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UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | “The day is long, the world is wide, you’re young and free,” Davie’s mam announces at the start of a sweltering day. But Davie doesn’t feel that way. He recently lost his dad and “he hates this dead-end place, where nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change. Sometimes he just wants to walk out of it and keep on walking and leave it all behind”. Then this morning, as Davie walks through his hometown, David discovers that something has happened - a local lad has been killed, and Davie thinks he knows who’s responsible. Amidst the speculation of his Tyneside neighbours, Davie embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts, encountering a cast of wisdom-imparting folk along the way. There’s wooden-legged Wilf who shares advice and fruit gums; the openhearted priest who makes a confession; the girls creating a “world of wonders” garden. While walking, Davie feels the flutter and ache of grief as “bleak, black memories” surface but, as a friend of his father says, “sometimes a memory or a dream is a fine place to be”. “What is lost might be discovered again, but in a different form”, counsels another character. And as he continues on his way, watching out for the murder suspect, Davie seems to find his father in another form. Wise and soulfully unexpected, this is truly a book for all ages, by an author who exudes the uncanny elegance of a master conjurer.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | January 2019 Debut of the Month | | Stinging with drama, action and, above all, a relentless sense of urgency, this ruthlessly remarkable debut sees an indomitable Jewess go undercover. When Sarah’s mother is shot dead, there’s no time for sentimentality, no time to grieve. Sarah must press on, “keep moving”, for her survival depends on it. She joins forces with the Captain, a man she discovers is part of the resistance against the Nazis, and Sarah will spy for him. To this end, she adopts a new identity. She becomes Ursula Haller, the “good little dumb National Socialist Monster”. The Captain secures her a place at a school attended by the daughters of top Nazis, and here she must befriend Elsa, whose father is a leading scientist. The conditions at the school are repugnantly cruel, but Sarah is sharp and strong beyond her fifteen years. Though her childhood was curtailed by her actress mother, and then by the Nazis, she’s defiantly resilient, and infiltrates the grand home and secret lab of a top SS scientist. Compelling and quick-paced, the writing - like Sarah’s character - is indelibly raw, and this is a fiercely gripping read. The Costa Judges said : ‘A compelling, darkly thrilling debut - tense, cinematic and brilliant.’
In a Nutshell: Time-travel, tyranny and tension This suspenseful sequel to Movers takes readers on an exhilarating time-travel trip as Patrick tries to return to his own time to save his family’s fate. In 2083, overcrowded and ailing planet Earth is home to two types of people, Movers and Non-Movers, and Movers like Pat possess the ability to bring their Shadow – a person from the future to whom they’re connected – to their own time. But Pat has been has been lurched forward 300 years into an unfamiliar future by Bo, his own Shadow. On finding himself in 2383, Pat is tormented by fears for his family: “anything could have happened to the people I love. It’s the not-knowing that’s driving me crazy”. Now he and Bo are occupying the same time “neither of us can move the other”, yet Pat must return to his family, and so they set off on a terrifying quest through a dangerous and dynamically-depicted dystopian world. While the concept is pretty complex, the writing is clear and thrillingly fast-paced, and this comes recommended for younger teen fans of sci-fi and dystopian fiction. ~ Joanne Owen
In a nutshell: page-turning, explosive treasure-hunting adventures Indiana Jones meets Alex Rider in this excellent series. The Atlases are just like any other family, bickering away, with parents generally on one side against Jake and his teenage sister Pandora. There’s one big difference though: Mr and Mrs Atlas are super-tech treasure hunters, tomb robbers with a conscience if you like, and after years keeping this a secret, they’ve reluctantly recruited their children to join the family firm. This episode pits the Atlases against the mysterious People of the Snake again, and the ruthless Snake Lady, and takes them to South America for adventures in ancient Aztec ruins. It’s a treat for anyone who likes their reading fast-paced and their gadgets hi-tech, and there’s humour too – Jake’s voice is spot on – while Lloyd Jones slips in lots of accurate and fascinating historical detail. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2018 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | In a nutshell: breath-taking magical adventure on the banks of London’s underground rivers Hyacinth Hayward, newly arrived in the UK from the US, is already struggling with culture shock when her mum is kidnapped by the strangest postmen ever and she herself is plunged (literally) into extraordinary adventure. Amongst the mass of magical quest adventures, The City of Secret Rivers stands out and not just because of its cast of fascinating characters (unscrupulous sewer dwelling cockney criminals and a possibly malevolent but extremely polite giant pig included), or its singular setting (the banks of London’s underground rivers); the sheer invention and wit of author Jacob Sager Weinstein makes this a special read and every page crackles with originality and energy. Outlandish fun! ~ Andrea Reece Readers looking for more page-turning adventures that cleverly combine real historical places with rip-roaring adventure will enjoy the Defender of the Realm series by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. The Branford Boase Judges said : ‘clever, so funny, so well controlled’; ‘hugely inventive’; ‘I thought “I know where this is going to end” – and I didn’t’; ‘a joyful caper that carries you along’.
The border's closed, Jake said. No one can get into Scotland, just like no one can cross the Channel . . .This is England and it's no longer a free country. The Government can track anyone, anywhere, from a chip implanted at birth. But Jake has escaped from his Academy orphanage, and he's got to get to Scotland with his dog, Jet. When the Outwalkers gang grabs him, they go off-grid while the Government hunts for them. The closer they get to Scotland, the more dangerous it is. Because now, it's not only their own lives that are at stake . . .
November 2017 Debut of the Month With the pace and twists of a thriller, an emotional sucker-punch, the exquisite world-building of the best fantasy, and an imagined future that sci-fi fans will love, This Mortal Coil has all the ingredients to become the next phenomenon in YA.
In a Nutshell: Edge-of-your-seat institutional indoctrination thriller Suspense, suspicion and sinister secrets abound in this accomplished YA debut from the bestselling author of four adult thrillers. Sixteen-year-old Drew’s troublesome brother, Mason, has been sent to a specialist residential reform academy after yet another expulsion from school. Drew isn’t bothered by this until a woman claiming to be Mason’s former academy psychologist gives her a cry-for-help-note from her brother. “We’re not being reformed, we're being brainwashed,” it explains. Then the anxious psychologist makes a disconcerting disclosure - “I would have got him out if I could. I would have got them all out” – before she’s run over. Convinced this hit and run was no accident, and terrified for her brother’s well being, Drew digs deep into the dark secrets of the academy. When she’s admitted there herself, she discovers that the supposed treatment is, in fact, a process by which teenagers are controlled and brainwashed into zombie-like shadows of themselves. Drew’s effort to save her brother and uncover the truth is packed with audacious plot twists, and fuelled by a rip-roaring race against time, and this entertaining thriller comes recommended for fans of Cat Clarke, and Cecelia Ahern’s Flawed. ~ Joanne Owen
Set on a space station in the near future, this cool concept sci-fi novel with a powerful finding-your-way-in-the-world theme also has much for fans of contemporary YA. Fifteen-year-old Leo was born and raised on Moon 2 Space Station and has never set foot on earth. After being remotely parented by a team of astronauts, Leo and his companions, twins Orion and Libra, have finally been deemed strong enough to survive the perilous journey to earth. But, while they’ve been in training for this for pretty much their whole lives, reality is a very different matter. To return and survive means defying some serious odds, and finding a place to call home is anything but straightforward.This is a thought-provoking thriller, fuelled by the suspenseful space journey, and by Leo’s emotional journey. He has a unique voice, and speaks in the shortened text-type language that’s used for NASA communications. But, more than that, Leo feels like a living, breathing young adult, trying to figure out his sexuality, and his place in the world. With this foray into sci-fi, author Nick Lake confirms his status as a writer with immensely diverse talents. ~ Joanne Owen
A beautifully written coming-of-age novel from an acclaimed literary voice. The one who doesn't go straight home, the traitor, The friendless one, the cat of the wood... A lost boy. A dead girl, and one who is left behind.Robbie doesn't want anything more to do with death, but life in a village full of whispers and secrets can't make things the way they were. When the white hare appears, magical and fleet in the silvery moonlight, she leads them all into a legend, a chase, a hunt. But who is the hunter and who the hunted? In The White Hare, Michael Fishwick deftly mingles a coming-of-age story with mystery, myth and summer hauntings.
In a nutshell: funny, inventive story – watch out for what’s lurking under the bed! In a nice twist on the Pied Piper story, the children of Whiffington wake up one morning to discover that all the grown-ups have disappeared, stolen away in the night by – what? Amidst the chaos of unmade beds, unbrushed teeth and unwashed dishes, Lucy Dungston is determined to rescue her mum, even when she realises that the revolting Creakers are the kidnappers. There isn’t a child in the land who hasn’t imagined something lurking under the bed, and the idea of the bumbling, muttering, smelly Creakers will give them a delicious thrill. It’s a fun adventure with a great set of lively young characters and some very exciting scenes. ~ Andrea Reece One to recommend to fans of Hamish and the World Stoppers by Danny Wallace and The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt.