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If you have a young vegan or would-be vegan in the family, this book is a must-have. It contains dozens of recipes for tasty year-round cooking and eating, from drinks and snacks to main courses and puddings, all proof that you can have a delicious and varied diet totally meat, dairy and egg-free. The recipes are easy to follow and accompanied by full colour photos but it’s more than just a cookbook. Niki Webster slips in tips and advice too on keeping healthy and ensuring that you get enough iron and vitamins and includes a really useful FAQ section at the end as well as shopping lists and seasonal food charts. Her tone is just right, friendly, practical but inspiring. Keep a copy in the kitchen!
Shortlisted for the Books for Older Readers category, Children's Book Awards 2022 | Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | An extraordinary, powerful, and important book, based on the true story of how Liz Kessler’s father escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe thanks to a British couple his family had met once. But what elevates this book about three friends and their different fates in World War Two is the story of Max, the nice, ordinary boy who gradually becomes seduced into hatred and prejudice. The ringing question, ‘What would I do under these circumstances?’ echoes on every page. ~ Francesca Simon
Best-selling father and son have turned their attention to the dangers of prescription drug misuse, but as one might expect from the master of dystopian fiction, this comes with a twist. Imagine drugs personified as Greek Gods looking down from Olympus tasked with bringing people to The Party (addiction) and all the way to the ‘end of the line’- the VIP lounge (overdose and death). We know the stakes are high- the book opens with the painful and shocking description of the death of I. Ramey, but when we meet siblings Ivy and Isaac we do not know which of them it will be and their tragic and all too believable journeys keep you completely gripped. But first, we meet the alluring Roxy (Roxicodone) and the pompous over-achiever Addi (Adderall) and learn about their place in the drug hierarchy. They know they are gateway drugs and in various interludes they talk about their genuine lifesaving moments, but they also know that they can get their ‘plus-ones’ to the VIP lounge alone and so their deadly wager begins. Ivy is the eldest sibling, already running with a bad crowd and overindulging in recreational drugs but wants to turn over a new leaf and reluctantly agrees to treatment for her ADD. Isaac is hardworking and a sports star with a scholarship chance for college until an injury threatens that. Well-meaning help from his grandmother’s pain killer prescription launches him down the slippery slope. The multiple narrative strands weave together effortlessly. From Roxy’s and Addi’s first-person perspectives to Isaac’s and Ivy’s third-person limited viewpoints and combined with interludes, in which other drugs tell their stories, and words emboldened in the poetic chapter headings hinting at themes or plot points, this is masterful storytelling. A challenging read that pulls no punches nor offers much help to the reader who may need to look up street names for drugs to identify all the ‘gods’, this is a book with a powerful message that needs to be read and discussed.
This impactful tale is beautifully crafted from a variety of viewpoints, written in a mixture of prose, narrative verse and journal entries, woven together with evocative illustrations by Natalie Sirett. While it is Kai’s story and his fall into darkness that is at the heart of the story, we also hear the voices of Orla, from the high-rise flats like Kai, and Zak from the big houses across the other side of the wilderness. This is the place where they spent most of their out of school time growing up and where they discovered and restored the bothy, which becomes the dramatic backdrop to astounding creativity but also danger, degradation, despair and near death. We later hear from new arrival Omid who has faced trauma and loss himself, which helps him make the connection with Kai, whose family has fallen apart following the loss of his beloved baby sister Sula. Despite the best efforts of his friends, Kai falls in with a dangerous crowd, gets excluded and his self-destruction seems inevitable. But the bonds forged in their childhood ultimately prove stronger. Kai’s deep connection to nature and in particular to a pair of ravens, who have their own narration, and the creativity which is sparked by Omid’s inspiring art, help to bring him home. There are so many important themes in this multi-layered novel which speaks so powerfully about the importance of urban green spaces and community and the way society can fail to recognise the true value of things. This highly original novel perfectly captures raw adolescent emotions and fills the reader with empathy and understanding. Highly recommended.
December 2021 YA Debut of the Month | Set in a super-elite high school, How We Fall Apart, Katie Zhao's super-suspenseful YA debut, serves insights into race, class and the pressure to perform in gripping style. Shimmering with secrets, love, toxic peer pressure, parental pressure and tested loyalties, the novel delves deep into the world of academic competitiveness to create an edgy fast-paced thriller. Voiced by scholarship student Nancy Luo, “the daughter of two immigrants who’d fought tooth and nail to make it to the States, only to spend years struggling to make ends meet”, the story begins with the disappearance of one of Sinclair Prep’s most tipped-for-the-top pupils, Jamie Ruan. One-time best friend of Nancy, Jamie is the kind of girl who “could get away with anything, do away with anyone”, until someone does away with her. It’s not long before Nancy and her three friends seem to be the prime suspects in her murder, with an anonymous poster on the school’s gossip app incriminating them and threatening to reveal their darkest secrets. Tingling with suspense, and an undercurrent of class division, fans of edgy YA thrillers will be turning the pages at breakneck speed as the mystery twists and turns in unexpected directions.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | The Silent Stars Go By is a riveting read-in-one-sitting experience driven by compelling characters who leap off the page, not least the young woman at its heart, an unmarried secretarial student who’s forced to give up her baby during WWI. The novel is also underpinned by a superb sense of social history, with evocative details of post-war village life nestling within the bigger story, and - as might be expected of the author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do - it’s threaded with feminist themes. It’s 1919, Christmas is on the horizon and two years have passed since nineteen-year-old Margot was forced to give up her baby for her parents to raise as their own. She was only fifteen when she and Harry fell madly in love ahead of him being called up. The magic of their time together is evoked in all its tingling passion, contrasting with Margot’s present-day torments. It hurts when little James calls her mother “Mummy”, and she doesn’t know how she can continue to keep James a secret from Harry, who’s returned to the village after recuperating on the Isle of Wight. The flashbacks to Margot’s time on the maternity ward are particularly poignant and, of course, the reason she has to endure this unbearable situation is due to the fact that she lives in a world in which “the girl is the one whose honour is defiled or whatever rot they spout” whereas “the boy is just being a boy”. Coupled with that wider context, Margot’s vicar father is a man who “forgave drunks and tramps and fallen women and the men who tried to steal the lead from the church roof. But he couldn’t forgive her.” Realising that “things couldn’t go on like this,” Margot decides to confront her fears amidst the rare glamour of a ball on New Year’s Eve.
Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2022 | December 2021 Debut of the Month | This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea. From this and her own fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the author has created an unforgettable story. Yemoja has created many Mami Wata, mermaids tasked with escorting the souls of enslaved people thrown into the sea. Simindele, a teenage girl, is one of them, but when she instead saves the life of a boy, she unwittingly puts all the Mami Wata in peril and must seek the forgiveness of the supreme deity. The boy she saves also has a dangerous mission to save his family and on their perilous journey they grow dangerously close. Just like The Little Mermaid, if Simi were to act upon her feelings she would dissolve into sea foam and just like Andersen’s creation Simi’s travels in human form on land cause her terrible pain. In the denouement there is also a hint of Persephone and Hades in her dealings with the oceanic equivalent of the Underworld. Throughout this action packed adventure the narrative is enriched with elements of West African language and we learn fascinating detail about their sophisticated societies, mathematical prowess, customs and religion. This is an innovative and refreshing mix of western and African myth wrapped up in a really rewarding read that should find many fans.
November 2021 Book of the Month - A November 2021 Star Book! | Jessie Burton’s fiery feminist re-telling of the Greek myth of Medusa blazes with intrigue and beauty courtesy of author’s elegant style and Olivia Lomenech Gill’s fabulously evocative colour illustrations. It’s an incredible feat of intellect and imagination that takes down toxic masculinity and victim-blaming culture through an ingenious reframing, reclaiming of Medusa. The gods have exiled Medusa to a remote island, with no one for company but the snakes she has for hair. That is, until impossibly beautiful Perseus arrives and transfixes her: “I know a lot about beauty. Too much in fact. But I’d never seen anything like him…I wanted to eat him up like honey cake.” Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.” This excerpt encapsulates one of the many marvellous things about this book. The writing - cleverly, and compellingly - feels both timeless and modern. Medusa’s narrative, and the dialogue, is laced with wit, and infused with tremendous detail. But betrayal swoops in the wake of desire, and all-too familiar mechanisms of patriarchy come into play with ferocity. Ultimately, though, and with a magnificent sense of sisterhood, Medusa comes to a new state of being: “Self-awareness is a great banisher of loneliness. And my sisters, the immortals, are with me.” This is terrifically inspiring and empowering in the ways of timeless myths, but also in ways that are very, very real - “you will find me when you need me, when the wind hears a woman’s cry and fills my sails forward. And I will whisper on the water that one must never fear the raised shield, the reflection caught in an office window, or the mirror in a bathroom.”
Masterfully melding the contemporary world with a richly evoked fantasy realm, this is a fairy tale re-telling of the finest order. Harper has lived a tough life, what with her mom being sick and her brother forced to take on their absent father’s violent debt collection work. She has cerebral palsy but “can move quickly when I want to”. She’s a fighter too, so when she’s snatched by a stranger and deposited in Ironrose Castle, in the heart of a parallel realm called Emberfall, her captors are thrown off-guard. “Most of the girls Grey drags from her world won’t touch a blade or a bridle,” Prince Rhen observes with admiration. And Rhen has seen plenty of girls in his time. Blighted by a curse inflicted by a spurned enchantress, he’s forever fixed at the age of eighteen until someone truly falls for him. This curse has seen his kingdom all but disintegrate and many die and, if he fails with Harper, Rhen will be “condemned to spend eternity as a monster.” With Harper adamant she’s not going to fall for him and Rhen certain the curse will never be broken, they make a pact: “I’ll help you save your country and you’ll help me get home,” Harper agrees. The road ahead is paved with pulse-quickening perils, alongside Harper’s tortuous conflict between love for her family and doing the right thing in Emberfall, not to mention her growing feelings for Rhen. There’s a tangible frisson between them, but is it love? As time ticks on and the powers of the malevolent enchantress heighten, worlds collide to take the stakes even higher. Replete as it is with romance, relatable coming-of-age conflicts and all-out action, fans of Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas will relish this novel, the first in the Cursebreakers series, and its cliffhanger climax will leave readers aching for the sequel. Read reviews of books 2 & 3 in the series; A Heart so Fierce and Broken and A Vow so Bold and Deadly.
Relating the remarkable stories of 100 extraordinary women of colour, Maliha Abidi’s Rise is an inspirational, informative showstopper of an anthology. Global in scope and engagingly lively in style, it’s a powerful and beautifully curated testament to trailblazing women of colour from all walks of life, from all fields of endeavour (literature, science, engineering, business, banking, mathematics, politics, law, medicine, human rights activism, sport, art, music, dance), from all corners of the world. What a glorious gift this is to treasure - and draw inspiration from - for a lifetime. Featuring women from over 40 countries, these are pioneers who’ve risen above multiple challenges to have huge impact on the world, whether in the public eye, or behind the scenes. While the book includes seminal icons who are household names (among them Beyonce, Frida Kahlo, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks and Serena Williams), Rise also highlights lesser-known names whose work has had huge impact on our world. Like the women themselves, Maliha Abidi’s writing style is engaging and keenly focussed, and her striking portraits of each innovator are an exuberant, life-filled joy.
November 2021 Debut of the Month | A raw and lyrical power surges through Lisa Fuller’s Ghost Bird debut as it tells the gripping story of a First Nations teenager who’s gone missing from her rural Queensland town. This is YA fiction at its most thrilling and enthralling. Stacey and Laney might be mirror twins, but they have vastly different personalities. While Stacey is keen to get her head down at school, Laney skips lessons and sneaks out to see her boyfriend, until the night she doesn’t come home. While the white townsfolk and white authorities assume this is just another of her rebellions (as Stacey remarks, “all the positions of power are held by property owners, all white, and all with memories of when they ‘owned’ us”), Stacey knows different. She can see and feel this is different too, through the vivid dreams that haunt her. If only her Nan were still alive. She’d know what to do, she could guide Stacey to harness her dreams: “I’d spent the most time with her listening to the old stories, learning the things that Nan always said would keep me safe. There were things she’d promised to tell me when I was older that I’d never get to hear now.” The sense of kinship, community, spirituality and ancestral bonds is tremendously powerful, and the writing uniquely beautiful. “I’ve always seen the golden core of her”, Stacey says of her twin. “The soft melting heart that the hard shell protects.” Driven by desperate love for Laney, and by the terrifying urgency of her dreams, Stacey seeks advice from “Mad May Miller”, the elder of a family her own family has long feuded with, but a woman who can help Stacey use her dreams to find her sister. At once brutal and rivetingly lyrical, this is a multi-layered contemporary YA masterwork.
October 2021 Debut of the Month | Shortlisted for the 2021 Branford Boase Award | A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.