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September 2021 Debut of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2021 | This gripping thriller with a high octane plot and full-on characters takes its readers on an amazing journey across two time frames and in and out of real science and maths while also vividly capturing contemporary teenage life. Esso and Rhia, from different times and, in reality, from different generations, are brought together by chance and, from then on, must work out how best to understand the Upper World and all its secrets. Femi Fadugba’s debut novel will delight and challenge readers.
Translated by Rachel Ward | With an illuminating contextualising foreword by Michael Rosen, Dirk Reinhardt’s The Edelweiss Pirates is a tremendously-told story of astonishing courage as a group of young people living under the brutal Nazi regime launch risky rebellions. The graceful, pacey story begins when sixteen-year-old Daniel encounters an old man, Josef, at a cemetery. Josef is there visiting the grave of his brother, who was murdered during the war. “It’s a long story,” he explains. “But it might interest you. You especially!” Intrigued, Daniel discovers where Josef lives and visits him, whereupon he shares his diary, which reveals how Josef and a band of fellow brave teenagers rebelled against Nazi atrocities. As a teenager, Josef left the Hitler Youth for The Edelweiss Pirates - a group of compellingly cool youngsters. In his words, “they’ve got style: checked shirts and bright neck scarves, leather jackets and belts with huge buckles. Some have straps on their wrists and kind of fancy hats on their heads”. Driven by a motto of freedom, the Pirates initially hang out together to enjoy themselves and let loose but, as Nazi atrocities escalate, they plot and implement perilous missions to undermine the regime. Reeling with details of real-life struggles and feats, and a riveting sense of drama, this is an extraordinary novel about an extraordinary group of youngsters whose lesser-known story reveals the capacity of the human spirit to stand up and risk all to confront barbarism and injustices. It’s a poignant page-turner to the nth degree.
Genna has always been good at history but the strange connection she has with times gone by turns into something terrifying when she becomes the victim of a series of assaults, each linked to violent moments from the past. Who is Damien, the young man determined to kill her, and who is Phoenix, the boy equally prepared to save her life? As the attacks continue Genna discovers that she is a First Ascendant, born at the dawn of mankind, with hundreds of lives already lived, and that this makes her the target of the evil Incarnates who won’t rest ‘til she is dead forever. As she and Phoenix fight to survive, and thereby save the human race, the action comes satisfyingly thick and fast, often staged in thrillingly described historical scenes. Few authors know more about pace, combat and all-out excitement than Bradford (Bodyguard, Young Samurai) and this will delight his legions of fans, and even more besides.
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman's Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy. The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be normal. But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star's help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago. Sheetal's quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family's champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens-and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all. Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
Spey is from a broken home – but happy, settled and doing well at school - living with his Mum and getting on with life. That is, until he gets two surprises one on top of the other. His father, an ex-convict who he has never met before turns up on his sofa for Christmas Day and his Mum gives him a letter that has been stuck in the post for some time… This is the start of an edgy relationship developing with his long-lost Dad as they search for the sender of the letter – a playgroup friend of Spey’s who has become involved with county lines drug organisers. Spey is driven throughout all of the novel by the authentic emotions of a teen trying to come to terms with family, broken promises and broken friendships. Told in the voices of Spey and Dee (the county lines member) throughout their lives provide a stark contrast but with both expressing longing for the friend they think they have lost. The novel is set over three to four days one Christmas as Spey sets out on his quest to find his almost impossibly lost friend. Lawrence’s writing is always compelling and packed with empathy for her fully imagined characters – this is no different. The sense of place and of alienation is realised in full and the sense of urgency in finding Dee keeps you reading long after you should have closed the book! A sure hand guides this odyssey as Spey searches for his friend whilst full of his own conflicting emotions about his father. An excellent read.
'I saw him die right in front of my eyes.' 'That you did,' replies Damien. 'But you underestimated his power. Tanas is back and stronger than ever . . .' When Genna's parents are murdered, the police put the tragedy down to a burglary gone wrong. But Genna knows the truth: the Soul Hunters are back and her nightmare is far from over. With home no longer safe, she flees to America to find Phoenix, the only one who can help her - or so she thinks. While searching for her Soul Protector, Genna meets other First Ascendants like her, and Soul Warriors tasked with protecting the Light. But the Hunters are on her trail and it's only a matter of time before Genna comes face-to-face with their leader once more. For Tanas has miraculously incarnated into a new body, and is hungry for her soul. Genna must look to her past lives to survive. But how can she defeat Tanas when evil never dies?
The Boy Behind the Wall is aimed at readers aged 11+ and is the launch title for Welbeck Flame, a new fiction imprint of Welbeck Children’s. Welbeck Flame and Tibor Jones have collaborated to develop this book with a talented team of writers, including two German editors, who work collaboratively with a dynamic and creative approach echoing the TV script-writing model. The Boy Behind the Wall, and its sequel, Breaking Down the Wall publishing in 2022, is published under the fictional author name Maximillian Jones.
Farr is a master storyteller as evidenced by his phenomenally successful screenwriting and directing for the stage. This is evident in the confidence with which he controls all the elements in this complex, engrossing fantasy thriller – his first novel for a child audience. Rachel and Robert live in a dictatorship in Brava that makes life very drab and humdrum – as well as very dangerous. Their father is a librarian – and on Rachel’s birthday he involves them in the theft of an important and forbidden book from the precious books room in the city library. For that theft he is captured – leaving the siblings with their ailing mother. When she dies it is planned that they will be separated into different parts of the grim orphanage that exists. Can they escape that fate, find out the secret of the book they keep hidden and keep it out of evil dictator Malstain’s hands? Meeting a wonderful cast of characters along the way – some good, some bad – they set off on individual journeys across the land to escape Malstain’s reach. This is a rich story, full of adventure, peril, and huge bravery from the children and many of the other characters, as well as awful evil. It will keep readers engaged and probably reading long after bedtime and lights out! Inspired by Farr’s great Aunt and Uncle’s escape from Nazi Germany this adventure is set in a timeless world that could be anywhere so that it will chime with children the world over. I hope Farr goes on to write more for children if this, his debut, is anything to go by.
The third and final thrilling book in the bestselling, award-winning A Good Girl's Guide to Murder trilogy Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she'll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it's all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there's one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you're the one who disappears? And it's not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn't find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . .
A mysterious message scratched onto the skeleton of a long dead whale begins a process that makes Cyan question everything. Cyan lives at the Elsewhere Sanctuary, a strange complex in the middle of sand dunes, scattered with the decaying hulks of old ships. Like the hundreds of other young people there, his past contains an event so traumatising that he has blocked it out, and with it all memories of his old life, down to his name. The staff at the Sanctuary tell him it’s for his own good but new arrival Jonquil questions this and so it seems did the person who scratched that message on the bone. When Jonquil disappears, Cyan decides he must find out the truth. His efforts lead to the kind of subterfuge, not to mention the high speed chases, that are familiar to James Bond, but the atmosphere is as creepy as it is tense as Cyan realises those he has always trusted most are his enemies. A gripping, unsettling sci-fi thriller that feels very topical.
August 2021 Book of the Month | What a diamond of a thriller this is - a genuine page-turner that snakes with twists readers genuinely won’t see coming. Who to trust? Who to believe? Sophie McKenzie has struck gold with her latest page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Cat is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. She’s lost her father, her little sister doesn’t speak, and her mum, a former TV astrology celebrity, is more interested in her work than anything Cat says or does. But after receiving a bolt-from-the-blue text alleging that her dad is alive, Cat throws herself into trying to tracking him down, with the help of a newfound friend, handsome Tyler, the first person she’s been able to open up to for an absolute age. A search for a dad becomes a search for a priceless diamond, which in turn becomes a search for the truth - and then a struggle to understand that truth. Driven by Cat’s endearingly determined, courageous personality, this read-in-one-sitting thriller has family and friendship bonds at its fast-beating heart. Find out more about Hide and Secrets as we chat with Sophie McKenzie, our Author of the Month.
Sophie McKenzie’s sure touch is brilliantly on display in this thrilling new adventure about her four teenagers transformed by the Medusa gene. This time the four, all of whom have special mind powers, are in serious danger; their mentor has betrayed them and they are on the run. But, trying to keep one step ahead of the one person in the world who knows all about you is no easy feat. Can the four stay safe or is their cover blown just when it seems there are more Medusa teenagers in other parts of the world ?
Fourteen years ago, scientist William Fox implanted four babies with the Medusa gene - a gene for psychic abilities. Fox's experiment left a legacy: four teenagers, each with their own distinct and special skill. These four teens were originally brought together to form crime-fighting force, The Medusa Project. Now the team is due to be disbanded and the teenagers sent to separate locations. But Nico, Ketty, Ed and Dylan are determined to investigate claims that a drug conveying the same powers as the Medusa gene has been developed. Joined by new friends Cal and Amy, who also have the gene, the four set off on their most dangerous mission yet...
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Steve Cole’s gripping treasure hunt story is even more compelling because it is set in a real place, somewhere most of us have never heard of. Theo lives in the world’s biggest e-waste dump, Agbogbloshie in Ghana. The same age as readers, he makes a living sorting through the junk that people like us throw out – mobile phones, old DVD players, Xbox machines – and salvaging scraps of metal that he sells for cash, earning just enough to pay for food but nothing like what he needs to escape. So when Emanuel turns up asking Theo for help to find his big brother’s treasure, Theo is in; this could be his chance to escape Trashland. Their search is even more dangerous than Theo expects. Other people are after the hidden treasure too and Emanuel is anything but trustworthy. The story is tense and exciting, and readers will feel they are there with the boys, digging through the broken electronics, choking on the dump’s noxious fumes. Things work out well for Theo in the end – it would be too agonising for the readership if they didn’t – but readers will be very aware that there are many real life Theos and Emanuels still digging through the rubbish in Trashland. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+
Never one to shirk from tackling complex topics head on, Melvin Burgess’s Three Bullets imagines future England as a horrific entity in which the controlling body, The Bloods, will stop at nothing to attain their vision of Britain as a country of white Christians. Mixed-raced and trans, Martina (Marti) fits the The Bloods’ definition of “abnormals”. In her own words, “You won’t like me, not many people do”, and she’s certainly a complex, contradictory character throughout the novel. When her house is bombed, killing her mum, Marti and her little brother Rowan go on the run with Maude, who was taken into their fold after her own family were killed. Maude is the kind of person who “stuck to her word, for you or against you, which I liked. She had principles, which I kind of admired because I don’t have any myself,” Marti acknowledges. In addition, Maude can “shoot a gun, she knows first aid, she can drive. She’s pretty. She’s white. She has contacts and perfect tits”. The fear, violence and tension of living in a society at war, a country in which the ERAC (Evangelical Realignment Centre) exists to fix “idolaters and heretics and believers in equal rights” is evoked in all its horrific brutality. And amidst this, Marti is set on saving the father she assumed was dead, set on finding the software he created that might hold the key to transforming their world. Marti’s voice is unique and her will to survive like nothing The Bloods could have possibly imagined, as felt by readers as her story rips and races at breakneck speed.
Published in partnership with Barrington Stoke, which makes it ideal for less-confident readers, Marcus Sedgwick’s Dark Peak tells a gripping, mysterious tale of two children who go missing during a school trip to a church in the heart of the Peak District. With a remarkable diversity of novels to his name - from gleefully gothic series for younger readers, to legend-driven Middle Grade fiction, to hugely-acclaimed, richly-layered YA novels - Marcus Sedgwick is an unswervingly elegant storyteller, and that’s certainly true of this highly-readable short novel - it chimes with bell-clear lucidity as it teems with tension. Set during the scorching summer of 1976, our compelling narrator, Porter Fox, becomes embroiled in a creepy mystery when two children go missing during his school trip to Lud's Church. The question is, “how do thirty-four people walk into one end of a tunnel but only thirty-two walk out of the other end? Because that is what happened”. Stranger still, when one of the vanished is found, the search for still-missing Stephen is called off, and no one speaks of the event: “it was as if a spell had been cast over the whole school, like in a fairy tale.” When Porter and his friend Sam take it upon themselves to dig deeper, they discover the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other reports that seem to show how “Lud’s Church was a magnet for weirdness”. In addition to presenting a thoroughly enthralling, edge-on-your-seat thriller, the book includes fascinating background information, suggestions for further reading, topics for discussion, and a quiz.
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