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One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2017 Twelve-year-old Ebo’s terrifying story of travelling alone from his home in Africa in order to have the chance of a childhood, education and ultimately a safe way of life is brilliantly told this graphic novel. In words and pictures, Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano tell how Ebo, along with so many others in the same plight, makes his way across the treacherous Sahara Desert before he even begins on the desperate journey across the sea. Told with great sympathy and warmth and propelled by Nobel Laureate Elis Wiesel’s powerful quote, “You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal”, Ebo’s story which is shared by millions migrants, should be read by all. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for October 2017 A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin The Land of Neverendings by Kate Saunders The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig The Greatest Magician in the World by Matt Edmondson
Set in a frightening future version of London in which the lives of two teenage boys cruelly collide in a divided city, this gripping page-turner has pertinent contemporary resonance, and packs powerful moral and emotional punches. Read it to be thrilled, chilled, and to have your eyes well and truly opened. Teenagers Alan and Lex are on either side of a war policed by drones. Lex lives on The Strip, a bombed-out territory in which the poverty-stricken inhabitants are under constant drone surveillance. “In this city, death seems to perpetually hover nearby, like a needy bully”, Lex remarks, while his dad is part of The Corps resistance movement that’s fighting the bullies, rendering him a top target for the military. On the other side of the divide, fatherless Alan was written off at a young age – “Nobody ever thought I'd amount to anything" - but his talent for gaming has secured him his perfect job as a drone pilot, a role in which he has “absolute power without a single boot on the ground”. But, while he’s proud to protect his country from “terrorists who want to destroy us”, Alan is forced to confront a magnitude of moral dilemmas when he’s tasked with killing a high profile target, who turns out to be Lex’s dad… The dual-narrative device works to great effect as we see both boys wrestling with issues of ethics, family conflict and, in Lex’s case, the overwhelming experience of first love. Ambitious and assured, this keenly plotted thriller also probes deep into the human heart, and comes recommended for fans of Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman. ~ Joanne Owen
September 2017 Book of the Month Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself. Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought provoking novel. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | August 2017 Debut of the Month It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered. But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school...
August 2017 Book of the Month Criminal turned soldier - Now he must stop a war on London's streets. London gang member Sean Harker is down on his luck. After a car heist gone wrong, he finds himself in a young offender's institution... aged only 16. Locked up and afraid, a horrifying incident convinces Sean to turn his life around.
A high-speed chase through the backstreets of Lagos and an unexpected bomb explosion in the jungle - it's all in a day's work for soldier Sean Harker. This is the second book from Andy McNab drawing on his own experience as a troubled teenager who found purpose when he joined the army. Particularly known for his non-fiction, he is also a talented writer of thrillers and this series for the teen market will not disappoint.
July 2017 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Lord of the Flies with added asteroid action A uniquely-premised psychological page-turner packed with darkness, death, and compelling conspiracy. Since the age of eight, Min has experienced the unthinkable. On each even-numbered birthday, she’s violently murdered by a strange man. The first time it happened, she arrived home just a few hours after the event, with all evidence of the murder erased. After the second time, she was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and has been on medication ever since. Then there’s Noah, the popular, handsome son of the richest man in town. But, beneath his perfect façade, Noah struggles with deep-rooted self-doubt caused by his father’s lifelong deprecations, and with unbearably violent nightmares. As the two teenagers try to deal with their inner demons, an external demon looks set to hit the world – quite literally - in the form of a giant asteroid. While the population waits to discover whether The Anvil is going to strike Planet Earth, Min uncovers a web of lies in which both she and Noah are entangled. Crisscrossing genres (crime, sci-fi, psychological thriller) with dynamism and panache, this ambitious book – the first in a series – tingles with twists, suspense and originality. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | In a Nutshell: Soaring soundtrack to resilience and love Real-life grit, gripping mystery, magnificent love story - this second novel from the highly-acclaimed author of Orange Boy is a mighty fine feast of contemporary YA. Sixth-former Indigo hasn’t had the easiest start in life, to say the least. She was only four when her dad murdered her mother, and she now lives with foster mum Keeley. But, while Indigo has a harrowing family history, nothing can suppress her wit and style. She has zebra-striped hair, loves Blondie, and Bailey is besotted with her. With his striking gingery-brown afro and musical talents, he’s no wallflower either, though their backgrounds couldn't be more different (Bailey has a teacher mum and social worker dad and lives in a “posh house” in Hackney). As they strike up a friendship - and more - Indigo is handed another rough deal when her sister announces that she’s going to cut all ties with Indigo, and then there’s the homeless man from her past, who asks Bailey to help him “make things right” for her. Before he knows it, Bailey’s up to his neck in the most difficult of decisions. From the first-rate dialogue that allows the characters’ hearts and souls to shine with authenticity, to the deftly-woven mystery, this is a life-affirming wonder. Londoners will love the in-the-know references to the likes of bus routes, and the music references are top-notch. Real-life grit, gripping mystery, magnificent love story - this second novel from the highly-acclaimed author of Orange Boy is a mighty fine feast of contemporary YA. Sixth-former Indigo hasn’t had the easiest start in life, to say the least. She was only four when her dad murdered her mother, and she now lives with foster mum Keeley. But, while Indigo has a harrowing family history, nothing can suppress her wit and style. She has zebra-striped hair, loves Blondie, and Bailey is besotted with her. With his striking gingery-brown afro and musical talents, he’s no wallflower either, though their backgrounds couldn't be more different (Bailey has a teacher mum and social worker dad and lives in a “posh house” in Hackney). As they strike up a friendship - and more - Indigo is handed another rough deal when her sister announces that she’s going to cut all ties with Indigo, and then there’s the homeless man from her past, who asks Bailey to help him “make things right” for her. Before he knows it, Bailey’s up to his neck in the most difficult of decisions. From the first-rate dialogue that allows the characters’ hearts and souls to shine with authenticity, to the deftly-woven mystery, this is a life-affirming wonder. Londoners will love the in-the-know references to the likes of bus routes, and the music references are top-notch. Joanne Owen
This feverishly fast-paced apocalyptic thriller, sequel to Remade, packs a seriously strong pathological punch. It’s eighteen months on from the horrific events recounted in Remade (“People dying in the goddamm street”, flesh coming away from their bones “like casserole beef from a T-bone”) and it looks like the devastating virus has been killed off. A further lifeline is thrown when Leon and Freya, “a pair of lonely scavengers”, see a message bearing news that civilian and naval vessels are waiting for survivors in Southampton, with medical and emergency supplies aboard. While “glass-half-empty type” Leon reckons that this rescue ship news might be old, “always upbeat, always optimistic” Freya thinks it’s worth investigating. But it’s not long before their worst nightmare re-rears its unimaginably ugly head…The virus is back, reborn in an evolved state with even greater powers of intelligence. The fight is on, and the stakes could not be higher. Ideal for fans of Darren Shan’s Zom-B books, and shows like The Walking Dead, this pithy page-turner is sure to set readers’ heart a-pounding and brains a-boggling. It’s tense, taut and tantalisingly twisty throughout, and the action couldn’t be more in-your-face-thrilling. ~ Joanne Owen