Cassandra Clare certainly knows how to write on an epic scale - following hot on the heels of Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows, this third and final book in The Dark Artifice trilogy is a true beast of a book due to its wildly imaginative world, doggedly determined characters, and its sheer size and scope. “There was blood on the Council dais, blood on the steps, blood on the walls…Later Emma would remember it as a sort of red mist”. Amidst this gory scene, Julian clutches Livvy Blackthorn, “resisting all efforts by the guards to lift her dead body away from him”. But, while death looks down upon them and Julian grieves, the Clave is on the brink of war and swift action must be taken if the Shadow World is to survive. To this end, Julian and Emma embark on a jeopardous journey to recover the Black Volume of the Dead, battling great peril alongside grappling with their forbidden love. And then the secrets they uncover in the Court risk destroying everything they value, and everyone they love. The sense of urgency is dazzlingly evoked and swells to a suitably heart-pounding finale to this opulent love-and-justice-driven trilogy, with the many plot threads woven together in Clare’s typically extravagant style.
Eighteen-year-old Birdie is fanatical about mystery and crime fiction, a world in which she immersed herself while being brought up by her strict grandparents following the death of her mom. Birdie’s perception of detectives reveals much about her own aspirations and personality: “Detectives were cool, calm, and capable. They were usually loners, helping people from a distance...underdogs that people miscalculated.” Now, following the death of her gran and with the support of her mom’s fabulously flamboyant best friend, Birdie tries to find her own way in the world by taking a summer job as a night clerk at a glamorous historic hotel. It’s here that she forms a swoon-some, life-changing relationship with Daniel, the hotel’s handsome, hearing-impaired night driver, as they try to solve a real-life mystery involving a guest. Then, alongside the edge-of-your-seat twists and turns of their investigation, and their fast-blossoming, fated romance, it turns out that Daniel is harbouring secrets of his own. Underpinned by relatable real-life complications and curveballs aplenty, this engaging feast of young adult fiction fizzes with multiple mysteries and the jittery joys of first love. Head here to discover the author’s previous novels, which come equally recommended for their compassionate championing of offbeat, authentic young adult characters.
Laugh-out-loud funny and instantly recognisable - not since The Inbetweeners has a coming of age story been so irreverent and relatable. Fifteen-year-old Sam is not a famous vlogger, he's never gone viral, and he doesn't want to be the Next Big Thing. In fact he's ordinary and proud of it. None of which was a problem until Dad got rich and Mum made the whole family move to London. Now Sam's off to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, where everyone's busy planning Hollywood domination or starting alt-metal psychedelica crossover bands. Sam knows he'll never belong, even if he wanted to. And that's before he ends up on stage wearing nothing but a fur onesie ... A brilliantly funny look at fitting in, falling out and staying true to your own averageness.
April 2019 YA Book of the Month | This lithe and lucidly lyrical debut is a delectable treat for fans of inventive, trope-busting fantasy. Seventeen-year-old Lena is a cryptling, a person “marked out by their various deformities”. In Lena’s case, this is a dark birthmark on her face. She lives in Duke’s Forest, a magic-loathing, sealed-off city situated beneath a deadly storm cloud. And now Lena’s on the run. Accused of being a mage, she’s been sentenced to death and is desperate to flee Duke’s Forest. Meanwhile, on the other side of the barrier Constance wants to get back inside the city she fled before her own magical powers were discovered. The two women meet when Lena manages to escape, and their alternating narratives make for an un-put-down-able reading experience as it emerges that the storm cloud is actually a spell, and that they alone possess the power to quell it. Immersive world building, intriguing characters, unexpected twists – this is a smart and atmospheric debut from an author to watch, and comes recommended for fans of Sarah J Maas and Melinda Salisbury.
April 2019 Debut of the Month | Reader, prepare for your heart to quicken, pound and swell with love, for this is a truly intoxicating tale of friendship, romance, seizing special moments and being willing to do anything – anything – for the people you love. Jack King - one of the most authentic and charming characters to have stepped off a YA page - and his best-friends-since-childhood Franny and Jillian are on the brink of a new chapter in their lives, picking out colleges, planning their careers, while having fun hanging out. And then Jack meets Kate at a party and falls for her big-time. They’re soul-mates who bond over their love of cereal until, all too soon, Kate dies. But this tragic event turns out to be the beginning of their story, for Kate’s death flips Jack back in time and he meets her again, as if for the first time, with Kate sensing that she knows him from somewhere: “The way you look at me. Like we’ve been doing it our whole lives.” Jack sets about trying to change the course of history, firstly so Kate doesn’t die, and then also to swerve bad stuff away from his friends. But, in classic time travel tradition, this has dangerous effects. Cue Jack wryly referencing Back to the Future and Groundhog Day while up to his neck in serious complications. Take away the pulse-quickening time travel element and you’d still have a novel heated by much heart and humour. With it, this is a firework of urgent, impactful YA fiction, a book that’s ablaze with tough choices and all kinds of love. Throughout there’s a whole lot of heart-melting cuteness - the trio’s friendship, the sweet relationship between Franny and Jillian, Jack’s parents’ perfect marriage. The plot progression and developments revealed through the various play-outs of the past are brain-flippingly smart, with twists wending through to Jack’s desperate need for “one more re-set to undo this tragedy”. Reader, I cried on the bus.
The author, an acclaimed headteacher, author and international speaker, talks a lot about empowerment and this inspiring read should empower teachers, governors and parents to have the confidence to resist a data and results-driven efficiency agenda from usurping the true function of education. As he says “The human race has not evolved and developed through history because of a focus on efficiency; it has evolved because of our natural-born curiosity and our desire to learn, to challenge, to innovate and to be better”. The 2013 OECD “Skills Outlook” report which he references emphasises that education has to fit young people for a rapidly changing future. He is emphatically child-centred and believes that empowerment extends to them as well. A successful school works in partnership with learners and with the external community it serves but is, in and of itself, a collaborative learning community too. His mantra is “systems and structures change nothing; people do” A school can only be as good as its teachers and for both teachers and students it has to provide trust, security and a common purpose. His thoughtful analysis of what and why change is needed, with examples learned beyond education will provide a sustaining boost to morale for any teacher struggling in difficult circumstances and a timely reminder to those in charge to raise their heads above the parapet and stand up for the future of learning. This valuable read is not a practical how-to guide at all, nor an angry polemic, but rather a genuinely heartfelt plea to put purpose and people over structures and tests. He successfully advocates Ghandi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to be”
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8+ | Maggie’s story is charged with emotional energy from the opening lines, when her involving narration reveals a deep, deep bond with her Pa, whom she lost at the tender age of eight. He was a man of few words whose “every last syllable was worth hearing”. “Their souls were cut from the same cloth”, whereas her city-born Ma and her siblings are truly out of place living in the wilderness. Pa’s death leaves Maggie “in a place of bewildering horror”, and the family in a desperate struggle for survival, and so Maggie does what Pa would have done. She takes his gun to hunt for food to keep her family alive. But in place of praising and thanking her super-shot daughter, Maggie’s cold-hearted, convention-heeding Ma sends her to the County Infirmary for displaying “unnatural”, “unladylike” behaviour. While the rest of her childhood is marred by terrible abuse, Pa’s pervasive presence and Maggie’s indomitable inner strength see her stick to her guns, a tenacity that brings unimaginably spectacular change. Propelled by heart-pounding, high-stakes action, this is a richly rewarding, sparky story for young adults with a reading age of 9+.
March 2019 Book of the Month | Compiled by YA author and broadcaster Juno Dawson, this inspiring anthology of illustrated short stories by LGBTQ+ writers shines a light on a kaleidoscopic array of experiences through an equally kaleidoscopic breadth of genres, themes and styles. From Chinese lesbian fairytale The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So, to Simon James Green’s hilarious, heart-warming Penguins (who would’ve thought a pair of penguins could steal a person’s coming out thunder?!), this is a powerfully diverse collection. Alongside more established names, among them authors David Levithan and Jess Vallance, and illustrator David Roberts, special mention must go to the four new voices whose stories grace these pages – be sure to seek out what Karen Lawler, Michael Lee Richardson, Cynthia So and Kay Staples do next. These are stories of struggle and trouble, passion and promise, with much wit, warmth, wisdom and support shared along the way. And so it seems fitting to leave the last loud, proud, celebratory words to Dan from David Levithan’s queer youth choir story: “You hold your ground. You sing out loud and proud in defiance of all the people who want you to be quiet”.
Set in the United States ‘fifteen minutes in the future’ this cuttingly timely cautionary tale exposes Islamophobia and bigotry through the injustices inflicted on seventeen-year-old Layla and her resulting fight for freedom. Layla has her sights set on her future when, on one terrifying night, she and her parents are visited by the Exclusion Authority. “Under order of the Exclusion Authority and by the powers vested in the secretary of war under Presidential Order 1455, we are here to serve notice and carry out your relocation,” declares one of the suited men. What “relocation” means in this hostile, intolerant society is that Layla and her family are snatched from their home and interned in a camp with fellow Muslim-Americans, their wrists stamped with permanent ID numbers on arrival. The backdrop of book-burnings, curfews, Exclusion Laws and a president who declares, “Muslims are a threat to America” is all too powerfully prescient and evoked in an entirely believable fashion. But while confined in the camp, strong, caustic-tongued Layla orchestrates an uprising against the guards and camp Director. Urgent and intense – much like Layla’s acts of resistance – this novel of social justice will chill, grip, start conversations and mobilise readers to speak out against racism and intolerance. In the words of Layla’s poet dad, “we have a moral and ethical obligation to tell the truth.
This authentic YA page-turner about making sense of the whirlwind that is growing-up fizzes with heart, humanity and honest true-to-life experiences.For the past few years Vetty, her dad and little sister Ariel have been living with her aunt, trying to get themselves back on track after the death of her mum. Now they’re moving home to Camden, Vetty is hopeful that “soon I’ll be back to me”, not least because she’ll be reunited with best-friend-since-childhood Pez. But on her return, things are agonizingly strained between them. “It’s like we’ve skipped from kids to something else but it’s not at all clear which steps we’ve missed”. On top of this painful gulf, Vetty is struggling with her sexuality, trying to make sense of the fact that she’s attracted to boys and girls, while Pez is consumed by a struggle of his own that’s effecting all his relationships. Sexuality, love and friendship are explored in all their giddy complexity as Vetty, Pez and their wider circle of friends try to make sense of the world and their place within it. Every bit as life-affirmingly authentic as the author’s debut, No Filter, this comes thoroughly recommended for fans of Holly Bourne, Sara Barnard and Non Pratt.
Don't miss this prequel to the multi award-winning SLATED trilogy by Teri Terry, queen of the teen thriller! I'm just one girl. What can I do? Sam's cosy life as daughter of the Deputy Prime Minister is about to end. These are turbulent times. Borders have closed and protests are turning violent. The government blames the country's youth, and is cracking down hard. Mobile phones are blocked, gatherings are banned and dissent is brutally crushed. Sam is torn between family loyalty and doing what is right. When she meets Ava and Lucas her mind is made up. One girl, one choice. She can make a difference: she must. Even if her life - and her heart - are on the line ... A red-hot thriller packed with secrets and revelations that shines a new light on the award-winning SLATED trilogy.
The thrilling conclusion to STATE OF SORROW by best-selling fantasy author Melinda Salisbury. Sorrow Ventaxis has won the election, and in the process lost everything... Governing under the sinister control of Vespus Corrigan, and isolated from her friends, Sorrow must to find a way to free herself from his web and save her people. But Vespus has no plans to let her go, and he isn't the only enemy Sorrow faces as the curse of her name threatens to destroy her and everything she's fought for.