Recommended Reads - Summer 2016
I Am Number Four Series By James Frey
They killed Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
John Smith is not your average teenager.
He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him.
But you can't run forever.
So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about - and who care about him. Never in John's short life has there been space for friendship, or even love.
But it's just a matter of time before John's secret is revealed.
He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed.
John is Number Four. He knows that he is next . . .
Noughts and Crosses Series By Malorie Blackman
Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools… Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…
Hunger Games Series By Suzanne Collins
Set in a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called The Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdee steps forward to take her younger sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
Wind Singer (The Wind on Fire Series) By William Nicholson
"I hate school! I hate ratings! I won't reach higher! I won't strive harder! I won't make tomorrow better than today!" In the walled city state of Aramanth, rules are everything. When Kestrel Hath dares to rebel, the Chief Examiner humiliates her father and sentences the whole family to the harshest punishment. Desperate to save them, Kestrel learns the secret of the wind singer, and she and her twin brother, Bowman, set out on a terrifying journey to the true source of evil that grips Aramanth.
Beautiful Creatures Series By Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
In Ethan Wate's hometown there lies the darkest of secrets.
There is a girl.
Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head. Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes.
There is a curse.
On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it's been promised. And no one can stop it.
In the end, there is a grave.
Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided.
Ethan never even saw it coming.
The Boy Who Lost His Face By Louis Sacher
CURSED! David was only trying to be cool when he helped some other boys steal an old lady's cane. But when the plan backfires, he is the one whom she 'curses'. Now David can't seem to do anything right. The cool kids taunt him and his only friends are weirdos. He even walks into Spanish class with his fly unzipped! And when he finally gets his nerve up to ask out a cute girl, his trousers fall down midway! But is this the curse at work or is David turning into a total loser?
A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness
The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...
The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild.
And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Ketchup Clouds By Annabel Pitcher
Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret - a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.
Full of both heartache and humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can - in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece By Annabel Pitcher
Five years ago, Jamie's sister, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His family is torn apart by their grief. His mum runs away. His dad turns to drink and hate. Rose's surviving twin sister Jasmine stops eating, gets piercings and dyes her hair pink - anything to look different to her twin. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him, Rose is just a distant memory.
Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his Spiderman T-shirt, and his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago.
But moving away for a Fresh New Start introduces Jamie to something else very interesting - a girl named Sunya. Sunya is bright, exciting and fun, and the one person at school he can call a friend. But how far can this new friendship grow when Jamie is desperate that his dad doesn't find out?
The Magic of Reality By Richard Dawkins
Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods' bridge to earth. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality - science.
Packed with inspiring explanations of space, time and evolution, laced with humour and clever thought experiments, The Magic of Reality explores a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? What causes tsunamis? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, inspirational detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist too.
Richard Dawkins elucidates the wonders of the natural world to all ages with his inimitable clarity and exuberance in a text that will enlighten and inform for generations to come.
Dorothy Must Die By Danielle Paige
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero. But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still a road of yellow brick—but even that's crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas. I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I've been trained to fight. And I have a mission: Remove the Tin Woodman's heart. Steal the Scarecrow's brain. Take the Lion's courage. And—Dorothy must die.
The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared By Jonas Jonasson
Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not . . .
Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which - remarkably - he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.
The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas By David Almond
Stanley Potts is just an ordinary boy, but when all the jobs in Fish Quay disappear his Uncle Ernie develops an extraordinary fascination with canning fish. Suddenly their home is filled with the sound of clanging machinery and the stench of mackerel, and Uncle Ernie's obsession reaches such heights that he would even can Stan's beloved goldfish! Stan, however, has his own destiny, which leads him - via a hook-a-duck stall - to Pancho Pirelli, the blue-caped madman who swims with piranhas. And as Stan delves into the waters, he finally discovers who he really can be.
Mocking Bird By Kathryn Erskine
This is a heart-warming story of loss and recovery that won the American National Book Award 2010 - one of the most moving books you'll ever read. 11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger's syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn't seem like things will ever get better again.
Bubblewrap Boy By Phil Earle
All my life I've been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls.
But I believe that everyone's good at something.
I've just got to work out what my something is...
Charlie's found his secret talent: skateboarding. It's his one-way ticket to popularity. All he's got to do is practice, and nothing's going to stop him - not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing.
Except Charlie isn't the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything.
How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?
The Ostrich Boys By Keith Gray
'It's not really kidnapping, is it? He'd have to be alive for it to be proper kidnapping.'
Kenny, Sim and Blake are about to embark on a remarkable journey of friendship. Stealing the urn containing the ashes of their best friend Ross, they set out from Cleethorpes on the east coast to travel the 261 miles to the tiny hamlet of Ross in Dumfries and Galloway. After a depressing and dispiriting funeral they feel taking Ross to Ross will be a fitting memorial for a 15 year-old boy who changed all their lives through his friendship. Little do they realise just how much Ross can still affect life for them even though he's now dead.
Thin Ice By Mikael Engström
Where would you rather live – in a lonely flat with your drunk father, only bearable when your big brother is home? Or in a small, snowy village with a frozen lake, where your aunt burns books to keep the house warm, and a girl called Pi makes your heart beat a bit too fast, and your cranky old neighbour teaches you to catch fish that look like ice dragons, and a hawk owl watches out for you by night? Mik has been skating on thin ice his entire life. When he is forced to leave his new home with his aunt Lena, he leaves behind icy northern Sweden and all his new friends, and his life becomes a living nightmare. Through forests and along train lines, over rapids and waterfalls, Mik is determined that nothing will stop him from finding home at last.
Between Shades of Grey By Ruta Sepetys
That morning, my brother's life was worth a pocket watch . . .
One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia.
An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn't know if she'll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope.
Lina hopes for her family.
For her country.
For her future.
For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose . . .
Will hope keep Lina alive?
Set in 1941, Between Shades of Gray is an extraordinary and haunting story based on first-hand family accounts and memories from survivors.
Salt To The Sea By Ruta Sepetys
It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore's The Siege will be totally absorbed.
This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned.
The Weight of Water By Sarah Crossan
Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother head for England. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother's heart is breaking and at school friends are scarce. But when someone special swims into her life, Kasienka learns that there might be more than one way for her to stay afloat.
The Weight of Water is a startlingly original piece of fiction; most simply a brilliant coming of age story, it also tackles the alienation experienced by many young immigrants. Moving, unsentimental and utterly page-turning, we meet and share the experiences of a remarkable girl who shows us how quiet courage prevails.
Jane Eyre By Charlotte Brontë
Charlotte Brontë’s first novel revolutionised the art of fiction with social modernism and an intensity that was by the time only known from poetry.
The story is set in the north of England, during the reign of George III (1760-1820). It depicts the development of Jane Eyre. Orphaned as a baby, Jane struggles through her loveless childhood and becomes governess to the young ward of Edward Fairfax Rochester, the Byronic and attractive master of Thornfield Hall.
Trying to find a way between libertinage and bigotry, she realises that without the means to be an independent woman, she is bound to either struggle through life trying to make a living or become dependent on a man.
If I Stay By Gayle Forman
'Just listen,' Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.' I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.
'Stay,' he says.
Everybody has to make choices.
Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope.
But life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one.
As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone By Laini Taylor
Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.
The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came.
In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.
Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.
Codename Verity By Elizabeth Bohan
'I have two weeks. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.'
Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, Code Name Verity is a bestselling tale of friendship and courage set against the backdrop of World War Two.
Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. When a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France, she is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in ‘Verity’s’ own words, as she writes her account for her captors.
Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they’ve ever believed in is put to the test . . .
Wicked Lovely By Melissa Marr
Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight.
Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.
But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King and has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost…
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working any more, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Recommended Reads - Winter 2016
‘Silence is Goldfish’ by Annabel Pitcher
'I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in - to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.'
Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn't mean to become mute. At first, she's just too shocked to speak. And who wouldn't be? Discovering your whole life has been a lie because your dad isn't your real father is a pretty big deal. Tess sets out to find the truth of her identity, and uncovers a secret that could ruin multiple lives. But can she ask for help when she's forgotten how to use her voice?
‘Marina’ by Carlos Ruis Zafon
'Fifteen years on, the remembrance of that day has returned to me. I have seen that boy wandering through the mist of the railway station, and the name of Marina has flared up again like a fresh wound. We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine...'
In May 1980, 15-year-old Óscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts...
His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Óscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
‘The Knife of Never Letting Go ’ by Patrick Ness
Imagine you're the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don't fit in with their plans... Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run...
‘The First Time She Drowned' by Kerry Kletter
Cassie O'Malley has spent the past two and a half years in a mental institution dumped there by her mother, against her will. Now, at 18, Cassie emancipates herself, determined to start over. She attends college, forms new friendships, and even attempts to start fresh with her mother. But before long, their unhealthy relationship threatens to pull Cassie under once again.As Cassie struggles to reclaim her life, childhood memories persist and confuse, and Cassie must consider whose version of history is real, and more important, whose life she must save.
A bold, literary story about the fragile complexities of mothers and daughters and learning to love oneself, The First Time She Drowned reminds us that we must dive deep into our pasts if we are ever to move forward.
‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone and Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot.
‘Lord Of The Flies’ by William Golding
William Golding’s unforgettable classic of boyhood adventure and the savagery of humanity.
As provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, Lord of the Flies continues to ignite passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary boys marooned on a coral island has been labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, and even a vision of the apocalypse. But above all, it has earned its place as one of the indisputable classics of the twentieth century for readers of any age.
‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell.
Manor Farm is like any other English farm, expect for a drunken owner, Mr Jones, incompetent workers and oppressed animals. Fed up with the ignorance of their human masters, the animals rise up in rebellion and take over the farm. Led by intellectually superior pigs like Snowball and Napoleon, the animals take charge of their destiny and remove the inequities of their lives. But as time passes, the realize that things aren't happening quite as expected. Animal Farm is, on one level, a simple story about barnyard animals. On a much deeper level, it is a savage political satire on corrupted ideals, misdirected revolutions and class conflict.
Themes as valid today as they were sixty years ago.
‘One’ by Sarah Crossan
WINNER OF THE YA BOOK PRIZE 2016
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL 2016
WINNER OF THE CBI BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2016
WINNER OF THE CLIPPA POETRY AWARD 2016
Grace and Tippi don't like being stared and sneered at, but they're used to it. They're conjoined twins - united in blood and bone.
What they want is to be looked at in turn, like they truly are two people. They want real friends. And what about love?
But a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead for Tippi and Grace. One that could change their lives more than they ever asked for...
‘Martyn Pig’ by Kevin Brooks
'Did I hate him? Of course I hated him. But I never meant to kill him.'
Martyn hated his Dad but he never meant him to die. And now he has to tell the police what happened.
Or hide the body. Simple, right? Not quite.
One story leads to another. Secrets and lies become darker and crazier.
And then everything shatters.
Life is never easy. But death is even harder.
‘All the Bright PLaces ’ by Jennifer Niven
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?
‘Bone Sparrow: A refugee novel’ by Zana Fraillon
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017.
Born in a refugee camp, all Subhi knows of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And one day it brings him Jimmie.
Carrying a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck - both talismans of her family's past and the mother she's lost - Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence.
As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie's family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures.
'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer
WINNER OF THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR 2013
WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS POPULAR FICTION
BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014
WINNER OF THE BETTY TRASK PRIZE 2014
‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother.
His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do.
But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’
There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.
There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.
There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.
The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.