Children’s / Teenage fiction: General fiction

Read Between the Lies

Read Between the Lies

Author: Malcolm Duffy Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/05/2022

Alternating between the engaging narratives of two teenage boys, Malcolm Duffy’s Read Between the Lines is a riveting, read-in-one-sitting page-turner, sharing insights into dyslexia as it also explores family frictions and how to support the people around you. Soon-to-be-stepbrothers Ryan and Tommy are as different as ice-cream and cabbage. Tommy has recently been released from a young offenders’ prison, while Ryan is a piano-playing good lad who’s moved down south with his dad following his parents’ divorce. In Ryan’s words, “Don’t do cooking but hear it’s all about the blend of ingredients. Same with families. Ours is all wrong. Like ice-cream and cabbage”. Despite their marked differences, the teenagers do have something in common — they’re both dyslexic, but have very different ways of dealing with it. Tommy’s journey through handling prejudice against his criminal past (“a single bad decision doesn’t make you bad”) and learning to read is gripping, moving and - ultimately - uplifting, as is Ryan’s dedication to teaching Tommy to read. As Ryan’s mum announces her plan for them to move, and Tommy discovers long-buried family secrets, the perfectly-paced plot ramps up the stakes, with plenty of humour and touching moments shining through the boys’ troubles.

Things I Know

Things I Know

Author: Helena Close Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2022

Haunted by her mother’s death, and now uprooted from Limerick to a rural village, 18-year-old Saoirse is desperate to leave school and start her life afresh. Her tremendously tough journey through guilt and anxiety - quite brilliantly related with raw compassion by Helena Close - makes for an engaging, thought-provoking, moving read that sheds light on the realities of depression while offering honest glimmers of hope. Just ahead of sitting her sitting the Leaving Certificate, Saoirse’s ex-boyfriend commits suicide. It’s no secret that she cheated on him with his best friend, and she’s cast out by her peers. Devastated by guilt, grief and feeling isolated, her counselling sessions do little to help. Yet even as she descends into the darkest clutches of depression, Saoirse shines as a wise and witty young woman. She sees people for who they are, beyond her years, with her narrative casting a glaring light on the reality of attitudes to depression: “You are not allowed to be sad. People have no tolerance to sad. You can be Insta sad – sad because you saw pictures of dying refugees or abandoned puppies. You can’t be ongoing sad.. You can’t be scared or anxious or upset”. As everything becomes too much for Saoirse, she’s taken to a psychiatric hospital. Though painful, her journey to regaining herself is powerfully raw and touched by hope, with the wider cast of true-to-life characters (from Saoirse’s siblings and peers, to her straight-talking, gin-swilling grandmother) adding to the enlivening authenticity.

When Our Worlds Collided

When Our Worlds Collided

Author: Danielle Jawando Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2022

Following her highly acclaimed debut novel, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly, we have another powerful story depicting an authentic story of young lives impacted upon by the institutional and everyday racism experienced here in the UK; which makes it an even more important and challenging read. Narrated by three very different teenagers brought together by a moment of terrible violence when they witness a stabbing and for whom the overwhelming impact of this experience is exacerbated by what they are forced to confront. For rich and privileged Jackson at an exclusive school, the casual assumption of his classmates and potential girlfriend that the crime is gang related and the victim blamed, together with police failures and the subsequent biased media coverage, really opens his eyes and draws him closer to Chantelle and Marc. They live in Manchester’s Moss Side and attend the same school as the victim, but even there, the school will not challenge this biased view and it is where we see Chantelle struggle to overcome negative teacher assumptions about her abilities. When Jackson becomes a victim too, we see the ultimate failure of the justice system. But this is not just an angry novel, although it should indeed spark anger and awareness of white privilege, it is a nuanced portrayal of three individuals and those around them and emphasises the importance of family and friendship. Marc, after a life in care, finds his family with these friends and both he and Chantelle gain confidence that they can make something of themselves. The touching, gentle romance between Chantelle and Jackson and the strength of his own family ties gives him and the reader hope that his life has not been ruined by injustice. An absolute must have for schools.

The Armourer's House

The Armourer's House

Author: Rosemary Sutcliff Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/01/2022

What a treat it is for a Rosemary Sutcliff treasure to be newly presented to the world, and in a beautiful package that befits the story’s historic charms and thrills, with charming chapter heading illustrations by Isabel Greenberg, and an introduction by Lara Maiklem, the acclaimed author of Mudlarking. This Manderley Press edition of The Armourer’s House will make a glorious gift for fans of historic fiction who relish intrigue and atmosphere, and comes highly recommended for readers who love Eva Ibbotson’s writing, and contemporary writers like Celia Rees and Katherine Rundell. First published in 1951, The Armourer’s House is set in London during the reign of Henry VIII, and rich in the engaging period detail Sutcliff is renowned for. When her grandmother dies, Tamsyn leaves her Devonshire seaside town and ship merchant Uncle Martin to live with Uncle Gideon in his armourer’s house on the Thames. Having a wife and large family, Gideon is deemed a more suitable guardian, but Tamsyn “did not want to be brought up properly, she only wanted to be happy”. She also longs to “have adventure and sail the seas of the world” — how on earth will she manage so far from the sea? Though something of a fish out of water in London’s chaos, Tamsyn’s imagination and heart are captured by the river traffic that passes Dolphin House, with her new excitement engagingly evoked alongside details of life in Tudor London — the Royal Dockyard, Billingsgate fish market, the autumnal “pink-flushed sky” behind Westminster, King Henry VIII himself travelling in the Royal Barge with Queen Anne Boleyn. Tellingly, Tamsyn “liked the Queen best, observing how her eyes were “terribly unhappy”. Then, on magic-charged Midsummer’s Eve, a Wise Woman presages that Tamsyn will find her “heart’s desire”, enhancing the novel’s aura of enchantment, and leading to a delightful denouement. Heartily satisfying for 9+ year-olds who love historic fiction, this also comes recommended as wonderful book to read together — no one is too old for the joys of reading aloud and being read to, and this ideal for exactly that.

Room To Dream

Room To Dream

Author: Kelly Yang Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2022

Mia Tang is going for her dreams: 1. She's finally going on holiday to see her family - in China! 2. She's taking on the big motel next door. 3. She is sure that her plans to be a big write are about to reach the next level. But, things around Mia are changing; in the town and even in her friendships... Can she and her motel survive? The third book in the bestselling FRONT DESK series by award-winning author Kelly Yang.

Roxy

Roxy

Author: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/11/2021

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.

SKIN

SKIN

Author: Caroline Venetia Annis Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/10/2021

This book hooked me from the start, the writing style, the characters, all fantastic. Each chapter left me wanting to read more and I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one go as I just had to find out what happened. Thirteen-year-old Chloe and her family, Mum, Dad, and younger sister Ella go on holiday every summer to a caravan by the sea where they meet another family, the Rossi’s. For Chloe, this year is going to be different as she has decided that she likes one of the Rossi boys, who is a similar age to her. It then starts the awkward coming of age scenarios which brought me right back to when I went through similar myself! The frustrations, self-awareness and thought processes of being a teenager is encapsulated brilliantly in this book, showing the high and lows of a family holiday with a holiday crush thrown in. A highly recommended book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author! Nicola Coen, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Christmas Pine HB

The Christmas Pine HB

Author: Julia Donaldson Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

A magical picture book for Christmas, written in perfect, heartfelt rhyme by Julia Donaldson, bestselling creator of Zog and Superworm. Deep in a snowy wood stands a little pine tree with a special destiny: when it grows up, it's going to be the famous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square! This is the perfect picture book to snuggle up with and share at Christmas. Gorgeous, atmospheric illustrations whisk you from frozen forests to the sparkling city square in a beautiful, moving story of festivity and hope. This gorgeously illustrated hardback book has a gold-foiled dust jacket, making it the perfect Christmas gift for young children Julia Donaldson's perfect rhyme is a joy to read aloud - this is a classic to treasure for generations Victoria Sandoy's exquisite, atmospheric illustrations are full of gorgeous details to point out and share A paragraph on the final page of the book explains the true story behind the tree The Christmas Pine is based on a true story. It celebrates a special tradition that stretches back over seventy years. Every year, the Mayor of Oslo in Norway presents the British people with a spectacular Christmas tree. The tree is a symbol of peace and friendship, and a thank you for the UK's support during World War II. Each year, the UK Poetry Society asks a poet to write a poem to welcome the tree. Julia Donaldson originally wrote The Christmas Pine to celebrate the 2020 Christmas tree. The poem was performed by London schoolchildren, and displayed in Trafalgar Square. Julia Donaldson is the author of many of the best-loved children's books ever written. She has been awarded a CBE for services to literature, and is the most celebrated children's writer in Britain today. Many of Julia Donaldson's beloved picture books have been made into award-winning animated films which are regularly shown on the BBC at Christmas. Superworm animation will premiere on BBC Christmas 2021

Empress & Aniya

Empress & Aniya

Author: Candice Carty-Williams Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2021

From Queenie to Empress, Candice Carty-Williams’ first YA novel is a fresh, authentically engaging, read-in-one-sitting exploration of class, compassion, friendship and empathy that uses a fab Trading Places/Freaky Friday device to tell the tale of two teenage girls who form a life-changing friendship. Empress lives in poverty on a South London estate. Being a bright, young thing, she’s won a scholarship to a fancy school, where she’s thrown in with a bunch of privileged girls who (mostly) mock her poverty. It’s also where she meets Aniya, who’s assigned to help her settle in. They share a birthday, but (on the face of it), not much else, given that Aniya lives in a huge house and her parents have high-profile jobs. The rich-poor divide is thrown into stark contrast when Empress goes to Aniya’s house (Aniya wants to make sure Empress eats) and meets her family. Her kindly, successful barrister dad is “a tall, handsome man who looked a bit like a budget Obama”, though their home and lifestyle are anything but budget. When Aniya resolves to understand how it feels to live in Empress’s shoes, they cast a spell that sees them swap bodies, setting in motion a succession of life-changing circumstances. Honest, warm, and utterly gripping, this heart-felt page-turner also provides generous insights into managing emotions and fostering empathy.

When We Make It

When We Make It

Author: Elisabet Velasquez Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez' debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

This Is My Truth

This Is My Truth

Author: Yasmin Rahman Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/07/2021

Friendship and family in all their complicated forms, domestic abuse, bullying, finding the strength to confront the truth - Yasmin Rahman’s This is My Truth packs a whole lot of big themes into its compassionate pages. The harrowingly authentic scenes of an abusive marriage show how male bullies operate in the domestic sphere - the control, the pathetic physical intimidation and harm they conceal from family and friends. This is powerfully important stuff, powerfully and honestly portrayed by the author of the acclaimed All the Things We Never Said. As Amani faces the stresses of her impending GCSEs (exacerbated by the pressure to become a vet like her abusive, controlling father), she finds an outlet in doing what she really loves - making films, “practically the only thing that brings me joy.” But alongside making playful pastiche movies with her little brother Ismail (their relationship is a thing of beauty), she documents the Bad Nights by filming her face while listening to her father abuse her mother. Meanwhile, Amani’s best friend – super-smart, super-confident Huda - stands up to bullies, but hides secret struggles of her own. Huda lives with loving foster parents, but with their own baby on the way, she’s scared she’ll be pushed out. As a result of their secrecy, Amani and Huda are envious of each other’s home lives, until Huda witnesses an abusive outburst. Though it (rightfully) doesn’t shirk from the brutal reality of bullying and abuse, This is My Truth is ultimately a story of hope and survival as the seeds of future flourishing are sown.

As Far as You'll Take Me

As Far as You'll Take Me

Author: Phil Stamper Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

Wearing its heartfelt messages proudly on its sleeve, this coming-of-age nail-biter sees a gay American teenager in London struggle to find the sweet spot between embracing new experiences and self-care. “Being a gay kid with sometimes shitty parents isn’t easy” - so Marty sums up his situation as he moves from his “conservative shithole of a town” in Kentucky to London, hoping to make it as a musician. He arrives giddily excited, on the verge of a new life, but also seized by anxiety when he’s met at the airport by his cousin’s handsome musician mate, Pierce. Marty’s first months in London are a whirlwind of first-time experiences - busking in public, drinking in pubs, going on road-trips, falling head-over-heels in love. But navigating a new life in a new city with debilitating anxiety and overwhelming romantic awakenings sure ain’t easy. Then there’s the crushing disapproval from his religious parents, and toxic trouble courtesy of his best friend back home. Alongside the principle refrains of finding yourself, finding your tribe, and the life-enriching power of music, this theme-focussed novel also tackles toxic friendships, and explores anxiety, homophobia, body image and eating disorders with bold honesty. It’s nothing but direct and driven by empathy and compassion, much like the author’s debut, The Gravity of Us.