NEW TITLES

From historical fiction to dystopian adventures and contemporary romance, this month's selection of highlights includes books that will inspire and thrill YA readers.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Rachel Ignotofsky

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526360519

As its title explains, this book delves into history to remind us of the women who have helped change the world - and what a necessary book it is, you realise, as you flick through the pages. If like me, you don't know much about Lise Meitner (who discovered nuclear fission - Otto Hahn got the prizes), Annie Easley (her work on batteries laid the foundation for today's hybrid cars) or Sau Lan Wu (one of the most important particle physicists in her field), then you need to read this. These are inspiring women and their stories are told simply but well on a single page, with an illustration, so it's a lovely book to simply browse. The stories hint at the problems these women had to overcome to excel in their fields - Florence Bascom, a geologist and educator in the US, had to take her university classes behind a screen in order to get her PhD in 1893 (so as not to 'distract' her male classmates); Rachel Carson's work in biology was slandered by chemical companies when she found that DDT was poisoning birds and livestock; female scientists like Rosalyn Yalow, a medical physicist who discovered a way to measure hormones, often had to work with a male colleague to get their work recognised. These women come from all over the world and this is a wonderful celebration of their work - and a reminder to all of today's young women that they are equal partners in creating the world's future. Every library needs a copy of this! 128 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Emily Smith.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Following Ophelia
Sophia Bennett

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847158109

When teenaged Mary Adams is sent to London to work as a scullery maid, her well sculpted face and fine red hair draws their attention of a group of artists - the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Felix, a relative newcomer to the group, persuades Mary to model for him and so begins her transformation from servant into Persephone Lavelle, a much sought-after artist's model. However, Mary is also still working as a maid as well and it is the fate of her cousin, seduced by her employer's son, that proves to be Mary's undoing as she uses her new contacts to try to find someone who will come to the aid of her cousin and unborn baby. Through Mary's adventures, author Sophia Bennett effortlessly shows us the London of the time, from how servants were treated to the parties and entertainment available to those who could access them. The author also explores the position of women at the time and how they used the little power they had. In this society, riven with hierarchies, a fall from grace could be fatal, especially for the women within it. There is a love story that guides Mary's actions, and her developing understanding of the world of art in which she finds herself. Following Ophelia is a rewarding read that offers an intelligent and intriguing look at a particular period in time and in art. One hopes it will encourage its readers to go and find out more about it. 400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Sarah Hargrave.

Following Ophelia
The Lotterys Plus One
Emma Donoghue

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509803194

The Lotterys are a very happy family, living a very 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
Perdita Cargill, Honor Cargill

ISBN 9781471144851

Elektra Jones, 15, lands a starring role in a film but it doesn't go to plan. This is a heart warming story about teen romance, family and friendship. It'll make you laugh, feel angst but ultimately leave you happy and glad that you read the book. I really enjoyed it. Elektra finally gets together with her crush, Archie, but they end up in different acting roles in different countries. Her movie script changes every day and she doesn't end up with the starring role that she thought she was getting to play. In Transylvania, on the other hand, Archie (her new boyfriend) is the star of the vampire TV series and she's reading in Bizz News that he is having a great time and has been linked to his lovely co-star. Elektra overreacts and breaks up with Archie only to find out that he hasn't done anything wrong and still wants to be with her. 368 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Janet McCarthy.

Optimists Die First
Susin Nielsen

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783445073

Crafting for Crazies. That's what Petula and Rachel (The Girl Formerly Known as [Petula's] Best Friend) had secretly dubbed the Youth Art Therapy group. That was before Petula found herself attending. It's here, in the school's counselling suite, that Petula and four other students come together once a week to craft their way through their problems - with Betty (the almost-counsellor) and Carol (the universally unpopular counsellor) on hand. I thought the renegade group were not dissimilar to The Breakfast Club (great 80s film where a diverse group of high schoolers are forced to spend detention together on a Saturday in the library and discover that in spite of their initial differences, they actually share many common feelings and problems)...and then they made the comparison themselves, in the book! The arrival of Jacob to the group marks a new beginning for them; he brings them together and sets about trying to help each of his fellow crafters while resolutely backing off from sharing his own story. With friendship and trust at the heart of the book, Susin Nielsen works her magic giving us excellent characters to follow. The cat-collecting, book-loving mother of Petula, the understanding and guiding force of Mr Watley, the attendees of the YArT programme (Petula, Jacob, Ivan, Koula and Alonzo) and Rachel (The Girl Formerly Known as Her Best Friend) who, estranged for a while, still knows Petula well enough to Laura Ingalls her out of a downward spiral with a homemade,Little House on the Prairie, bonnet and a few choice quotes! Both funny and sad - but overwhelmingly warm, Optimists Die First is en pointe! 272 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

Optimists Die First
We Come Apart
Sarah Crossan

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408878859

This is a hauntingly beautiful book. Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan have collaborated to write the stories of Jess and Nicu respectively. Both teenagers live on the edges of their communities, friendless and unsupported. Both are trying to escape: Jess from a violent and abusive stepfather and Nicu from parental pressure for an arranged marriage. They meet on a young offenders' programme. Their friendship grows, very tentatively at first, but gradually trust is established and they begin to share their secrets and fears. The voices of Jess and Nicu are distinctive and authentic; written in free verse, the stories are full of raw emotion. A deep, real and unrequited love develops and I found myself longing for a happy ending. But life's not like that, is it? 336 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Jane Welby, school librarian.

We Come Apart
Moondust
Gemma Fowler

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910655429

This debut novel has an interesting concept, an intriguing setting, a well-developed range of characters, and a story of great tension and action that effectively speaks to today's concerns about the environment and energy sources. Aggie is a member of a large community that lives on the moon. She suffers from panic attacks, likes being hidden behind the scenes doing menial tasks as part of her job as Domestic Analysis personnel, and spending time with her one and only friend Seb. But all that is to end as she is pushed unwillingly into the limelight, reliving past ordeals and uncovering long-held terrible secrets that will not only turn everything she knew about her past and family on its head but also signals the end of the earth and the moon as she knows it. Aggie was once the most beloved, revered person in the whole of United Earth,'The Angel of Adrianne', 'The Child of Hope', until she was found, aged seven, searching the rubble for her father, who was killed along with many others in the devastating Adrianne reactor explosion. When her father is blamed for the disaster, and after suffering years in the spotlight as the Angel, Aggie is finally allowed to live undercover on the Lunar Base. But when the stability of peace on Earth is near breaking-point due to the terrorist group FALL, the all-powerful, all-consuming Lunar INC calls their poster girl back into action. It is during the rehearsals for the ten-year anniversary that Aggie first discovers that things are not all they seem when she meets one of the terrorist prisoners who is sentenced to work in the mines. Aggie finds herself drawn to him and is curious about how he knows her real identity. Her resistance to becoming the Angel again and her fascination with this prisoner lead her to uncover what is actually happening on the dark side of the moon and what really happened that day in Adrianne. This novel could possibly be an introduction to the science fiction genre, particularly, regarding how it deals with important and challenging concepts in unusual settings. The questions that arise from this novel such as: the way prisoners are treated and forced to work in dangerous conditions; what would happen if the earth ran out of energy sources; and would it be ethical for humans to mine and possibly destroy the moon or other planets in their search for an energy source; all create a good focus for debate by the readers. The inclusion of phrases such as 'thank the earth' instead of 'thank heavens' and the exclamation of 'earth below' instead of 'heavens above' are a nice touch in showing how language changes and reflects society. The sinister characters, romance and friendship, secrets and lies, highly charged finale, insightful and imaginative lunar location, and strong all-too-real issues, make this an interesting, original and thought-provoking read. 320 pages / Ages 11-15 years / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer, librarian.

Moondust
All About Mia
Lisa Williamson

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910989104

Mia is the 16 year old middle child of the family.. Her older sister Grace has always done everything just right and is seen (maybe correctly) by Mia as the favourite who can do no wrong. This even seems to be the case when Grace comes home early from her gap year, pregnant. Youngest sister Audrey is a quiet child, but a brilliant swimmer, training endlessly, and with hopes for the Olympics. Mia, popular and reckless, is constantly in trouble both at school and home, as she compensates for her role in the family, and what she sees as her unfair treatment. She has three good friends but her bad choices alienate them as well for a while. The treatment of family life was particularly well written, with all the chaos, tensions, bickering, exasperated and busy parents, sibling rivalry and closeness. There are some moving and some funny moments. The author in creating Mia has, she says, tried to get inside the head of a character very different from herself, a popular, loud, daring person, 'the coolest girl in the year'. She has been successful in this, and we see the reasons behind many of Mia's worst escapades: getting drunk at her parents' wedding, making a pass (unsuccessfully) at Paul, the much older next door neighbour, and betraying her best friend by trying to have sex with the boy Kimmie secretly adores. I did feel uncomfortable with one or two scenes. Mia, at a nightclub with one friend, encourages two middle aged men to buy them expensive cocktails, and nearly ends up drunk and alone in a taxi with one of them. She is really playing dangerously, and I'm not sure that the book gives quite enough weight to this. The whole novel uses Mia's point of view, which allows us to see how her sarcasm and apparent self confidence are sometimes a cover for insecurity and uncertainty. She may be self absorbed and exasperating, but we can see why. There is a warmth to the tone of the book, and the pace is lively with plenty of likeable characters, as well as dialogue that rings true. This will be a popular choice for older readers who may find a lot of themselves reflected in the characters. 363 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Carol Williams, school librarian.

All About Mia
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 Cruelty
Scott Bergstrom

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406372922

The Cruelty started off well; I thought - Excellent, a book with a female 'hero' to rival Alex Rider! - and then the swearing and the sexual references (both unneeded in my opinion) started. Saying that, I did enjoy the story although it is brutal and, at times, extremely violent. It's about a girl, Gwendolyn Bloom, whose father goes missing while working abroad. The CIA aren't interested in finding him, so Gwendolyn decides that she needs to find him. Everything is looking bleak until a neighbour gives her some information and the name of a person who can help in Paris...and so the transformation from Gwendolyn to lethal killer Sofia begins. Good story, but as it includes the underside of spying - human trafficking, violence, murder (for no reason), drugs, prostitution, expletives - I would say this book is suitable for age 15+. If the story were to be a film, then it would be on the verge of being classified as an 18. The only part which I found confusing was the bank accounts, who? Why? Where? What happened to the money? Maybe I was focusing too much on what was happening to Gwendolyn and her father. Would I read it again? Possibly the end bit to see whether I can make sense of the money. Otherwise, the story was easy to read, fluid, good plot and no jarring Americanisms or badly written parts. If you like a good thriller, then give this one a try. 446 pages / Ages 15+ / Reviewed by Paula Hazlehurst, school librarian.

The Cruelty