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In a Nutshell: Trans-European espionage thriller | Cinematic page-turner following a teenager’s ruthlessly fearless journey into a criminal underworld to find her diplomat dad. Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom has spent much of her life on the move due to her dad’s job as a US diplomat. They now live in New York, where she’s an outcast at the elite school paid for by his employers. But it turns out that the constant moving and snobby school are the lesser evils of her dad’s career. When he vanishes, and it emerges that he’s actually a CIA agent and suspected of working for “another side”, Gwendolyn is forced to search for him herself. Having assumed a new identity, the path of Gwendolyn’s high-stakes quest leads her to the dirty edges of Paris, Berlin, and Prague, where she infiltrates the brutal underworld of “the biggest crime family in Mitteleuropa”. This is an edgy, twisty, plot-driven thriller with an open-ended conclusion that will leave fans desperate to discover what Gwendolyn does next: she’s already shown that she’s prepared do what it takes - to do anything - to find her father, even if it means committing a few crimes of her own… ~ Joanne Owen
Special 11th Anniversary Edition As ever, Melvin Burgess makes readers think. Sara signs up for a face transplant but is it her who wants it or, is she being pushed into doing it against her will by the scarred pop-star who wants her face? Glamour and fame are not always what they seem. ~ Julia Eccleshare Lovereading Comment: This is young adult fiction at its challenging and thrilling best - and Melvin Burgess has yet again struck a chord with a teenager’s world. The issue of cosmetic surgery is brought sharply into focus and in such a way that the reader will feel more informed and as a result the ever present peer pressures which are a part of teenage life more keenly borne.
In a nutshell: two kids on a death-defying treasure hunt through Egypt’s ancient monuments. Adventure stories don’t come more action-packed than the exploits of Jake Atlas. As the book opens, the Atlas family are about to fly off to Egypt on a working holiday (Mum and Dad are Egyptologists) and the family tension is so strong you can almost hear it twang; tension of a different kind quickly racks up when Jake’s parents are kidnapped. To save them he and his twin sister Pandora team up with a couple of unscrupulous if well-equipped tomb robbers. After years of academic failure Jake can finally use his true talents, dodging explosions, outthinking the bad guys, even wrestling a giant snake. It’s great fun, the Egyptian settings giving it an extra edge and the developing relationship between Jake and Pan (and latterly their parents who’ve been keeping secrets of their own) gives it a cool credibility too. This is definitely one to recommend to fans of the Alex Rider books, and readers would also enjoy Defender of the Realm by Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby. ~ Andrea Reece
January 2017 Book of the Month | Winner of the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award | In a Nutshell: Unconventional magic realist thriller | A entrancingly unique novel about a boy’s search for a young woman who’s disappeared from their eccentric small town. “Bone Gap had gaps just wide enough for people to slip through, or slip away, leaving only their stories behind”. That’s what the townsfolk of Bone Gap believe, and so none of them are shocked when beautiful Roza vanishes, as mysteriously as she arrived. Well, not quite none of them. Finn is certain that Roza was abducted, snatched by “the man who moves like a cornstalk in the wind”, but since he’s considered “a little weird”, no one believes him. Then, as he searches for Roza, he finds an ally in Petey, who describes herself as looking like a “giant bee”, and reckons Finn is face-blind, only able to recognise the most distinct of faces. As they become close and discover truths about themselves, so light is shone upon Roza’s vanishing. The sequences with Roza and her captor possess the sublimely sinister atmosphere of fairy tales. “You'll love me one day”, her captor insists, over and over, while extolling her to be the most beautiful woman in the whole world. And perceptions of beauty, and how we interpret what we see, are central to this enthralling genre-defying novel. ~ Joanne Owen
January 2017 Book of the Month | A book to make you flinch! Virulent diseases and natural disasters are sweeping the world, the church and a private investigator seek the truth behind the reports of two pregnant virgins, can they possibly be linked? Cradle and All is a reimagined telling of a previous James Patterson novel Virgin which was written in 1980. The story touches various lives, including investigator Anne who speaks in the first person. Anne’s tale centres the story, I felt a connection to her, which made the horrifying events feel as though they were within touching distance. The short chapters made my mind flicker, and question my thoughts and feelings. Spinning from good to evil, hope to despair, Cradle and All is an action packed tale, which moves quickly and creates a tense atmosphere, ensuring a thrilling read. ~ Liz Robinson
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | In a Nutshell: Gangs dice with death under the gaze of Mexican folk saint. A thought-fuelling thriller set in a gang-run neighbourhood near the border of Mexico and El Norte (America). The writing is poetically punchy. Exquisitely formed sentences are fired-off in smarting succession, and the juxtaposition of contemporary totems like Burger King buildings with the likes of folk saint shrines is smartly done. This is a richly layered novel in which important socio-political issues (gangs, poverty, corruption, migration, social divisions and dissonance) are made potently real through Arturo and Faustino’s predicaments. And alongside the enlightening Mexico-specific context, there’s much that is universal: friendship, loyalty, and searching for a sense of purpose. As paternal figure Siggy tells Arturo, “You just have to find out what it is you’re looking for.” Pacey and passionate, this truly exceptional book tells a tale that truly needs to be heard. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for Best Crime Novel for Children aged 8-12, CrimeFest Gala Awards 2017 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2016 A roller-coaster adventure packed full of action and mystery unravels at a breakneck pace after Maya takes a photo from a bus one wintery afternoon. In Maya’s photo there is a man with a gun in the middle of Oxford Street. That’s scary enough. But worse is that both he and the woman he is talking to have seen her. Instinctively, Maya knows that she is in trouble. Serious trouble. Needing to be kept safe, she is taken deep into the Welsh countryside to stay with her relatives. But is she being followed? Fleur Hitchcock keeps her readers guessing until the very end. ~ Julia Eccleshare The Editor from Nosy Crow says: “A tense, snowy drama that keeps you guessing until the very last page, this is the perfect book to curl up with in front of a roaring fire. Just don’t get snowed in...!” Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for November 2016 The Song from Somewhere Else by A. F. Harrold and Levi Pinfold Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul Rover and the Big Fat Baby by Roddy Doyle and Chris Judge Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith The Giant's Necklace by Michael Morpurgo and Briony May Smith
December 2016 Book of the Month A non-stop, action packed, thrilling tale of a race to save humanity from a deadly virus. 15 year old Rebecca Eden and 16 year old Joe Fontana tell their own tales in alternate very short punchy chapters. Each has suffered heartache and each has experienced loss, yet dealt with it in very different ways. They meet in unusual circumstances and soon find themselves battling for their lives. The introduction set me on high alert, it took me a few seconds to understand what I was looking at, it was certainly intriguing and I immediately wanted to know more. Matt Dickinson doesn't shy away from difficult subjects, he exposes pain, corruption, loss, fear and meets them head on, yet with undeniable sensitivity. Well suited to both young men and women, ‘Lie Kill Walk Away’ is an exciting, adventurous and captivating tale. ~ Liz Robinson Matt Dickinson is known as the Everest climber – which is possibly the most extreme form of adventure there is – but did writing Lie Kill Walk Away allow him to explore a different kind of adventure? Matt says: Yes, probably I am best known for my Everest adventures, but I have plenty of other themes that I want to explore. In my previous series Mortal Chaos, I based the stories around chaos theory and the chain reactions that cause disasters. With Lie Kill Walk Away I wanted to create a very different form of adventure, a thriller environment in which two teenage protagonists are trying, quite literally, to save the world. It’s a big story but I have loved the challenge and I hope that readers will identify with my two heroes. Read the rest of this Q&A on Matt's author page. We think this is great book for reluctant readers and Matt agrees..he always keeps ‘reluctant readers’ in mind when writing, ‘I really like it when reluctant readers identify with my books and enjoy reading them. It’s a special feeling because it might inspire a new reading hobby that will last a lifetime. Reluctant readers are often boys with short attention spans. That’s why my books have very short chapters and are generally fast paced. I am the same in my reading habits; I strongly dislike books that are overwritten or just way too slow. I can promise readers of Lie Kill Walk Away that they will be in for a very fast read.’
No-one writes teen horror with anything like the wit, gory panache and comic timing of Derek Landy. His Demon Road stories are definitely not for the faint-hearted: fourteen people have been disembowelled, ripped apart or had their heads staved in by the end of page two of this new book! But they are irresistible reading for anyone looking for thrilling page-turners peopled by a hugely appealing cast of eccentrics and outsiders (not all of them alive). Demon Amber is once again racing down America’s Dark Highway with her bodyguard Miles, racing against time to complete her bargain with the devil, only this time the Hounds of Hell are on her trail. Breathless, blood-stained, far, far more fun than it has any right to be! Other masters of the macabre for teenagers include Charlie Higson (The Enemy series), Darren Shan (Demonata series) and Michael Grant (Gone series). ~ Andrea Reece
In a Nutshell: Dead gripping • Dead funny • Deadpan urban fantasy Full of fantastical thrills, supernatural spills and wail-out-loud wit, this sublimely plotted sequel to “Thirteen Days of Midnight” is a riotously riveting read. There was a time when Luke Manchett was Mr Popular, but all that changed when he inherited a bunch of ghosts from his necromancer dad. After doing a deal with the Devil to banish the ghosts, he’s now doing his best to get on with his life. But, as Luke knows only too well, “life doesn’t give you a friendly warning when everything changes. There’s no five-minute call before the ice breaks under your feet”, which is what happens when Ash, a glamorous Californian with a shock of white hair, rocks up at his school. Ash’s presence has an immediate and profound impact on Luke, and it’s not long before he discovers that she’s the daughter of his dead dad’s greatest enemy. It’s his dad’s fault that Ash’s twin sister is on a life support machine and has to be sustained by Ash’s life force. That’s what turned her hair white and dulled her blue eyes to grey. And now Ash needs Luke and his Book of Eight to save her sister, and herself… Luke’s wry, dry narrative voice is an absolute joy - for example, on the subject of striking a deal with the actual Devil he deadpans, “I think it's fair to say that was one of the more eventful nights of my life” - and this is a spine-tinglingly refreshing take on paranormal-themed YA, with more unexpected twists than the rivers of the Ancient Greek Underworld. ~ Joanne Owen
In a Nutshell: Deceit • Decisions • Doing the right thing A gripping, emotionally-charged page-turner about guilt, regret and finding the strength to face the truth. 15-year-old Laurie has always been a good girl, but confesses a guilt-ridden secret right at the start of her story, before taking us on a rollercoaster ride through the months that led to the moment “poison seeped into my blood”. Before that moment, Laurie’s life was sorted. She’s always been focused on fulfilling her ambition to become a doctor, while having fun hanging out with Charlie and Maya. They were the “three peas”; best friends since primary school, until a painful chain of events are set in motion when she and Charlie get together after a party. He goes cold on her, the inconceivable happens and Laurie's world implodes. She’s alone with the burden of making an excruciatingly difficult decision, and it turns out that Charlie has a seriously high-stake secret of his own. This riveting read strikes the perfect balance between keeping you turning the pages and digging deeper into big issues that have big resonance. It’s about the ripple effect of one decision; how lives can be thrown off-course in one brief moment but, ultimately, it’s about stepping-up to put things right when everything goes wrong, which Laurie does with tremendous courage and maturity. When Charlie remarks, “there's no way back” Laurie agrees, but adds, “we can go forwards”. Tense, taut, and teeming with characters you’ll care about, this comes highly recommended for fans of thrillers with extra emotional depth. ~ Joanne Owen
June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one - and a secret one. Not even her father knows about it. She's trapped like a butterfly in a jar. But then she meets Blister, a boy in the woods. And in him, June recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away. But freedom comes at a price... Paper Butterflies is an unforgettable read, perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson's The Art of Being Normal, Jandy Nelson, Sarah Crossan, Jennifer Niven and Louise O'Neill.