I'm really excited to announce the launch of the #OHYABOOKCLUB - a monthly Twitter-based YA book club where we'll discuss YA, vote on a book to read each month and take part in some great giveaways!
Our first meeting will be on Thurs 29 March at 8:00 PM GMT.
We'll be voting on a YA book to read over April and I'll also be giving away 2 signed copies of Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard !
All you need to do to take part is follow #OHYABOOKCLUB and join in the discussion, hope to see you there!
It's 1982. Mary is an orphan at Thornhill Institute for Children. She has selective mutism and spends all of her time in her room, writing in her diary and reading The Secret Garden.
She's also hiding. Hiding from a ferocious bully who makes her life at Thornhill a living hell. To cope, Mary spends even more time in her room making dolls. The dolls represent the friends she wished she had and also the people that she doesn't particularly like.
As more and more children find homes, Mary finds herself alone with the bully, who embarks upon a psychological torture that will bring Mary to the brink.
It's 2016. Ella's new home overlooks the ruins of Thornhill. She's intrigued by its dilapidated appearance and overgrown lawns. Lonely and bored, she decides to sneak under the "No Trespassing" signs and find out everything she can about this mysterious building.
Creepy and taught with a building foreboding, Thornhill is a must read for any horror or mystery fan. Mary's section is told through diary entries while Ella's is told entirely through illustrations. Each section is broken by black pages which only adds to the dark, empty feeling you get when you entre an abandoned building with a dark past. I recommend Thornhill for ages 12 and up!
Jess is a juvenile delinquent with a penchant for shoplifting. Her home life is the stuff of nightmares. Her step father beats her mother and forces Jess to record the incidents. Jess' brother Liam fled the home a year ago and her mother has seemingly resigned herself to her fate.
After being caught shoplifting, Jess is given a community service sentence, primarily picking up rubbish with other youths in a nearby park.
It is there that she meets Nicu, a Romanian immigrant who has problems of his own. Nicu is scheduled to be in an arranged marriage and only has a few weeks before he must return to Romania for the ceremony.
Both teens feel trapped, lost and hopeless. Together they try to eek out some semblance of normalcy.
It doesn't come without a cost, through. Once Nicu is enrolled in Jess' high school, he is at the hands of merciless, racist teens who target him on a daily basis. Jess is at first able to turn a blind eye but soon stands up for Nicu. These actions will have disastrous consequences for both of them.
As the clock ticks for Nicu with his impending marriage and for Jess with her stepfather's actions becoming more and more brutal, both teens will find themselves backed against a wall that neither of them should have to endure.
A really harrowing and sad read, once again Crossan has created a beautiful story through prose. I loved Briand Conaghan's When Mr. Dog Bites and he does not disappoint here either. I recommend this novel to ages 14 and up!
Wing has always lived under the radar. Her brother Marcus is always the one in the limelight. He's charming, funny and a high school football star with a promising professional sports career looming on the horizon.
Wing seems resigned to the fact that she's always going to be on the side lines, never quite fitting in and secretly harbouring a crush on Marcus' best friend Aaron.
Then a tragedy strikes the family (I won't spoil it here) and Wing is forced to find something inside of herself that can take her mind off the psychological torment her family is going through.
She finds her strength in running. To everyone's surprise, even her own, she's really, really fast. Wing focuses on running to ease her pain, but it's not enough.
On top of the tragedy, her mother can no longer pay the bills, meaning the bank is threatening to take the home away. Desperate, Wing decides to use her new found running skills to good use: a nationwide competition looking for a spokesperson for a brand of awesome running shoes.
As the clock ticks towards the competition, Wing is unsure if she can handle the pressure surrounding her and her family.
Wing Jones is an emotional glimpse into family tragedy and the guilt that can accompany it. I really enjoyed watching Wing's confidence grow through her running and how it helped her cope with the tragedy and her overall social skills.
I think people need to find something, at least one thing in life that they can latch onto to help them through tough times or just times of insecurity. Wing Jones is about finding that thing and going all in, never giving in and not letting the bastards get you down as they say.
I highly recommend this book for ages 13 and up!
Far off the north western coast of Scotland lies a handful of remote islands called St. Kilda.
In the 18th century these islands were inhabited by fowlers, people whose job it was to harvest the many species of sea birds that live there.
Every year a handful of boys are brought to an even more remote island, called the Warrior Stac. They are dropped off and left for two or three weeks. The idea is that when they return they will be men, hardened by the island's merciless ways. The boys will have to fend for themselves, harvest birds for food, find shelter and survive on their own for a little while.
Three weeks go by and nobody picks the boys up. They aren't too concerned. Then another week goes by, and another. Then they lose count.
When one of the boys falls, hits his head and has a vision of the end of the world, fear begins to set in.
Has the world ended on their little island home a few miles away? Have the angels of heaven forgotten about them?
With no trees on the island and winter approaching, building a raft that can get them home is out of the question. As the weather deteriorates and the boys' morale plummets, Quill must try to keep himself sane along with his fellow castaways.
Desperation soon turns to anger, and there is in-fighting amongst the boys. There are three adults with them, one of them falls into a deep depression and does little to nothing to stop the fear. The other becomes a religious zealot, forcing the boys to choose between their god and their survival.
Where the World Ends is a truly harrowing tale of survival and hope. Told beautifully from Quill's perspective, it digs to the bone of the psychological trauma that one would most certainly experience when faced with the unthinkable. This is a book you will fly through, you just have to know what happens to these boys.
With lots of twists and turns and beautiful passages, I can't recommend it enough.
Jennifer and Maisie are best friends. After bonding at the all-female roller derby tryouts, dubbed the Fresh Meat Orientation, they become inseparable.
However, when they are both drafted to different teams and forced to compete against each other and bond with different teammates, their friendship is tested to its limits.
This first in a series of four volumes is a hilarious, honest and interesting look at modern friendships, trust and of course the incredible world of roller derby. I flew through this book in record time, I loved all of the characters, each one has tremendous depth. Slam! is a real punch to the guts, in a good way. I can't wait to get this into the hands of our students, they're going to devour this story. I recommend it to ages 14 and up!
This is my 6th book review for the #BritishBooksChallenge18 - a book review challenge where reviewers choose books written primarily by British authors.
You can find out more about the challenge here or by clicking on the banner to the right of the page.
Now, on to the review!
Twister's father is missing.
Vanished from the face of the earth. Her mother is inconsolable and has slipped into a deep depression.
Raised by her aunt Honey, Twister spends time with her best friend, her pet dog Point.
As the days and weeks slip by, Twisters is given a mysterious letter that appears to be written by her father. It suggests that there's a woman, a witch in the forest who may try to help her. The letter warns her to stay away from the woman. Of course, Twister goes out to seek her immediately. The witch, named Maymay, gives Twister a necklace. She tells Twister that the necklace's name is Mah and that it can capture souls and tell her where her father is. However Maymay warns her that there is a terrible price for using the necklace, one that Twister might never recover from.
Twister isn't convinced, but when the school bully Clem takes the leap from psychological intimidation to physical violence, Twister uses the necklace to scare him off.
Convinced that Maymay is on to something, Twister decided to use it to try and find her father.
Twister is fantastic story filled with adventure, magic and violence. Set in what appears to be Depressio-era America (although it could be another time period), the novel reminds me of Lauren Wolk's writing with a fantasy twist. There are a lot of great scenes in this novel, scenes that will stick with you long after reading. I highly recommend it for ages 11 and up!
When angels start falling from the sky around the world, people start preparing for the end. Religious institutions see a massive rise in attendance, flights are cancelled and cults spring up everywhere - some to praise the fallen ones and some to denounce them as devils.
Jaya's father leaves his job and decides to devote his life to tracking the angels, dubbed Beings.
He maps where they have fallen, what their characteristics are like and spends countless hours hunched over his laptop discussing how to anticipate where the next one will fall.
Jaya and her sister feel abandoned, their mother passed away tragically only ten days before the first Being fell to the ground. When their dad bundles them in the car and whisks them to Edinburgh to try and catch a Being fall, Jaya is annoyed and depressed. Not only is she grieving her lost mother, her girlfriend Leah has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.
As things begin to spiral out of control, a two things happen that change Jaya's life forever. First, she meets Allie, a girl who seems to understand that the Beings aren't commodities to be studied, cut open and have their feathers sold on eBay. She feels an instant connection with her and her heartbreak starts to lessen the more she's around her.
The second thing that happens is that a Being falls to Earth right at Jaya's feet. The difference between this one and all of the others around the world?
It's still alive.
Jaya decides to hide the Being from her father and recruit the help of Allie and her reluctant brother, Callum. The Being can't speak English, and one of its wings is broken. With the help of her new friends, Jaya is determined to keep the Being (nicknamed Teacake) hidden from the strange Angel Cults roaming Edinburgh and her own father, who has descended into A Beautiful Mind-esque mania.
This is a great story about loss, grief and how people process it differently. Jaya has some major issues to work through, things that she hasn't properly spoken to her father and sister about regarding the loss of their mother. Allie is equally complicated, fiery and stubborn but harbouring a secret that affects her ability to carry through with Jaya's dream of freeing Teacake once and for all. There's also a dark undercurrent with the cults and Jaya's ex-girlfriend Leah. All of their stories will combine in an exciting action sequence.
I have students who come to the Library looking for books exactly like this, books with sadness and grief and uplifting aspects all rolled into one. Don't miss this! I recommend it to ages 14 and up.
When aliens called the vuvv land on Earth, everyone is initially terrified. Then the vuvv announce that they are here to help -- their technology is superior, their medicine can cure any illness in seconds. They bring knowledge from the farthest depths of space to us humans.
Nobody realised how much of a curse it would be. With everything now automated using vuvv technology, people lose their jobs by the droves. Sure, their medicine is amazing but the vuvv run a private practice. If you can't pay their currency, which is a lot, then you don't get treatment. Those who can afford the vuvv's high cost of living can really experience life to its fullest. The rest are pretty much left in the dark to scrabble and starve.
Adam is an aspiring artist, but his family has no money to survive. He decides to get creative with his girlfriend Chloe. Together they create a 1950s style romance that the vuvv subscribe to and watch via their version of The Cloud. Turns out the vuvv are obsessed with American 1950s music and culture. However, when his relationship with Chloe goes south and his Merrick's Disease flares up dangerously high, Adam has to decide if he's going to stand up for what he believes in or cave and go along with vuvv rule like everyone else.
This novel is sharp as a razor with some really biting commentary on class, consumerism, pop culture and teen apathy. Hilarious, sad and disturbing, it's a must read. I recommend it for ages 15 and up!
Bryony Gray's portraits are becoming very popular in late 19th century London, but they come with a terrible price.
Locked in an attic by her aunt and uncle, Bryony spends her time dreaming of some sort of escape. Then there are the strange rumours that she sometimes hears, rumours about the people she has painted going missing.
During one of her paintings, things go very wrong. Bryony is angered by her overbearing and cruel aunt and she ruins the portrait. Little does she know that she has inadvertently awoken her family's long hidden curse.
The ruined portrait comes to life, tears its way through the canvas and makes its way down the London streets.
Horrified, Bryony sets off on her own adventure to finally solve her mysterious past. Along the way she meets some unlikely friends and some truly disturbing enemies.
With a fiery and smart protagonist and genuinely scary scenes, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray is a clever spin on The Portrait of Dorian Gray. With tons of twists and surprises and scenes that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, it's a real treat that should not be missed by any mystery or horror fan. I recommend it for Ages 11 and up!