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January 2022 Graphic Novel of the Month | This second volume of Lize Meddings’ The Sad Ghost Club series of graphic novels is a beautifully original, beautifully told tale that will speak to readers who feel anxious, invisible or lonely. Its relatable portrayal of friendship offers hope and support, alongside an empathetic steer on how to find a way through social anxieties and insecurities. If that wasn’t enough, it’s completely compelling, and witty with it. “Being around people is so hard” - a sentiment many young readers might identify with through this story’s relatable “sad ghost” characters. While our two ghosts have become comfortable with their friendship, anxiety returns when a fellow lonely soul wants to join them. “Another person is going to be even more exhausting”. “What if this new person hates me?” What if they “forget I even exist”. After grappling with such insecurities, and navigating the complexities of relating to - and communicating with - other people, this glorious graphic novel concludes with a bolstering “I can do this” assertion, and more like-minded ghosts than you can shake a wand at. In a word - wonderful.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 9 | At once a frisson-fuelled love story, and a witty exploration of the unfair notion of female “reputation”, class conflict and snobbery, family bonds and friction, and the struggle to act with integrity in a dishonest society, Pride and Prejudice’s central themes certainly still resonate today, which makes this abridged re-telling by Laura Wood (author of LoveReading favourites Under a Dancing Star and A Sky Painted Gold) a brilliant way for new generations to experience the power of a classic through lively, accessible language that’ll have readers gripped, entertained and utterly in the thrall of Austen’s themes and characters. What’s more, since this version is published by Barrington Stoke, it’s been written and printed with accessibility at the fore, with the author’s characteristic verve woven through the thoroughly readable text as it conjures the thought-provoking, nuanced essence of Austen’s original novel. Some feat!
Edited by best-selling author Marissa Meyer, these are ten stories which each take on a familiar trope of romantic fiction: The secret admirer, the fake relationship, the matchmaker etc and turns them on their head in such a way as to keep the reader guessing. What is also both refreshing and valuable is the diversity of the collection, which includes black, LGBT, white, Asian and Indian characters and a range of text formats including a graphic novel. Any reader should be able to find themselves within the pages of this collection and find a story that resonates with them and their experiences. The overall quality of the writing, from authors who are relatively unknown in the UK, is a strength. As well as being a thoroughly enjoyable read this collection could find uses in the classroom for analysis of genres, styles and tropes.
New York City. June, 1982. When eighteen-year-old Beth arrives in Manhattan for a prestigious journalism internship, everything feels brand new – and not always in a good way. A cockroach-infested sublet and a disaffected roommate are the least of her worries, and she soon finds herself caught up with her fellow interns – preppy Oliver, ruthless Dan and ridiculously cool, beautiful, wild Edie. Soon, Beth and Edie are best friends – the sort of heady, allconsuming bestfriendship that’s impossible to resist. But with the mercury rising and deceit mounting up, betrayal lies just around the corner. Who needs enemies … when you have friends like these? From bestselling, award-winning author Meg Rosoff comes a gritty, intoxicating novel about a summer of unforgettable firsts: of independence, lies, love and the inevitable loss of innocence. Sharp and irresistible, it's perfect for fans of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan.
Rediscover the worlds of Emberfall and Syhl Shallow in this irresistible return to Brigid Kemmerer's New York Times bestselling Cursebreaker series. Tycho of Rillisk has been a lot of things: son and brother, stablehand, prisoner, soldier and friend to the king. Now, four years after Grey took the throne of Emberfall, Tycho has taken on a new role: courier and spy. As the only person the king can trust, Tycho carries secret messages back and forth between the kingdoms of Emberfall and Syhl Shallow. But even though the war is over, peace still seems far away. A dangerous anti-magical faction is rising, and when Tycho discovers a plot to assassinate Grey and Queen Lia Mara, ruler of Syhl Shallow, he must fight for everything he believes in. Nothing here is as it seems, and after a devastating betrayal, it becomes clear that the danger is only just beginning ...
Gabriel, Reese, Sal and Heath are best friends, bonded in their small rural town by their queerness, their good grades and their big dreams. But now it's the summer before their last year of high school, and each of them is going on a huge new adventure. Reese has a design internship in Paris, Gabriel is going to Boston for an internship with a charity organisation and Sal is volunteering on Capitol Hill for a senator - while Heath is stuck going to Florida to help his aunt's business. What will this summer of new experiences and world-expanding travel mean for each of them - and for their friendship? A sweet and compelling coming-of-age story that explores identity, the importance of found family and the complexities of falling for your best friend.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | The Silent Stars Go By is a riveting read-in-one-sitting experience driven by compelling characters who leap off the page, not least the young woman at its heart, an unmarried secretarial student who’s forced to give up her baby during WWI. The novel is also underpinned by a superb sense of social history, with evocative details of post-war village life nestling within the bigger story, and - as might be expected of the author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do - it’s threaded with feminist themes. It’s 1919, Christmas is on the horizon and two years have passed since nineteen-year-old Margot was forced to give up her baby for her parents to raise as their own. She was only fifteen when she and Harry fell madly in love ahead of him being called up. The magic of their time together is evoked in all its tingling passion, contrasting with Margot’s present-day torments. It hurts when little James calls her mother “Mummy”, and she doesn’t know how she can continue to keep James a secret from Harry, who’s returned to the village after recuperating on the Isle of Wight. The flashbacks to Margot’s time on the maternity ward are particularly poignant and, of course, the reason she has to endure this unbearable situation is due to the fact that she lives in a world in which “the girl is the one whose honour is defiled or whatever rot they spout” whereas “the boy is just being a boy”. Coupled with that wider context, Margot’s vicar father is a man who “forgave drunks and tramps and fallen women and the men who tried to steal the lead from the church roof. But he couldn’t forgive her.” Realising that “things couldn’t go on like this,” Margot decides to confront her fears amidst the rare glamour of a ball on New Year’s Eve.
November 2021 Book of the Month - A November 2021 Star Book! | Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”
Pacey, racy and reeling with real-life struggles, comforts and joys, Juno Dawson’s Stay Another Day is a cracker of a Christmas novel, with a compelling home for the holidays set-up - if you watched the TV series Why Women Kill, you’ll also appreciate how the novel is framed through the 120-year history of the family home. Sparkling with the author’s trademark talent for writing authentic dialogue (funny, thought-provoking, always on the mark) and rounded characters, this seasonal story is as satisfyingly-formed (and moreish) as a chocolate orange. When the three McAllister siblings convene at the family home in Edinburgh for Christmas, secrets, lies and lusts come together to create an absolute banger of a novel. Star student Fern, a self-professed embodiment of Lisa from The Simpsons, arrives from London with her stunning boyfriend, Thom, while her twin Rowan (gay, an aspiring actor, and consumed by FOMO) brings his best friend Syd. Though Fern is, as always, determined to enjoy the perfect family Christmas, she notes that “Christmas with a mixed-race boyfriend and a non-binary and mixed-race best friend is a potential minefield. Where are you from? But where are you really from?” Then there’s the twin’s younger sister, Willow, still living at home and constantly scrutinised due to her anorexia. As the big day draws closer, past liaisons and unfolding secrets envelop the family like a tangle of Christmas tree lights, setting the scene for a series of snowy showdowns and a whole lot of soul-searching. Hearty, satisfying stuff, with seasonal cheer shining bright through the real-life strife.
The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved cult classic about family, friendship and first love, from award-winning author Benjamin Alire Saenz. This lyrical novel will enrapture readers of Love, Simon, John Green and Call me by your Name. A love story like no other. In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys fell in love. Now they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence. Ari has spent all of high school hiding who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can't go back. Suddenly he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante - dreamy, witty Dante - who can get on Ari's nerves and fill him with desire all at once. The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn't understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he'll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.
December 2021 Book of the Month | Tom is an orphan and as the celebrations for the end of term finish it seems he’ll be spending the summer alone at his boarding school. No wonder he accepts an invitation to visit the uncle he’s never met – indeed, never heard of – despite the strangeness of the message and its delivery. Arriving at Mundham Farm, things get stranger yet, the boundaries between this world and that of the mysterious Folk, or Samdhya, seeming to shift in the summer heat, along with our understanding of time itself. His uncle’s home is a worse and more oppressive prison than school; can Tom find a way to escape and to free the other prisoners from his uncle’s control? It’s a wonderfully heady and atmospheric adventure, exploring ideas of family, trust, power and freedom. Womack is a fine writer and this is one to recommend to fans of Frances Hardinge or Philip Reeve.
A moving, compelling and spooky YA romance. Fifteen-year-old Maggie is in foster care following the death of her mother and her grandmother's slip into dementia. When Ryder saves her life, she can't help but fall in love with him. The only problem is that he has been dead for five years... Unsentimental, passionate and immensely moving, The Wanderer takes a fresh look at first love and growing up.
December 2021 Book of the Month | Gritty, authentic and inspirational, Jennifer Mathieu’s Bad Girls Never Say Die explores the tangled aftermath of an assault with incredible power. There’s tragedy, there’s heartache and, above all, tremendous love felt through this story of a young woman who bravely resolves to forge her own path (“I refuse to live my life for someone else”). In short, it’s the perfect coming of age novel. Like SE Hinton’s The Outsiders (on which this is based), Bad Girls Never Say Die is set in the sixties against a backdrop of deep social divide. Evie and her friends are from the wrong side of the tracks - bad girls who are seen as “trash.” But when Evie is assaulted by a rich kid, she’s saved by one of his kind - beautiful, wealthy Diane, but her sisterly action has tragic consequences. Though set some decades ago, the themes of Bad Girls Never Say Die remain as resonant today - class division, class conflict, and the bad that comes from making judgements on the basis of background and appearance. Then there’s the friendship, peer pressure, loyalty, and falling in love. The unfair family expectations, troubled home-lives, and the fact that it’s “different for boys”, who are afforded greater far freedoms than girls. Gripping, relatable and emotionally engaging, Bad Girls Never Say Die is a triumph.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead. Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Alexandra Bracken and Holly Black. The dead of Loraille do not rest. Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on. She'd rather deal with the dead than the living, who point and whisper about the odd girl who was once possessed by a violent spirit. When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia fights back by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a high saint's relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being now whispering in her head. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her in body and soul. But death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has a chance of stopping it. As Artemisia investigates a mystery of saints, secrets and dark magic, an ancient evil is stirring. Can an untrained girl, tormented by the burden of containing the revenant's devouring power, have any hope of defeating it?
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