NEW TITLES

There are some great adventure stories in this month's selection for 11+ readers based around real life and fantasy stories. For older readers, there is romance, gripping dystopian reads and a stunning, genre-busting introduction to Mary Shelley published in the anniversary year of Frankenstein - Mary's Monster.

HerStory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World
Katherine Halligan

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788001380

50 short biographies of influential women including doctors, scientists, writers, designers, activists and monarchs. Each woman has a double page spread detailing how they have changed the world we live in today. Beautifully illustrated pages, lovely clear text and interesting photos makes this a book-lover's dream. Split into five categories, Believe and Lead, Imagine and Create, Help and Heal, Think and Solve and Hope and Overcome. I especially liked the portrait gallery at the end, which serves as a timeline of when these great women lived. It really is one I have loved reading and have picked up several times since. Anna Pavlova is my favourite page by far. It has formed part of a International Women's Day display in our library and the display to celebrate 100 years since women got the vote. The girls have loved it too. Highly recommended. 112 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jennifer Prestwood, school librarian.

HerStory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World
The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game: A Top Gear book
Jon Claydon

Piccadilly Press

ISBN 9781848126459

Sam Wheeler is the new boy in town, but it's a strange town. Everyone is engrossed with a new video game. A student at the local school has disappeared. Everyone seems busy trying to please the billionaire who recently moved in the the mansion on the hill. And of course there have been sightings of a mysterious figure wearing white racing overalls. Together with his friends, Minnie Cooper and Ford Harrison, Sam sets out to save the town once and for all. When this book arrived through the letterbox last week, I was intrigued. It is, if you hadn't twigged, a Top Gear spin-off. The cover and concept scream that this is a book aimed at reluctant boy readers. I must admit, I was a little skeptical as to whether I would enjoy this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a Ronseal book - it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a fast-paced adventure full of cars. The action rattles along at a rate of knots with twists and turns at every corner. The characters, while not the most well-rounded, certainly gel together to create a typical cast - the hero, the trusty sidekicks, the bully, the teacher who strikes fear into the children's hearts. It does everything right without being ground-breaking. Now, the thing that stood out for me is the humorous side of the book. Jon Claydon and Tim Lawler play around with words in many ways. There's the unsubtle swapping of letters (bunny fone instead of funny bone) to a more subtle play on everyday phrases. There is one glorious section which plays on Ford Harrison's name which ends up namechecking just about every car Ford have ever made. This was just one occasions which had me smirking to myself on the train. There is definitely a market for this book. It is a book which is accessible, but also has a story which will keep readers hooked. Like I said, this book surprised me and will be one which I will recommend to children. At sight of the book, I had a queue of boys in my class wanting to borrow it. Whatever you think of spin offs, this has got to be a good thing. 288 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Matt Davies,

The Stig Plays a Dangerous Game: A Top Gear book
Night Speakers
Ali Sparkes

Oxford University Press

ISBN 9780192749956

The Breakfast Club meets The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, but for a slightly younger audience. An unlikely trio of youngsters are drawn together by a mysterious commonality: they all wake up at exactly 1:34 am every night. Something strange is going on, and they';re desperate to discover exactly what. Together, meeting secretly in the dead of night whenever they can, they are drawn into an adventure as supernatural elements of the world around them are revealed. A heady mix of the regular teenager's everyday struggles - problems with parents, troubles at school, awkward friendships - and ancient superstitions, beliefs and beings, Night Speakers: Sleepless is an incredibly moreish book. Ali Sparkes expertly tantalises the reader with a gradual release of information that often allows the reader to feel like they are just one tiny step ahead of the book's protagonists. Sparkes lets the reader believe the reality of what is happening before the characters do, making for a very satisfying read. Although this is true, there is enough suspense left too - not every event can be expected; a perfect mixture from a skilful author The beauty of nature is brought alongside the clamour of urban life as the three young people discover they have powers and abilities which allow them to communicate with nature. Although pegged as appealing to animal lovers, this is not your typical animal story. In fact, the fauna concerned in this story act quite as they should where other books might have had them too anthropomorphised; this treatment of the animals in the story makes for an almost believable fantasy. With the classroom in mind, Night Speakers: Sleepless would be a fantastic book for character study, setting description and creating tension. There are excellent passages which would stand alone as short texts for a variety of different teaching purposes. Year 6, 7 and 8 children and their teachers would enjoy making comparisons between this and other fantasy adventures set in the real world. A hugely climactic, cinematic ending brings brief calm before a nosedive into an unsettling cliffhanger as the book's surprise fourth main character speaks menacingly, suggesting that the business of this book, the first in a series of five, is not yet done. Sparkes has certainly created an intriguing enough world for the follow-up tome to be highly anticipated by readers of Night Speakers: Sleepless. 272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Aidan Severs, teacher.

Night Speakers
Running On Empty
S. E. Durrant

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9780857637406

AJ is worried. Worried about starting high school. Worried about life without his beloved grandad. Worried about his parents, who have learning difficulties and don't know how to pay the bills. Worried that social services might come and take him away if they knew. AJ has always loved to run, and dreams of running on the Olympic track where he saw Usain Bolt win gold in 2012. As he starts at his new school, he discovers his trainers don't fit. But where will he find the money when his family can't even afford the gas meter? Running on Empty is a touching story about the importance of family when life as you know it starts to fall apart. The writing, although relatively economical, is full of nuances that introduce the hard-hitting subjects of poverty and child carers to young readers without feeling too distressing or sentimental. AJ's struggles will resonate with many children across the country in this time of austerity and rising child poverty. In a classroom setting, Running on Empty would be an excellent book to encourage discussions around themes of poverty and the acceptance of people with learning difficulties. I will definitely be getting copies of this book for our school library. 208 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Ruth Wyss.

Running On Empty
The Eye of the North
Sinead O'Hart

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159410

What an adventure! This book centres around Emmeline, whose parents mysteriously vanish. Before long, she is on a ship to France where she encounters her side-kick-to-be, Thing. Everything takes a turn for the worse when Emmeline is kidnapped and taken to the North. From here on in, we have scientists, secret societies, myths . . . the list goes on. Firstly, let me talk about the characters. Anyone who has read some of my previous reviews will know that I love a good character. There has to be something about them to grab my attention, then they have to develop as the story progresses. I can safely say that both Emmaline and Thing did this in abundance. Emmaline is a true heroine. She's bold, brash and not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. As for thing, he certainly is a unique character. I was intrigued by him throughout and was glad as we saw more of his perspective as the novel progressed. From very early on, there is an air of mystery. As a reader, there was just enough to hook me without giving too much away. It wasn't until quite late on that everything became clear, despite all my guessing and second-guessing. It's one of those books where there are twists and turns around every corner. Once one pitfall has been overcome, there is no let up. For some, this book will be a demanding read. There is a lot going on and it is quite long for a middle-grade read. This makes it a perfect step before moving onto Phillip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy or as a class read for a Year 6 class, or individual Year 7 read. 384 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Matt Davies, teacher.

The Eye of the North
Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
Kelly McCaughrain

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406375657

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds was the perfect book to read soon after seeing The Greatest Showman at the cinema. It brings the passion and commitment of life behind the 'big top' curtains to life. The story is told by Finch, twin of Birdie, with Birdie's blog about circus life intercepting his account. The twins, and Finch in particular, go out of their way to be different from their peers especially in what they wear and are reluctant to befriend anyone else at their school. However, layer by layer, Finch's narrative is pealed away to reveal why he is so afraid of making new friends, and Birdie's hesitant suggestions that perhaps it was time they did. A near tragedy on the trapeze brings the twins' relationship into focus and also sets them free to discover their own identities. This is a warm-hearted and, through the dialogue and characters, also a very funny coming of age story about identity, friendships and first love. The dialogue snaps along - I loved the twins' run-ins with the mean 'Bond girls' at school - and the characters such as their sharp-eyed, rebellious gran, Lou, are fully drawn and endearing. It's good to have a central character who embraces 'difference' and a novel that explores all the muddle and confusion that being a teenager, and gay, can bring. A great read. 384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Gwen Black.

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds
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
Scythe
Neal Shusterman

Walker Books Ltd

ISBN 9781406379242

In the year 2042 the human race conquered death, you cannot die, unless you are 'gleaned'! ... People have nanites in their blood that heal them and mask pain and, if they do die, they can be revived quickly and painlessly. In order to control the population, as it's no longer in the hands of nature, a group of people called Scythes are tasked to 'glean' (kill) people. They kill according to their Ten Commandments and the first one is Thou Shalt Kill!! Citra and Rowan, after showing compassion to others after an encounter with Scythe Faraday, are chosen by him to become his scythe apprentices. However, only one of them can become a Scythe and the winner must glean the other candidate. As they both learn the skills needed from Scythe Faraday, they face and experience the conflicted emotions many scythes endure as they approach their responsibilities, and the physical, mental, and intellectual skills needed to become a good scythe. There is a touch of romance in the story as Citra and Rowan are drawn to each other but they know that they cannot be together and then a cruel twist in the plot has them pitted against each other. Who is going to wear the Scythe's ring? You will have to read the book to find out! The story is told in alternative chapters between the two main characters, which I found to be equally likeable. In between the chapters, the reader also gets an insight of some of the Scythes' thoughts as there is a snippet from their daily gleaning journals. This is a well written, page-turning story that is quite thought provoking and terrifying as you get deeper into the plot. Suitable for well read, confident dystopian readers and reluctant ones as well due to the short pacy chapters. I loved this YA book, of which I truly believe is a genuine successor to the Hunger Games. I also understand that it may become a film in the near future. I'm now eagerly awaiting the sequel titled Thunderhead, which is out in November. Please read it, as I'm 99.9% sure you will enjoy it! 450 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Scythe
Dark Matter: Deception: Book 2
Teri Terry

Orchard Books

ISBN 9781408341742

Deception is the second book in the Dark Matter series (the first is Contagion) by Teri Terry and is another rollercoaster ride. As the epidemic spreads, survivors are being hunted like witches, for the authorities fear their strange new powers. Kai is desperate to trace Shay, who tricked him and disappeared. Meanwhile, Shay is searching for the truth behind the origins of the epidemic. The plot is pacy and full of twists and turns that will keep the reader engaged until the end, leaving them wanting more! In this part of the story we have three narratives, Shay, Kai and Callie, this helps the pace and stops the story from being too information loaded with all the science stuff about the epidemic. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about each character and about the deadly virus that has spread the country. Between them they pick up more survivors that I hope are still around in the final chapter. You get so engrossed in Teri Terry novels and this story is no exception, even though there are two story lines going on and the 3 POV's you still managed to follow the plot. This series combines the very real threat of virus outbreak with futuristic theories which was really interesting and thought provoking. Overall, this is a great sequel that is heart wrenching in places, (the twist with Callie at the end, though very brave, left me feeling a little sad) and characters that can really frustrate you and question 'Why would you do that!!'. It is fantastically thought out, well written with short chapters. Great for sci-fi / dystopian readers of 12+, also for reluctant readers of the same age group, as along with the first book, due to the short chapters you get a real sense of achievement when you realise how much you have read. I am looking forward to reading the last book in this series, Evolution, which I believe is out in August. 448 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

Dark Matter: Deception: Book 2
Big Bones
Laura Dockrill

Hot Key Books

ISBN 9781471406928

Bluebelle, aka Big Bones, loves food. Every chapter of this book has a food theme, starting with one of my personal favourites - crumpets! This is the food diary that Bluebelle was encouraged to keep following the appointment with the nurse that her mum dragged her to. Bluebelle is a body-confident 16 year old who has a very close bond with her sister and thinks she knows what she wants to do in life. BB has just finished her GCSE Exams and wants to start an apprenticeship at Planet Coffee rather than stay on at school. This may (or may not) have something to do with Max, who also works there. Dove, her sister, is the complete opposite of BB. She does not sit still and loves free running/parkour. Somehow Dove manages to eat what she likes and stay slim. When a family tragedy strikes, it prompts BB to reassess her relationship with food and start taking more care of her health. I really enjoyed reading this warm and funny book. Bluebelle has such an honest voice (it is possibly too honest in places!) There were some moments where I genuinely laughed out loud. I still wonder where the author got the idea for 'bum tills'. NB: There is a brief mention of a bulimic incident involving a coat hanger (p282) However, the main character regrets this instantly; 'Never had I wished I could undo an action so quickly'. This book will really appeal to teenagers who like reading humour and contemporary fiction. 400 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian.

Big Bones
Mary's Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
Lita Judge

Wren & Rook

ISBN 9781526360410

With 2018 marking the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (or 'The Modern Prometheus'), you might expect to hear a fair bit about both author and novel - but you'll not find a match for this. Through extensive research, Lita Judge has crafted a beautiful biography. Delving into Mary's own journals, letters and later biographies Lita sets the tone with stunningly evocative black and white illustrations through which Mary's story emerges. The history of how her novel, Frankenstein, came to be; the experiences that shaped her sorrow filled life, the emotional journey. Rather fittingly as 'Now Mary is the ghost whose bones have turned to dust and it is I who live on', it is Mary Shelley's creation, her Creature, who holds the prologue and the epilogue of Mary's Monster; it is the Creature who offers us Mary's story. A quick poll of the staff room and classrooms informs me that while everyone has heard of Frankenstein, I'm not alone in knowing next to nothing of the young author. The influences, the legacy of Milton's works, the tragedies endured. Lita Judge's Mary's Monster is a fabulously accessible account of Mary Shelley's young life presented in free verse with, as mentioned, hauntingly beautiful illustrations. For those wanting more information on provenance Lita Judge also adds a comprehensive note and full bibliography to sate the most curious, neatly bringing the book to a close. 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian.

Mary's Monster: Love, Madness and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
The Wicked Deep
Shea Ernshaw

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471166136

This story is a fantasy tale featuring witches and curses - with a bit of romance added into the mix. In the early 1800's, the Swan Sisters were drowned in the harbour of a village called Sparrow as the islanders believed they were witches. As an act of revenge, these sisters return each year on June 1st and inhabit the bodies of three local girls and then entice and tempt the young men of the town to their own deaths by drowning them. The story is told in two different narratives. Through the first person narrative of Penny Talbot, we follow her life as she once again copes with the tragic yearly events that has flocks of tourists coming into the village to hopefully catch a glimpse of The Sisters and see how many local boys they kill. Through Penny, we also have a very quickly blown romance after she meets and gives a young boy, Bo - who is an outsider - a job looking after the lighthouse on the island that she lives on with her mother. This romance is, I might add, a little too fast and this makes the book, alongside the occasion use of offensive language, unsuitable for younger readers, which is a shame as I would have loved to place this as a 12+. Both Penny and Bo are hesitant to share their secrets when it becomes obvious they each have something to hide. It's good how the author lets these secrets unfold through the unexpected twists as the story develops. There is also a third person narrative, developed through the Swan Sisters as they recount what happened to them centuries ago. How they were misunderstood and cruelly treated, especially the younger sister Hazel. This narrative ties the novel up nicely to make a beautifully crafted story containing a legend and curses which definitely caught my attention. I couldn't wait to unravel the mystery. All the characters are well developed, especially the Swan sisters. 308 pages of magical mystery with short chapters making this a quick read for confident readers and a good read for slow/reluctant ones. Thoroughly recommended. 320 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian.

The Wicked Deep
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
I Have Lost My Way
Gayle Forman

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471173721

'I have lost my way'. A simple, heart-breaking sentence, an admission, a plea for help and a conclusion drawn independently by Nathaniel, Freya and Harun; I have lost my way. But when Freya falls from a bridge (onto Nathaniel, witnessed by Harun) the three inextricably cling to the company of each other. Not quite recognising the loss inherent in one another, they do however recognise that their meeting is a blessing and together can hope to find their way again. Taking place over the course of a day, spliced with flashbacks to give an insight into the backstory of each, we see how simple contact and connection allows each the confidence to resolve their loss. Building a friendship they support one another, slowly understanding what it is each one needs. Gayle Forman gives us three very different characters each with an absorbing history, touching on a whole range of topics. She has created three very likeable young people and has delivered another excellent story charting loss and friendship, and finding a way back to who you believe yourself to be. 288 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian

I Have Lost My Way
The Truth About Alice: From the author of Moxie
Jennifer Mathieu

Hodder Children's Books

ISBN 9781444944747

Everyone has A LOT to say about Alice, and none of it good, but how much of it true? If the rumours flying around her High School and her tiny, claustrophobic, everyone-knows- everyone-else's-business, town are to be believed, then popular girl Alice not only slept with two guys at one party but also killed one of them through sexting while he was driving. And the rumours just keep spiralling out of control, writ large in black sharpie on the 'slut stall' in the girls' bathroom for all to read and add to. Alice's story however is tellingly revealed in alternating chapters by four of her High School 'friends': Kelsie, her former best friend; Josh, a passenger in the car when it crashed; grudge-bearing mean girl, Elaine and Kurt, outcast and geek. As the four reveal all they know about Alice, they reveal their own motivations and insecurities, secrets and lies. Their interweaving narratives perfectly create the claustrophobic atmosphere of High School and emphasise the all-encompassing obsession with social hierarchy which dominates every High School - US or UK. No character is blameless - each has their own credible and compelling story to tell and reason for acting as they do. Importantly, Mathieu explains but doesn't exonerate. Ultimately, the only person who knows the truth about Alice is Alice herself and Mathieu withholds her perspective until the very last chapter, cleverly putting the reader into the same situation as the other High Schoolers, building their own version of the truth and forming their own judgements based on rumour and hearsay and often outright lies. The ending is a hopeful one. The resilience and inner strength of Alice is astounding. This is a tough-talking, hard-hitting, Melvin Burgess-style tale of stereotyping, slut-shaming and, at times, downright nasty bullying. This is not a story which will sit easily on the shelves in conservative schools. There is some strong language and several explicit references. It is, however, a story which should be required reading for older teenagers for its responsible and realistic consideration of consent, drinking, religion, abortion, eating disorders, jealousy, popularity, peer pressure and reputation. Pacy and short in length, this is a book guaranteed to get those KS4 'can read, won't read' girls back into books. And they will have much to say among themselves about it, will identify with it and will recognise the characters in their own schools. This is YA fiction which treats teenagers like the young adults they are and illustrates the potential damage of spreading rumours and lies, showing how quickly they can get out of hand, ruining reputations and lives in the process. In a '#metoo' era, we need more books like this. Shying away from promoting them shortchanges young people and perpetuates an all-too prevalent problem in schools. PSHE teachers at KS4, too, could find a host of discussion points within its pages for boys AND girls. Kudos to the publishers for the non-pink packaging. Another sharply perceptive and brilliantly witty story about slut shaming and the friend zone is The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher offers an equally strong and similarly controversial examination of the effects of rumours. The multiple narrator technique is used to equally arresting effect in One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. 212 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian.

The Truth About Alice: From the author of Moxie
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