Book reviews - fiction 11 & over (page 3)

The Finding of Freddie Perkins by Liz Baddaley

Tragedy has struck the Perkins family - Freddie's mum died in an accident. His dad decides to move up to Scotland to live with Freddie's granny - so now Freddie has lost his friends too. And his dad - yes, he is there physically, but the two just can't seem to communicate any more. But hope is there - something very special is watching over Freddie.  Something that finds things that are lost. Freddie has lost a lot, but he's about to discover how much there is out there to find... Unusual and thought-provoking.

Jinx: The Wizard's Apprentice by Sage Blackwood

It's not every day that your evil stepdad abandons you in the deep, dark forest of the Urwald. And it's not every day that a wizard rescues you from the clutches of gnarly trolls. But for Jinx, this isn't turning out to be a very normal sort of day... The bubbling cauldrons and coloured potions of the wizard's house are a world away from the life Jinx has left behind. Even the walls are soaked in magic, and it's not long before Jinx begins to unlock his own rare powers. But Simon Magus is no ordinary wizard. He seems to need something from Jinx - something dark. And Jinx begins to wonder: can he trust Simon... at all? Publication date 06/06/2013

Loki's Wolves: Blackwell Pages: Number 1 in series by K. L. Armstrong

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarök that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters - wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds - all bent on destroying the world. But the gods died a long time ago. Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history - because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. But knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarök is coming and kids - led by Matt - must stand in for the gods in the final battle, Matt can hardly believe it. Matt's, Laurie's, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to stop the end of the world.

Dead Boy's Club by Geoffrey Malone

A chilling story - and even more so because it is based on reality. It is the story of just one on the hundreds of thousands of children forced to go to war as child soldiers. 12-year-old Sam is ripped from his village in Uganda and forced to march with rebel soldiers to their training camp in southern Sudan. A weapon is thrust into his innocent young hands and his life becomes that of enemies and battles, violence and death, as he's turned into a soldier. With no escape, danger is around every corner, the threat of death is everywhere. But there are ways to survive. Sam becomes friends with a fellow boy soldier and together their dreams of escape become a strength. Together, they are ready to fight. A story to make the reader stop and think about the horrors war inflicts on even the most innocent of children. A gritty story which will haunt the reader.

The Summer of Telling Tales by Laura Summers

A story for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy and the like - but the author has her own voice and should become much-loved in her own right. Life has been hard for Ellie, Grace and their mum, but they have escaped to a new life - or have they? Can they really get away or will the past catch up with them? It's a wonderfully written story that brings to the fore the multitude of emotions caused by violence and bullying within a family, and the long-lasting consequences for all involvd. perceptive and thoughtful, this is a excellent read.

One Day in Oradour by Helen Watts

On a chilling day in 1944, SS troops wiped out almost the entire population of a French village - among the few survivors was just one child. This powerful and compelling story interweaves the story of the survivor, seven year old Alfred Fournier, and Major Gustav Dietrich the SS Commander who ordered the destruction. What drove the man to inflict such horror on innocent people? The story unfolds in a compelling narrative which looks deep inside human behaviour and the terrifying consequences of man's actions.

The Academy: Game On by Monica Seles

Teen athletes aspire to get into The Academy. Only the very richest or the most talented, who win a scholarship, can get there. Maya, a promising young tennis player, is thrilled to get a scholarship but she faces disillusionment when she arrives. Where there are beautiful, talented teens, there’s plenty of tension too, as each looks out for him or herself. A varied cast of characters leads to intrigue and excitement. Written with the insight that only comes from being within the game, this is a promising first novel. Publication 6 June 2013 - get your copy to get in the mood before Wimbledon!

Super Star (Million Dollar Mates) by Cathy Hopkins

It's the summer holidays for Jess and her mates, but what looked like a promising time takes a turn for the worse.  Boyfriend JJ has to return to the states and the rest of the boys are going on holiday together. If that's not bad enough,  her dad decides that she should get a job  -working with him. Then things look up -  Stephanie Harper, a famous astrologer, asks Jess to go on tour with her and there's a promising new boy on the scene. These books are a fun, light-hearted read, perfect for beach or holiday reading - a real feel-good series.

Lost Worlds by Andrew Lane

Calum Challenger - paralysed from the waist down and only able to communicate through a sophisticated range of electronic devices - is nevertheless a boy with a mission: to track down supposedly mythological creatures and capture their DNA in the hope it can repair his damaged body. But while Calum and his friends want to save these beings, an aggressive pharmaceutical company wants to wipe them out. In this fast-paced, high-tech story, Calum and an unlikely mix of characters – a computer hacker, a freerunner, an ex-marine and a girl with a very big chip on her shoulder – criss-cross the globe, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of their enemy. Fast-moving and gripping with some excellently developed characters.

Finale (Hush Hush) by Becca Fitzpatrick

This has been a gripping series and I am sure readers have been waiting impatiently to see how things turn out. Nora is still convinced that she is in love with Patch, despite the fact he is a fallen angel and has dragged her into a dangerous world. Their final challenge is the greatest of all and this mesmerising story finds the final scenes unfolding as their trust and love are put to extreme tests. The story twists and turns in unexpected ways, gripping and intriguing the reader. An emotional ending to a stunning series - an ending that really does conclude the story. Read the rest of the series first or you will really miss out!

Geekhood: Mission Improbable by Andy Robb

Archie - Geek through and through. But when it comes to girls, he has a lot to learn. When he meets Clare (at 16, an older woman!) she leads him into her plot to get their crushes to notice them both - pretend to be going out together. A witty and insightful story, which perfectly captures the awkwardness of adolescence, geek or not.  It's a great read for young teens and manages to cross the divide between boys and girls books - I think it will appeal to both. Archie has grown up a little since the first story but there's plenty of opportunity to develop the character. Being a geek - a bad thing? Not necessarily! Enjoy more at

Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja

Every girl's dream home? Molly actually lives in the residential wing of her local shopping mall. And upstairs live twins Jewel and Jasper, and they and Molly become close friends. But the twins have a secret - can Molly find out what it is? I warmed to the character of Molly - she's well-drawn and believable, as are the other characters. There is plenty of humour in the book and Molly's life is great fun. The diary format works well but the length of the entries might make you forget it is a diary! I can see teen girls loving this book and its heroine.

Soul Shadows by Alex Woolf

Estelle is recovering from a traumatic accident, but her stay in a remote cottage does not bring her the peace she craves.  The nearby wood holds a terrible secret - an army of mysterious shadows lives amongst the trees. Can she and her friend Sandor discover what s going on in the mysterious military lab, before it s too late? Shadows come to life, and can be good or bad, depending on who is controlling them ... How muchy is reality and how much is Estelle's imagination working overtime?

The Double Life of Cora Parry by Angela McAllister

Meet Cora Parry, a strong and feisty Victorian heroine who goes against all the expected stereotyping of Victorian women. A powerful atmospheric novel about a girl abandoned to the workhouse after the death of her guardians and forced into a life of crime. Under the tuition of persuasive street-rat Fletch, Cora finds herself reluctantly drawn deep into the Victorian underworld. As she is gradually seduced into a life of crime, Cora creates a persona for herself - Carrie - which allows her to cope with the crimes she is compelled to commit.

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) by Marissa Meyer

Cinderella? Red Riding Hood? The reader will certainly find similarities but this is a cleverly told story that brings together many elements. Scarlet's grandmother is missing and Scarlet turns to Wolf - she is drawn to him but doesn't trust him. Intertwined, is the story of Cinder - the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Scarlet and Wolf find themselves solving one mystery and immediately being drawn into another. The plot twists and turns and the reader is left guessing all the time - and longing for the next book in the series!

Moon Bear by Gill Lewis

Gill Lewis is a talented writer who draws the reader straight into her stories, and this is no exception. At 12 years old, Tam finds himself working at a bear farm in the city, and horrified at the cruelty he sees there. But his family is poor and needs the money he sends home, so he is afraid to speak out. He secretly nurses a sick cub back to health and vows to set it free in the wild. Will Tam and the bear ever achieve freedom? This is an emotional and hard-hitting story which will get right to the reader's heart. Tam's determination and compassion is an example to us all and this is an unforgettable story which highlights a plight common to many wild creatures. Publication 9/5/13.

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

As a teenager, I devoured all the historical novels I could get my hands on, but there were virtually none written specifically for the YA market, so it's great to see books like this. The Regency period is a wonderfully romantic era and, as ever, Mary Hooper's meticulous attention to period detail transports the reader. Kitty leads a good life as dairymaid on a country estate, with Will paying her attention. But one day, he disappears, leaving Kitty to care for his little sister. Given the opportunity to go to London, Kitty determines to track him down. But disaster strikes and Kitty must risk all to survive. We gain a fascinating insight into the unfair justice system of the time and all our sympathies are with our heroine. Published 9/05/13.

Rapture: Book 4 of the Fallen Series by Lauren Kate

Time is running out for Luce and Daniel as they struggle to stop Lucifer from erasing the past - it is Luce alone who can lift the curse. Huge sacrifices are needed as powerful forces gather. The twists and turns are unexpected and gripping and this is a fitting conclusion to an addictive series. The characters are well developed and the relationships well portrayed. This, the last in the quartet, brings together all the elements of the previous books and leaves the reader satisfied that all is resolved. As always with a series, I implore you to read them in order, or you will really miss out.

Rat Runners by Oisín McGann

A compelling story set in a London of the future - a terrifying place where the Safe-Guards know your every move, can see through doors and identify you by your teeth. Four young criminals (Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX) have just one task - to steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. But how can this be done when WatchWorld control the city? Children under 16 are outside the scope of WatchWorld, so they are the criminals, the ones recruited to face danger. Nimmo's parents are in prison and he must live by his wits. Can he learn to put trust in others? This is a thrilling, fast-paced read with terrifying undertones.

Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo

Element 126 - sinister forces who will stop at nothing to get hold of it are at the heart of this book. A dramatic beginning is set in Africa, but the book moves quickly on to Cornwall where life is getting back to normal for Itchingham Lofte after the dramatic events if Itch. With the help of his sister Chloe and his tomboy cousin Jack, Itch has to put 126 beyond the reach of unscrupulous scientists and international terrorists forever - and the whole future of the world is at stake. Compelling and dramatic.

Agent 21: Codebreaker by Chris Ryan

The third story in this exciting series finds Zac and his team investigating a bomber who is conducting a terror campaign in London. After an explosion on the tube leaves someone dead, it becomes imperative to find out how this terror cell operates - but clues are scarce and they have no idea where, or when, the bomber will strike next. A teenage boy, currently detained in a young offender's institute, claims he has the answer - but before Zac can question him, the boy is shot and falls into a coma. Time is running out - will Zac be able to break the cipher before the bomber strikes again? A fast-paced action thriller with the added element of coded messages for the reader to decipher.

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood is no ordinary ghost hunter - he's in love with a dead girl. Her name is Anna Korlov who the reader first met in Anna Dressed in Blood - and if you didn't, please read it first. I haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood and now I know too much to enjoy it. Cas is consumed by guilt, and he sets out to do what he does best - hunt a ghost. But this time his aim is not to kill. He must rescue Anna from the depths of Hell. But Hell is also home to a creature Cas has battled before... The cover warns 'not for younger readers' and that is quite right - it's scary and chilling.

The Wall by William Sutcliffe

Joshua lives with his mother and stepfather in a divided city; a city where a wall and soldiers separate the two communities. Echoes of a previous time can be seen in the rubble-strewn residue which litters the ground. Joshua discovers a manhole, which leads to a tunnel, which leads in pitch darkness under the wall and across to the other side. Forbidden territory, dangerous territory, violent territory, which a boy like him - visibly different - shouldn't stray into. An act of kindness from a girl saves his life, but leads to a brutal act of cruelty and a terrible debt he's determined to repay. And no one, no one must find out that he's been there - or the consequences will be unbearable. This is a powerful story which echoes in the reader's mind long after the book has been finished.

Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric

A story set in Venice can hardly fail to be atmospheric and this story certainly brings alive the magic of this beautiful city. It's 1846 andf Venice is under threat - but not, this time, from the water but from the vicious Ravageurs. When they seize Talina's parents, she must go and live with her guardian. She discovers she has a strange power - she can change herself into a cat. As such, she learns more about the terrible creatures who are intent of destroying her city and she vows to stop them. Wonderful characters, lyrical writing and excellent dialogue, a gripping storyline packed with fantasy and imagination... all these elements are woven together to make a superb story from a very talented author.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

The beautiful island of Jar is picture-perfect but it is al;so home to a group of girls set on revenge. The girls are brought together, not by friendship, but by a shared need to right wrongs and do harm to those they feel have done wrong. The three have different reasons for wanting revenge but their common purpose draws them together as the devise an increasingly risky series of pranks. The girls are well portrayed and the book conveys to me a sense of pettiness in wanting their revenge; a sense that will hopefully show that revenge is not the answer. But we will find out as we are promised two more in the series.

Me Myself Milly by Penelope Bush

Looking identical does not mean having identical personalities, and that's the case with Milly and Lily. Something mysterious happened to Milly last summer and , unwillingly, she has to be the one who takes the lead. There are just too many new things in her life at the moment and Milly must put the past behind her. The tensions between the twins and the special relationship twins have are well depicted. The diary entries alternate with first person narrative and this helps to keep the reader's attention  - as, of course, does the reader's desire to know just what this incident is. A definite page turner!

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

As a teenager, I devoured historical novels and it's great to see such a gripping story for today's teens. Set in the court of Henry VIII - a dnagerous place to be - it is the story of Kitty Tilney, best friend of Catherine Howard, who goes to court with Catherine. She finds herself torn between two men and struggling with the risks that friendship brings in that volatile court. The book gives us a dramatic insight into the Tudor era and brings a whole new perspective to the reader which will open their eyes to a whole new world. It's an enthralling read with beautifully portrayed characters - an excellent debut novel.

Wyrmeweald by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

"An entire herd of greywyrmes, slaughtered for their flameoil. Others trapped, then viciously herded through the mountains. And more and more settlers heading up to the high country, the bones of those who don't make it littering the way, stark and white, picked clean by carrionwyrmes - the bone trail . . . Trouble is brewing on the weald. A great whitewyrme and his kin send out a call to arms, and the wyrmes begin to gather in their ancient galleries. To defend their land against the relentless march of the kith, with their wagons and settlements and taste for killing. Payback is coming. Wyrme against kith. Kith against kin. Even wyrme against wyrme. And seasoned traveller Micah, with his friends Eli and Cara, is heading right into the thick of it . . ."

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

"For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city. Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply. Her only choice is to escape; follow the birds into the wilderness beyond. Into the Iron Wood. Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, Skylark is an electrifying tale of magic, secrecy and survival."

Trust Me by Malorie Blackman

"Seventeen-year-old Jayna wishes she could spend every second of the day with Andrew. He's her first love, and he understands her like nobody else can. Jayna just wishes Andrew's prejudiced family could accept her - but when they're alone together, it hardly seems to matter. But something strange has happened to Andrew. He looks . . . different. Pale and drawn, as if he hasn't been outside for days, with mysteriously cold green eyes. He won't go out in the sunlight, and he's unnaturally fast and strong. And now he wants Jayna to join him. Now she has to make the choice: to lose Andrew forever, or to be with him always - no matter the cost."

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

"Eleven-year-old Arn is walking through the countryside in Cambodia. His whole town is walking with him. They're walking into one of the most tragic moments of history: the Killing Fields. Music will save him. Hope, luck and kindness will save him. This is his story. Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace."

Keras by Somin Rae

"All his life, Jack Henley has felt at home in the woods, more at home than when he's actually at home with his parents. He loves watching the badgers play-fighting in the summer evenings, and pretending to be outlaws or cannibals with his two best friends. But when Jack discovers the most incredible secret of all, a beautiful, extraordinary, unicorn, he cannot believe his eyes. He and the owner of the woods, Mr Finistaire, embark on a journey to save the unicorn from extinction. But as they continue in secrecy, Jack begins to wonder whether all is what it seems, or whether there is an ulterior motive to Mr Finistaire's interest... Will the bond between Keras and Jack be enough to withstand the danger that awaits them both?"

How to Fall by Jane Casey

"When fifteen-year-old Freya drowns, everyone assumes she's killed herself, but no-one knows why. Her cousin, Jess Tennant, thinks she was murdered - and is determined to uncover the truth. On a summer visit to sleepy Port Sentinel, Jess (who bears a striking resemblance to her dead cousin) starts asking questions - questions that provoke strong reactions from her friends and family, not to mention Freya's enemies. Everyone is hiding something - and Freya herself had more than her fair share of secrets. Can Jess unravel the mystery of her cousin's death? A mystery involving a silver locket, seething jealousy and a cliff-top in the pitch black of night?"

Dead Gorgeous by Malorie Blackman

"When the mysterious stranger shows up at Nova's parents' hotel, she thinks her luck has changed - until she realizes she's the only one who can see him. Liam explains he's been here a long time. And he can never leave, no matter how hard he tries. Soon, Nova begins to piece his tragic story together. But she's hiding a secret of her own - one she's desperate to keep from her family. And now Liam's found her out . . ."

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling

No-one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots, and makes friends with a policeman.

Envy by Elizabeth Miles

"Spring is here, and the ice is slowly melting in Ascension...revealing the secrets buried beneath. The Furies are back, and Emily Winters is about to discover that their roots in Ascension are deeper than she ever imagined. With the help of her new friend Drea, she vows to take them down. But it's hard to focus when she's desperate to make up with JD, and to figure out why Crow, a mysterious Ascension High dropout, seems to be shadowing her. Meanwhile, new girl Skylar McVoy is determined to leave her own dark past behind. So she's thrilled when not only does popular Gabby takes her under her wing, but the stunning and sophisticated Meg offers to give her a major makeover. But everyone knows what happens to the vainest girl of all...It's tempting to be naughty. But beware: the Furies are always watching, and their power grows stronger by the day."

The Spook's Blood (The Wardstone Chronicles) by Joseph Delaney

Billed as 'seriously scary' these are not books to read under the covers at night! Despite being 10 in the series, the storyline remains fresh and enthralling. Time's running out for Thomas Ward as his final battle against the Fiend nears. Tom feels isolated and alone as he faces his greatest test - Siscoi, a Vampire God more ferocious than anything he has yet faced. Tim's life is at risk and he faces some tough decisions. Unpredictable, fast-paced and gripping - but read the books in order, please!

A Witch Alone (The Winter Trilogy) by Ruth Warburton

If you love romance, then here is a book for you to enjoy. A dramatic start entices the reader in to follow Anna as she delves  into her history. But  the truth she starts to uncover is even darker than she thought.... With the witches of the world on the brink of war, the love of her life, Seth, gone and her closest friend, Abe, wanting more from her than she can possibly give, Anna is in crisis. Ultimately she will have to choose between friends, family and rival tribes of witches and - at the last - between love and magic.

School's Out by Jack Sheffield

Once again, we are transported to the world of Yorkshire and a small village school in the 1980s. We are reunited with the familiar cast of characters, and there are some new faces to get to know as well' including in Jack's very own family. As ever, the nostalgia factor is high - I love being reminded about such things as the introduction of Sucron and the opening of the Jorvik Viking Centre - and My Little Pony is the number one choice for little girls' Christmas presents. The historical background is unerringly accurate (I know 'Jack' spends many hours doing meticulous research, and it shows!) and brings back many mermories. There is lots of joy, especially in the wonderful things the children say and do, but an element of sadness too, as the years take their toll. The feeling of a close-knit community is perfectly conveyed, the observation is spot-on and the book is another excellent and very amusing read.

My So-Called Life (The Rachel Riley Diaries) by Joanna Nadin

Rachel Riley wonders why her life is never like it is in books. Her life is boring and everything is just too ordinary. So she sets out to make her life more interesting and the reader can join her in her quest. She sets her sights on Justin Statham. Written in diary form, which can sometimes mean a book loses its flow, this does not fall into that trap and retains momentum - and the reader's interest - throughout. It's a good read - more 'meaty' than some of its type. Teens will readily identify with Rachel as the angst of teen life is realistically depicted. I think this is best for readers of 14+, due to the subject matter - and I think adults too will enjoy the humour.

Paris Crush (Signs of Love) by Melody James

This is the third book about 13 year old Gemma Stone who dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist - but writing the horoscopes for the Green Park High student web-zine isn't really what she dream of. But being an inventive character, she determines to make the most oif the role by playing Cupid with her friends, writing fictional forecasts to help their romantic dreams come true. But is her involvement with the life of others blinding her to her own situation? A perceptive look at friendship and the life of young teens, it has more depth to the storyline than an initial look would lead you to expect.

Binny For Short by Hilary McKay

Binny's life has been difficult since her father died and her dreadful old Aunt Violet disposed of her beloved dog, Max. Her world changed then, to a city flat with not enough space for her Mum, her big sister Clem and her small brother James. But everything changes when Aunt Violet dies and leaves a small cottage in Cornwall to Binny and her family. Binny finds herself in a new world once more, full of sunshine and freedom and Gareth, the enemy-next-door and the ideal companion for dangerous dares. Hilary McKay excels in her portrayals of family life, and this book is no exception.

Red River Stallion by Troon Harrison

This is the tale of Amelia, her sister, and their search for their father. Is there a clue to her father's whereabouts in the amazing skill she has with horses, when her first experience of horses  is being rescued from drowning by one?  But there is much to contend with on their quest - with white-water rapids and wild animals making their journey dangerous. The background is carefully established, depicting the clashes between Canadian pioneers and Native Americans around 1830. Amelia is a feisty heroine and the horses are a key part of this gripping book.

The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden

An atmospheric story with an authentic background. The adults of Blarney have always lived in fear. The faeries of Tír na nÓg exist on their doorstep, and they could unleash terror on the mortal realm at any time. But eleven-year-old Maddy is not afraid. The unicorn that holds the key to balance and peace in both worlds is injured, and Maddy knows she is the only one who can track down whoever hurt her. Can Maddy survive the force and cunning of the Tuatha, who rule Tír na nÓg? Or will she end up a mere pawn in their own power games?

In Too Deep by Tom Avery

Can it be true that, after all the years of separation, that Prince and Emmanuel's mother is looking for them? And while they are still struggling to come to terms with that shock they learn that their father is trapped in Tanzania, being blackmailed by gangsters to pay off an impossible debt. The boys make a big decision – somehow they must find the money to get to Africa, bring their father home and reunite their family. Faced with a seemingly impossible task, the boys only recource is to go back to stealing.... An exciting sequel to Too Much Trouble, this sees the boys getting into a desperate situation. Exciting, pacy, dramatic - just the thing to engross the reader.


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