NEW TITLES

Heroes, politics, magic, loss and romance are among the themes included in this month's selection of titles for 11+ - YA readers covered by our reviewers, including fiction and non-fiction books.

A Far Away Magic
Amy Wilson

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509837755

Starting a new school after the strange death of her parents, Angel doesn't want to be bothered with friends, yet finds herself drawn to Bavar, another loner, who seems determined to merge into the background. Angel can sense something strange and different about him and a friendship develops between them. As she comes to know him better, Angel learns that Bavar is responsible for trying to protect the world from raksasas, monsters trying to enter the world through a magical rift. Determined to break the cycle, Bavar is trying to find his own way on life. However, his story and Angel's are more closely linked than either could imagine. Told from alternating viewpoints, A Far Away Magic is a compelling, unusual story, full of magic and mystery. Amy Wilson successfully combines the fantastical world Bavar inhabits with the everyday world of school and 'normality'. Bavar's house is an amazing creation, contrasting perfectly with the 'little vanilla house' Angel is living in. Both children struggle with deep emotions - Angel with the grief of losing her parents and the guilt of her survival and Bavar with feelings of rejection and the desire to escape his role. Their emotions are portrayed with great sensitivity and skill. Darker than A Girl Called Owl, but just as compelling, A Far Away Magic is a fabulous, enjoyable read. 352 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher.

A Far Away Magic
Secrets of a Teenage Heiress
Katy Birchall

Egmont Books Ltd

ISBN 9781405286503

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up in a glamorous hotel? If so, this book is for you! Flick is a confident, lovable but ever so slightly self-obsessed teenager who seems to have a knack for getting into trouble. She is the daughter of the owner of Hotel Royale, the grandest hotel in London who finds herself grounded after being discovered hiding inside Prince Gustav's wardrobe (don't ask!) Childhood friend Cal comes to her aid to help her pull off a plan to get her to the Christmas Ball. There is a wonderful chemistry and humour between these too. This book contains stunning surroundings, fabulous and not so fabulous friendships, a sprinkle of celebrity style - and Fritz, the adorable dachshund with his own set of social media followers. It is a feel-good read with great characterisation. I loved it and cannot wait to see what happens with the characters in the next book in the series. Perfect for fans of vloggers and bloggers with appeal to those who like humour and romance. It is written by Katy Birchall whose book The It Girl: Superstar Geek was selected by Book Trust to form part of their schools pack. 306 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress
Politics for Beginners
Louie Stowell, Alex Frith, Rosie Hore and Kellan Stover (illus)

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474922524

I have been anticipating the release of Politics for Beginners for quite some time and was not disappointed! This book answers the tough questions with just the right balance of humour and fact and simplifies extremely tricky concepts without talking down to its audience. Politics for Beginners is an especially important book in these politically charged times in that it helps children (and adults) to understand politics throughout the world and prepares them for difficult decisions in the future while encouraging them - in a positive way - to get involved. The colour palette of the illustrations is delightful and the cartoon/comic strip style does nothing to detract from this easy-to-understand guide. Some of the highlights for me were: the debating tips, internet links, the 'what can I do?' page and basically chapter 6 in its entirety. Focussed as it was on 'Big Questions', this chapter covered issues such as: human rights, terrorism, freedom of speech, the media in politics, immigration and feminism. I think this book is essential reading for children aged nine and above and would be particularly useful for any parent, teacher, librarian etc. who has ever been asked about those sensitive issues that they may find difficult to discuss with those ever-curious youngsters. 128 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Rhiannon Cook, school librarian.

Politics for Beginners
Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes for Women
Louise K Stewart

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526300232

A hardback book just a fraction wider than A4 detailing 'rule breakers, risk takers, rebel women, law makers'; the stories of the incredible women who struggled to secure equal rights. Beautifully illustrated, these are the Emmeline Pankhursts of New Zealand, Russia, Ecuador, South Africa, Argentina, China, Egypt. Strikingly similar stories, simply told, catalogued in a timeline right up to 2015 when women in Saudi Arabia won the right to vote. Easily accessible, this is a good starting point for anyone interested in women's suffrage, giving a worldwide view of the struggles faced and the changes that occurred. Fans of Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls will not be disappointed. 48 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian

Rebel Voices: The Rise of Votes for Women
Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present
Jamia Wilson

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781786030887

Jamia Wilson's anthology of black heroes is a lovely celebration of inspirational figures both past and present. Covering a wide spectrum of gifts, talents and trailblazing feats, the book is brought to stunning life by Andrea Pippins' beautiful and distinctive illustrations. Noted historical figures such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are featured alongside music stars and sporting heroes. This is a beautifully-packaged, very accessible read and should serve as inspiration for a generation of young readers. 64 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Young Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present
Begone the Raggedy Witches (The Wild Magic Trilogy, Book One)
Celine Kiernan

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406366020

This is the first book in The Wild Magic trilogy by Celine Kiernan and the reader will be hooked from the very first sentence. Within the first chapter we learn of Mup's life with her family and we are introduced to the forces that are about to change that life dramatically. Mup (official name Pearl) lives with her Mam, brother Tipper, dog Badger and Aunty Boo. Dad is away working on an oil rig. Aunty Boo (Mam's Aunt) dies in Chapter 1 but never quite leaves the family, protecting her niece from the enemies she faces as the family search for Dad 'over the border'. The border marks the division between ordinary human life and the world of witches. All is not well over the border where the Queen rules with a rod of iron and her subjects live a terrified life, constantly evading the Raggedy Witches. This fearful queen is in fact Aunty Boo's sister and the mother of Mup's Mam. Aunty Boo took her niece away across to the human world to protect her from her mother's evil ways but now she is being pulled back into that world. The action moves on at breakneck speed as Mup and her family search for Dad, involving rhyming crows, talking cats and long forgotten magic. The use of rhyme as a means of controlling communication is central to maintaining the Queen's hold on her subjects. If they don't speak in rhyme, this alerts the Raggedy Witches to their whereabouts. If they do speak in rhyme, the constraints that places on real communication keep the outlaws in their place. Being the first book in the trilogy, there is a lot of information about the characters and the witches' world to introduce to the reader but the story moves on quickly with some terrifying battle sequences and revelations. At the end of the book, Mam/Stella is faced with a choice that will affect the lives of all those she loves and the scene is set for the second book. Readers who have been on this journey with Mup will look forward to Book 2. 496 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by June Hughes, school librarian.

Begone the Raggedy Witches (The Wild Magic Trilogy, Book One)
Running On Empty
S. E. Durrant

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857637406

When AJ's grandfather dies, his life seems to spiral out of control in a matter of days. AJ's parents are around, but due to their learning disabilities they aren't able to maintain a stable living environment. AJ's only escape is running. He's aiming to get into the national competition that's coming up. His big problem is that his running shoes don't fit anymore. He's resorted to cutting the toes out so he can squeeze into them. All of his money goes to paying the electric meter at his house. As the bills pile up, so does AJ's anxiety. He starts lashing out at school and nobody seems to know what the problem is. He's dealing with way too much for an 11 year old but nobody seems to notice. Will he be able to keep his family afloat and make it into the national running competition? Running on Empty is a really strong novel. It deals with sensitive topics and turns them into a story that everyone can relate to. If you like See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, which was one of my favourites of 2017, then you'll love Running on Empty. 208 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Lucas Maxwell, school librarian.

Running On Empty
Mike
Andrew Norriss

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781788450096

Andrew Norriss has once again written a story for children that deals with a sensitive issue and the pressures that children often face in today's society. A superb tennis player, Floyd is encouraged and trained from a young age by his father with the hope of one day becoming a Wimbledon champion. When Mike starts turning up at matches and distracting Floyd, it very soon becomes clear that only he can see and hear him. Helped by a friendly psychologist, Dr Pinner, Floyd has to face some uncomfortable truths that might make life very difficult for him and his parents. Like Jessica's Ghost, also by Andrew Norriss, this book is a very straightforward and easy read for children but the message underneath is much more serious. Children today are faced with pressures to conform and be the best, often at something that does not interest them and to the detriment of their own self confidence. Here, Andrew Norriss is opening up the lines of communication for children, parents and schools and once again sending a message that it is ok to make choices, whatever they may be. A good one for schools but also for perhaps a joint read at home. 261 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

Mike
Everless: Book 1
Sara Holland

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408353394

In Everless, time really is money. As forms of punishment, people have their blood drained from them in order to lose years from their lives. It's a bizarre form of ritual that keeps everyone in check and everyone in a constant state of panic. People with money have nothing to fear and can potentially live forever. They don't need to give up their blood, it's protected by a well-established system meant to keep the powerful in charge and everyone else under their boot heels. However, people like Jules Ember have to literally bleed themselves dry in order to pay the landlords what they are due. Jules's father is sick so in order to help pay for his medicine, she gets a job at Everless, a massive estate owned by the wealthiest family in the land, the Gerlings. As Jules wanders the grounds, she discovers hidden secrets buried within the walls. Family secrets that her father wanted to keep from her. With its epic scope, Everless is the kind of land that you can get lost in. A land where nobody is who they say they are and everyone can potentially have a dagger at your back. It can be tricky to invent a believable fantasy world that grabs readers by the collar and demands their attention, but Sara Holland has done it with this book. In the Library that I work at, students have a craving for relatable characters no matter what kind of world or situation they find themselves in. I think that Jules is definitely a character that the students will love, she is smart, ambitious and a great heroine that the students will fall in love with. Fans of the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake and the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard will really love this compelling new series. 368 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lucas Maxwell, school librarian.

Everless: Book 1
Thornhill
Pam Smy

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781910200612

When you first spot this beautiful book on a bookshop shelf you will know that this is something entirely out of the ordinary. Handling it, you cannot fail to be curious about its ominously monochrome palette, complete with black edges. The story itself is told through the experiences of two protagonists, separated by 35 years. Withdrawn, lonely and traumatised Mary is growing up in the 1980s in Thornhill, a children's home which is due to close down, where she is bullied and threatened. The ringleader terrorises Mary by thumping repeatedly on her bedroom door at night. Mary's story is told through her diary entries, the prose sparse and deeply affecting. Interwoven with this text are the pages that tell the story of modern day Ella. Ella's story is told purely through black and white images, the details of which tell us that Ella's mum is no longer with them; perhaps she has died. Ella and her dad have recently moved to a house which backs on to the now ruined Thornhill. Her dad has gone away on a work trip and Ella is alone. Two lonely girls find their lives mysteriously intertwined and you find yourself swiftly drawn into their story. There is plenty of the gothic in this tale, from the brooding silhouette of the ruined building now swathed in barbed wire and bindweed to the sinister presence of the abandoned dolls that Mary has crafted. There are references to both Jane Eyre and The Secret Garden. It is a story that is sad in a particularly bleak way and perhaps not a good choice for the most sensitive readers. However, I was utterly blown away by its sparse power. Overall, a truly original, bleakly beautiful and compulsive read. 533 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Emily Marcuccilli, school librarian

Thornhill
Where the World Ends
Geraldine McCaughrean

Usborne Publishing Ltd

ISBN 9781474943437

This powerful, poignant and psychologically tense novel is so atmospheric and sensory you can feel the salt spray pounding your face, hear the waves thundering against the perilous rocks and flinch at the raucous shrieks of birds above the stark sea stacs. McCaughrean, Carnegie Medal winner and author of over 160 books, believes that 'fiction is elastic: it stretches to encircle true facts and then crimps them into shape to create Story.' She has certainly achieved this goal in creating this cinematically-charged and meticulously researched historical tale. Her effective use of descriptive language and beautifully realized sense of location breathes life into the 1727 account of a fowling party sent from the wilds of Hirta (off the remote islands of St. Kilda in Scotland) to the isolated Warrior Stac to hunt birds, only to be inexplicably abandoned. As the party of 12 struggles to understand why the mail boat has not returned, they must rely on their wits, courage and skills to survive. From the plaintive chapter headings (which mark the time in scratches spent by the stranded men and boys as they languish on the treacherous rock faces) to the painfully evocative imagery, McCaughrean perfectly imagines their predicament creating believable, well rounded characters with wishes, dreams, hopes, schemes and secrets. The group's harrowing experience is recounted through the third person voice of Quilliam McKinnon, the steadfast glue that holds the disparate band together - a storyteller, a giver of roles and a protective and supportive influence. Three adults, with strengths and weaknesses, accompany the unfortunate boys who see the trip as a rite of passage, a chance to prove their manhood and to ensure their livelihood by harvesting bird meat, oil and feathers. As the suspense mounts, fears, doubts and religious superstitions abound, magnified by the increasing mental and physical deprivation of the marooned party. Wild weather whips around the forsaken fowlers, personifying their ever-changing moods. Where the World Ends is a must read though it is not for the faint hearted. Vegetarians may particularly struggle with the graphic details of the fowlers' trade involving the slaughter of birds, the use of Storm Petrels as candles and puffins consumed as a wholesome snack. Those misgivings aside, it is a book worthy of five stars for its absorbing plot and devastating impact on the reader. It is a worthy Carnegie 2018 nominee. 336 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Tanja Jennings, school librarian.

Where the World Ends
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406379167

Todd Hewitt is a boy, about to become a man in Prentisstown, but he's not quite sure what being a man means as no one will tell him. A war with the native Spackle released a germ that meant every man can hear each other's thoughts as well as those of animals.. The war left all the Spackle and women of the town dead so Todd has been raised by Cillian and Ben, two farmers living on the outskirts of town. This suits Todd just fine as any time spent in town is filled with the angry, ugly and vicious thoughts of the resident men. One day whilst out with his dog Manchee, Todd comes across a pocket of silence, something he has never encountered before and which scares and intrigues him at the same time. Determined to find it a second time what he encounters sets off a devastating chain of events. This first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy is a thrilling, shocking rollercoaster of action, secrets and lies. The book is paced well throughout and keeps the reader turning the page again and again. The first few pages quickly introduce you to the 'noise' of the town people and animals that Todd hears and it becomes clear how this noise is sometimes used against others. Although at first glance it would seem the main theme is a mystery the book covers so much more including genocide, discrimination, sexism, mysoginism, mental health, influence and power. I first read this book seven years ago when it was relatively new and it has just been re-released for the ten year anniversary. There is also a film being released soon. Once again I was drawn in to Todd's adventure and the many problems put in his way but I had forgotten the harsh nature and reality of his world and events, for this reason I would recommend it for age 13/14 upwards. It is a brilliant, compelling read, one of my favourite series, and I can't wait for the film release. The other two in the series, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, are just as compelling and perhaps even more fraught and harrowing in places. They are all, however, books that will make you pause, probably whilst shouting NOOOOOO!!!!!! such is the empathy for Todd and his companions and the awful events that follow them. Although this is written with many strong male characters there are also vibrant women throughout and a strong female friend. I would highly recommend this to girls and boys alike and it would make a fantastic book group or class read with many areas for discussion. Some readers may find the first few pages confusing due to the noise and secrets but urge them to continue, it is well worth the read. 479 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Tender
Eve Ainsworth

Scholastic

ISBN 9781407164304

Tender is such an emotive story and although it's a work of fiction, it touches on and raises the issues of friendship, family, mental health and the pressures that young carers have to face each day. The reader also gets an insight, through the narratives, of both the main characters, the barriers that social workers and counsellors have to face in getting these young carers to trust in them. The story revolves around Marty and Daisy, who are two young carers that go through each day pretending that everything is 'fine' when it's clearly not. Marty's mom has mental health issues that have been magnified by the death of his dad. Daisy's little brother, Harry, has muscular dystrophy, she silently watches how this illness is destroying his little body and the pressure it's putting on her parents' relationship. The book does carry hope for Marty and Daisy as the author has cleverly developed a romantic relationship for them, it's not full on and sloppy but quite the opposite, slow and at times challenging. It's just nice that they find each other as they understand the emotions that their lives carry. The story is told in alternating chapters between these two, making it a compelling and at times heartbreaking read. Although the book raises important issues and can give an insight to a young carer's life, I would still only recommend it for 13+ readers due to the upsetting nature of some of the events. The book does come with a warning on the back cover regarding this. Tender has 290 well written pages that are suitable for confident and slower readers. I would also recommend it for reading groups as there are lots of discussion points that could be raised. At the back of the book there is also a useful list of organisations if any readers need further information about issues raised. 290 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Tender
Children of Blood and Bone
Tomi Adeyemi

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509871353

This debut YA novel has breathless pacing, wonderful worldbuilding that lets your imagination run wild and a strong heroine that the reader roots for. The story is told through four different points of view, but their lives are all woven around the main character, Zelie. Zelie remembers when Orisha hummed with magic, but that all changed when their ruthless king ordered that all maji were to be killed. At the age of six she watched as her mother was chained and hung from a tree outside her home because of her powers. During this king's reign magic and dark skinned people with white hair, now called Diviners, are hated. Ten years on Zelie has been given a chance to bring the magic back and with the help of her brother, a princess and, on occasion the crown prince, she takes the chance to strike back at the king. We journey with her as she faces her own struggles and set backs with her own powers. This novel is a powerful, mythological story of woven words and emotions that the reader can totally get involved in. Even though the book feels a little overlong, at 600 pages!, most confident 12+ well read readers will quickly get through it as it is pacy, at times intense and very well written. It ends with one hell of a cliffhanger so I hope that Book 2 will soon be on its way. Enjoy the magic! 544 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Children of Blood and Bone
I Am Thunder
Muhammad Khan

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509874057

Religious extremism and radicalisation. Alan Gibbons deals with it in The Trap (terrorism, heroism and everything in between), he shows us how easy it is for an intelligent young man to be manipulated and something of the racism and islamophobia young British Asians face. And here, in I Am Thunder, Muhammad Khan tackles it; to be fair he doesn't just tackle it he knocks it to the ground. This is a thumper of a read. Muzna's voice is of the moment, she's 15 years old, living in London. On the threshold of adulthood she's finding her identity, encountering love, understanding friendships, trying to do well at school, balancing her parents' expectations and those of the Pakistani community with her own. She sounds familiar, and that's the point. She is plausible. Muzna is British, she is Pakistani, she is Muslim, she's a daughter, she';s a friend and she's a teenager. But before all of these she is Muzna Saleem. Why does 'the perfect student, open-minded and inquisitive' end up skipping school to attend meetings in the company of a boy (risking her reputation in the Pakistani community) where the preaching inciting hate is increasingly at odds with Muzna's own understanding of Islam? What are the choices that led to that path? With I Am Thunder, Muhammad Khan has navigated that path brilliantly. Being Muslim means different things to different people and Muzna was exceptional company as we walked in her footsteps. I Am Thunder: read it, talk about it, recommend it! 352 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

I Am Thunder
How to Hang a Witch
Adriana Mather

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406378795

How to Hang a Witch is set in the town of Salem, the place famous in history for the hanging of women declared as witches in the 17th century. The main character, Sam, is a direct descendant of one of the original accusers and has moved there with her stepmother to live in an old family property whilst her father remains in a coma. From the outset, teen descendants of witches killed set out to make her life miserable and strange things start to happen that point to Sam being a troublemaker and possible witch herself. Befriended by a neighbour, Jaxon, and forced to accept help from a resident ghost, Elijah, Sam decides to try and stop a curse that descends on the town each time all of the descendant families have a relative present at the same time. I was not particularly looking forward to reading this book as I am not a fan of supernatural stories but I have to say this is a very enjoyable and compelling read. The town and its history, along with the frightening events, come together to create a thrilling mystery. My only criticism would be the slightly cheesy romance element that is thrown in, I presume to keep teen readers interested, but I think the story stands well even without this. I would definitely recommend this book for readers who are looking for something a little different and want a page turner. Like me, they may be tempted by the history to plan a visit to the real town of Salem! 363 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian.

How to Hang a Witch
More Than We Can Tell
Brigid Kemmerer

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781408885079

This is the first time I have read anything by this author and would highly recommend this book as it has a place on the 16+ bookshelf. The book explores two very controversial subjects that, sadly, teenagers can relate to in the 21st century. The story is told in two narratives, Rev, who is now adopted as he was previously abused by his father and Emma, who is experiencing some very negative attention on the internet as she not only is a 'gamer' but also has written one. The author has produced a well written journey for Rev showing not only his struggle to fit in, but struggles with his emotions and his confidence. These struggles show the reader how the power that words can have over a person and the later effects that they have. Emma is also struggling to find her place, she is at times defensive, stubborn and acts recklessly as she tries to deal with her own problems. However, I did find sympathy with her character as her issues are also very important. Even though a trusting romantic relationship is starting to develop between these two I would definitely not call this a romantic novel, it's much more deeper than that. The story deals with so many current topics - cyber bullying , family issues, abuse and how to deal with sexual references. All this has been cleverly written into short pacy chapters that keep the reader interested. However, I do have one issue with the story,and that is the use of one, in my opinion, very disgusting word that is used to describe Emma. It's probably my age that finds this offensive as I often think teenagers today don't make so much fuss about the use of bad language. Had the word not been used, I would recommend the book for 14+ readers as the topics raised are also relevant to them. Having said this, I would recommend the book. It has 408 well written pages that due to short chapters and content will keep the reader engrossed, confident as well as more reluctant readers. It would also be useful for upper school reading groups as there are so many topics that could be explored and help YA awareness on how to stay safe on the internet. 408 pages / Ages 16+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

More Than We Can Tell