 9781780621098

16 year-old Laureth Peak has discovered that her father, who is a writer, is in New York, when his family believes him be in Europe. Laureth is convinced he's having a breakdown and sets off to catch a plane to New York to find him, with her younger brother in tow. They manage to find one of his notebooks which is full of musings about the nature of coincidence but as their search gathers momentum, Laureth finds herself caught up in her own web of coincidence and chance, which lead her and her brother into terrible danger. These are great challenges for any teenager to face but for Laureth they are many times harder because she is blind. Marcus Sedgwick's apparently effortless portrayal of a blind protagonist is plausible and gives a real insight into navigating a world unsighted. It may also leave you wondering why we don't see more challenged central characters? Alongside Laureth's adventures, the reader is lead on an equally adventurous exploration of coincidence and the nature of coincidence which brings in writings from Freud, Jung, Einstein and Koestler. These manage to add to the story, rather than weighing it down, giving the reader a an experience that offers new perceptions of how we see the world around us. 384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Crown of Midnight
Sarah J. Maas

Bloomsbury YA

ISBN 9781408834947

This much-anticipated follow-up to Throne of Glass more than delivers in terms of heart-stopping action, political twists and romantic turns. 18 year-old Celaena is a kick-ass heroine who pulls no punches and, even in her role of the King's Assassin, sent to kill his imagined or otherwise foes, she manages to stay true to her principles (but we're not going to give away how she does that here...) While this story focuses on Caleaena and her current role as King's Assassin, sheltered within the king's forbidding castle, it also draws on a wider landscape of the many different factions bidding to overthrow the king, giving the story a very political feel that is full of intrigue and twists. It is good to see a second story in a series deliver on all the promise of the first book and for those who love fantasy settings, adventure and action, Crown of Midnight is one for you. Even if you've not read the first book, Throne of Glass, there is enough of the back story etched in to enjoy this book on its own. 432 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Crown of Midnight

ISBN 9780857532930

From the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas comes this heartening story set in London during the First World war. On Alfie's fifth birthday, the war begins and his father, Georgie, signs up straight away and is soon off to France. The reader follows Alfie and the close knit Damely Road community as they experience the changes that war brings: a Czech family are forcibly removed, his mother has to work harder and harder to make ends meet, the 'conchie' in the street is ostracised, and Alfie takes up shoe shining at Kings Cross Station. It is here that he begins to realise that his father is not, as his mother claims, on a secret mission, and Alfie has to face stark revelations about the whereabouts and condition of his father. Alfie's na´vity when faced with horrors he cannot fully comprehend is all the more poignant as events develop and he pursues his plan to help his dad get better. After some extremely tense moments, there is a satisfying conclusion of the central events. Neatly, Alfie's thirteenth birthday concludes the story, tying up the loose ends for the reader. Alfie is a likeable character, portrayed with warmth and honesty. The reader can grasp his bewilderment as the world changes around him, and with it, the behaviour of adults whom he knows and trust. Readers will be drawn into Alfie's world and the characters have plenty of depth. The scenes at the hospital may unsettle more sensitive individuals but most mature readers would be able to bear with them and see the necessity of their depiction in order to fully understand Alfie's motives. This would make a superb guided reading text for Year 6 and above and is a satisfying read for boys and girls of 10+. 248 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

ISBN 9780385618144

A war between humans and aliens, destroying the universe, planet by planet and star by star. A boy who never felt at ease with himself even before he started to show signs of a strange and disturbing power. A spaceship with a crew searching for a saviour. These are the elements that SF Said weaves into an engrossing tale that is not afraid of examining the big themes of death, destiny and sacrifice. Lucky is a boy on a mission - to find the father who will be able to explain why Lucky is the way he is. On the way, he reluctantly teams up with the alien inhabitants of a spaceship who recognise something special in him, and together they go in search of the means to end the war which is endangering the entire universe. There is just a handful of main characters and, through them, the author explores the major themes of the book, bringing difficult concepts to an individual level. So we have Bixa, born to be a Startalker, resisting her destiny for as long as possible, and Lucky, believing if he finds his father all will be well, only to face disappointment. The black and white illustrations are integral to the book, woven into the text, carrying the narrative along, especially in the last few chapters. The drawings, combined with the text, convey the confusion and anxiety in Lucky's mind as he tries to navigate his way through the dying universe. This would be a challenging and rewarding read for a confident reader, not daunted by the thickness of the book. There are trials and tribulations and the author does not shirk from the realities of war and death, but the ultimate message is hopeful and uplifting. 487 Pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian

The Middle of Nowhere
Geraldine McCaughrean

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781409522003

Comity lives with her father, Herbert Pinny and her mother on a telegraph repeater station in the middle of nowhere in the Australian outback. Life is hard, but her father takes great pride in his job as stationmaster, and her mother makes it a real home, with love, stories and friendship to all visitors, including aborigines and the ghans who are camel drivers. Life changes drastically for Comity when her mother tragically dies of a snakebite. Her father is struggling to cope, so he gives her the task to write to her grandmother and aunt telling them the news of her mother's death. She can't bear to write about it, so makes up happy events describing the life she wished she was leading and sends these instead. Thus she cuts herself off from any help she might have received. Being desperately lonely, mostly ignored by her father, she makes friends and trades stories with Fred, an aboriginal boy who works on the station. Things go from bad to worse when Mr Hogg, a sub-telegrapher arrives. He takes advantage of Herbert Pinny's grief-stricken state; he's lazy, cruel and a bully, and plots to take over the station. Tension builds, people are killed and events get completely out of control. This is the story of Comity, the young heroine who, due to a breakdown in communication, inadvertently starts a war, then uses all her courage, her friendly understanding of the differences between races and her kindly and considerate behaviour towards others to stop it; living up to her name. A story steeped in prejudice, ignorance and racism, showing people at their very worst. Despite this it is a very positive, uplifting and encouraging book in which the main characters all make mistakes, but redeem themselves in the end. 292 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian

The Middle of Nowhere
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts
Robyn Schneider

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471115462

I got so engrossed reading Severed Heads, Broken Hearts I nearly missed my stop on the train! Set in California, it tells Ezra's story and how his life is suddenly and dramatically altered one night at a party. At a stroke, his assured position as one of the cool crowd disappears and he's forced to re-evaluate himself, old friendships and his hobbies and dreams. As he carves out a new niche for himself, he also has to work out how he feels about Cassidy, the quirky new girl at school, who shows him new ways to look at the world. This book is intelligently written and sensitive with believable, likeable, flawed characters who struggle to cope with their various tragedies or issues, as well as the usual teenage angst. There are lots of witty one liners and references that teens will pick up on, from Twilight and Harry Potter to silent raves and Banksy. The book is about whether we let those tragedies or other life events define us and whether we allow them to, so it has some profound messages while still being an entertaining read. The characters all have something to cope with and it examines the ebb and flow of friendships and loyalties and the cliques in schools; is it possible to break free and be true to yourself? There are a few implausible moments that you might see coming and a lot about life in an American high school (some of which I didn't really understand) but I shall look out for this author as she definitely gives John Green a run for his money! Ezra and Cassidy's relationship is touching and complicated. One for fans of John Green, RJ Palacio and Stephen Chbosky but a good read even if that isn't you! 335pages/ Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Jo Huett, school librarian

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts
All the Truth That's in Me
Julianna Berry

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781848779143

Appearing as it did right at the very end of the summer this might have been overlooked and what a loss that would be. This is a stunning UK debut that I read in a single sitting because I absolutely could not put it down. It has a deliberately indeterminate historical setting but one which, for me has echoes of the suffocating New England communities of The Scarlet Letter and The Crucible and this would indeed make it a useful classroom counterpoint to those texts. It shares their claustrophobic tension and overwhelming sense of foreboding but in addition there is a page turning necessity to understand the mystery of what actually happened to Judith. Two years after she and her best friend disappeared from their settlement, Judith returns, mutilated and quite literally without a voice. The community and even her own mother think the worst of her and she is shunned. The book is her internal monologue, addressed to her childhood sweetheart, now seemingly for ever lost to her. Beautifully and economically written in short numbered sections, this is an intense reading experience which cleverly reveals her story as we go back and forwards in time and we build towards a thrilling climax where Judith has to find a way to speak the truth and save them all. At times harrowing, but never gratuitous or explicit this is real psychological drama and heart wrenchingly involving. It almost seems too much of a bonus that Templar has created such a beautiful package for this rewarding story, but when I see the more traditional covers of overseas editions, I am so glad they did -- there is nothing run of the mill about writing of this quality and Templar have given it the respect it deserves. Reviewed by Joy Court, SLS librarian

All the Truth That's in Me
The Grisha: Siege and Storm: Book 2
Leigh Bardugo

Indigo (an Imprint of Orion Children's)

ISBN 9781780621708

The second in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy opens with heroine Alina free from the Darkling's malevolent clutches, though sadly not for long. Recaptured and held prisoner whilst he plots how best to utilise her powers, she fears all is lost. However, a daring rescue by a surprisingly regal privateer reawakens her hopes of freedom for both herself, her beloved Mal and, of course, wartorn Ravka. Siege and Storm is undoubtedly an accomplished and important addition to the Grisha Trilogy. However, it is very much a second book in a trilogy - providing a bridge from the stunning first novel to what I suspect will be a dramatic closing novel. A reading of the first book, Shadow and Bone, is very much a necessity before embarking on the next step of Alina's adventures. The trilogy as a whole is most definitely worth reading and I for one eagerly await book three. Though reasonably mature in its subject matter and depth of the world imagined, Siege and Storm is suitable for readers aged 13 upwards. It will appeal to those who enjoyed detailed fantasy fiction and have an interest in the nature of good versus evil. 386 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Amy McKay, school librarian

The Grisha: Siege and Storm: Book 2
Lily Herne


ISBN 9781472100900

Lele is a typical 17 year old; she hates her step mother, hates school and thinks her Dad takes no interest in her. However, she lives in extraordinary times in South Africa. There has been a horrendous war and life is hard, with scarce resources and no electricity not to mention the continuous threat of zombie attack! The zombies live in the dead-lands outside the city enclave, kept in check by the mysterious Guardians in return for teenagers which each year are chosen by lottery. Lele 'wins' this lottery and she is carted off into the dead-lands. She doesn't just wait meekly for her fate, though, but escapes as befits a strong, wilful teen heroine. She is rescued from certain living-death by the Mall Rats, a small well-trained zombie-fighting gang of teens. Thus begins her life as a renegade fighting the system, fighting zombies and searching for the truth behind the evil Guardians. It's pacey, gripping and full of great zombie action. The references to zombie films throughout the book will ensure it appeals to all those who love the genre, and especially act as a hook to reluctant readers. 320 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Melanie Chadwick, school librarian