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Ash’s story is “probably the same as anyone else’s, more or less, just perhaps with more gas masks and a goat.” The goat is a Tennessee Fainting Goat named Socrates who lives with the isolated Canary community deep in the Arizona desert. The gas masks Ash mentions are needed by the Canaries on account of them suffering from debilitating environmental illnesses that doctors deny the existence of. And so begins a thoroughly thought-provoking novel that tackles huge health and environmental issues. Ash journeyed to the community in search of his missing stepbrother, Bly. The folk here cannot live in towns or cities due to all the chemicals and smells and electrical fields that trigger incapacitating Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. When Ash gets sick himself he discovers firsthand how it feels to have your symptoms rebuffed by medics who decide, “This is all in your head”, and pretty much declare, “I can’t cure you so you must be mad.” His frustration and pain is tangible. Indeed, Ash’s narrative is brilliantly compelling throughout. He’s a born storyteller whose voice chimes with authentic cadences and detours. Ash and Bly’s poignant family story is intertwined with much food for thought about a diverse spread of subjects - genetics, bacteria, antibiotics and human shortsightedness and greed. As former scientist Finch comments, “We are filling the world full of chemicals that we have precisely no idea about, and one not-so-fine day the chickens will come home to roost. With the canaries.” Ash comes to some sharp realisations too. Under the warm, wise tutelage of Mona, he furiously states that, “one day, doctors are gonna finally realize that there ain’t no god-dang difference between the body and the mind anyhow”. This remarkable novel is underpinned by its acute portrait of fractured folk forging an existence in a fractured world that seems on the brink of end times. But “maybe there’s time for one final chance,” Ash wonders, which will leave readers with a glint of hope and plenty to ponder.
Soar into space with this glorious love story of alien folk, from the creators of The Gruffalo and Stick Man. The Smeds (who are red) never mix with the Smoos (who are blue). So when a young Smed and Smoo fall in love, their families strongly disapprove. But peace is restored and love conquers all in this happiest of love stories. There's even a gorgeous purple baby to celebrate! With fabulous rhymes and breathtaking illustrations, this book is literally out of this world!
In a Nutshell: Inter-galactic girl power The all-female crew of a glass starship find themselves in the firing line of a fearsome bounty hunter in this high-energy, epically-plotted sci-fi YA-fusion. Andi is captain of the Marauder starship. To her crew, she’s simply their strong commander, leading them on a regular, run-on-the-mill mission. But Andi has a secret. To others, she’s known as the Bloody Baroness, a ruthless mercenary whose power extends throughout the galaxy. This double-life begins to unravel at breakneck speed when the Marauder journeys into unfamiliar territory, and the crew find themselves at the mercy of a figure from Andi’s past. And that’s just the start of it… Co-written by two women, one a prominent Book Tuber, this sprawling space opera epic is packed with plenty of paranoia, intrigue and all-out action, and comes recommended for fans of YA fantasy who are looking to broaden the boundaries of their reading galaxy. ~ Joanne Owen
April 2017 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: cybernetic adventure galore as boffin boy hero takes on the bad guys | There’s something special about William Wenton: he can crack any code, solve any puzzle faster than you can say Bletchley Park. His grandfather was the same, until he disappeared in mysterious circumstances. When the bad guys turn up for William he’s rescued by his grandfather’s friends who take him to an extraordinary secret laboratory full of amazing mechanical creatures, and then the adventures really starts. Alex Rider-level thrills and a host of amazing gadgets, many of them animate, give this the page-turner prize and it’s definitely a case of brains over brawn. ~ Andrea Reece
In a tradition of stories going right back to Beowulf, referenced in the book, this is a tale of stolen treasure, trickery and courage. Aidan is struggling to keep things together at home: his mother has been sectioned and his father seems almost paralysed with despair. It falls to Aidan to deliver the sacks of mail his postman father is hiding in their garden shed. So when thieves steal his bike Aidan has to go after them. It’s here that magic – old magic – intrudes into the contemporary setting. There are no portals suddenly opening, it’s not the sort of magic to bring special powers; hard to define, harder to pin down – ‘a sort of stillness that moved’ says Aidan – human lives are of no consequence to it and if Aidan emerges a hero it’s due to his own strengths. Gripping, compulsive reading, an exceptional book. Authors Sara Crowe (Bone Jack), Rupert Wallis (All Sorts of Possible) and Natasha Carthew (The Light that Gets Lost) all understand old magic and have written similarly powerful and enthralling stories. ~ Andrea Reece
June 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: rollicking, thought-provoking dystopian adventure | As the TV series of The Handmaid’s Tale sets everyone thinking, publication of Who Runs the World? seems very timely. It imagines a very different dystopian future to Attwood’s, one in which women are in charge. A generation after a deadly virus wiped out all the men, lead character River has grown up in an all-female world, looked after by a community of ‘mummas’ and ‘granmummas’. The general peace and harmony of their lives is shockingly disturbed when River finds a teenage boy, sick but alive. The book examines not just our attitudes to gender but poses wider questions about politics, power and the way we operate as a society. Bergin keeps the tension high throughout, the action unfolding at almost breathless speed, but still manages to intersperse humour and moments of tenderness. Read it and think! ~ Andrea Reece
February 2018 Debut of the Month In a nutshell: sci-fi and fantasy blend in high-action, thought-provoking adventure Musician and entertainer will.i.am has collaborated with science of the future specialist Brian David Johnson to create an epic adventure. WaR seamlessly combines fantasy favourites wizards with robots, long beloved in sci-fi but now accepted as a crucial part of all our futures. Flipping back and forth in time, it stars feisty teenager Sara, whose mother is creating the first fully intelligent robot. This puts Sara at the centre of a power struggle, spanning centuries, between wizards and robots. As the story unfolds however, Sara must reconcile the two factions to defeat a common enemy. In this she’s helped by a young wizard called Geller and a robot, Kaku. Intriguing, refreshing and packed full of ideas, the momentum of the story sweeps readers along to its dramatic conclusion (at the CERN institute!). Real science is scattered throughout, and sci-fi has never seemed so now. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: thoroughly charming and original fantasy adventure Joan Lennon’s new fantasy adventure is hugely entertaining, with a vividly described other/future world, and as unusual and appealing band of unlikely heroes as you could hope to meet. When they realise that the mountain on which they live is moving, Pema’s family send him to the nuns on its summit for help. Things don’t go to plan, and instead Pema and a girl called Singay, reluctant and rebellious novice, break into the mountain itself. There they find Rose, an alien, inadvertently responsible for the moving mountain. The three set off together to save the world, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Their journey will be dangerous, and full of more unexpected adventures. Lennon breathes real life into the quest formula, filling the story with light, life and humour, and making us feel more and more attached to her characters as the story unfolds. ~ Andrea Reece One to recommend to fans of Angie Sage and the Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
Filled with camaraderie, wit, action and intelligence, the second book in S. J. Kincaid's futuristic trilogy (the first of which was Insignia) continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty and friendship. There are nefarious new enemies to outwit, old friendships that take on new faces, a romance that Tom is encouraged to betray, and an increasing desire on Tom's behalf to demand nothing less than 'justice for all' - even if he sabotages his own future in the process. But what will his idealism cost? Vortex is the second book in the Insignia Trilogy - we invited our Lovereading4kids kid reading panel to review the first in the series, Insignia - click here to read what they thought.
Interest Age 9+ Reading Age 8 | Set in a future world in which kids risk their lives for real playing an online fantasy game, Virus is a nerve-tingling combination of science-fiction and martial arts extravaganza. Scott knows that playing Virtual Kombat will put his life in danger, but the only way to destroy the game is from the inside, and he really wants to avenge the death of his friend. In this he’s helped by a group of techno-hackers, but when it comes to the crunch, his tae kwon do skills mean he’s on his own against powerful opponents. Chris Bradford is an expert at keeping the tension high and this is page-turning, super-readable adventure.
Earthling Tommy and his four Milky Way friends are Galactic Knights - on a mission to save the Universe from pending destruction. Time is running out and the knights have many challenges in their way: they face the dreaded Beast of Hellsbells, must resist the allure of fame on an intergalactic gameshow and escape the deathly intents of the sherbet-addicted Nack Jickelson and the suicidal Chocolate Terrorists. All the while evil mastermind A-Sad-Bin-Liner is planning to unleash his plot of mass destruction and Tommy will be forced to choose between his friends and his ambition, between the universe and his own life.
The hilarious adventures of earthling Tommy Storm as he is suddenly transported to join a training school in the Milky Way. Is Tommy, a well-known loser on earth, about to become the saviour of earth and the universe? Not if evil mastermind A-Sad-Bin-Liner succeeds in unleashing his plot of mass destruction. The intergalactic adventures are action packed and totally compelling. It's funny, fast-paced science fiction for fans of Star Wars, Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Space Balls and Red Dwarf.
This is a fantastic new series, perfect for boys aged 6+ who are just starting out on the fun of reading alone, or perhaps for those boys who aren’t yet hooked on reading but will become so having met Tommy Niner, from award-winning and bestselling author Tony Bradman. He has created, in Tommy Niner a nine-year old boy whose home is a spaceship along with his dad, grand dad and the Stardust’s onboard computer Ada. Wild and wacky adventures ensue and they do get themselves in a bit of danger from time to time but each time one of them manages to save the day. There will be more Tommy Niner adventures to come.
March 2018 Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: robot story with real heart Christopher is a ‘proper’: a real boy with a soul. His best friends Jack, Rob, Manda and Gripper are ‘mechanicals’ riveted together from metal and wires, but still some of the warmest and most real characters you will ever meet in fiction. When strange facts about Christopher’s past come to light, he is stolen away, and his mechanical friends put themselves in real danger to bring him back. With elements of The Wizard of Oz and a touch of Philip K. Dick, Pádraig Kenny has created a thoroughly intriguing and involving adventure story full of characters that readers will really care about. He also poses interesting and important questions about what being human means. This is a story to recommend to fans of Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart or Philip Reeve’s epic Mortal Engines series. ~ Andrea Reece