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Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2014 - Longlisted for the 2013 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize | A moving and thought provoking story which will encourage readers to question divisions in society. Joshua lives safely on one side of the Wall. When he finds a tunnel under the Wall he can’t help wanting to explore. Meeting a family on the other side reveals to him what the Wall hides and makes him question all he has previously been told. Joshua learns the enormity of living under repression as well as what kindness, despite its attendant dangers, really means. He also learns how nature can heal other ills as he sets out on his own journey of discovery. ........... The Wall is a novel about a boy who undertakes a short journey to another world, to a place where everything he knows about loyalty, identity and justice is turned upside down. It is also a political fable that powerfully evokes the realities of life on the West Bank, telling the story of a Settler child who finds there are two sides to every story.
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
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | 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.
Shortlisted for the 2013 Leeds Book Award - May 2012 Debut of the Month. A gripping World War Two adventure which goes behind the scenes of the more familiar stories. When two children are recruited for a mission by the British government they have no idea of the exceptional danger they will be facing. Rescuing a child and getting her safely out of Germany is a tall order. Both the Germans and the British prize this child highly. Who is she and can her under-age British saviours manage their mission? The action-packed plot twists and turns and there's pathos too as all three children understand the enormity of their situation. The Lovereading comment: Fans of Robert Muchamore's Cherub and Henderson's Boys or Higson's Young Bond series will devour this book in a sitting. It's a novel that has its base on true fact: Hitler's secret relationship with his niece, and Hess's flight to Scotland to prevent an advance on Russian. It's World War Two and two young refugees who have escaped the Nazis and travelled to England with their families are despatched back by the British Secret Service behind enemy lines. Otto and Leni are given a perilously difficult and dangerous job of kidnapping a girl that is of pivotal importance to the war effort. A job that's life threatening to them if it goes wrong and requires supreme bravery from them both. With a race against time and with the Nazis after them can they bring the girl into the safe hands of the British Secret Service before it's too late? This has film written all over it but as a book it is also an exceptional debut. And from the publisher who acquired Hitler's Angel: Tense and thrilling action gives this big story a pulse of real excitement and importance but it's the child characters who give it the heart that you really care about. William Osborne may be new to books but he's a familiar hand as a Hollywood scriptwriter - and this is, quite simply, the best movie I've ever read! Wow! Click here to read more from publisher Barry Cunningham.
Exploring the all-consuming throes of love, malicious secondary school social politics, sexual abuse, and how difficult coming out can be, William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty is a top-notch YA thriller with hard-hitting emotional resonance. Forced by social media exposure to come out earlier than planned, Dylan and his gregarious boyfriend Ellis reveal their relationship to the world in spectacular style at a school dance: “Okay, Dylan, this is it. No going back. The closet door is firmly barred behind you, chained and bolted. No re-entry, no refunds. It’s gay all the way from here on out.” Riding high after an unexpectedly jubilant response to their revelation, tragedy strikes when they leave the party - Ellis becomes angry and their car plunges into a lake. While Dylan is rescued, Ellis drowns, leaving Dylan wracked with grief and guilt: “I deserve the pain. I deserve the crazy. I deserve a messed-up hand. No one’s taking these things away from me.” Set on trying to “find out who pulled me out of that car and why they left Ellis to drown”, it’s not long before Dylan stomps into a viper’s nest, uncovering jaw-dropping truths that set him - and readers – reeling. With his family less than supportive, at least best friend Mike remains at Dylan’s side, even though he’s undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia. Gripping, moving and unflinchingly honest, this is a fiercely affecting novel, told through the cleverly interwoven collision of two timelines.
Shortlist for the UKLA Book Award 2019 | Winner of the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 | In a nutshell: tense, super-suspenseful novel based on harrowing real life events | After the Fire was inspired by the Waco siege in Texas 1993 when 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect and four US government agents died in a fire fight after a long siege. It’s not a fictionalised version, but Hill imagines life in the camp and as a survivor. Moonbeam, his central character, is beginning to doubt the teaching of Father John and to comprehend the methods he uses to control his followers. A survivor, she’s being coaxed to tell the story of the events that led up to that deadly confrontation with ‘The Authorities’. The tension rarely abates, and Hill makes readers empathise with Moonbeam’s confusion and fear. He also makes us desperate to discover the secrets she’s keeping, and long for her to achieve the freedom that’s always been denied. One of the most gripping and suspenseful books you’ll read all year.
A Jack Courtney Adventure : with Chris Wakling | Young readers who want to be gripped, challenged, informed and entertained – this exciting new adventure series is just what you’ve been waiting for. Fourteen-year-old Jack is on a safari holiday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with his parents, the wealthy founders of a conservation charity. His friends Amelia and Xander are on the trip too – so far, so idyllic (though he could do without his arrogant cousin Caleb), but then his parents are kidnapped by mercenaries. Jack has already experienced one family tragedy, he’s determined he’ll prevent another. This is a taut, tightly plotted thriller which puts young people firmly in the driving seat, but there’s lots about family and relationships too. Moreover, the authors will inspire a fascination about the wildlife of the region in readers, and alert them to the threats facing it. Fast-moving adventure with heart and a message. Jack is as appealing a hero as Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider, but the books will also appeal to fans of Gill Lewis’ animal adventures, Gorilla Dawn and The Scarlet Ibis. ****Read a Q&A with Wilbur Smith on his inspiration behind Cloudburst and the different challenges of writing fiction for children.
One of our Books of the Year 2014 - July 2014 Debut of the Month A dystopian story told with the refreshing addition of a dollop of good humour. Ruby thinks nothing of it when it begins to rain. Why should she? But, what she doesn’t know is that just one drop is all it takes for your blood to be infected. It’s hard to believe - especially for Ruby as the first she finds out about it is when she’s trying to snog the dreamy Caspar in an outside hot tub. With everyone in turmoil after the party when the rain starts falling, Ruby sets off to find her dad who, she hopes, will be safe in London. Ruby’s journey is a highly entertaining roller-coaster despite the convincing threat from the rain.
Virgina Bergin’s debut The Rain has already won her a large following among fans of YA. It’s the story of dippy Ruby, who manages, almost in spite of herself, to survive a devastating apocalypse brought about by a killer contagion in the rain. What a terrifying prospect that is to all of us living in the UK. The Storm takes up the action three months on. Ruby is still getting by, though the resolute cheer that’s kept her going so far is cracking. When by chance she ends up in the army camp that she had to flee in book one, she learns some disturbing truths about her fellow survivors. It’s compelling reading, and Ruby is a really appealing character, her sense of humour a constant counterpoint to the horror of the situation; basically, as she’d say, you really root for her to save the world. ~ Andrea Reece
Jess’s mother was the first victim of a serial killer who came to be known as the Magpie Man, and ten years later the case is still unsolved, and the death toll stands at thirteen. A chance to be part of a YouTube reality show for teenagers gives Jess an idea; what if while being filmed, she can goad the Magpie Man into revealing himself? This inevitably raises reader’s questions about the social responsibility of media companies and the way both police and responsible adults allow Jess to take this reckless attitude to her own safety. But in reality, it seems that Jess lost two parents the day her mother was killed, her quest for the killer is also a chance to rescue her father from a deep depression. She luckily has good friends, both old and newly discovered in this process, looking out for her. The plot constantly twists and turns and keeps the reader inexorably gripped throughout. The ultimate reveal of who and why is both satisfactory as well as surprising. Told entirely in the first person the character development of Jess is outstanding and the subtle nuances of grief and the way in which bereavement affects other people and their treatment of you is very well done. A novel that is entirely current and yet with the age-old thrill of a complex mystery.
July 2018 Debut of the Month | A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ten steps ahead of everyone around her. But further tragedy follows at her new school when Hanna, her roommate, falls to her death. While Jess tries to figure out who’s behind the mysterious postcards she finds in the wake of Hanna’s death, she falls for new boy Dan and confides in him as it emerges that Professor Coleman wants her back. A tangle of questions arise as Jess tries to keep herself safe, and the answers are revealed with terrific tension as a series of damning discoveries set the stage for an explosive showdown. Recommended for YA readers who like their fiction fast-paced and full of psychological thrills and chills.
A clever, interesting and refreshing read, prepare for your thoughts to be thoroughly provoked. Dan is far too clever for his own good and he is sucked in and down onto the murky, dangerous road of hacking. The author shows how easy it can be to step onto the wrong path and just how difficult it is to try to right a wrong. This certainly isn't a ‘how to hack’ instruction manual, however it is obvious that a considerable amount of research has taken place with some people who really do have the know how. Dan feels normal, feels real and as though he could be your friend or someone you know. Written from Dan’s view point makes this very personal, throughout the novel you feel as though you are right by his side and perhaps surprisingly, also on his side and this makes for a compelling read.