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January 2018 Debut of the Month High school student Dill knows what it is to feel “the crushing weight of destiny”. His granddad went mad after a copperhead viper killed his daughter, and his dad, a fanatical Pentecostal minister, makes his congregation handle deadly serpents to prove their faith. While his father is now in prison for a terrible crime, Dill feels shackled by these family demons, and also by poverty, bullying and a fiercely religious mum who blames Dill for his father’s imprisonment. Dill also knows he’s lucky to have friends like Travis and Lydia. While staff-wielding Travis finds sanctuary from his violent drunk of a dad in fantasy books, Lydia is an energetic fashion blogger from the right side of the tracks. But everything shifts as the three friends embark on their last year of high school. Lydia is all set to study journalism in New York, Travis is excited about his burgeoning relationship with a fellow fantasy geek, but Dill has no hope for his future. He’s terrified of losing Lydia, and terrified that he’s already been poisoned by his family’s legacy. He finds some solace in song-writing but, when tragedy strikes, Dill descends to a very dark place and it takes supreme strength and love to untangle himself from the strangling grip of grief and despair. This southern gothic story about small-town small-mindedness, religious fanaticism, wrestling family demons and the redemptive power of friendship really is an exquisite gem; an unforgettably haunting tale that imprints itself on your heart. ~ Joanne Owen
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2018 An eye-opening book, The Girl Who Saw Lions (originally published as Abela) is the touching and profound story of two girls who apparently have nothing in common. The two girls tell their own stories. Abela, growing up in Tanzania, is surrounded by suffering. Her father has already died and now her mother and her baby sister are desperately ill. When they die too, Abela is sent off to England and an uncertain future as an illegal immigrant. Rosa, growing up in England, has everything she could possibly want. There is no reason why these two should become sisters. Their individual stories and the story of how they come together through adoption make a beautiful, satisfying and complete story. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for January 2018 Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by by Mem Fox Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal Emmeline and the Plucky Pup by Megan Rix Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy The Girl Who Saw Lions by Berlie Doherty The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham
AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS. Everybody ran, ducked, hid, tucked themselves tight. Pressed our lips to the pavement and prayed the boom, followed by the buzz of a bullet, didn't meet us. After Will's brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don't cry. Don't snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn's gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will's friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he's doing. This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.
January 2018 Book of the Month This twisting tale of shady secrets, a destructive alter ego and a feverishly fast-tracked romance will leave fans of psychological thrillers reeling, as 17 year-old Ella Black is taken on a terrifyingly transformative journey from suburban Kent to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Aspiring artist Ella has long lived with a secret. She’s plagued by violent impulses from an inner demon she’s named Bella, Bad Ella. And then, out-of-the blue, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro, and she suspects that something is seriously wrong. Her worries are somewhat offset when she instantly falls for Christian, a Cuban American vacationing in Rio, but then, as Ella lies to her parents about him, she discovers that her entire life is a lie. Knowing that her parents have deceived her is upsetting enough, but the truth is even more disturbing, and so she flees and finds herself in an inconceivably precarious situation. While the real-world dangers are bad enough, the deepest danger is the monster buried in Ella’s past, a monster that’s just resurfaced. Driven by Ella’s intense, in-your-face first person narrative, this is a rollercoaster ride of a read for those who like their thrillers to have an outlandish edge. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: dark, spellbinding fantasy from a master of the form Holly Black’s new series stars a girl caught between the human and the Faerie worlds. Jude was just a child when she witnessed the murder of her parents by Madoc, a Faerie lord. Madoc took Jude and her sisters back to Elfhame with him and brought them up as his own. Jude is reminded constantly of her position as an outsider and a rivalry with the arrogant Prince Cardan seems to offer the means to prove herself as she desperately wants; instead it leads her into a deadly court intrigue. Jude is a fascinating character, stubborn, brave, defined by her powerlessness and her obsession with finding power, and this is fantasy adventure at its brilliant, intelligent, thought-provoking best. Readers who enjoy The Cruel Prince must also read Philip Reeve’s Railhead books and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series. ~ Andrea Reece
January 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: bewitching tale of love, suspense and witchery Adriana Mather’s story of a young girl overcoming a centuries old supernatural feud is a heady combination of intrigue, romance and ghostly goings-on. The central character is descended from Cotton Mather (as is the author), notorious for his part in the Salem Witch Trials, and when she returns to the town, Sam’s presence reawakens an old curse; soon people are dying. New York-raised Sam won’t stand for any kind of bullying – human or paranormal – and is determined to find out exactly what’s going on. In this she’s helped by hunky, if long-dead Elijah. Bold, resolute and with the sarky outlook and deadpan delivery of a latter-day Buffy, Sam is a great character, and this hugely entertaining while Mather also cleverly parallels the 17th century witch trials with the kind of bullying young people face today, making this rewarding reading in lots of different ways. ~ Andrea Reece
A modern classic in the making, this hilarious and heartwarming story explores the true meaning of family and friendship. Reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking, Heidi and Anne Shirley, Astrid is a feisty and irrepressible heroine who will help readers navigate the complexities of family and friendship with plenty of warmth, wit and humour.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | November 2017 Book of the Month In a nutshell: gripping, sometimes heart-breaking story of a dog and his boy Guardian award-winner Andy Mulligan brings his own sensibility to a much-loved model - boy and dog form special relationship - adding a particular humour, seriousness and depth. It’s love at first sight for Tom and Spider, but a series of accidents results in Spider running away from home. The animals he meets are almost universally cruel, their animal natures leading them to torment Spider and other animals too; a vixen offers to help him home but loses her life in the process. Things get bleaker still, until Spider finally fights his way back to Tom. A thrilling climax allows the two of them, both bullied, to emerge as heroes. Original, thought-provoking and with a dark humour, this is an ultimately uplifting read, and very memorable. Andrea Reece
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award In a nutshell: the unbeatable power of the imagination | Piers Torday’s beautifully written book is an extraordinary allegory, a story of courage and love, and of the life-affirming importance of stories. It’s Christmas Eve and Mouse, his sisters and mum are driving across the snowy moors to his grandparents’ house when their car plunges off the road. Thrown clear Mouse begins a journey for help, but as a knight in one of the fantasy stories that mean so much to him in real life. It’s an epic journey too, full of strange characters, friends and enemies alike, and despite the dreamlike atmosphere the reader is never in any doubt as to how dangerous it is, or how much depends on Mouse reaching the castle. Not many books change readers’ views of the world, this might be one of them. ~ Andrea Reece
A new story about Willy the chimp is always exciting. Willy is off to the park when he notices a cloud following him. No matter how hard he tries he can’t escape it, and while everyone else is having fun, Willy sits and shivers. The police can’t help, and hiding inside just gets him hot and bothered. Only when Willy shouts at the cloud do things improve: in the resulting cloudburst Willy dances in the delicious cool rain, joyful and Fred Astaire-like! Browne is an extraordinarily adept storyteller and this funny, wry story explores feelings of anxiety and apprehension. As ever there’s so much to look at in the surreal illustrations, and children will discover more in each reading. ~ Andrea Reece
Wonder was a sensation when it was first published in 2012, and the story of Auggie and his fight to be accepted as a normal boy has now hit the big screen in a movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Mandy Patinkin. This is a special film tie-in edition. Frank, powerful, warm and often heart-breaking, Wonder is a book you'll read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page. This is a wonderful debut from a storyteller with a great future if this book is anything to go by and her characters are intensely likeable.
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