Book reviews - fiction 11 & over (page 4)

The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.

Itchcraft by Simon Mayo

Itchingham Lofte is a boy on a mission which sets him against deadly enemies. He has already had enough excitement to last him a lifetime, but there's plenty more to come. In this exciting adventure, a school trip to Spain ends in exploding currency and rioting locals, he knows that he has to continue to look for answers. Itch knows the lives of those closest to him are at risk. He must track down a deadly enemy who will stop at nothing to take his vengeance... An exciting and fast-paced story which will engross the reader whilst leaving him better informed about chemistry and its wonders by the end.

New Guinea Moon by Kate Constable

Set in New Guinea around the time of independence, this is the story of Julie, who has grown up not knowing her father. When she comes to stay with him one long summer, she learns to appreciate not only her long-lost father and his love of flying, but also New Guinea itself and the people she meets. Two different boys bring in a romantic element as Julie learns to rely on herself and gain her own independence. A tragedy and then a mystery leave her reeling, but force her to evaluate what she really wants out of life. A fascinating background will take the reader into an unfamiliar world in a story of discovery and romance.

Opal Dreaming (Diamond Spirit 3) by Karen Wood

The great thing about this series, which really strikes me as I read the books, is the author's love for and knowledge of horses, which shines through the writing. Jess is about to take possession of the filly she believes is carrying the spirit of her beloved pony, Diamond. But when Opal becomes mysteriously ill, Jess is convinced that it is her spirit that needs healing. She begs Luke to take her out droving in western Queensland so that she can search for answers in the land - but Luke supports her parents and refuses to help her. Could it be that Jess will lose both horse and friendship? The setting will interest UK readers, with its Australian background.

Dawn by Eve Edwards

London in 1916 and a young nurse has gone missing. Sebastian Trewby is determined to find Helen so that he can protect her before his flight squadron calls him back for duty. But selflessly, Helen wants to protect Sebastian - she has German blood and society is against her. She is only safe with her loved ones... but for how long? Dawn gives us a vivid picture of life at home during the war and especially the unreasoning hatred displayed to anyone with any German connections. A dramatic story of love and loyalty that tears at the reader's heartstrings. This is the sequel to Dusk - do read that first!

The Dangerous Discoveries of Gully Potchard by Julia Lee

Gully Potchard is an unlikely hero - he thinks he is just an ordinary boy... But when an old acquaintance turns up, it isn't long before Gully finds himself in a tangled web of mischief and skulduggery. Gully flees to the Isle of Wight for safety but he can't escape. As dramatic events unfold, Gully finds he's not so ordinary after all... Original and unusual, With great characters and a strong storyline, this is a good read for 10+.

Magisterium: The Iron Trial (Magisterium 1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Magisterium is a school for those with magical powers. Most students are there because they want to be - but not Callum, who wants to fail the Iron Trail so he doesn't have to go there. He doesn't fail, so he's off to the Magisterium where he makes new friends and faces new challenges. Unfortunately, through the story there are so many parallels with Harry Potter that I found myself looking out for them and getting distracted from what is an excellent storyline. The story is full of intriguing hints which point to the twist at the end, but it still comes as a surprise.

Oxford Children's Classics: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This much-loved classic of American children's literature is given a fresh new look as part of the Oxford Children's Classics. Orphan Anne turns the lives of a middle age brother and sister upside down when they find they have her in place of the boy they wanted to work on their farm. Anne is warm-hearted an imaginative, though prone to getting into scrapes and we follow her growing up in this excellent novel with its rural setting. I would love to see all the Anne books issued in this series - everyone knows Anne of Green Gables but sadly it seems that few go on to read the rest of the series. The book contains lots of special extras too.

Catherine of Lyonesse by Rick Robinson

Set in 11th century France, this is a gripping and in-depth look at the life of a beautiful and strong-willed woman; suitable for the older end of my readership. After the assassination of her father, Catherine, heiress to the throne, is taken to Aquitane, where she is raised in the courts and given two ladies-in-waiting to rule her household and protect her from all who conspire against her. Finally, it's time for her to return to Lyonesse but she is faced with many enemies. Her enemies have, however, under-estimated Catherine who, with the help of her ladies-in-waiting, overcomes her enemies. Strong on period detail, with intrigue, mystery, and romance, this is an engrossing novel with a superb central figure.

The Edge Chronicles 10: The Immortals: The Book of Nate by Paul Stewart

This is the final book in the Edge Chronicles and brings the series to a dramatic conclusion. Set in the future, it's ideal for new readers to discover the series before going back to read the 'history' of Twig, Rook and Quint. Five hundred years into the the third age of flight and mighty phraxships steam across the immensity of the Deepwoods, plying their lucrative trade between the three great cities. Nate Quarter,a young Lamplighter from the mines of the eastern woods is propelled on an epic journey of self-discovery that encompasses tournaments, battles, revolutions and a final encounter with the Immortals themselves. Original and inventive, this is a series like no other.

Witchrise (Tudor Witch 3) by Victoria Lamb

This excellent trilogy about Meg Lytton, a young witch who lives in perilous times for witches, concludes in fittingly dramatic tense style. The young Elizabeth, not yet queen and with her own life fraught with danger, seeks Meg's help - but Meg cannot give the answer the princess wants. Danger threatens all around, as the powerful Witchfinder, with the backing of the Spanish Inquisition, is also pursuing Meg; even her relationship with Alejandro is threatened. Powerful and atmospheric, this takes the reader deep into Tudor England with all its intrigue and power struggles.

The Memory Cage by Ruth Eastham

Alex's grandfather keeps forgetting things - even putting lives in danger. But when Alex's adoptive parents want to put him in a home, Alex vows to save him from that. But Alex made a promise once before and in the terror of the Bosnian war, he failed. As Alex struggles to protect his grandfather, he uncovers secrets that his family and the village have kept for two generations. Unravelling them will cause grief, but will they save grandfather, and perhaps help Alex come to terms with his own private war. A thoughtful and perceptive book which handles sensitive issues, such as adoption and Alzheimer's, alongside dramatic events in Bosnia, blending the two to give an absorbing read.

The Mark of Cain by Lindsey Barraclough

Four centuries separate the events of this chilling ghost story. 1567 -  abandoned as a baby, Aphra is brought up by witches and learns (or was she born knowing?) the dark craft. Finding herself homeless, she is feared by all around her - until she meets the man they call Long Lankin the leper who helps her seek revenge. 1962 Cora is back in Bryers Guerdon in the manor house her aunt left to her... you'll need to read Long Larkin for the background to this. When restoration work to take place at Guerdon Hall, evil from long ago is disturbed and the spirit of Aphra is roused. Dark and terrifying, with strong characters whose excellent portrayal just makes the horror worse.

Dread Eagle (Iron Sky) by Alex Woolf

The eighteenth century - but not as you have ever known it! The year is 1845 France and Britain are still engaged in a struggle for global supremacy. This steampunk adventure offers an alternative 19th century - giant airships soaring through the skies above the English Channel, fantastical, steam-powered automata, aerial steam carriages, floating cities, giant mechanical birds and a new kind of secret agent. The task? To stop Napoleon invading Britain. Who? Sir George Jarrett, head of the Imperial British Secret Service, helped by an all-female team of aerial spies known as the Sky Sisters. As war clouds loom, airships start to disappear, and rumours spread of a mysterious terror in the skies. Sky Sister Arabella, with the help of her automaton sidekick, Miles, sets out to investigate. The detailed drawings which accompany the book will intrigue the reader as he (or she) enjoys this pacy and unusual story.

Ruins (Partials 3) by Dan Wells

This, to me, is one of those trilogies where you really need to start at the beginning it took me a while to get into the book and it's hard for me to know if all the loose ends are tied up. Humanity can't save itself - Kira is fighting to prevent a final war between Partials and humans. Both are one the edge of destruction and their only hope is to work together. But there is no avoiding the final war to decide the fate of both species is at hand and its everyone for themselves. It is certainly a tense and thrilling book and excellent for those who love good dystopian fiction with a romantic undertone.

Better Than Perfect (Wild Cards) by Simone Elkeles

This is a pageturner for older teens and a perfect summer read. When Ashtyn's older sister turns up with a sexy stepson in tow, her life is thrown into turmoil by Derek and by issues in her school's American football team which she is determined to lead. We soon learn about Derek's background and he's definitely a character that grows on you. Ashtyn, too, is well portrayed with issues in her past life and is a definite leader with strong views. Their personalities clash and yet draw them together in this absorbing story.

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder ...? Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together - a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces ..

The Giver (The Giver Quartet) by Lois Lowry

A world where everyone has everything they want... but even memories are lost; a world where people's life is mapped out for them by the Committee of Elders. Idyllic or not? When Jonas, at the age of 12, is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, he finds things are far from idyllic. We follow Jonas on his journey to maturity as he faces difficult decisions about right and wrong. This really is a book to make everyone think and ponder on what we really want out of life - dark and disturbing, the ideas raised will remain with you long after you read the last page.

No Stone Unturned by Helen Watts

Traveller girl Kelly is an outsider at school, but is determined not to give in, hard though it is. Things change when she meets Ben, who offers to help Kelly with her history project. What seems straightforward turns into a mesmerising tale involving dark secrets which impact on the present day. The historical detail of Victorian life is spot-on and gives a very realistic picture of the period. There's a lot going on in this story yet the strands interweave perfectly to produce an engrossing read which moves seamlessly between past and present and shows how we are never free of the past. The reader will warm to Kelly and the book handles the issue of bullying and being different with great understanding.

Finding A Voice: Friendship is a Two-Way Street ... by Kim Hood

This touching and poignant story tells of Jo, who finds an unexpected friendship with Chris, a severely disabled boy who can't even speak. But perhaps that is the key to the friendship - Jo needs to talk about the difficulty of living with her eccentric, mentally fragile mother and with Chris, she can speak freely. She comes to know the real Chris and as life turns worse for both of them, Jo takes a dangerous course of action... Written with deep compassion and understanding, this is excellently written and will grip the reader's attention.

The Lost Prince (Hesperus Minor) by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I love to see classics reissued so that today's young people can enjoy the books their parents, grandparents and likely even earlier generations enjoyed. Good stories never cease to appeal and this excellent series of reissues by Hesperus Press is one of my favourites. The covers are simple and attractive and the flyleaf adds to the quality feel. Marco and his father, Stefan, are exiled citizens of the impoverished Eastern European nation of Samavia. Exiled to London, Stefan often receives mysterious visitors and where Marco befriends a street urchin known only as Rat, Stefan decides to send them on a secret mission to Europe, carrying a coded message to fellow Samavian patriots across the continent. It's only when they return to London that the magnitude of the secret becomes clear. The period detail is enthralling and the picture of a Europe in turmoil gripping and realistic.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (Hesperus Minor) by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Rebecca is on her way to live with her spinster aunts, Miranda and Jane, at the start of the story, having left her beloved Sunnybrook Farm. Rebecca soon forms a close bond with her Aunt Jane who teaches her to sew, cook and look after the house. Rebecca unwittingly reopens Aunt Jane's eyes to the beauty and joy of life again - but Aunt Miranda is not so easily won over. But when her mother falls ill and Rebecca is forced to look after her old farmstead home as well as her ailing mother, it may just be that Miranda has grown fond of her niece after all. Echoes of Anne of Green Gables and Pollyanna come to mind in this essentially American story. This series is a lovely way to collect a series of classic stories and they make a wonderful gift as there are always new titles to collect.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co) by Jonathan Stroud

If you are of a sensitive disposition, don't try this as bedtime reading unless you want to risk nightmares! The dead are back to haunt the living and Lockwood & Co are one of the best psychic investigation agencies around. But even the best can find things go wrong and the only way to save the agency's reputation is for someone to spend the night in one of England's most haunted houses. Lockwood, George and Lucy are very different characters but they work well together and are well portrayed. The compelling writing gives a real sense of reality, drawing the reader into events and the dramatic telling is definitely VERY spooky.

Medusa's Butterfly by Simon Rae

Horror and suspense combine in this dark story. A box is left on Marcus' doorstep in the rain. Fussy Aunt Hester has told Marcus not to open the front door under any circumstances. But she's out - and just this once can't hurt ...can it? Reminiscent of Pandora's box, in that Marcus disobeys strict instructions and unleashes more than he bargains for. Medusa is angry - and she will turn everyone to stone unless Marcus can find out why she is there.

Brotherband: Slaves of Socorro: Book Four by John Flanagan

The Heron brotherband have returned to Skandia after their last mission - but more awaits. Hal's arch enemy, Tursgud, has captured 12 Araluans to sell as slaves. With the help of an Araluan Ranger, can the Herons get the better of Tursgud? This is the fourth in the series - I haven't read the previous books but I think I would have got more enjoyment from the story if I had. Full of action and adventure, this definitely seems like a series that will garner a faithful following.

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie's father promised he wouldn't go away to fight - but next day, that promise is broken and now, four years later Alfie doesn't know where his father is. Then, while shining shoes at King's Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father's name - on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. His father is in hospital - a hospital treating patients with a strange condition; a misunderstood condition that led to much suffering. Can Alfie release his father? The strength of this book for me lies in the way it brings alive what happened to those left behind; those who refused to kill and those who couldn't cope with the horrors of war. Sensitively written and thought-provoking this is a book which lingers in the memory. Highly recommended.

The Edge Chronicles 7: The Last of the Sky Pirates: First Book of the Rook Saga by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Fans of the Edge Chronicles are in for a real treat here as they have a trilogy about Rook, who lives in the network of sewer-chambers beneath Undertown, the bustling main city of the Edgeworld. I really like the way there is a series within a series - readers can enjoy all the books or just choose a mini-series. Rook dreams of becoming a librarian knight and going out to explore the secrets of the past - and his dream comes true. On a perilous journey, Rook encounters the last sky pirate who challenges the might of the dread Guardians of the Night. In Vox: Second Book of Rook, Rook must stop the evil Vox from causing total chaos in Edgeworld. The final book in the trilogy is Freeglader: Third Book of Rook. Undertown has been destroyed and Rook's mission is to lead its inhabitants to their new home in the Free Glades - taking on the Goblin Nations on the way. These dramatic and endlessly inventive stories grab the reader and sweep him into a fantasy world of excitement, tension and fear. The wonderfully descriptive language brings reality to a fantasy world and makes for compelling reading. An unputdownable series.

Teardrop: (Teardrop Trilogy Book 1) by Lauren Kate

Following the success of the Fallen series, Lauren Kate brings us a trilogy. 17 year old Eureka has shut herself off from other people, hugging her pain to herself. Her mother was killed in a freak accident and life no longer holds meaning. Only Ander, the boy who is there wherever she goes, keeps her from escaping. When she discovers an old story of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea, she finds a connection between Anders and her mother's death. A romantic and atmospheric book with dark undertones and a cliffhanger ending that will have the reader anxiously awaiting the next book.

Never Say Die by David Tinkler

1942 and what everyone feared has happened - Hitler has invaded Britain. Benedict Flint has dreamed of standing up to the Nazis ever since his father was killed and his mother taken away. His chance comes when, with his best friend Alfie, he joins the British Resistance and sets out to restore the exiled teen Queen Elizabeth to the throne. This is an excellent story, a real page u=turner and all the ore so because we have all wondered what would had happened in the event of a successful enemy invasion.

Head Over Heart by Colette Victor

Zeyneb is like any other thirteen-year-old British girl, juggling the demands of her social life, school work and family. But as a Muslim girl attracted to a non-Muslim boy she has more difficult choices- and one very big decision. Now a woman in the eyes of her religion, she must decide if she will wear a headscarf. Zeyneb wants to make the right choice, not just for her family or friends, but for herself. A contemporary issue handled with compassion and a light touch which gives the reader an insight into a the issues faced by young Muslim girls trying to remain true to their background whilst fitting into a different culture.

The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

A knight must help when he is asked to - but Tiuri has broken his vigil; will this cost him his knighthood? A secret letter - a letter on which the fate of the kingdom hangs - must be delivered to King Unauwen across the Great Mountains. We are drawn into Tiuri's journey through dark, menacing forests, across treacherous rivers, to sinister castles and strange cities in this gripping narrative. Tuiri can trust nobody and he must keep his identity secret - and the content of the letter. It's a compelling story which twists and turns and keeps the reader gripped throughout.

I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton

Coronation Road - a melting pot for different cultures and lifestyles. An unlikely friendship springs up between Maggie, who lives with her politician mother in a big house and Tokes, who lives a life on the run with his mother in a tiny bedsit. Nobody is safe from the ruthless Starfish gang, breeding fear through the neighbourhood. Amateur film-maker Maggie prefers to watch life through the lens of her camera. In Tokes, she finds a great subject for her new film. And when violence erupts, led by the Starfish gang, Maggie has the perfect backdrop. But as the world explodes around her, Maggie can't hide behind the lens anymore. The riots of 2011 are the inspiration for this thought-provoking book; a hard-hitting book which really captures the emotions felt by the lead characters, who are excellently portrayed.

Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Outwardly shy, Bea Hogg is a very determined character. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up - and she's not the only one! Sparks are bound to fly. Bea is a lovely character - I really warmed to her and it was great to see how her confidence developed through the book. It's quite a light read but the message of friendship, how to face up to bullying and being true to yourself come through strongly.

The Broken King (The Darkening Path) by Philip Womack

This mesmerising fantasy is inspired by Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. Simon's young sister is snatched away to a dark other world and a golden messenger sends him on a quest to get her back. Flora's brother has also vanished so they join forces and then a strange boy rescues them from a violent attack and joins the quest. To enter the land of the Broken King they must complete three tasks: Eat the Shadow. Steal the Sun. Break the Air. Where do they start? This page turner of a novel grips throughout and will have the reader keen to read the rest of the trilogy.

Kingdom of Silk: All the Colours of Paradise by Glenda Millard

Perry Angel is settling into the Kingdom of Silk and life with his foster family.His favourite occupation is drawing but when there's a problem at school, his friends fear he will stop drawing. is drawing. But Mr Kadri from the Colour Patch Café understands what Perry needs and finds a way to help. Told with real empathy and a deep understanding of family relationships and our inbuilt need for friendship, this is a gentle and charming story.

Scarlet Ibis by Gill Lewis

Scarlet's used to looking after her brother, Red. Every night she tells him his favourite and familiar story - about the day they'll fly far away to the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad, where thousands of birds fill the sky. But when Scarlet's greatest fear comes to pass - the half siblings are split up and sent to live with different foster families - she knows she must do whatever it takes to get her brother back ... A moving story with some excellently depicted characters. A touching story that embraces tough but realistic issues - disability and fostering - and which handles them sensitively and positively.

Destination Earth by Ali Sparkes

If you are a Doctor Who fan, you'll enjoy this gripping adventure from the winner of the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award! Imagine you are the only survivor from another planet. You've spent ten years on a spaceship learning how to be human, and now the end of your journey is in sight ...All you have to do is land safely, convince the earthlings that you're a real teenager, and start your new life on Earth. No problem. Except that the killer alien responsible for wiping out your people has hitched a lift. And it's just a matter of time before it starts on the human race ... Unusually, the book features a real person - Level 42 bassist, Mark King.

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy) by Marie Rutkoski

This is the first in a promising new trilogy. General's daughter Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But this strong fiery character is not one to conform... When she finds Arin, a young slave, up for auction, she buys him. he falls in love with him - a hidden love which she must conceal. Then she learn he has a secret - a secret that could cost her dear. The love story is well plotted with added layers of intrigue that leave the reader guessing. A cliffhanger of a book, beautifully written, which will leave the reader desperate for the next book.

Spook's: A New Darkness (Starblade Chronicles 1) by Joseph Delaney

Just as we think we may have come to the end of the Spooks saga, along comes another superb addition to the sequence.This is the start of a new series - Starblade Chronicles. Girls are being discovered dead in their beds, their faces contorted in horror. They leave behind their ghosts - ghosts who are Worse still, their ghosts are left to walk the earth, just waiting to relate the horrors that took place. Thomas Ward is the Chipenden Spook, responsible for protecting citizens from threats from the dark. He soon realizes this threat is just the beginning. An army of monsters is massing in the north, and it poses a threat to all mankind. These are compelling books which grip the reader, keeping you in suspense throughout - hence the huge success of the series.

The Prince and the Pauper (Hesperus Minor) by Mark Twain

For those unfamiliar with the book, the departure from Mark Twain's familiar settings may come as a surprise. Set in London in 1547, it's the story of two young boys who are identical in appearance: Tom Canty, a pauper who lives with his abusive father in Offal Court off Pudding Lane in London, and Prince Edward, son of King Henry VIII. What starts off as a simple swap of identity takes on a momentum of its own and soon the two boys are caught up in a seemingly inescapable situation. I like the simple yet attractive covers of these books (complete with end flaps for more upmarket feel) - perfect for the reissue of classics. A gripping story with a fascinating and authentic historical background. The books in this series will appeal as much to adults wanting to revisit their childhood as they will to children discovering these gems for the first time.

Puck of Pook's Hill (Hesperus Minor) by Rudyard Kipling

First published in 1906, Puck of Pook's Hill is a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. History and fantasy intermingle in the stories, which are all narrated to two children living near Burwash, near Kipling's house Bateman's. The stories are told to them by sprite named Puck. The rich imagery and wonderful use of language conjure up the spirit of Old England in a way that still appeals. We are promised many more classics to come in this series, including The Lost Prince and The Wouldbegoods - I can't wait to re-read them!

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael is a dumpsite boy and has been one since he was 3. His life is spent searching through heaps of rubbish looking for anything of even tiny value. One day, he finds a small leather bag - a bag of clues, of hope; a bag that will change everything. Soon Raphael and his friends Gardo and Rat are running for their lives. Wanted by the police, it takes all their quick-thinking and fast-talking to stay ahead. As the net tightens, they uncover a dead man's mission to put right a terrible wrong. The story, one of corruption and harshness, really takes you deep inside the world and the minds of these three boys who lead such a harsh life.This is a very real world - albeit far removed from the life most of us lead - and it leaves the reader with an indelible, and uncomfortable, feeling, knowing this is how some people really live.

Wish You Were Italian: An If Only Novel by Kristin Rae

Bloomsbury have brought out the first titles in this new series - If Only - with perfect timing for the summer. The light stories with their summery settings are just what teen girls will enjoy after all the hard work of the school year. Join Pippa on a journey through that most romantic country, Italy, as she spends her summer break studying art - and a lot more besides. Her wish list includes from swimming in the Med, getting a makeover and falling for an Italian boy. But the Italian boy she meets is trouble; would the American archaeology student be THE one? The book is teeming with wonderful descriptions of Italy that will make you long to be there. A fun romantic summer read with some excellently depicted characters.

Fool Me Twice: An If Only Novel by Mandy Hubbard

Is this a second chance for love? Landon broke Mackenzie's heart when he dumped her last summer - and now they are back in the place where their romance started a year ago. Awkward has nothing on it - until Landon has a fall and gets amnesia. His most recent memory is of last summer, and he thinks he is still in love with her. MAck seizes the opportunity for revenge but will it backfire? Amusingly told, this will enthrall those who yearn for a second chance at a relationship. It's a light romantic comedy, perfect for chilling out over the summer. Of course, it's not realistic but that's not the point - it's just a great fun read.

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

With the threat of an arranged marriage hanging over her,Catherine Hunter takes a desperate step to escape from her life of privilege as the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. So Catherine becomes Cat, a child escaping the Collections basically, being drafted to fight), and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As storms brew, Cat's world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all... Descriptive yet pacy (the two don't always go together) the story is full of twists and turns and definitely left me keen to see how the series develops - the author was only 16 when she started to write this novel so it will be interesting to see how her writing develops.

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

From the start, this vividly written book draws you into Raim's world - a world where a knot is tied for every promise made. If that promise is broken, the person is scarred for life and exiled to the desert. But Raim, a promising young fighter training for the Yun guard, has forgotten what his knot symbolises. When he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Run or be killed - this is the choice Rain faces. The characters are superb and the storyline compelling but to me the biggest strength lies in the description of the landscapes. A powerful start which will have the reader anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Jonathan's Leap by Celia Purcell

An unusual book - a ballet story for boys; and why not? Dance has reached greater popularity with boys than ever before, so this book is sure of wide appeal. Jonathan is the only boy in his ballet class. With encouragement from his ballet teacher, he gets a part in the town's Christmas pantomime. At the same time, Jonathan is suffering troubled times at home as his father suddenly disappears. A family mystery needs solving and everything else starts to go wrong. When the male soloist has an accident before opening night, Jonathan has a chance... The book gives a really positive message about boys and dance - and about being true to what you want to do, regardless of any opposition.

Chasing Stars (After Eden 2) by Helen Douglas

The gripping sequel to After Eden finds Eden repaying a debt - Ryan saved her life and now it is her turn to save his. But the cost is immense - Eden faces never seeing friends and family again. The events related in After Eden have resulted in the dangerous risk Ryan took to rescue Eden being revealed. If he is exiled, Ryan will remain in the future and never see him again. Eden faces near-impossible choices and huge danger for both in this compelling story.

Playlist for a Broken Heart by Cathy Hopkins

Cathy Hopkins is one of those authors who really seems to get right inside the mind of a teen girl and produce books that perfectly reflect their lives and emotions - and this title does that excellently. The book has an interesting premise - Paige finds an old mix CD in a local charity shop and wants to learn about its complex. The songs tell of a boy looking for a perfect girl and following the clues in the music, Paige sets out to find the mysterious boy, going from gig to gig and band to band, hoping to track him down. Will he be the boy she has imagined? Perfect girly summer read.

Valentine Joe by Rebecca Stevens

A tender and moving story with a wealth of emotion. Rose's granddad takes her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War. It's the day before Valentine's Day, but Rose can sense the shattered old city beneath the chocolate-box new. And it seems that it can sense her too. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier on his way to the front line...

My Brother's Secret by Dan Smith

In 1941, 12-year-old Karl Engel is looking forward to joining the Hitler Youth, like all boys his age. But when his father is killed, his rebellious older brother Stefan shows him things that leave his faith in the Fuhrer shaken. What does it mean to be a good German? What does it mean to wear the mysterious flower sewn inside his brother's jacket? Who is the real enemy? A perceptive book to make you think, which gives an excellent insight into life in Germany during the war and the way people felt and reacted

The Glass Bird Girl (Knights Haddon 1) by Esme Kerr

Orphan Edie is sent by her art dealer guardian to Knight's Haddon School, on a secret mission to find out whether Anastasia, a Russian princess, is being persecuted by the other girls. But what Edie uncovers instead is a dangerous mystery that only the girls themselves can solve. An absorbing book, with excellent descriptive language which really draws the reader in as you share in the unfolding of the mystery.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady (Penguin Modern Classics) by E.M. Delafield

Despite the vastly different world she inhabited, this book remains as fresh as ever with its astute social observations and insight into the daily life of its 1930s Devon housewife. The grumpy husband, the naughty children - they are here still but few of us have to cope with a recalcitrant cook! Nonetheless, there is so much here which will resonate with today's wives and mothers. Written about an upper middle class wife and mother, we follow her trials and tribulations, share her joys and sorrows through the brilliant writing. Witty and charming, this is an evocation of a world long gone told with verve and humour, with a nameless star who will long remain in the reader's heart.

The Spook's Revenge: Book 13 by Joseph Delaney

'He's the seventh son of a seventh son. His name is Thomas J. Ward and he's my gift to the County. When he's old enough we'll send you word. Train him well. He'll be the best apprentice you've ever had and he'll also be your last.' From the time Tom's Mam spoke these words to this, the final chapter, this has been a truly epic series. It's time for Tom, the Spook and their allies to battle with the Fiend in search of revenge. The series has been building up to this thrilling denouement - can (and will) Tom and Alice carry out their last dangerous tasks? Often with a long series aimed at children, the target audience has grown up long before the end of the series is reached - not with Spooks - the gripping storylines will command the attention of all ages.

The History Keepers: Nightship to China (History Keepers 3) by Damian Dibben

It's not the future that is in danger in this series - it's the past! The Djones family belong to the History Keepers - a secret society which travels through time to prevent evil enemies from meddling with History itself. Jake finds himself travelling from Shakespeare's England to Imperial China in pursuit of Xi Xiang, whose aim is to destroy trade links between east and west and throw the world into war. And along the way, Jake picks up the trail of his long-lost brother. The time travel aspect is excellently described and written and really transports the reader back in time - and you will learn a lot of history on the way! An exciting, quirky, humorous and pacy read, with great (and believable characters) - so much going for it and a great series.

Diamond Spirit (Diamond Spirit 1) by Karen Wood

A traumatic opening introduces this new series for early teens but ultimately the outcome is positive as Jess' broken heart is mended by the advent of a little filly who needs her help. Not only does Jess have to come to terms with the loss of her beloved horse but her friendship with Shara is another victim. Just when things seem to be looking up, it seems that Walkabout is to be sold to a cruel new owner. Can the rescue plan work and will Jess' friendship with Shara be restored? A well-written story about overcoming loss, retaining friendship and the courage to come through hardship that will be welcomed by those who read horse stories as children.

Moonstone Promise (Diamond Spirit 2) by Karen Wood

The second book in the Diamond Spirit trilogy. Luke thought he had found security on Harry's farm but when Harry dies it all goes wrong. Frightened of finding himself caught in the foster system again, Luke runs away. He takes with him a precious pendant belonging to Jess - a pendant which promises the bearer beautiful dreams. Realistically written, with a well depicted Australian background, the reader finds herself rooting for Luke all the way. It's quite tough and gritty; a compelling read focusing on Luke's search to find his identity and his compulsion to return to Harry's place. This series is perfect for those who loved horse stories as children and who want to move on.

Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life by Maureen McCarthy

This is a book for older readers than those normally reviewed on this page - not an age group I generally cover so this is what the publisher says: "Three very different girls from the same country town share an inner-city house during their first year out of school. Carmel, Jude and Katerina come from the same country town, but they couldn't be more different. Carmel is a talented musician; Jude is a passionate idealist; Katerina - she's not called Queen Kat for nothing. So sparks are ready to fly. Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life is about friendship, families, betrayal and love, and a tumultuous year in the lives of three unforgettable young women."

The Ruby Airship (Diamond Thief 2) by Sharon Gosling

Remy's life has changed dramatically since we met her in The Diamond Thief - she has left the circus and her life as a jewel thief behind her but still struggles for full acceptance in her new life.  When Yannick, a fellow circus-performer, arrives in London. Remy decides it's right for her to rejoin the circus. Detective Thaddeus is sure that Yannick is up to no good. - and the only way to catch up with them is to embark on a perilous airship journey.  Another action-packed story with a fascinating background of Victorian London, which gives us an intriguing look at a new technology. Vividly described, the story has the reader gripped.

Star Horse by Jane Smiley

So many horse stories are aimed at younger readers so it's great to see a series for older readers which contains all the elements they will have been excited by when younger but in a story for readers of 10+ which explores emotions. In this, the fourth in the series, Abby meets the impressive Gee Whiz - he is tall and graceful and endlessly watchful. Abby is beginning to feel circumscribed by her life as others are off seeing other places - even her beloved horses Jack and True Blue have the chance to broaden their horizons away from the ranch. Will she let them go, with hopes that she might one day do the same? A thoughtful and perceptive book which addresses feelings which will resonate with many girls.

The Time of My Life (Rachel Riley) by Joanna Nadin

Rachel Riley speaks directly out of her stories to engage the reader right from the first page. This really is the last hurrah - Rachel is leaving behind her dull suburban upbringing and has great plans for the future. There are just one or two hurdles to overcome - passing exams, getting a place at uni and overcoming her mum's resistance... Even Jack (Jack who?) will be left behind. The diary format keeps the story going and for those who have followed Rachel's hilarious adventures thus far, this is an essential read.

Brave by Wendy Constance

This book is the winner of the annual Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition. Set 13,000 years ago, it vividly evokes prehistoric times when mammoths roamed the earth and people banded together in tribes for safety. Wild Horse has been sent to prove his bravery by bringing runaway girl Blue Bird back to her tribe before she's taken by wolves. But she doesn't want to return and the two band together to set out on a perilous adventure. It's a gripping read which will entrance children who are fascinated by this period; the characters are well drawn and very likeable and the story is well paced.

Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth

A powerful story with a strong message that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read. The story unfolds when Jessie''s gran gets a white Alsatian puppy. At the same time Jessie is learning about the atrocities that took place in Nazi Germany at school. Past and present merge as Jessie uncovers a tragic and emotive story. Harrowing in places, nonetheless the clever writing ensures that you just can't put this book down. It's sensitively told, well researched and with a totally believable heroine. An excellent read.

Poppy by Mary Hooper

Non fiction can teach us many things but well-written fictional accounts are an excellent way to gain a real insight - and Mary Hooper is one of the best writers of historical fiction for teens. This is an Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey story of love between two different worlds. Poppy is a parlourmaid in the de Vere family's country house; Freddie is the son of the family. Society, it seems, has already carved out her destiny. But war changes everyone's destiny and Poppy finds herself nursing the wounded while the fate of Freddie is never far from her mind. Romance, heartbreak, war are interwoven in this vivid and tense novel.

The Spook's Apprentice - Play Edition by Joseph and Stephen Delaney

This will be warmly welcomed by drama and English teachers looking for something a bit different to perform with their class. The novel The Spook's Apprentice told the story of Thomas Ward, apprenticed to the local spook to help keep the county safe from the Dark. That novel is the inspiration for the movie Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore and has now been adapted for the stage by Joseph and his son Stephen.

Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Audrey lives in a world governed by technology; a world where robots work for their human masters. Her father taught her that, to keep herself human, she must surround herself with books and music, philosophy and dreams; this is what will set her apart. But her parents are dead and Audrey is struggling to come to terms with this. But Daniel challenges her preconceptions; Daniel is an echo but not a mindless robot. He feels a connection with Audrey and when she is placed in terrible danger, he's determined to save her. It's an emotional roller-coaster of a book which draws the reader in right from the start. The world portrayed is frighteningly credible with the huge impact by climate change as well as reliance on technology. The book made me question where we are going with our use of technology and our impact on the world.

Remembrance by Theresa Breslin

1914 - a time that changed lives for ever. This is the emotional story of teenagers from two very different families which starts with an innocent picnic but sees them thrown into the turmoil of war. From the horror of the trenches seen by the 'boys', to the devastating reality seen daily by the 'girls' nursing the wounded, they struggle to survive as they have to mature very fast. The dramatic effect of war on the lives of these teenagers is sensitively handled and we see the war from a very human perspective. We learn about the strength that people can offer one another as they suffer loss and hardship. The emotions are beautifully explored and the book will have an impact on anyone reading it. For those studying the war, this is an excellent read.

Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo

Element 126 and the 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 related in Itch. With the help of his sister Chloe and his tomboy cousin Jack, Itch has to put element 126 beyond the reach of unscrupulous scientists and international terrorists forever - and the whole future of the world is at stake. Compelling and dramatic - you will look at chemistry in a whole new way.

The Blood List by Sarah Naughton

It's 1646 - a time when witchcraft is much feared and any suspicion is likely to lead to death without questions being asked. Against this background we meet Barnaby Nightingale, a son who his mother fears is not her own; Frances thinks her real son was taken from her at birth. In a world rife with superstition, Barnaby meets Naomi but when she is accused of being a witch, he finds his own life in danger. A darkly gripping story which evokes the period with its fears and darkness in a haunting and memorable way. You will finish the book with a real insight into how so-called witches were persecuted without mercy and how rumours spread fear.

Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon

Love The Great British Bake Off? Then you will love this book about Lottie and Mac who, reluctantly, join Bake Club. Lottie's Dad has recently died and Lottie is trying to pretend that she is coping; to keep people off her back she joins Bake Club. Mac is a bad boy and Bake Club is his last chance. How will these two disparate characters get on together and will the end-of-year Bake Off brings things to a head? Realistic and with well-drawn credible characters, this is a perfect summer read (even down to the summery yellow cover) and every chapter starts with an enticing recipe - more at

Rugby Warrior: Back in school. Back in sport. Back in time. by Gerard Siggins

A refreshing change to find a story about rugby and one which I am sure will be well received by rugby fans as well as sports fans in general. Eoin Madden is captain of the Under 14s team and has to deal with friction between his friend Rory and new boy Dylan as they vie for their spot on the team. Eoin's love for rugby spills over into his schoolwork as tackles a project about Irish-born All Black Dave Gallaher who died in World War I. Then Eion finds history is becoming reality as finding an old book brings his hero to life... An action-packed story with plenty of exciting matches plus an interesting historical perspective.

Marooned in Manhattan by Sheila Agnew

The prospect of moving to Manhattan came at a time of sadness for Evie Brooks, following the death of her mother. But Scott, her uncle, promises she can move back to Ireland at the end of the summer if that's her wish. Evie gets drawn into Scott's NYC veterinary practice, and with so much going on, the summer flies by. Then it's time for her to make her choice. New York or Ireland? The complex emotions that Evie feels are well described and the book compels you to keep reading to find out her choice.

Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black

Outlaws - but outlaws who do good like modern-day Robin Hoods.  |World-famous hacker Jack, gadget geek Charlie, free runner Slink, commis chief Obi and decoy diva Wren live in a bunker in London. They outsmart London's crime gangs and hand out their dirty money through Random Acts of Kindness.Their latest mission - hacking the bank account of criminal mastermind Del Sarto - has landed them in serious trouble. Del Sarto is going head-to-head with MI5 for control of Proteus, an advanced quantum computer able to crack any code and steal top-secret documents in nanoseconds. Can they bring down Proteus, avert world domination . . . and stay alive?

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley by Ben Davis

Could things get any worse for Joe Cowley? The school bully is about to become his step-brother; his dream girl ignores him and his friends have dire plans for him. This blog is Ben's attempt to sort out his life and it is in turns hilarious, disastrous and heart-warming.

The Raven Queen (Feral Child) by Che Golden

The war in the faerie realm threatens to spill into the human world and Maddy and her cousins are determined to protect all they hold dear. The threat comes from the Tuatha, the fearsome faerie leaders. As the Morrighan, the supreme monarch of the Tuatha, awakes, Maddy realises she's going to need more than just physical strength and luck to survive. The Tuath are notorious tricksters, and Maddy will have to outsmart them for good - or else plunge two whole worlds into the darkest chaos. Atmospheric and imaginative.

Shift by Jeff Povey

Misfits Rev, Billie, the Ape, Johnson, GG, Carrie, the Moth and Lucas are six very different teens who find themselves drawn together when a strange power surge hits their classroom during detention. With no answers as to why or how the rest of the world has disappeared, the mismatched group is soon facing a bigger nightmare than they could ever imagine… Standing between them and the only way home are lethal duplicate versions of themselves, super powered teenagers who will kill anyone who gets in their way. Our unlikely heroes must somehow work together to save themselves… or they'll never see home again.

Spook's: Alice: Book 12 (Wardstone Chronicles) by Joseph Delaney

Alice is alone in the realm of the dark - the creatures she has helped to banish there await their revenge. Unless Alice can destroy the Fiend for ever, the world is doomed - and if she succeeds, she is doomed. Despite being the 12th in the series, this book goes back to look at Alice and how she has fought alongside the Spook and Thomas Ward - it gives an interesting insight which relates well to the rest of the series. Well written with all the tension we have come to expect. I think it is only truly meaningful if you have followed the series through, though.

Goddess by Laura Powell

Strikes. Starvation. Riots. No, not now but London in the future - a horrifyingly believable future. Britain is at breaking-point and Aura is blind to it all. The Cult of Artemis is the only home she’s ever known. Enclosed in its luxury lifestyle, the unrest gripping the country seems to belong to a distant world. Her dream is to serve the Goddess and taking a vow of chastity and obedience seems a small price to pay. But days before Aura is due to be initiated as a Priestess, she meets Aiden, the rebellious son of a cult insider, whose radical ideas and unsettling charm force Aura to question everything – and everyone – she knows.


City of Fate by Nicola Pierce

After the city is bombed five-year-old Peter and teenagers Yuri and Tanya are left behind. Vlad and his companions are ordered to fight the Nazis. These young people live in Stalingrad, fought over by Stalin and Hitler. A horrifying account of the way young people were compelled to act against their will. Compelling and emotional, this story takes the reader right inside the action of the Second World War and shows its impact on the lives of young people. Despite their suffering, these youngsters show huge resilience and courage.

The Assassin's Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas (Throne of Glass Omnibus) by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassins' Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed prequel novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery . . .

Nomad (Faery Rebels) by R J Anderson

The sequel to Swift starts dramatically and atmospherically - I could imagine myself in the fogou, mysterious and haunting places that they are. Ivy is expelled from her underground home by Betony, the jealous queen of the piskeys and sets out, perforce, into a new life. But Ivy cannot detach herself from her people and sets out to warn the piskeys of their danger, urging them to rise up and free themselves before it is too late; it will need all her courage to help them. A compelling story which I found almost un-putdownable as I wanted to see where the twists and turns would lead.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children by Ransom Riggs

As soon as you pick up this book, you realise you have something fascinating and unusual. Vintage photos merge with the text to give atmosphere and interest. The story is set in 1940 and follows straight on from the first book - please, please read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children first. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and lots more unexpected and exciting happenings - and become deeper, more mature and more rounded characters. The cliffhanger ending leaves the reader anxious for book three...

The Academy: Love Match by Monica Seles

Following the promising start with Game On. Monica Seles once again brings her inside knowledge to bear on another account of events at The Academy - the sports school everyone is talking about. Life at The Academy is highly competitive and it's everyone out for him or herself. After reaching the semi-finals at a tennis tournament, Maya gets a high-profile modelling job - problem is, it is alongside her ex-boyfriend, Jake Reed and her rival, Nicole, wants the job. The Academy is a hot bed of gossip and luckiny Maya knows something Nicole wants to keep secret...  It's a light-hearted look at a life behind sport and Monica Seles makes good use of her own background to write these books.

Bet Your Life by Jane Casey

A second outing for teen detective Jess Tennant. Now feeling settled having been in Port Sentinel for three months, Jane's quiet time is over when a teenage boy is left for dead by the side of the road. It seems that Seb Dawson has a murky past - could this be the reason for the attack on him? And is his life still in danger? By investigating, Jane is putting her life under threat too. Jane is a well-developed character who feels compelled to carry out her investigations - and the reader is compelled to follow, drawn in by the exciting and unexpected story line.

The Last Minute by Eleanor Updale

A compelling read based on a situation which is frighteningly realistic. An ordinary high street with ordinary people going about their everyday lives and suddenly thrown into turmoil. It's just before Christmas and the people of Heathwick are busy when there is an explosion - many die and those left have their lives changed forever. This is the haunting account of just a single minute in their lives - the minute before the explosion. So many lives, so many people, so much happening - phenomenal. A story that really haunts the reader long after the book is put down and has you thinking about what really happened and why people reacted as they did.

Bird by Crystal Chan

12 year old Jewel never knew her brother John but her whole life is affected by him, by his death. For he died on the day she was born; died because Grandpa kept telling him he could fly like a bird; died because he jumped off a cliff. Grandpa has never spoken since. Everything changes when one night, on her birthday, Jewel found a strange boy sitting in her oak tree. His name is John. She finds a great affinity with John and the development of the relationship is movingly portrayed as jewel finally finds a listening ear - something that has been sadly missing from her life. An emotional story, beautifully told in the first person by Jewel.

Looking at the Stars by Jo Cotterill

The power of the imagination and of stories is at the heart of this gripping story. Amina and her family live in terror, in a war-ravaged country. Finally, a liberating force is on the way and everyone looks forward to peace - but it's not to be as further atrocities are to come. Ann'as vivid imagination and recall of the past are what enable her to get through - but will they be enough? The stories Amina tells will have you entranced; but the horrors of war and its effects are disturbing. An excellent read which may well increase understanding of how people are affected by war and strife in their own country.

The Edge Chronicles 11: The Nameless One: First Book of Cade (Edge Chronicles Cade Saga 1) by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Fans of the Edge Chronicles will be delighted to see the start of a new series. Cade is on the run - on the run for a crime committed by his uncle who he has never even met, But now his uncle has returned, and the Academy of Flight are looking for revenge against all of his supporters - including Cade. Cade stows away aboard the Xanth Filatine - a sky-ship bound for the city of Hive. This is not to be a safe haven - far from in as he battles against all sorts of menaces in his quest for safety. The artwork sets these books apart from most for this age group which, sadly, are often not illustrated. The line drawings bring alive the imaginative and often weird characters which abound in the books and make them real for the reader. Another gripping story full of vivid descriptions and anticipation.

Keras by Simon Rae

Jack feels his natural habitat is the woods - he feels totally at home there, watching the badgers or playing with his best friends. Then he finds something really special - a beautiful, extraordinary, unicorn. With  Mr Finistaire, the owner of the woods, Jack embark but then has doubts about Mr Finistaire. Jack has a freedom which is denied to many children today, to play and explore but this somehow leaves a slight disquiet in the adult reader. Some richly drawn characters people the book which mingles fantasy and adventure.

Mission Survival: Claws of the Crocodile by Bear Grylls

An exciting adventure set in the Australian Outback. Beck Granger follows a mysterious clue and finds himself in the town of Broome, Northern Australia. As ever, it;s a tough survival challenge that lies ahead, this time bringing him face-to-face with raging storms, ravenous crocodiles, dangerous snakes, cunning villains and a secret that may link back to the death of his parents many years ago...

A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy) by Alyxandra Harvey

A Regency novel with a difference - we are all used to the light frothy stories of the genre but this stands apart with its sinister twist. Nonetheless, I hope lovers of the genre will be encouraged to pick this book up and will enjoy the darker side of Regency life. No ordinary debutantes but witches (although unknown to themselves as the story starts) , Emma, Gretchen and Penelope find themselves embroiled in a murder case and the dark underworld in the form of the murderous Greymalkin sisters With their lives at risk can Regency hero Cormac Fairfax be trusted? An unusual and well-handled setting for a paranormal novel, this is the first in a trilogy.

Sea of Whispers by Tim Bowler

Tim Bowler has been delighting teen readers for many years - I remember my son coming back from school inspired to read River Boy after an author visit. Hetty is a loner, viewed with suspicion by other members of the close-knit island community of Mora. Things come to a head when a strange woman is washed up on the island - a woman who has a connection to Hetty. Following a death, the woman is held responsible and it's up to Hetty to defend her. As she heads out to sea, a storm is breaking and the whispers that she's heard before are louder than ever. Voices from the very depths of the sea . . . and they're calling her name. A haunting and atmospheric story which captures the magic and inwardness of a remote island community - it's hard to tell the period from the story so the reader can use their imagination.

The Executioner's Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

There don't seem to be many really good historical novels around at the moment for readers of 10+, but this is an exception - a really well written gripping novel set in Tudor England with an authentic setting that really draws the reader in. As the Executioner's Daughter in the Tower of London, Moss has a gory and unpleasant job - catching the heads in her basket after her father has chopped them off. When she discovers a hidden tunnel that takes her to freedom, is that the answer to her dreams? She soon learns that her life isn’t what she believes it to be and she doesn’t know who to trust. Her search for the truth takes her on a journey along the great River Thames. Could the answers lie deep in its murky depths? A vivid evocation of Tudor London, well written and with a feisty and likeable heroine.

The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

The House on the Hill has always been abandoned for as long as James can remember. So what is homeless Webster doing living there? What is he running from? Afflicted by a dark curse, Webster is no longer who he used to be. But there is said to be a cure and it might just be that by helping Webster, James will find some solace of his own. Together these two contrasting characters embark on a journey - a journey which will have a profound impact on them both. A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope,

White Needle: 5 (Shadow Squadron) by Carl Bowen

Syrian rebels have got hold of a White Needle - a stolen chemical weapon, and plan to use it on an unknown target. Only Shadow Squadron has the talent and technology to locate and neutralize the missile before it's launched. This well illustrated book and cleverly laid out book will appeal to reluctant boy readers who will enjoy the mission briefings. It's a good use of layout to give the book an added level of interest.

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets by J.A. Buckle

At 15, Josh fantasises about becoming a death metal guitarist complete with tattoos, piercings and hoards of adoring fans. But it’s not easy when his super-strict mum won’teven let him grow his hair! Luckily Josh has a way of coping with life’s setbacks; it’s only a diary, but it contains all Josh’s hopes, dreams and frustrations (not to mention some great ideas for band names and lyrics!). There’s a lot he wants to get done before his 16th birthday, but things never turn out quite like he plans… What Josh doesn’t know is that his mother also kept a diary, back about the time he was born, and a secret in there holds the key to Josh’s life becoming a whole lot more metal.

The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff

To my mind, one of the best-ever historical novelists for children - her books gripped me as a child and still continue to do so with her vivid evocation of period and character. This story is for older readers, with its tendency toward darkness and the integral love story. Gladiator Phaedrus has finally won his freedom after years of battling in the arena and he is heading north towards Caledonia (Scotland) on a mission to assume the identity of Midir, Lord of the Horse People. His quest - to seek vengeance against the treacherous Liadhan, who usurped the throne. It's a harsh story but you feel for the characters and become drawn into their lives and gripped by their adventures.

The Name On Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns

In Corin's world, your carpinomen - the name of your soul mate, marked indelibly on your wrist from the age of two or three - means everything. It's your most preciously guarded secret; a piece of knowledge that can give another person ultimate power over you. People spend years, even decades, searching for the one they're supposed to be with. But what if you never find that person? Or you do, but you just don't love them? What if you fall for someone else - someone other than the name on your wrist? And what if - like Corin - the last thing in the world you want is to be found? A book that leaves the reader thinking and questioning, excellently written and an unusual premise which offers huge scope - scope that is more than fulfilled in a twisting plot with some unexpected turns.

Junk Miles: A Brenna Blixen Novel: 2 by Liz Reinhardt

Brenna Blixen has the perfect boyfriend but Brenna is finding the pressure just too much to cope with. And things are about to get even more complex during a trip to Paris when her feelings for Saxon come to the fore. She faces tough decisions with inevitable repercussions - but will she get wants in time? This book is definitely for older readers - mature YA. Follow Brenna's story further in Book 3 - Slow Twitch (A Brenna Blixen Novel)

The New Recruit: Liam Scott Book 1 by Andy McNab

Liam has to live with the horror of a prank that went wrong - a prank that killed his best friend. To try to forget and move his life on, Liam enrolled in the Army training where he undergoes the toughest training and comes through. Sent to Afghanistan he faces worse than enemy fire - he faces his best friend's brother who still blames him for Dan's death. The book provides a tremendous insight into army life - as an ex-member of the SAS the author knows exactly what it is like and conveys is brilliantly. A gripping, action-packed read.

The Paladin Prophecy: Alliance: Book Two by Mark Frost

In Book 1, we met Will West who exposed the sinister underground society of students known as the Knights of Charlemagne. Will stays at the Centre over the summer to explore his newly developing physical and mental abilities while his roommates investigate the Knights' shadowy purpose and discover unsettling information about their own backgrounds. Each of the friends has a special power and they will need all of these powers to understand and resolve what is going on - but who can they trust? It's an original story with likeable and credible characters who are not perfect but work well together to a common end. An engrossing read which boys will enjoy.

Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

A story from the current (2013) Children's Laureate. Years after a violent war destroyed much of the world, Kaspar has grown up in a society based on peace and harmony. But beyond the city walls, a vicious band of rebels are plotting to tear this peace apart. It is up to the Guardians - an elite peacekeeping force - to protect the city, without ever resorting to the brutal methods of their enemy. Kaspar wants to preserve the peace, so he joins the Guardians - but meets up with a beautiful rebel girl, Rhea. Kaspar starts to question right and wrong and what the rebels really want. A thought-provoking novel which makes us all think about what we accept and what we really want. It doesn't pull any punches but there are touches of humour to lighten the story. 'Not suitable for younger readers'.

Running Girl by Simon Mason

What first drew me into this book was the wonderfully descriptive language which sets the scene for the story. Meet Garvie Smith - highest IQ ever recorded at Marsh Academy but never achieved a grade A. He can't see the point and he is rapidly going off the rails... until Chloe Dow's body is pulled from a pond. Ambitious hard-working DI Singh is on the case, 'assisted' by notorious slacker, Smith. But it could just be that Smith does actually have something to contribute... The book has many of the features of the classic detective novel (including the detective and his contrasting sidekick) and is a good read for lovers of that genre. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading more.

Enders by Lissa Price

I found this to be one of those books which it is hard to get into unless you have read the prequel - it's not easy to write a constructive review, so I have based this on the publisher's information. People are after Starters like Callie and Michael - teens with chips in their brains - so they can experiment on anyone left over from Prime Destinations. Callie finds Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn't want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save her life - but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. No one is ever who they appear to be, not even the Old Man. Determined to find out who he really is and grasping at the hope of a normal life for herself and her younger brother, Callie is ready to fight for the truth. Even if it kills her.

MetaWars: 4: The Freedom Frontier by Jeff Norton

This is the finale to the action-packed METAWARS series. The Guardians and the Millennials are off the scene so Jonah and Sam are left to fend for themselves. Erstwhile enemy Granger is also on his own so they take the ultimate step and join forces to survive...and save humanity. The future of the world on and off-line is at stake and Jonah will not stop until he prevails. It's a pacy and fast-moving story, perfect for early teen boys.

The Spooks Books by Joseph Delaney

Warning: Not to be Read after Dark 'Someone has to stand against the dark. And you're the only one who can.' For years, the local Spook has been keeping the County safe from evil. Now his time is coming to an end, but who will take over? Many apprentices have tried . . . Some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Just one boy is left. Thomas Ward. He is the last hope.  Follow Thomas’ story from its beginning in The Spook's Apprentice as he stands against Mother Malkin, the most dangerous witch in the county, to battles with Boggats as The Spook trains him for more terrifying challenges to come. With the release of the movie 'The Seventh Son' interest is bound to be high for the series.

The Obsidian Pebble (Artefact (Spencer Hill Press)) by Rhys A Jones

Oz Chambers and his mum live in a haunted house. His mother wants to move, but Oz wants to star where the memories of his father are. When he and his friends explore the ghostly goings-on, Oz finds a parcel addressed to him and posted the day before his father died. Inside is the obsidian pebble, the link to all of Penwurt's secrets - and more. Oz begins to change and even becomes brilliant at maths. There are many mysteries hidden at Penwurt and Oz has to explore deep into them to find the solution he craves. An exciting adventure with many twists and turns and a very likeable and well-drawn lead character who deals well with the tribulations he faces. I am looking forward to more in the series.

Silent Night by Jack Sheffield

Another year in the life of Ragley-on-the-Forest village school and its headmaster. It's 1984 - and as ever, the amount of period detail and nostalgia is superb; a real slice of social history. It is the accuracy of the detail that always amazes me and I know that 'Jack' spends huge amounts of time researching to ensure the details are spot-on. The background includes the miners' strike and the end of the pound note, Bananarama are on the radio and Des Lynam is on the TV and computers are really becoming part of school life (remember the BBC B?). The children and their antics and sayings are humorous -you can't help but laugh aloud - and they are depicted with a real insight and affection. The main excitement is a Carol Service in York which is to be televised - the excitement of this, and an emotional storyline, is a key part of the book. Our favourite characters are all here and its good to see the children grow and change and have a key part on their world of school and village. Once again, we are drawn back in time, to a world when schools seemed simpler places and the village school had its rightful place at the centre of the community.

The Spook's Revenge: The Wardstone Chronicles Book 13 by Joseph Delaney

The final and eagerly anticipated book. The Spook, his apprentice Tom Ward (the magical and mystical seventh son of a seventh son) and Alice have fought evil side by side for years and we have followed their story with bated breath. Can they survive the final destruction of the Fiend as the final battle with the Dark approaches? Will Tom fulfil the destiny foretold by his mam at the start of the series? Dark and disturbing, this is a book to be approached with caution and definitely not read at night - it's the stuff of nightmares. Soon to come -  The Seventh Son movie.

 Savage (Wolf Springs Chronicles) by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

The third in this paranormal series which has gripped from the beginning - I recommend that you start with Unleashed.  Tension is high in the forest and the rivalry between the Fenner and Gaudin packs has reached breaking point. Battle is inevitable. Since arriving, Katelyn has been drawn into the drama and now her loyalties are to be put to the test. But she is not what she seems and loyal Trick has no idea what she is hiding. As the tension is skilfully built the reader is compelled to read on to the finale.

Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli

Jake and Lily are twins "and we're exactly alike. Not exactly!" They have always shared that special bond twins have, but as they are approaching their teens, Jake spends more and more time with his friends, leaving Lily alone and lonely. Lily has no one to confide in except her grandfather as she tries to find her own way in life. Jake's need to test his independence finds him in a tough situation, facing bullying. Written in turns by Jake and Lily, this is a fascinating exploration of being a twin, which I found (as a mother of twins!) compelling. The relationship is well explored and the characters ring true.

The Isobel Journal: Just a Northern Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens by Isobel Harrop

An unusual narrative in scrapbook form which includes drawings, sketches, photographs and comments which combine to present a picture of teen life today. Join Isobel on her journey through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'. A fun, individual and alluring short read with an unusual format that will engage the reader and make her aware of Isobel's artistic talent and quirky imaginative outlook on life. Who knows? Will it inspire other teens to create their own scrapbook story?

The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Marco Loristan and a street urchin called "The Rat" are entrusted with a secret mission to travel across Europe working towards the overthrow of the cruel dictatorship in the kingdom of Samavia. A revolution follows which succeeds in overthrowing the old regime and re-establishing the rightful king. When Marco and The Rat return to London, Marco's father Stefan has already left for Samavia. When they are summoned back, the story ends in a climactic scene as Marco realizes his father is the descendant of Ivor Fedorovitch and thus the rightful king of Samavia. An exciting story but not, to my mind, as good as some of the author's other stories.

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

This is the story of the renowned Godolphin Arabian stallion brought to England to become one of the founding sires of the Thoroughbred breed and the Agba, mute Arab stable boy who loyally cared for him. Through a series of misadventures, Agba never loses faith in the power and speed of his beautiful horse and his faith is vindicated. This is far from a typical horse story - It's a powerful story which has some remarkable settings as horse and boy travel to their destiny. It's good to see that Jane Nissen Books are re-issuing classics such as this and The Lost Prince (above) so a whole new audience can enjoy them.

Secret Breakers: 4: Tower of the Winds by H L Dennis

People are going missing and nobody at Station X is safe any more - but the vital code-breaking work must continue. Which secret organization is protecting the work of the Knights of Neustria and do they know who is buried in the unmarked Shepherd's Tomb at Shugborough Hall? Will the story of the mysterious treasure ship 'The Covadogna' help the team of secret breakers discover more about the world described in the ancient coded Voynich Manuscript? And will every member of the team survive the race against time when the sinister Black Chamber chooses to leave them all a terrifying message? Bletchley Park is a a very special place and the imaginative use of it as the background for this series gives a superb realism. An exciting adventure which will engross its readers as they try to crack the code.

Mission Survival: Claws of the Crocodile by Bear Grylls

An exciting adventure set in the Australian Outback. Beck Granger follows a mysterious clue and finds himself in the town of Broome, Northern Australia. As ever, it;s a tough survival challenge that lies ahead, this time bringing him face-to-face with raging storms, ravenous crocodiles, dangerous snakes, cunning villains and a secret that may link back to the death of his parents many years ago...

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Anna is from 1995 Chicago, and Bennett has travelled back in time from 2012 San Francisco. How could a love affair survive against these odds? Told from Bennett's point of view this is is the sequel to Time Between Us (do read this one first!). Bennett's ability to travel in time has changed - he can now only travel back for short periods so his time with Anna is rationed to key events. Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future that both Anna and Bennett are desperate to avoid? Despite the time shifting element, this is a story with credible and likeable stars in whom you believe. The complexities of the moving between time are well handled and you want a happy ending for this young couple.

Mansfield Revisited by Joan Aiken

Edmund Bertram with his new wife Fanny are off to the West Indies to oversee the family's affairs, leaving Fanny's younger sister Susan in charge. The household is thrown into turmoil by the death of its respected and loved head, and she must guide the estate forward. Her greatest challenge comes with the return of Henry and Mary Crawford - Mary is seriously ill. I enjoyed the way this novel takes the character of Mary and refines and (almost) reinvents it in drawing the story skilfully forward without overdoing the Austen style. Characters, old and new, are well-drawn and involve you in their story A satisfying read for all Austen fans which will probably, as it did me, have you wanting to re-read Mansfield Park.

Teardrop: (Teardrop Trilogy Book 1)  by Lauren Kate

Following the success of the Fallen series, this is the first in a new trilogy. 17 year old Eureka has shut herself off from other people, hugging her pain to herself. Her mother was killed in a freak accident and life no longer holds meaning. Only Ander, the boy who is there wherever she goes, keeps her from escaping. When she discovers an old story of romance and heartbreak, about a girl who cried an entire continent into the sea, she finds a connection between Anders and her mother's death. A romantic and atmospheric book with dark undertones and a cliffhanger ending that will have the reader anxiously awaiting the next book.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

Who could fail to be intrigued by a book which begins 'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.'? This is a reissue of a timeless classic set deep in the countryside of 1930s England. It's the story of Cassandra Mortmain, told over eight months and through three notebooks - the sixpenny book, the shilling book and the two-guinea book. Cassandra and her family live a peaceful in a ramshackle castle - until new, wealthy neighbours from America arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love. Cassandra is a captivating character who the reader will come to love through the book. An evocative and vivid portrait of an era long-gone and a book which will appeal to all ages.

The Ransom of Dond by Siobhan Dowd

Darra is a thirteenth child - a child destined from birth to be sacrificed on her thirteenth birthday. She lives on a tiny emerald island world, lashed by white-tipped waves, which is at the mercy of the wicked god, Dond. There's a mystery around Darra's birth which unfolds in this mesmerising story. An emotional and haunting story which draws the reader in and compels you to read on without putting the book down. The delicate two-tone illustrations by Pam Smy are equally absorbing and complement the story perfectly.

The Lion of Sole Bay by Julia Jones

By the author of the Strong Winds trilogy, this is not a sequel as such but it does re-introduce Luke from the earlier books. Luke plans to spend half term with his father restoring an old fishing boat but an accident caused by Angel and some lads puts paid to their plans. The story harks back to the Battle of Sole Bay and the animosity between English and Dutch which seems to resurface in this story. It's a move away from the adventure stories into a deeper and murkier world, handled skilfully with some strong character portrayals. The links with Arthur Ransome are, I am glad to see, kept with the character of Peter, who tells some Russian tales. A vivid and compelling narrative which grips the reader from start to finish.

The Seven by Steve Gladwin

What is so special about the number seven? Seven trees? Seven guardians? Seven helpers? Seven pictures? What's so special about the number Seven? Tony's so full of questions, he thinks his head will burst. But that's nothing new. Since Mum died he's had more questions than answers. Those scary paintings of hers for one thing. And that new girl, Eleri who is really weird. Cleverly interwoven into the story are ancient Welsh legends.

Viridian Venus Angel (Quicksilver) by Susan Gates

After the events of Viridian, the world is returning to normal. Jay is determined to find Toni, who was turned into a winged plant-hybrid predator, a Venus Angel, and restore her humanity. But Toni doesn't want to be found. Rogue Cultivars are still on the loose. And Jay's old enemy, the lethal warlord Viridian, is not dead. Horribly mutated, more powerful than ever before, he lurks underground, waiting for his chance...waiting for Jay.

Back to Life (Rachel Riley) by Joanna Nadin

"It is time to take things in hand. Life is definitely what you make it and I am going to make mine fabulous! In order to find THE ONE and have a meaningful life I must seize the day. I will need to kiss a few frogs before I meet my prince though . . . I just need to be open-minded. And open-armed. And possibly open-mouthed." Teen girls will warm to the feisty and funny Rachel and her misadventures, which portrays the angst of teen life so well. The book warns it is not suitable for younger readers.

Deadly Thorns (Hemlock Trilogy) by Kathleen Peacock

The second in the mystery trilogy set in a world besieged by a werewolf virus. Following on from Deadly Hemlock, Kyle is still on the run, despite Mac's best efforts to track him down and bring him home. But when they finally find themselves back together, it's not in the best of circumstances. Trapped in a werewolf prison camp where inmates keep disappearing and not returning, Mac knows that something sinister is happening, but can they find out the truth? And with Jason still sure of his own feelings for Mac, will she start to doubt her own for Kyle? Publication 7 November 2013.

Butterfly Grave (Murder Notebooks) by Anne Cassidy

Joshua’s uncle has survived a near fatal accident and step-siblings Rose and Joshua travel to Newcastle to visit him. Joshua is convinced they are being followed. Rose and Joshua do not know who to trust – even Joshua’s uncle has a dark past, touched by murder. And then the precious murder notebooks are stolen and it is Skeggsie who pays the price for Rose and Joshua’s so-called meddling. If you've read the first two in the series, you will know that, although their parents were assumed dead, they are apparently alive - this is really a series to read from the start to get the best out of it. Somebody out there really does not want Rose and Joshua to find their parents. Anne Cassidy is a popular author for teens and fans of the crime genre will enjoy these gripping and pacy narratives with their well-drawn characters and suspense-filled plots.

After Eden by Helen Douglas

Ryan Westland, new boy at school, is different and Eden Anfield can't make him out. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So how come he doesn't recognise pizza and hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden most, however, is the interest he's taking in her. As she falls for him, she finds a book written fifty years in the future which explains his secret. A fictional Cornish town is the setting and the magic and mystery of the county forms a vivid backdrop. A well-spun story mingling a love story with sci-fi that has the reader unfurling the plot as the story unfolds and the mystery is explained.

Everyone a Stranger (Paradise Barn Story) by Victor Watson

World War II is drawing to a close in this gripping book which is the fourth in the Paradise Barn series. Soon Germany would surrender and it will be time for those who survived to return home; many of them changed forever. Molly and Abigail must learn to live with strangers in their homes - Molly s father has returned from the frontline and Abigail's cousin Ivy has come from London. Molly and Abigail must learn to live with these changes and accept them but the worst thing is when something happens to their friend Adam which changes their lives. An engrossing story with a well-drawn authentic background and credible characters who draw you into their lives.

Stormbringers (Order of Darkness) by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is a master of the historical story genre and always manages to bring a wonderful sense of period to her novels - this is no exception. Luca Vero belongs to the secret Order of Darkness and his role is to seek out signs of the end of the world. In Piccolo he, along with his loyal entourage, finds a town of fear. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children's crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint who promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod to Jerusalem. Is Johann all that he seems? When tragedy strikes, can Luca prove their innocence? Slow to start, the story picks up and races to a conclusion that leaves you wanting more.

The Trap by Andrew Fukuda

"After barely escaping the Mission alive, Gene and Sissy face an impossible task: staying alive long enough to stop an entire world bent on their destruction. Bound on a train heading into the unknown with the surviving Mission girls, Gene, Sissy, David, and Epap must stick together and use everything they have to protect each other and their only hope: the cure that will turn the blood-thirsty creatures around them into humans again. Now that they know how to reverse the virus, Gene and Sissy have one final chance to save those they love and create a better life for themselves. But as they struggle to get there, Gene's mission sets him on a crash course with Ashley June, his first love ...and his deadliest enemy."

Endless Knight: Book 2: The Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole

"In the second book of the Arcana Chronicles Evie has now fully come into her powers as the tarot Empress. And Jackson was there to see it all. In the aftermath of killing Arthur, the tarot Alchemist, Evie realizes that a war is brewing between the other teens that, following the apocalypse, have been given powers and its kill or be killed. Things get even more complicated when Evie meets Death, the mysterious, sexy Endless Knight. Somehow the Empress and Death share a romantic history - one that Evie can't remember, but Death can't forget. She is drawn to the Endless Knight, but is in love with Jack. Determined to discover why she's been granted these powers, Evie struggles to accept her place in a prophecy that will either save the world, or completely destroy it."

Eternity (Fury Trilogy) by Elizabeth Miles

Firstly - if you haven't read the first two books in the trilogy you may find this hard to follow - and you will have missed out on the full benefit of the story. In Ascension, things are getting worse. The nightmare Emily Winters has been living through for months shows no sign of ending, as the Furies stay on the peripheral, slowly driving her crazy.  Em needs to take her fate into her own hands, but there is nobody to turn to. Crow's involvement with Em has grown more complex, as his visions begin to take shape, but will do anything to save her.  JD misses the Em he used to know...and love. She seems so different these days, like she's hiding something. When JD begins to learn the truth, he is as scared as he is determined to help her. But his help may be the last thing Em needs to survive...

Wereworld: War of the Werelords (Book 6) by Curtis Jobling

War of the Werelords is the action-packed final book in Curtis Jobling's Wereworld series. Drew Ferran was born a werewolf and time has always been his greatest enemy. Across the Badlands the Catlords have turned on each other. In North Lyssia the Seven Realms' greatest armies gather. And in the frozen city of Icegarden an even deadlier force lies in wait. If Drew wants to save his friends, he must fight - but have the heavens already decided his fate? All roads lead to war. In the shadow of Strakenberg, and by the light of the full moon, the victors - and losers - will be decided.

Ranger's Apprentice 12: The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan

This is the final book in the epic Ranger's Apprentice series - as ever, the greatest enjoyment comes from reading the series in order or you may well feel you don't fully follow the storyline and it can take longer to get engrossed in the book. Will was chosen as the Ranger's Apprentice but is his desire for vengeance greater than his loyalty to his vow? His friends come up with a solution to keep him on the right path - an apprentice, and a very surprising one. Adventure and action abound, and the characters have become well rounded by the end of the series.

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie father promised he wouldn't go away to fight - but next day, that promise is broken and now, four years later Alfie doesn't know where his father is. Then, while shining shoes at King's Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father's name - on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. His father is in hospital - a hospital treating patients with a strange condition; a misunderstood condition that led to much suffering. Can Alfie release his father? The strength of this book for me lies in the way it brings alive what happened to those left behind; those who refused to kill and those who couldn't cope with the horrors of war. Sensitively written and thought-provoking this is a book which lingers in the memory. Highly recommended.

A Foot in the Grave: and other ghost stories by Joan Aiken

Instead of starting with the story and then finding an illustrator, the pictures were the starting point. Jan Pienkowski asked Joan Aiken to compose ghostly stories to go with his haunting paintings. There are tales of ghostly revenge, tales to scare and amuse, peopled with malevolent spirits and mysterious heroes. Not stories to be read late at night - the mesmerising quality of the writing will haunt your dreams - or should that be nightmares? Beautifully produced, the quality of the book complements the extraordinary paintings and compelling stories.

Shadowlark by Meagan Spooner

Lark Ainsley escapes the Iron Wood to search for her brother Nix and finds herself imprisoned in an underground metropolis, a metropolis protected by magic. Magic comes at a price, and the inhabitants live in fear of their leader Prometheus and his gang of Eagles. Lark is a courageous character and she faces up to Prometheus. Can Lark find the way out? Vivid descriptive language takes the reader inside the heart of the action in the fast-moving adventure which has some excellently drawn characters. A tense and dramatic story.

The Waking World (The Future King) by Tom Huddleston

As we'd gather from the title, this is an Arthurian story, but set in a post-apocalyptic Britain. The Island is in danger; the bloodthirsty Marauder pirates are getting bolder, coming further into the land and even capturing islanders to be their slaves. Aran is the son of a wealthy Law and his home in the underground farmstead of Hawk's Cross should offer him complete protection.  But Aran doesn't want safety, he wants to be a warrior: to fight for his friends, his family and his home.  Set far in the future, but not a future full of developing technology as you would expect, but a very different future. An absorbing story and one that will particularly intrigue those familiar with Arthurian legend.

Twisted Winter (Quicksilver) by Catherine Butler

Draw the curtains and snuggle down for a chilling winter read with these seven new sinister stories from some masters of the genre. Not for the faint-hearted, this collection of short stories encapsulates everything human beings fear about the dark half of the year. A Halloween costume party attracts uninvited guests; the long evenings bring out creatures from the deepest darkness; an eerie story about Anubis, God of the dead; a perfect snowfall brings pure terror.

Young Sherlock Holmes 6: Knife Edge by Andrew Lane

This is an excellent series which brings us a really authentic young Sherlock. Depicted as a teenage boy, we see the character traits that developed into the world-famous detective. Once young readers have enjoyed this series, I am sure they will be inspired to go on to read Conan Doyle's books - and adult fans will also enjoy these books. This time, the young detective finds himself in an Irish castle helping his brother investigate a psychic - a psychic who threatens to reveal secrets Europe's governments want to hide. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this is another compelling read.

Resist (Breathe 2) by Sarah Crossan

This, the sequel to Breathe, is a thoughtful novel which carries an important message, one we can't afford to ignore. Sensitively written and yet hard-hitting, it explores the catastrophe that could occur if we don't take care of our environment and start to run out of oxygen - a fearful yet possible scenario. Now Quinn, Bea and Alina face arduous journeys across the planet’s dead landscape in search of the rumoured resistance base Sequoia - but things are not what they expect. Former Pod Minister's son, Ronan, is sent out of the pod to hunt down the Grove's survivors. Everyone seems out for themselves, making the most of dwindling resources, in this gripping novel. Publication date 10/10/13.

Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

An engrossing read with three very different but very likeable heroines in Lillia, Kat and Mary. After the events of the Homecoming Dance, when Reeve ended up in hospital, are the girls still set on revenge? Lillia and Kat have reservations but Mary is determined to carry on. So Lillia will make Reeve fall in love with her and then break his heart... but her emotions get the better of her. Can their friendship survive? Well plotted and with strong friendships shining through despite the desire for revenge. A cliffhanger of an ending will have readers waiting impatiently for the third book.

The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt

Klaus certainly didn't set out to find trouble but trouble certainly found him when he saw his master steal a diamond from the mouth of a dead man - a diamond that others desperately want. Just why do so many people want this diamond? But then Klaus finds himself in possession of the diamond and an even more sinister character turns up. Elements of the after-life and a definite horror theme make this not a book for the faint-hearted. A dark and gritty fast-moving story which will engross the reader and leave haunting memories.

Amber by Julie Sykes

How do you live by the rules if you don t know what they are? Amber has lost her memory, but has strange visions and powers and the only clues to her identity are a mobile phone in her pocket and a beautiful amber necklace around her neck. This intriguing and surprising novel for teenage girls will have readers gasping with disbelief as the truth about Amber is revealed...

Rolling Dice by Beth Reekles

Amazingly, although Beth is a young writer (just completed A Levels) but her writing shows an amazing maturity in this, her second published book. Madison Clarke decides to reinvent herself when she moves to Florida; formerly a social outcast, she jumps at the chance to make new friends. But there's Dwight - a nerdy boy to whom she just can't help being attracted. Should Madison follow her heart or stick with the 'in crowd'? I really enjoyed the way Madison and Dwight's relationship is depicted. The American setting is well drawn although I wonder why Beth chooses not to use her Welsh background which would make a more unusual background for this type of novel.

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma

It seems as though Matheo has it all - Britain’s most promising diving champion, a straight A student living in one of the wealthiest areas of London. He has a great bunch of friends and a superb relationship with his girlfriend Lola. But his world crumbles over one terrifying weekend - a weekend he cannot remember but which has changed him forever. As the memoirs come back, he is horrified at what he finds and the reader shares his anguish in this emotionally charged novel which will leave you haunted.

Shine by Candy Gourlay

Rosa lives on an island haunted by superstition and prejudice. She suffers from a rare condition that renders her mute - a condition that the islanders fear makes people monsters. Rosa is lonely - her mother died and her doctor father keeps her locked away from the islanders. So Rosa turns to the internet for companionship... but can she trust friendships made online? It's a moving story about fear, about loneliness and about secrets which will be perceived in different ways by its readers who must make their own decisions.

Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

I have long been an admirer of Susan Cooper's work - the Dark is Rising sequence stands out for me - so I was very interested to see a new title issued; this is very different and I think for an older audience. This is an engrossing story with an authentic and well-researched historical background which tells of the between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler - a friendship which is frowned on by the people of both sides. It's a moving and absorbing story, told from both sides and developed over quite a long period of time, which gives a good picture of the tensions between natives and settlers and the impact on the settlers on native lives.

Secrets: Two Tales from Devana High by Bali Rai

The Devana High series is ideal for young teen readers who enjoyed the school story genre as children and who want a light and enjoyable read. Secrets is the latest pair of stories - in the first, Jit can't be bothered with school. His mum's new boyfriend is doing his head in, and the last thing on his mind is dealing with lessons and homework. He needs the gang's help, and fast... The second story features Suky and Imi who have been going out for ages but Suzi's strict parents aren't happy... Realistic and contemporary.

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett: An Origami Yoda Book (Origami Yoda Series) by Tom Angleberger

Dark times have fallen on McQuarrie Middle School this semester. Dwight's back--and not a moment too soon--as Kellan, Sara and the gang face a new Menace: the FunTime Educational Program. FunTime is supposed to raise students' test scores; instead, it's driving everyone at McQuarrie crazy with its obnoxious Professor FunTime and his insidious singing calculator! When Principal Rabbski cancels the students' field trip--along with art, music and Lego classes--to make time for FunTime, the students turn to Origami Yoda for help. But some crises are too big for Origami Yoda to handle alone: Form a Rebel Alliance the students must.

Untold (Lynburn Legacy) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sorry-in-the-Vale - a quiet town which is home to sorcery; sorcery which is now commonly known in this, the second in the Lynburn Legacy. The townspeople must choose - to become totally embroiled in the sorcery or to take a modern approach. If Kami Glass has anything to say about it, evil will not win. Despite having given up her own piece of magic, she is determined to do everything she can to make a difference. And whether they want to or not, her circle of friends (and potential boyfriends) will not be able to help but follow her and go along with her unusual schemes and battle tactics.

The Broken Spell by Erika McGann

A spell-binding story about Grace and her four best friends, Adie, Rachel, Jenny and Una who are in training to be witches. But studying is a bit boring when they are not allowed to see any practical magic but spend their time studying books and weeds. Things look up when the new school year starts, and the glamorous Ms Gold arrives; she is eager to teach the girls real witchcraft. Trying to mend their teachers' damaged friendships, the girls cast a spell to travel back to the 1970s. But their skills are quite developed yet and the girls bounce back and forth in time, out of control. A lightly humorous story about friendship.

Red Rock by Kate Kelly Red Rock

The drama starts right from the first page, as Danni spies an intruder and then her aunt returns after a long absence - and is immediately assassinated. What is the rock that Danni's aunt gave to her and why is it so significant? Danni must keep the rock safe and not a soul must know she has it. We know from the start that this is not the world as we know it and we find out what has happened in this action-packed adventure which takes us from the barren terrain of Greenland, to the flooded ruins of Cambridge, and on to a sinister monastery in Malta. In her effort to save her uncle and evade a power-hungry space agency, Danni discovers that friends aren't always what they seem, and a rock isn't always just a rock...  Dramatic and gripping, this held my attention right from the start. Publication 12 September 2013

The Paladin Prophecy: Book One by Mark Frost

'Run for your life' says the cover, and in a world where nobody can be trusted, this seems the safest thing to do. Will West has spent his life following his parents' instructions to be mediocre at everything in order to escape attention. But when he slips up, he finds himself a pupil at an extraordinary prep school... then he finds he is being followed and he is at the heart of a frightening struggle between age-old forces. An ideal read for teen boys who love fantasy and who can cope with a multiplicity of storylines and events, which can at times get confusing. But persevere and it's a satisfying read, full of action and with an engaging lead character.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

An intriguing premise for a novel - the outgoing pupils at an exclusive school leave a treasure for the incoming seniors. The 'treasure' left for Duncan Meade to discover leads to the unravelling of a key episode in the history of the school. Evocative and intriguing, it's a world very different from the schools familiar to UK readers, and they will appreciate the setting as well as the page turning story. The narrative is shared between Duncan and his predecessor Tim and the balance works well, with two likeable characters sympathetically portrayed.

The Edge Chronicles 1: The Curse of the Gloamglozer: First Book of Quint by Stewart and Riddell

These three titles in the Quint Saga are the first part of The Edge Chronicles. They feature Quint, son of a legendary sky captain. In Book 1, the great city of Sanctaphrax is under threat - something horrible lurks below. Quint may now be the only one who can save the Edge from the curse of the gloamglozer... In The Edge Chronicles 2: The Winter Knights: Second Book of Quint Quint is training at the Knights Academy, but when he breaks the rules and heads out to Open Sky on his own, he could bring catastrophe to his people in this inventive and adventurous tale. The third book in this trilogy is The Edge Chronicles 3: Clash of the Sky Galleons: Third Book of Quint finds Quint and his father determined to seek revenge for the death of most of their family. By the time readers have read this, they will be avid to continue reading. This highly acclaimed series has gained, quite rightly, a huge following for its page-turning excitement; this is fantasy at its very best.

Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Book Two) by Kenneth Oppel

An ambitious undertaking - the second in a trilogy which is a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Dramatic from the very start, we learn that tragedy has forced Victor Frankenstein to abjure alchemy forever and to burn the Dark Library. But Victor has not the strength to resist either alchemy nor Elizabeth. With Konrad, and their friend Henry, they venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return. An atmospheric and gripping novel which moves inexorably to an inevitable conclusion we all expect. An excellent read for lovers of Gothic novels.

Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid

It's Brussels in 1940 and 15 year old Nicole sees her country, Belgium, invaded by Nazis. Courageously, Nicole determines not to be an onlooker but to play her part as a member of the Belgian Resistance. Under her new alias - Coco - Nicole embarks on a dangerous new life as a spy, where the only question is not if you'll be caught, but when... A vivid story made all the more emotional by the fact it is based on true events. This meticulously researched story is a heart-breaking expose of the tribulations faced by members of the Resistance - an engrossing and disquieting read.

Phoenix by SF Said

Far from being the ordinary boy he thinks he is, Lucky suddenly finds an amazing power which means he is the one who can save the galaxy. He's on the run, racing through space and searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him are an Alien starship crew - and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair. Together, they must find a way to save the galaxy. For Lucky is not the only one in danger. His destiny and the fate of the universe are connected in the most explosive way. The stunning illustrations by Dave McKean are evocative and atmospheric - as is the narrative. A story that will convert many readers to the joy of space stories.

New World (Secrets and Spies) by Jo Macauley

At the age of 15, Beth Johnson lives a dangerous life, torn between two worlds - on the one hand, she is a gifted actress; on the other, she is a spy. Living in the city of London in the volatile period following the restoration of the monarchy, there are plots afoot to kill the King. Could the would-be assassin be in America and will make the voyage to the New World? In Inferno (Secrets and Spies) Beth learns that her fellow spy's sister has been kidnapped - does this mean exposure or can the young girl be rescued; could London be destroyed by fire? These are exciting, fast-paced stories with an authentic historical background well depicted.


My (Not So) Simple Life (The Rachel Riley Diaries) by Joanna Nadin

Rachel has been dumped. She decides to deal with post-break-up trauma by not mooning about over exes but by embracing the single life.. well, after breakfast, anyway Everything will be so much easier without the complications of love. A witty and humorous look at teenage life and love, written in the popular diary format. Not suitable for younger readers.

All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Em and Finn a locked into separate cells - bare, cold cells with no comforts. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet. Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future...

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass) by Sarah J. Maas

Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

An unusual and compelling read that really gets the reader hooked from the start. A time shift novel, but with just a few years difference. In 1995, we meet Anna, desperate to travel the world.In contrast, Bennett, who has the ability to travel through time, just wants to stay put. But that's not to be, and he finds himself in Anna's world as he attempts to save his sister. Bennett and Anna fall for each other, but their love is doomed because Bennett will always want to return to his own world.

Mission Survival 4: Tracks of the Tiger by Bear Grylls

Another exciting adventure from real-life survival expert Bear Grylls - each story seems more exciting than the last and the freshness and interest are well maintained. Young survival expert Beck Granger is on holiday but when a volcano erupts he is stranded and must flee from red-hot lava and molten rocks crashing out of the sky. To survive, he must cross jungle to safety - but the jungle is home to tigers... If you want to know how to survive in the wild - or how others do so - these are the books for you.

The Seeing by Diana Hendry

A haunting and dramatic story which shows the lingering impact of the horrors of World War II and how it still affects those living in a small town, over 10 years after peace. Lizzie is desperate to be accepted by Natalie and finds herself in a whole new world. Natalie's brother Philip has second sight and sees evil lying in wait - Nazis. Natalie and Philip believe it's up to them to root these people out of Norton - with disastrous consequences. This credible and powerful story moving and very thought-provoking, with some excellently drawn characters.

Blood Family by Anne Fine

A perceptive and finely woven look at the old question - nature versus nurture. For three years, Edward and his mother are locked away by her abusive, alcoholic partner, Harris. Only at the age of seven is his plight discovered and he is sent to live with a kindly foster family. He struggles to come to terms with his past and never feels 'normal'. He is shocked to see a photo of himself which shows a resemblance to the abusive Harris -will he ever escape the past? Every step of progress Edward has made swiftly begins to unravel, and he has to decide whether his blood will determine his future.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Jeremy can hear voices - not something welcomed in the town of Never Better. Life has been tough after his mother left and his father became a recluse, but one voice in particular proves his salvation: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when a provocative local girl Ginger takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a heartbreaking chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Hell's Belles (Roller Girls) by Megan Sparks

Written for girls of 12 - 16, Roller Girls is a fun-packed series from Curious Fox books. Annie loves her new life in America and it seems that things are looking even better as Annie's roller derby team, the Liberty Belles, start to win But then Annie faces a dilemma when her 'crush' invites her to a dance on the same night as a special Haloween bout. Who will she choose - her friends or her man? An enjoyable story which shows teens what life is like in the US.

Falling Hard (Roller Girls) by Megan Sparks

When Annie moves from London to a small American town it is hard to adapt at first. But she and her dad have a great relationship which helps a lot and they are busy setting up their new business, the cafe called Rosie Lee. After a shaky start when she falls foul of the school's queen bee she discovers a new passion, roller derby, and makes new friends as well as enjoying an exciting sport. An enjoyable series with a super lead character with whom teens will readily identify.

Tarnish (Royal Circle) by Katherine Longshore

A gripping novel which centres on the intrigues and treachery of King Henry VIII's court.  And when Anne Boleyn arrives at court as an out-of-place newcomer, she joins in with the intrigue as she accedes to Thomas Wyatt's offer to train her in the ways of the court - and to appear as his lover. Although she comes to the notice of the court - and more importantly, the king - Anne faces impossible choices. Were she and Wyatt ever lovers? We don't know the answer to that, but it makes an excellent premise for a novel (the author's note shows where fact ends and fiction begins). A beautifully told story which gives us a new perspective on the character of Anne Boleyn.

Heart of Stone by M Welsh

The twists and turns of this story will keep the reader engrossed to the final page. After a wonderful summer of sailing, Verity Gallant has enjoyed a wonderful summer of sailing and wants it to last forever. But the land is shifting beneath the ancient harbour town of Wellow, causing strange changes to the familiar landscape. And changes in friendships are afoot too. The Heart of Stone holds the key to the strange happenings but can the friends find it? A slightly old-fashioned feeling story - think Swallows and Amazons for an older and more sophisticated reader. Strong characterisation and well described backgrounds make this a compelling fantasy story.

Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Speaking to the dead is simple for Daisy Goodnight - it's just something she was born with and even the authorities know her skill and use it. But then the FBI call on her services and Daisy finds herself in real danger when she is kidnapped. Willing or not, Daisy finds herself on a high-speed mission to track down a mob boss's precious daughter, but she's running out of time. The dead are coming to take over.

Stormbringers (Order of Darkness) by Philippa Gregory

Acclaimed historical novelist Philippa Gregory turns her attention to medieval Europe in her new series and as always the book is meticulously researched. Luca Vero, along with his loyal companions, find themselves drawn into religious conflict as they find themselves in Piccolo, a place filled with superstitious fears. Following them is a huge children's crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint who has promised the sea will part and they will walk to Jerusalem. But danger lies ahead...

Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman

A new story from the newly appointed Children's Laureate. Years after a violent war destroyed much of the world, Kaspar has grown up in a society based on peace and harmony. But beyond the city walls, a vicious band of rebels are plotting to tear this peace apart. It is up to the Guardians - an elite peacekeeping force - to protect the city, without ever resorting to the brutal methods of their enemy. Kaspar wants to preserve the peace, so he joins the Guardians - but meets up with a beautiful rebel girl, Rhea. Kaspar starts to question right and wrong and what the rebels really want. A thought-provoking novel which makes us all think about what we accept and what we really want. It doesn't pull any punches but there are touches of humour to lighten the story. 'Not suitable for younger readers'.

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert. Raim, a promising young fighter training for the Yun guard, has worn a knot for as long as he can remember - but he cannot remember what it symbolises. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin. Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

Magnificat by Marilyn Edwards

A cat person or a dog person? Ben thought he was a dog person until Magnificat puts her trust in him, knowing he has a very special kindness that means he will care for her. But Ben doesn't want a cat - he's got enough problems of his own and anyway, he's a dog person. This is a beautifully written story which shows a true understanding of the relationship that can develop between humans and their pets. Touching and heart-warming - unputdownable.

The History Keepers: Circus Maximus by Damian Dibben

The History Keepers are able to travel through time with the aid of atomium - but stocks are dangerously low. They must travel in time, and further back than ever before, to replenish their stocks. The ancient world is in danger from the Veldt family so the History Keepers must set off on a perilous adventure which takes them to Ancient Rome. An action-packed story which will have the reader gripped with excitement as they get involved in the cliffhangers throughout the story. The vivid descriptions transport the reader back in time and this roller-coaster of a story will particularly appeal to boys.

Spy for the Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin

Mary Queen of Scots is a colourful and intriguing character who has fascinated writers of historical fiction. Here we hear her story from the viewpoint of Ginette - known as Jenny - her Lady in Waiting and close friend. THey grow up in the scheming and manipulative French court, where Jenny learns of a mysterious whispered plot, which leads her into danger as she investigates. Life when they return to Scotland is equally fraught with peril as Mary battles to keep her throne. A vivid recreation of the period, beautifully written with strong characters and full of accurate historical detail.

Trouble by Bali Rai

There are plenty of school stories for pre-teens so lovers of the genre will enjoy these tales from Dervana High - there are two stories in this book. In the first, Grace and her friends hate it when they get late lunch and all there is are the awful leftovers - so they come up with a plan... The second story is about Dean, a guy who is always up for making some extra cash. In this hilarious story, he thinks he has got it made when he gets his hands on some mobile phones and games - but he faces competition.

Mission Survival 3: Sands of the Scorpion by Bear Grylls

Another exciting story from real-life survival expert Bear Grylls, who once again brings all his knowledge to produce an action-packed and gripping story set in the Sahara Desert. After being forced to parachute out of a smugglers' plane, It's teenage adventurer Beck Granger's toughest survival challenge yet. Blistering sun, shifting sand dunes, and no water for hundreds of miles... An exciting story.

Yellow Cake by Margo Lanagan

10 emotional short stories - all beautifully and hauntingly written. Ranging from fantasy and fairy tale to horror and stark reality, what pervades these stories is the sense of humanity. The people of Lanagan's worlds face trials, temptations and degradations. They swoon and suffer and even kill for love. In a dangerous world, they seek the solace and strength that comes from family and belonging.These are not stories to race through, they are stories to be savoured - there is so much contained in each that I think they could be drawn out into full length novels.

This Northern Sky by Julia Green

Despite the fact that Kate is dreading a family holiday on a remote Hebridean island, she knows it is really important - a final chance for her parents to make up. Once there, Kate feels she has to get away and to her surprise, she finds a warm and loving community, prepared to accept her just as she is. A perceptive story which shows a real understanding of how a teen feels faced with family breakdown. A poignant story with a beautiful setting.

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: After Iris by Natasha Farrant

Sadly, an all-too-familiar scenario in today's world - workaholic parents who have little time for their family - but we soon learn why. Thirteen year old Bluebell Gadsby and her three siblings (plus three pet rats)are left in the care of Zoran the au pair. When Joss moves in next door Blue thinks she might be falling in love - but her hopes are dashed when he takes out her older sister Flora instead (who, incidentally, is trying to make a statement by dying her hair bright pink but no one takes the blindest bit of notice). But the real tragedy behind the story is that Blue's twin sister, Iris, died recently and the family each try to find ways to cope with their grief. Blue's unique way is to record a video diary. This is an emotional and memorable story, with humour and sadness intermingled.

Firewallers by Simon Packham

When Jess's dad is suspended from work, to Jess' surprise her mum takes her and her sister off to a remote Scottish island to join a commune, rather than staying to support her husband. Why, Jess wants to know. There's no modern technology allowed in the commune and that takes some getting used to. It takes Jess a while to get used to the others in the commune, who seem very odd to her. Jess' mum and sister won't tell Jess what her Dad has done. It's a thoughtfully written book with well depicted characters and some serious issues to contemplate.

House of Secrets by Chris Columbus

When Brendan, Cordelia and Nell move and their family move into to Kristoff House they have no idea that they are about to unleash the dark magic locked within. The house was once home to a crazy writer, whose stories have come to life - and the Walker family must cope with the results. If they don't succeed, the consequences will be disastrous. The house is full of secrets which gradually come to light as the Walker family's involvement with the house increases. The first in an atmospheric, suspenseful and exciting trilogy.

Spooks: Alice: Book 12 (Wardstone Chronicles) by Joseph Delaney

Over the years, Alice has fought evil side by side with the Spook and his apprentice, Thomas Ward. But now Alice is alone - in the realm of the dark. And the creatures she has helped to banish there, now have the chance to take their revenge. Alice must seek the final weapon needed to destroy the Fiend for good. If she fails, the world will fall into despair and darkness. If she succeeds, it means facing her own death at the hands of her dearest friend. But can she prevent the darkness from overtaking her over completely . . . ? There's just one more story to come in the series - fans will be disappointed to see the series end.

The Tunnels of Tarcoola by Jennifer Walsh

When I started this book with its discovery of a network of tunnels running under the park, with a secret exit under a mysterious ruined house, I anticipated a good, old-fashioned adventure story. But as the children investigate further, Kitty's suspicions are aroused but the others won't listen to her. Why is the house deserted and what has prompted a local developer to take an interest? The story is set in Sydney and gives an interesting look into the history of the area, especially during the Second World War. A good read with some well developed characters.

Green Monkey Dreams by Isobelle Carmody

Fourteen unforgettable short stories which were written over a period of 13 years and which reflect a variety of emotions and styles in their telling. Fantasy stories wherein the fine line between reality and imagination is blurred, leaving the reader guessing. "Within it you will find roads of paradox on which an angel might be a torturer, or a princess might reject a prince to save a rooster. These are paths travelled by seekers of the difficult deepest truths never found on straight roads; here a boy searches for his true name, a group of pilgrims is led by a song on an ancient journey, and a beast discovers hope."

Step Up and Dance by Thalia Kalkipsakis

16 year old Saph feels she has just the life she wants - dancing in a cheerleading squad for a professional basketball team... and things get even better when she gets a Valentine card from her secret crush. But things are not as good as they seem and Saph is humiliated to find out that the card was a hoax - so she and friend Summer set out to get revenge. Teen readers will readily identify with Saph and her hopes and dreams and this is an enjoyable read.

The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant

A compelling story of two young men, neither of whom speak although Hec elects to be silent, Omed has no such choice. Omed is an Afghani refugee and Hector an Australian boy struggling to come to terms with loss. Each narrates his story in the first two sections and the third finds a dramatic change. Perceptive and thoughtful, this book depicts its characters strongly and effectively and will linger in the reader's thoughts.

Mission Survival 1: Gold of the Gods by Bear Grylls

This is a fast-paced adventure story that will grip the reader right from the start. Beck Granger is lost in the jungle with no food, no compass, and no hope of rescue. But if anyone can survive, Beck can because he's the world's youngest survival expert. The reader will learn lots of survival tips as well as discovering about South America - an easy but enjoyable read..

The Underdog (Underdogs) by Markus Zusak

This is one in a series which follows brothers Cameron and Ruben Wolfe and exploits the differences in their characters to produce very readable storylines. They spend most of their time throwing one-handed boxing matches (they only have the one pair of gloves) and plotting to rob the local dentist in one of their efforts to get money. But what Cameron really wants is to meet a girl. Each chapter ends in a dream Cameron has had, giving an additional and interesting insight into his character and feelings. In the same series - Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Underdogs)

The Fire Chronicle: The Books of Beginning 2 by John Stephens

This excellently written story is the sequel to The Emerald Atlas. Still Kate, Michael and Emma are in search of their long-lost family - and there is hope when Michael and Emma find the man who was the last person to see them. Could a secret map of a distant, mysterious land be the clue they need? In trying to save her siblings, Kate finds herself in danger, trapped in the past. The two storylines are well entwined, giving the reader a thrilling read as both are followed. Danger is all around in this exciting fantasy which more than lives up to the promise of the first. The characters are developing, the tension is kept going and readers will be impatient for the conclusion of the trilogy.

Getting the Girl (Underdogs) by Markus Zusak

An intriguing look at sibling loyalty and rivalry. Cameron and Ruben have always been loyal brothers (albeit with very different characters and a different view of girls), but that loyalty is about to be tested when Octavia dumps Cameron in favour of his brother Ruben. Emotional and thoughtful, it shows how the quiet brother comes from under his brother's shadow and stands on his own.

Black Arts by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil

Elizabethan London - a city of contrasts and danger. Jack the 'Judicious Nipper' finds himself pitted against the charismatic Nicholas Webb - the man who killed Jack's mother. Helped by an interesting group of characters - Beth Sharkwell the Thief Princess of Lambeth, Kit Morely the Intelligencer and Dr Dee the Queen's Wizard - Jack must fight against, not just Nicholas Webb but demons too. A powerful story with an interesting blend of history, magic and malice.

The Wilful Eye (Tales from the Tower) edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab

Fairy tales? Maybe, but not as we know them. Six authors have created stories loosely based on fairy tales but each one with a surprising twist. Interestingly, each story has a note from its author, describing why they chose that story - I like the insight this gives. The authors featured are Margo Lanagan, Rosie Borella, Isobelle Carmody, Richard Harland, Margaret Mahy and Martine Murray. The universal themes of envy and jealousy, deception and abandonment, control and power, courage and sacrifice, violence and deception can all be found in this unusual and inspiring collection.

Only Ever Always by Penni Russon

Claire is beside herself with grief after the death of her much loved uncle. Her escape is into a fantasy world, facilitated by a magical music box, where she dreams of a girl, Clara, who is just like her in appearance. The two worlds become intertwined and it's impossible to separate fact from imagination in this well crafted novel. The switching between first, second and third person narratives is an interesting device, but not one I personally enjoy - but I know others do. It's a descriptive, emotive story and the two girls are well-drawn and believable.

Slither's Tale (Spooks) by Joseph Delaney

Slither is not human - he is a haizda mage who preys upon humans, sneaking into their homes to gorge upon their blood while they sleep. His latest victims are set to be the daughters of a farmer who has died - but the farmer has done a deal and offered the eldest daughter, Nessa, to Slither. This is the start of a treacherous journey with danger around every corner, as they try to deliver the younger sisters, Bryony and Susan to the care of their aunt and uncle. This is the latest installment of the terrifying Spooks series but it can be read as a stand-alone.

The Stone Demon (Iron Witch Trilogy) by Karen Mahoney

This is the conclusion of the trilogy and you should really read the other books to get the full enjoyment from this novel. The newly-released demons set the Order of the Crow an impossible task. They must deliver the Philosopher's Stone - failure will be fatal. It's up to alchemist's apprentice Donna Underwood to recreate the mythical artefact or the world is doomed. But she's working against powerful forces of evil. Will she manage to carry out the task? Well written prose and strongly developed characters make this a gripping read for fans of fantasy books.

The Flappers: Diva by Jillian Larkin

This, the third (and last) in the Diva series, had me wanting to know what had gone on previously in Clara, Lorraine and Gloria's lives, and just how their characters had developed. This is a tangled tale of 1920s Manhattan and three girls who have concerns over their friend Marcus' betrothal. Just what is he getting himself into? The girls' efforts to stop the wedding lead them into a series of scandalous adventures. Each chapter is told by a different one of the four characters - a device that I find can be confusing, but that's a personal view and others enjoy that style and the opportunity of hearing different voices. To enjoy the story of the three Flappers fully, start with Vixen, then Ingenue.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

A powerful and atmospheric novel set on an isolated island where daily life is a struggle. But that is the mundane - it is also a place of mystery and magic. On the beach, the witch Misskaella casts her spells, drawing beautiful girls from the sea and luring men to the island with their promise.But these are no mortal women and their destiny is to return to the sea, leaving a troubled legacy. It's an engrossing story which depicts through wonderful language a strange and uncanny people. The story is based on the intriguing legend of the Selkies.

The Fate in the Box by Michelle Lovric

Set in the magical and mysterious city of Venice which is the perfect backdrop for cruel Fogfinger who rules the city and who is feared by everyone. Each year a Venetian child's life is sacrificed in a grim ceremony. The child must climb the bell tower and let the Fate in the Box decide their destiny. Most end their days in the jaws of the primeval Crocodile that lurks in the lagoon. Or so Fogfinger tells them. But when Amneris and Tockle meet, it may be the beginning of the end for Fogfinger. Beautifully written, with compelling use of language which vividly brings the setting and the characters to life and draws the reader deep into the story.

Tiger Wars (The Falcon Chronicles) by Steve Backshall

The Falcon Chronicles is a fast-paced, action packed adventure series featuring Saker and Sinter whose mission is to protect wildlife around the world. In this, the first story, initially Saker is working with those who destroy animals but his attitude changes and he is in danger from his former associates. Sinter helps him escape and the two form a close bond.Fiction, of course, but set with a very realistic background which draws on Steve Backshall's vast experience. An excellent read.

The Child's Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston

An emotional story about a baby elephant is left orphaned on the African savannah, which turns into a story of fear and terror. Herdsboy Bat takes the home and cares for her, but Bat's grandmother knows that Meya cannot stay with them for ever - she will be drawn back to the wild. And life is changing and there are frightening stories of kidnapping, suffering and war. Bat and his closest friend, Muka, are catapulted into a new life of unimaginable terror. Now memories of their village world feel so far away. Will the bond between elephant and child remain strong enough to save them? A compelling story which has its roots in reality, it is a real page-turner as the reader is anxious to find out what happens to the pair.

The Goblin's Gift: Tales of Fayt, Book 2 (Demons Watch) by Conrad Mason

Joseph Grubb is the newest member of the Demon's Watch. He and his fellow watchmen protect Port Fayt, where humans live in peace alongside trolls, elves and fairies. And now the town needs them more than ever, because the almighty League of the Light has sent an armada to wipe it off the map. Fayt's only hope is to persuade the magical merfolk to fight with them. But the merfolk won't go to war. Not unless their princess is returned to them from the clutches of the most dangerous nine-year-old in the Ebony Ocean. Can Joseph and his friend Tabitha to rescue the mermaid princess . . . But a secret from Joseph's past is about to change everything.

The Wimpy Vampire Strikes Back (Diary of a Wimpy Vampire) by Tim Collins

Nigel Mullet seems a typical 15 year old - he plays video games, lazes about,  pursues girls... but all is not what it seems - Nigel is a vampire.  As if 15 isn't an awkward enough age for anyone, Nigel finds himself in charge of the vampire coven on the remote island of Hirta. Written in the form of a diary and generously interspersed with amusing drawings, it's just the sort of book to encourage reluctant readers to decide reading is really worthwhile, as well as engrossing keen readers. It's a hilarious book, with its mix of the paranormal and the mundane, a coven and family life.

Battle of the Immortal (MetaWars) by Jeff Norton

MetaWars is an action packed YA thriller series, and this is the third book. Uploaded are the online incarnations of dead people and huge numbers of them have escaped from the Metasphere and taken over the bodies of living people in the real world. As warring factions vie for control of the online sphere, computer viruses and rocket technology are among the weapons used in a savage battle between the living and the dead. Jonah faces an ever more complicated future - and must make a terrible choice about his own Uploaded father... The background theme of technology will appeal especially to boy readers, who will enjoy this fast-paced read with its cast of well-drawn characters.

Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn

At the age of just 14, Freya’s childhood will come to an end and she must take up her responsibilities as a Valkyrie. But Freya is torn – she wants to know what ordinary life is like. Maybe she will get what she wants with her first mission – a soul with unfinished business sees her in the human world on a desperate quest. An imaginative fantasy which blends the real world with the legend of Norse goddess Valkyrie

Mission Survival: Way of the Wolf by Bear Grylls

Real life survival expert Bear Gryalls has turned his attention to fiction writing, with great success. His insight into his subject makes for gripping reading with a true element of realism which captivates the reader. In the Alaskan mountains after a fatal plane crash the world's youngest survival expert is in trouble again. Beck Granger must find help across the mountains. But it's not just the cold that is his enemy - a hungry wolf is close behind... He will need to deploy all his skills and cunning to reach safety. A book which will grip the attention of boys who love adventures and the outdoor life.

The Enchantress: Book 6 (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

by Michael Scott We reach the end of this enthralling saga with Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel in dire peril - they have just one day left to live, and one job left to do. They must defend San Francisco. The monsters gathered on Alcatraz Island have been released and are heading toward the city. If they are not stopped, they will destroy everyone and everything in their path. But even with the help of two of the greatest warriors from history and myth, will the Sorceress and the legendary Alchemyst be able to defend the city? Or is it the beginning of the end of the human race? Read the series from the beginning though, or you will miss out!

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

Rochelle Evans - despite being pretty and popular she has never been kissed. Noah Flynn is a different character altogether, but when Rochelle decides to run a kissing booth at the school's Spring Carnival, the two collide and Rochelle's life is thrown into turmoil. She knows that Noah means trouble but she just can't seem to keep away and things spiral out of control. Elle wants a fairy tale ending. A good read with plenty of reality and romance.


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