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A chilling page-turner for all those who like a school story with a difference. A school with a dark past provides a troubled environment for new girl Frankie Ward. Initially friendless, Frankie links up with Suzy who is also an outsider and her friends James and Sebastian from the neighbouring boy’s school. From Suzy, Frankie learns some of the darker sides of the school’s history including the chilling story of its haunting by the Blue Lady, the ghost of a former pupil. Determined to find out the true story of the Blue Lady’s death, Suzy persuades Frankie to help her contact the spirit world through a Ouija board. Will they be able to cope with the answers it offers? When Frankie turns to Sebastian for help she finds he has more secrets that she hasn’t expected.
In a nutshell: funny contemporary dreams can come true story | Lizzie Brown is about to start 6th form, a chance as all teenagers understand to totally reinvent herself; no more boring Lizzie, she’s going to become someone seriously cool. Then on day one of her new life she meets Viv, the absolute epitome of hip and everything does indeed begin to change. This is a comedy of modern life, so things don’t go quite as Lizzie intends, and there’s pain and humiliation to be endured before she gets to her happy-with-who-she-is ending. Eleanor Wood writes particularly sharp teen dialogue and this lively genuinely funny story speaks directly to its intended audience. ~ Andrea Reece
17-year-old Jonah Daniels lives in Verona Cove, California and, like his Sicilian dad, has a real talent for cooking. But, six months ago, Jonah lost his dad and he’s now shouldering responsibility for his large family. Life is looking pretty bleak until the infectiously vivacious Vivi bursts into their lives like the first sunshine after winter. In Jonah's words, Vivi “looks like lemon meringue pie tastes. Sunny, tangy, sweet”, while she’s intensely attracted to Jonah and “feels love at first sight for an entire family.” Undulating like the waves of the Pacific, Vivi’s vitality uplifts the Daniels’ household, thus going some way to quench her own need to be needed. For Vivi, kissing Jonah is “a warm feeling that rushes through my whole body and soothes my busy brain”. But Vivi’s “busy brain” isn’t really soothed and, when her impulsiveness cascades into uncontrollable recklessness, Jonah realises that he’s not the only one who needs help. Poignant and profound, Vivi and Jonah’s story will linger long after the novel’s moving conclusion. While they both have a way to go, seedlings of hope have been planted in both their beautiful, big hearts. This is a truly remarkable novel about trying to navigate one’s way through the murky waters of grief and mental illness, and the dizzying wonder of falling madly in love. ~ Joanne Owen
Surely one for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, this smart coming-of-age story reels with romance, life lessons and big questions about finding your way. Seventeen-year-olds Reagan and Dee are “friends for infinity”, but they’re also opposites: “In a fairytale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup step cousin”, Reagan remarks with characteristic wryness. While Reagan has a history of bad girl behaviour (underage drinking, court appearances and picking bad boys), Dee is a country music superstar who “acts either thirty years old, like a composed professional” or, when she’s with Reagan, “like a twelve year old”. But this summer Reagan plans to get her life back on track as she joins Dee’s first major headline tour. With both girls trying to get over broken relationships, this summer road-trip is a fresh start for them both, but their plans are immediately tainted when a magazine runs a salacious story about Dee. Enter Matt Finch, Dee’s wholesome label-mate. He’s invited to join her tour as a ploy to shift press attention from the alleged “scandal” to speculation that there might be something between him and Dee. The truth is, it’s Reagan who falls for Matt, with his understated handsomeness and a straight-talking vibe she totally relates to. As their romance ignites with electrifying passion, there’s a rocky road ahead for all three as further salacious allegations are made and various mounting pressures threaten friendships and burgeoning romance. The music tour set-up makes this an entertaining escapist page-turner, with the relatable real-life conundrums and dramas providing thought-provoking profundity – the essential ingredients of a rollicking summer read.
Like When We Collided and Open Road Summer, The Map from Here to There demonstrates Emery Lord’s talent for capturing the exhilaration and angst of characters on the cusp of adulthood. “I was beginning to think that half of growing up was figuring out when to let go and when to hold on,” Paige muses partway through her story journey, but being an anxiety prone over-thinker, that’s not an easy conundrum to crack. After the pain of her first boyfriend passing away a few years back, life has taken an upward turn. She has a set of supportive friends, she’s excited by the prospect of studying screenwriting, and she’s besotted with her new boyfriend Max. But having such an active life – working shifts at a cinema, applying to college, taking on a theatre internship, wanting to spend time with Max and her friends - begins to take its toll. Paige wants it all, but big decisions must be made, and the trouble is, saying yes to one thing (like choosing where to go to college) means saying no to another. When fatalism kicks in and affects her close relationships, Paige takes heart from her mom’s wise words: “As much as I love a pro-and-con list – and you know I do – sometimes you have to ignore all of that. Your gut instinct can say a lot.” Authentic, honest and shot through with empathy, this offers a helping hand to young adults navigating similarly confusing crossroads, alongside being an out and out entertaining story.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2018 | One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | January 2017 MEGA Debut of the Month | In a nutshell: the unforgettable story of a girl with no memory Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks? She’s 17 when the book opens, but an accident aged 10 has left her with no short term memory. Then a secret kiss on the beach – with her only friend’s boyfriend – lodges in her mind. Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide. Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too. Unforgettable! ~ Andrea Reece Praise from the publishing team : It’s a rare moment when a book comes in that engages our whole team – and with such force. Flora Banks has made us cry and sit up all night, and we are so excited to bring her to readers everywhere around the world. Francesca Dow, Managing Director Emily’s YA debut compels and completely sweeps me up in its atmosphere every time I read it. In addition to clearly being an extremely accomplished and gripping thriller writer, Emily conveys the light and shade of life as a teenager falling in love and coming of age just brilliantly. To pull off a story narrated by a character like Flora is a fantastic achievement. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Ruth Knowles, Publisher My heart was in my throat from the first line of Flora’s prologue – this is psychological suspense at its best. Emily Barr’s writing is eerier than an Arctic squall and more beautiful than a serene tundra. Natasha Collie, Senior Marketing Officer
A provocative, stimulating and ultimately heartwarming story about three girls on a weekend road trip in Florida, who develop their friendship as the miles tick by. Each chapter is written in the first person by either Jesse (don’t forget the ‘e’), Vicks or Mel. The three very different girls may decide to try a little ‘How To Be Bad’, however at heart, they are three thoughtful, affectionate and quite normal teens, experiencing the difficulties that life occasionally flings in the way and getting by as best they can. The ending rolls to a conclusion far too quickly, leaving an “I want more” feeling, hopefully another novel is on the cards. It’s fascinating to learn in the great ‘extras’ section at the end, how the three authors, Emily Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski decided to write this novel. Recommended for older teens and young adults, this collaboration most definitely works, it results in a funny, warm and fabulously quirky story. ~ Liz Robinson ***E. Lockhart is in the UK on a How to be Bad road trip on the weekend of the 20th/21st June 2015 and will be documented throughout via vlogs, Twitter, snapchat and tumblr. Suggestions for sites or shops to visit should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweeted @hotkeybooks using #LockhartRoadTrip.
**Recommended for 14+ In a Nutshell: High school hijinks (with a double side of heart 'n' hormones!) | This hilarious diary-format account of a year in a 14 year-old girl’s life is a madcap, modern day mash-up of Louise Rennison, Jacqueline Wilson and a teenage Bridget Jones. Chloe Snow (an emotional pendulum, by all accounts) is about to start ninth grade when her flighty mom leaves their suburban home to work on her novel in Mexico. Feeling somewhat abandoned, Chloe throws herself into realising her dream of actually kissing someone for the first time, and into performing in her high school musical. There are countless moments that will make readers LOL (the moment Chloe brazenly pops her kissing cherry is comedy gold), but it’s not all larks and laughs. Chloe really misses her mom, and her world kind-of caves in when she realises what’s really going on with her parents, alongside dealing with vicious trolls, and having her heart messed about with. Packed with witty one-liners and oodles of embarrassing episodes, this entertaining cry-with-laughter-cringe-fest is a delicious dessert of a read. ~ Joanne Owen
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020 | Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2020 | Neena’s brother Akash disappeared 10 months ago and her parents are broken with grief. As she tries to find out what’s happened to him, her grip on reality starts to crack. The Branford Boase judges said : ‘very impressive, a powerful depiction of mental health’; ‘totally gripping’; ‘very well written, I couldn’t put it down’; ‘very engaging and written with extraordinary insight’
A story about identity, courage and searching for the truth of who you are. This book made me cry, it made me feel, it made me think and it made me want to read on. Emma Young brings us a whole new take on the issue of identity and body image. The idea of waking up with a completely different body was incredibly thought provoking, from looking at a different face in the mirror to discovering new freckles, the shape of your knuckles and the fall of your hair. After years of being trapped in a body slowly dying of a nerve disease, Rosa is offered an experimental brain transplant and given the chance to live. Yet as she struggles to come to terms with her new body she begins to question who she is and if she even deserves this healthy, able body when the girl who it belonged to is dead. She is told very little about her donor Sylvia, yet she knows she was young, pretty and a girl who seemingly had everything to live for and yet whose body has given her, Rosa, the chance to live. Soon Rosa becomes obsessed with finding out more about Sylvia and who she was. As Rosa embarks on a journey to discover who Sylvia was, can she find a way to rediscover and accept herself? ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. Perfect for fans of Extraordinary Means, Faceless and The Art of Being Normal.
How is it that you suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up? Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend's unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together - just.
Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea is the book that for many will be the most memorable of all the books they read as a child. Like Journey to the River Sea, A Company of Swans is set in the Amazon jungle, and is another book to touch the heart. Oppressed by her mean-spirited father and aunt, teenager Harriet is finally driven to rebel and runs away with a troupe of Russian ballerinas, all the way to the city of Manaus. There she falls in love with another runaway, the handsome Rom. Of course the path of their love is far from straight, and Harriet’s nasty father is determined she won’t escape. A Cinderella story distinguished by Ibbotson’s humour, intelligence and gift for creating unusual but always believable characters this wonderful book is recommended for romantics of all ages. ~ Andrea Reece