Book reviews - fiction 11 & over (page 7)

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

Cyberhawks Versus Storm Troopers by Mark Logie

Ty Monterey is no hero. He’s obsessed with computers, often in trouble at school (much of the book seems to be about this) and rude to his mother. Worst of all, he has a distinctly wimpish stutter. When a mysterious, coded e-mail arrives in his inbox, he sets about decoding it. At first he is excited by what he discovers, but when he is menaced by a knife-wielding thug in his own garden he realises things have become serious. Ty finds he has stumbled across a plot to launch the worst terrorist attack the world has known, with thousands of lives at risk on the London Underground. Dismissed at every turn by the authorities, it soon becomes clear to Ty that only he the other two Cyberhawks, can prevent the devastating attack planned by the group known as “Storm Troopers TZ9”. But does he have the courage to see it through?

The Curious Crime by Julia Golding

Reece is a girl in a man's world, aided and abetted by her father. But a mistake means she is discovered working illegally, leaving her father banished and Reece demoted to working as a maid. Her carving takes her into a fantasy land where Phil the dodo and other unusual wild animals roam corridors, great halls and an underground network of passages of a magnificent museum and science academy. But sinister happenings are afoot and murders to solve the mysteries and prove their innocence. The book puts the reader in awe of those who make scientific discoverire, and of the brilliant ways their minds work; Reece is a strong character, determined not to give in to those who would hold women back. It's a fascinating story, mixing science and fantasy, and encouraging discovery and pushing the boundaries. Brilliantly written, I really enjoyed this.

The Blue Cat by Ursula Duborarsky

Australia in 1942 - the war may seem far away but its impact is still being felt. One impact was the arrival of refugees, of whom Ellery is one. Lonely, and unable to speak English, he finds friends in Columba and Hilda. A mysterious stray cat has also appeared; like Ellery, the cat has secrets. Together, the three children embark on an thrilling adventure through the atmospheric harbour-side streets. The story is beautifully told, full of emotion and sensitively written, giving us a picture of the war that will be unfamiliar to many.

Lyla: Through My Eyes - Natural Disaster Zones by Fleur Beale

Natural disasters are a sad fact of life, but unless we are personally involved, we do not always appreciate the full impact. This excellent book really redresses the balance, albeit through the medium of fiction, as we read the story of Lyla who has just started her second year of high school when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake shakes Christchurch to pieces. Rescue uis close to Lyla's family ethos as her police officer mother and trauma nurse father respond to the disaster, putting the family at the heart of the action. Lyla opens their home to neighbours and leads the community clean-up. But it's not just the physical landscape that has changed - it's friends and acquaintances too. How will Lyla cope? A moving and emotive account, firmly based on reality, which gives a real insight into the way those affected by disaster really feel and react. 

You've Got a Friend by Judi Curtin

Stories about families are always popular, especially with girls, so no wonder this series has proved a big success. Molly worries about her dad - he seems so lonely. He lives on his own... he won’t get a pet... he doesn’t get on with his brother. As so often happens, could it be that the problems stem from issues in the past? Molly and her friend Beth want to help but feel powerless. Until, that is, they find a time-travelling door, which will take them back to 1975. It's a super evocation of the period, with a strong message about loyaltym friendship and determination.

Shine Mountain by Julie Hunt

When Ellie's Grandad dies, her peaceful life at Spit Farm is shattered by the revealing of a secret - a magical button-box. It's a musical instrument from the Gleam country, a land with talking goats, sweet grass and corn that grows so high you have to fell it with an axe. But all is not what it seems - when Ellie activates the button-box, initially flowers bloom and crops spring up overnight but soon everything goes wrong. To save her oma and discover the truth about her own identity, Ellie must embark on a dangerous journey to the Gleam country - the only place where the evil button-box can be destroyed. I love the fact there's a map at the start of the book - it's great to be able to follow the story on this. Strong characters and engaging animals are at the heart of this sinister and uncanny story which sees Ellie setting off on a dangerous quest to save the farm she loves.

The Secret Deep by Lindsay Galvin

Thrilling - Underwater - Mystery. That's how Chicken House summarise this book.I ntrigued? Then read on... A dramatic start to the book really draws the reader in - a two page tantalising read is cleverly done and sets the tome for the excellent writing. Why has Aster wakened alone on a tropical island, and where is her younger sister, Poppy? Sam, who once met the sisters on a plane, makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, which I did find a little challenging to follow, the truth unravels and the answer is found in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island.

We See Everything by William Sutcliffe .

Drones have rapidly become commpnplace - but their implications are frightening as this gripping futuristic story shows. It is set in a reimagined London where constant surveillance is the norm. Alex, who lives on The Strip - the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London, and talented gamer Alan has the job of his dreams - he is about to start working as a drone pilot at a secret military base. Destined never to meet, nevertheless, their lives collide dramatically. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad. Chilling, significant and thought-provoking. Set in the near future, it's worryingly close to home.

The Long Forever (Sign of One Trilogy) by Eugene Lambert

This dramatic finale brings together all the threads of the previous books - but you really need to read the whole series in order to enjoy this book fully. The roller-coaster adventure continues with Kyle and Sky having escaped from Wrath only to find themselves marooned on a space station, giving a quite different perspective to the story. They find themselves caught up in a vicious criminal underworld. Kyle is tempted by The Syndicate and faces a tough decision. Meanwhile, Sky's condition is worsening. Only one person can save her now - nublood sister, Tarn. But what happens if Tarn doesn't want to be found? A dramatic and fitting conclusion which raises many moral issues.

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I by Carolyn Mackler

It's back to the world of Virginia Shreves in the follow-up to The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things. Virginia's life, always haphazard, is in turmoil. Does she still like Froggy? Why has her mum has betrayed her to the meanest girl in school? How should she feel about her brother Byron, who has been suspended from university for date rape. When Byron is arrested Virginia's dilemmas increase. She meets Sebastian, a boy with his own problems and they agree not to discuss their problems their troubles - until a terrible secret comes out that could ruin everything. It's a gripping story with excellently drawn characters. Unlike many, this follow-up reads well as a stand-alone but once you've enjoyed this, you will probably want to read the previous book.

Chloe Snow's Diary: Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastan

This year is a bit of a come-down for Chloe - star player last year; member of the ensemble this. But that's not the only problem Chloe faces in this, her sophomore year... In this all-American story, Chloe must cope with her estranged parents' love affairs as well as a risk to her close friendship with Hannah. And she has her own relationship problems too. It's a lot to manage and girls will thoroughly enjoy reading the diary-format account of the year. There's so much going on in the life of this awkward teen, with whom so many girls will emphasise. It's realistic and well written, homing in on teen angst perfectly.

Find the Girl by Lucy and Lydia Cowell

This story about 15 year old identical twins is written by twins, so you can be sure it reflects the way twins feel - not always easy for others to appreciate, so I was immediately interested in the book. Looking alike does not mean acting alike, and Nancy and Nina couldn't be more different in character. Outgoing Nancy is popular, an Instagram star, and obsessed with boy band heartthrob Chase, shy Nina is a talented classical musician who avoids the limelight. When the wrong twin unwittingly ends up at the centre of a romantic social media storm, the bonds of twin-ship will be tested like never before... Perfectly topical with its focus on social media and the dangers it can present, it is also a strong story about family.

The Boy who Lied by Kim Slater

14 year old Ed Clayton is, to put it bluntly, a liar. But he does have good reason as it all began when his father was sent to prison. The trouble is, now he can’t seem to stop and that means nobody believes him when his younger brother, Sam, goes missing and Ed says he can’t remember what happened. The family is living in near poverty, having to resort to a food bank and going without basic essentials. Even friends are turning against the family. Ed is left trying to find Sam with only the help of his new neighbour, Fallon. When the two stumble on a secret that even Ed could never have imagined, it’s up to the liar to uncover the truth... but wwill anyone believe him? The story is fast-paced and compelling and the characters warm and credible. It's sensitive and thought-provoking and makes the reader think throughout the twists and turns of the plot.

Bodyguard: Fugitive (Bodyguard 6) by Chris Bradford

This thrilling conclusion to the fast-paced adrenalin-fuelled Bodyguard series will leave its fans totally satisfie - albeit disappointed. Join Connor as he meets his nemesis in Shanghai where he discovers he's the target for an assassination by Equilibrium, the clandestine organization that has plagued his life as a bodyguard. With a mark on his head, Connor goes on the run through an alien country and from an enemy he knows even less about. Support from colleagues will be paramount, but just who will protect Connor? Vividly written, page-turning action will have readers on the edge of their seats as they reach the thrilling conclusion.

Running On Empty by S E Durrant

A J is in a very unusual position; his parents have learning difficulties and when his grandfather dies, it's down to A J to keep the family together; the role that was his grandfather's. A J is a talented runner, and this is his escape and his ambition... but his family cannot cope financially and the family is rapidly falling apart, with bills unpaid and no emotional support for A J who seems to be heading ever closer to disaster. It's an emotionally but not sentimentally told story about a close family, there for another, but struggling to cope in a society which does not work for them. A remarkable story with superbly depicted characters; a story that should make us sit up and take note of what happens in our society. A tough topic, sensitively handled; a determined boy who doesn't give up; heartfelt and touching and very definitely worth reading.

Ice Breaker: The Hidden Series 1 by Lian Tanner

Petrel lives onboard the old icebreaker, The Oyster. She is an outcast, one with no tribe' feared and hated by the rest of the crew. But when a boy is found, frozen on an iceberg, Petrel determines to save him. A decision with far-reaching consequences, as the boy has been sent to destroy the ship and everyone it, along with the secret it contains. A powerful and atmospheric story that has you in its grip from the outset.

The Endless King (Knights of the Borrowed Dark Book 3) by Dave Rudden

This is the final book in the gripping and superbly imagined Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy. Orphan Denizen led an uneventful life in an orphanage until, at the age of 12, he learns he is one of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark, an army charged with protecting the world. Denizen has travelled to Daybreak, the ancestral home of the Order of the Borrowed Dark, to continue his training as a knight. But lessons have barely begun before an unexpected arrival appears with news that throws the fortress into uproar. The Endless King has fallen, his dark realm rising in a brutal civil war. When the conflict strikes closer to home, Denizen and his friends face their greatest challenge yet and the future of the world is at stake. Vividly described and full of action and suspense, lovers of fantasy novels will relish this trilogy - but please start with the first book (Knights of the Borrowed Dark (Knights of the Borrowed Dark Book 1)) to get the full benefit. It's highly original, there are touches of humour to lighten the story and the writing is sharp and dramatic.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Lazlo Strange is a dreamer; a dreamer whose work as a librarian gives him every opportunity to escape into fantasy worlds. From a young boy, he has been obsessed with the mythical lost city of Weep, a city which disappeared long ago. It seems unlikely that Lazlo will ever know more until an unexpected opportunity presents itself. Lazlo must seize his chance to discover what happened in Weep to cut it off from the world. And that's not the only mystery... The answers await in Weep. A beautifully crafted story which totally immerses the reader, bringing a fantasy world to life through evocative language and vivid descriptions, along with a caring and interesting lead character.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole by Michelle Cuevas

Vivid and compelling, this is a fascinating and unusual read. Stella's visit to NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan's Golden Record has an unexpected result. On her return, she finds that a black hole has followed her... and what do black holes do? They consume everything in their path. There are good and bad sides to this, as Stella finds out... she can get rid of things she doesn't want. The downside comes when other things disappear - and Stella finds herself in the black hole. So, what really happens? As Stella is forced to face her grief, this fascinating story comes to a fascinating conclusion. Unputdownable

Secrets of a Teenage Heiress (Hotel Royale) by Katy Birchall

What a dream life for a star-struck girl - Flick's family own The Royale, a prestigious London hotel. She is interested in the newest guest – superstar celebrity Skylar Chase, and Sky's mega-famous group of friends, including dreamy YouTube star, Ethan Duke. But just as Flick gets the chance to join their glittering squad, she gets grounded following an unfortunate incident involving a prince, a wardrobe and a selfie stick. As you can see, this is a story packed with humour! With only her Instagram star pet dachshund, Fritz, for company, will Flick find a way to escape The Royale and join the fame game? A great read for tweens and young teens, who will love the glitz and glamour.

Dark Tracks (Order of Darkness 4) by Philippa Gregory

This is the fourth in a compelling series. Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked by his master to uncover the truth behind strange happenings. Together with Lady Isolde, her friend and confidant Ishraq, Luca’s manservant Freize, and Brother Peter, Luca travels across medieval Europe – seeking out the signs of the end of days, judging the supernatural and testing the new science. Trapped in a village possessed by a dancing madness, the group fights to keep their own sanity. When Isolde dances away in red shoes and Ishraq takes dramatic revenge on their covert assassin the young people discover that the greatest danger is in the men who have come to their rescue. These are the truly dangerous madmen of Europe who carry a dark hatred that will last for centuries.

Below Zero by Dan Smith

This is a spine-chilling adventure which tells a compelling story of 12 year old Zak, who has to draw on all his inner strength to survive. His plane has crash-landed on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base in one of the most isolated places on Earth. He is plunged deep into a nightmare world. There's no power and the people who live there have disappeared. Worse, as he searches for answers, bizarre visions suggest a link to something else - deep beneath the ice - which only he can understand .. Hard-hitting and compulsive, this is an exciting pacy adventure set in a dramatic location.

Mike by Andrew Norriss

Floyd is a young tennis star and his world revolves around training and winning matches. But his focused world is thrown into turmoil when a boy called Mike - a boy nobody else can see - keeps appearing when Floyd is playing, and makes him lose his game. Superbly written, this is a story for anyone who doubts their course in life. A relatively quick read, it's a book with a powerful and singificant message, with a fascinating look inside a boy's mind.

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Valor is suspected of the attempted murder of the crown prince, and she is under arrest, sentenced to life imprisonment at the terrifying Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court and her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure. Valor wanted to be sent to Demidova, because that's where her sister is, and she has an ambitious plan to set her free. But nobody has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison ... Thrilling and tense, this is an excellent story of sisterly love and courage.

Pawns: Ireland's War of Independence by Brian Gallagher

This is an evocative account of the dilemmas faced by those who lived through the Irish War of Independence, showcasing how differing allegiances posed problems and challenges. Three friends - Johnny, Alice and Stella - are inseparable, despite coming from different backgrounds – Johnny had a harsh childhood in an orphanage, Alice is the daughter of the hotel owner and Stella the daughter of the Commanding Officer at the nearby RAF Gormanston. With the War of Independence raging, the friends face difficult decisions. Stella is pro-British, Johnny is pro-independence, and Alice is somewhere in between. Then Johnny’s secret role, spying for the IRA on the Crown forces, puts him in danger. And Stella and Alice have hard choices to make – choices that threaten their lives. Compellingly written, with great empathy and insight, this is an excellent read.

Resurrection (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 10) by Derek Landy

Fans of Skulduggery Pleasant who have been eagerly awaiting a follow-up to The Dying of the Light, published in 2014, will be thrilled to learn of the publication of this sequel, which stars old favourites along with some great new characters. Skulduggery has learnt of a plot to resurrect a terrifying evil, and he has recruited Valkyrie for a mere 24 hours to save the world. But they need help... enter Omen Darkly, who may seem a strange choice as a helper - but all will be explained. You can read this as a stand-alone, but it will be so much more enjoyable for those familiar with the series, as it does make reference back to past events. The main characters have developed and matured, and the storyline is full of tension with touches of humour as light relief. Cleverly written, highly enjoyable and plenty of openings to continue the storylines.

All The Things That Could Go Wrong by Stewart Foster

Dan is one very angry person and this is ever since his big brother left. Alex is a worrier and he is a prime target for Dan's bullying. Sensitively and compellingly written, we learn that Alex has severe OCD which makes it hard for him to leave the house. And who would want to go to school, when Dan and his gang are waiting for him... So what will happen when the boys’ mothers arrange for them to meet up to finish building the raft that Dan started with his brother? Two enemies stuck together for the whole of the school holidays – what could possibly go wrong? Ultimately uplifting and very positive, this is superbly written and full of insight.

Infinity Drake: Giant Killer by John McNally

As ever, with a series like this, I would urge you to start with the first book so you really enjoy the sequence. Infinity Drake is tiny - but that doesn't stop him from being a big hero... and a larger-than-life character. Spoiler alert! After months of captivity Finn and Carla reach their final destination; evil mastermind Kaparis's secret lair in the Carpathian mountains. Once there, Finn learns the villain's true purpose is to conquer his paralysis and rise again. To do so Kaparis must shrink a team of medics down to microscopic size and only a microscopic hero can stop him. Fast-moving, very exciting and with plenty of touches of humour.

The Dying of the Light (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 9) by Derek Landy

Fans of this epic series will be desolated to know this, the ninth book, is the last. The War of the Sanctuaries has been won but only at the expense of lives. Following the loss of Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop Darquesse before she turns the world into a charred, lifeless cinder. To do so, he draws together a team of soldiers, monster hunters, killers, criminals… and Valkyrie’s own murderous reflection. The war may be over, but the final battle is about to begin. And not everyone gets out of here alive. The reader is positively raced through the book - and you wouldn't want it any other way, as the suspense could just be too much! Also available are the two previous books in the series: Kingdom of the Wicked (Skulduggery Pleasant, Book 7) and Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant Book 8)

SUNNY SIDE UP (GEEK GIRL SPECIAL, BOOK 2) BY HOLLY SMALE

Harriet is a wonderful character who is quite irresistible - whatever the world throws at her, she comes up positive; a heart-warming character who grows more and more likeable as the series proceeds. In this perfect summer read, she is in the fashion-led city of Paris, coping with the expectations thrust on her by being the hottest new model at Fashion Week, as well as the problems caused by Nick, her ex-boyfriend, seemingly appearing everywhere she goes. How will she cope? Well, as Harriet always does, with a dollop of commonsense and the ability to laugh at herself. Another great read and there's the bonus of a story written by Nick to enjoy as well.

The High Note (Girl vs Boy Band 2) by Harmony Jones

THis is the second book in the tween series about Lark, and to really enjoy the story, I suggest reading The Right Track first, to get to know the characters. Lark's singing is big news on YouTube and this has really put her in the limelight, both for singing and in her private life. With pressure from two music executives - one of them her mum - to sign to their label and with irresistible pop sensation Abbey Road set to go on tour, Lark worries that the only boy she can really talk to about her fears and frustrations is about to leave . until Abbey Road ask her to be their opening act! Now Lark must find a way to listen to her heart, both on and off stage. Can she find the courage when it counts the most? This is an interesting book, with its insight into potential stardom at an early age, and its perceptive look at the pressures involved.

The Opposite of You by Lou Morgan

Bex and Naomi are identical twins and identical twins can have a really strong bond and insight into each other's world. Bex and Naomi used to be inseparable, playing games pretending that they knew just what the other was thinking. But things have changed as they’ve got older and now the twins aren't as close as they used to be. Then Naomi goes missing and all of a sudden their childhood games take on a whole new meaning. Bex knows more about what’s going on with Naomi than seems possible to anyone else. No one understands Naomi like she does and now her twin sister needs help. A fascinating and gripping look at the world of identical twins.

The Scattering (The Outliers, Book 2) by Kimberly McCreight

The tension just keeps building in this, the second in the nail-biting trilogy about secrets, betrayal and power. Escape from the isolated camp in the woods does not mean safety for Wylie - far from it. Wylie's powers as an Outlier are come with problems - allowing herself to read other peoples’ emotions isn't just difficult, it's downright dangerous. Jasper too is under pressure, unable to let go of the blame he so desperately feels, especially when someone has been taunting him with reminders of it. Wylie and Jasper would do anything for each other, but is their bond is strong enough to overcome demons from the past? Amid this uncertainty and fear, Wylie is confronted with a choice. She was willing to do whatever it took to help Cassie, but is she prepared to go to the same extremes for complete strangers… even if they are just like her? Gripping and full of suspense and Wylie is brilliantly portrayed.

BLINK AND YOU DIE (RUBY REDFORT, BOOK 6) BY LAUREN CHILD

Sadly, this is the last outing for Ruby Redfort. Ruby Redfort: undercover agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius – you can count on her when the ice starts to crack. But now she is facing big trouble and she's scared - there are people who want her dead. Worst of all, one of them is on her team, so Ruby doesn't know who to trust. Ruby is a brilliant heroine - she's not perfect and that helps the reader to really engage with her. A gripping and totally satisfying end to what has been a fantastic series... and I wonder what great strong female character Lauren Child will bring us next? Not read the others? Read them first and don't spoil things by starting off with this book

The Crystal Run: Book 1 by Sheila O'Flanagan

It's always interesting to see what the result will be when a well-known author for adults turns her attention to writing for a younger audience. I wasn't disappointed in Sheila O'Flanagan's debut children's novel - but this gripping fantasy novel is a completely new departure. Kaia Kukura has the honour of protecting her country, and she must travel through enemy territory to replace the precious Kerala crystals that power Carcassia's protective shield. But her life will end when she completes her mission...or will it? The truth can be questioned from unexpected directions but who would have thought a 14 year old boy who can't even stand up to bullies would change destiny? When Joe meets Kaia, they discover terrible truths. Well plotted with likeable characters, the sequel will give the opportunity to flesh out the plot and the story.

A Seven-Letter Word by Kim Slater

Finlay's mother vanished two years ago. And ever since then his stutter has become almost unbearable. Bullied at school and ignored by his father, the only way to get out the words which are bouncing around in his head is by writing long letters to his ma which he knows she will never read, and by playing Scrabble online. But when Finlay is befriended by an online Scrabble player called Alex, everything changes. Could it be his mother secretly trying to contact him? Or is there something more sinister going on? Moving, upbuilding, emotional and a testament to the power of words. A superb story, told with real empathy and heartfeltness.

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Hailed as invoking both Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey means this book has a lot to live up to - and it does well. It's June 1938 and Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family's ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. The house is to be sold, and goodbyes said. With tension shigh, a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered and suspicion falls on the McEwens. Julie is determined to prove everyone wrong - and the the plot deepens when she notices the family's treasure trove of pearls is missing. A highly charged atmospheric novel with a masterful heroine and plenty of intrigue and mystery.

Kid Got Shot (The Garvie Smith Mysteries) by Simon Mason

Meet Garvie Smith. Reprobate, genius, waster, and sometime detective. Right in the middle of revision hell - until now. A boy from Marsh Academy has been shot, with no clear motive and no clues. Disgraced DI Singh is on the case, and he's determined to keep Garvie away. But Garvie knows he's the only one who has any idea where to look for the answers. Starting with his best friend's girlfriend. And it's going to take more than pointless revision or flunking his exams to stop him getting involved. Exams. What exams? Garvie is a superb character - teens will readily identify with him. The story is well plotted and compelling.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

"The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels." The baby is sick. Mom and Dad are sad. And all Steve has to do is say, "Yes" to fix everything. But yes is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back? Treading the thin line between dreams and reality, Steve is stuck in a nightmare he can't wake up from and that nobody else understands. And all the while, the wasps' nest is growing, and the 'angel' keeps visiting Steve in the night. A haunting coming of age story that will hold you captive, The Nest is lyrical, surreal and one of the most moving stories you'll read this year.

The City Bleeds Gold (Take Back the Skies 3) by Lucy Saxon

This adventure-filled fantasy has the familiarity of setting the the author's two previous novels, but with a completely new story that stands alone. Two seemingly different people - Noah is the finest mask-maker in all of Erova, responsible and loyal, has won the heart and hand of the future queen; Daniel, dangerous and daring, prowls the filthy rooftops of the maze-like lower city in search of secrets and crime are actually the same person. Can their lives be unwound to bring a happy ending? Through twists and turns, the plot runs a gamut of emotions that keeps the reader engrossed.

Beetle Queen (The Battle of the Beetles) by M.G. Leonard

Cruel beetle fashionista, Lucretia Cutter, is at large with her yellow ladybird spies. When Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt discover further evidence of her evil, they're determined to stop her. But the three friends are in trouble. Darkus' dad has forbidden them to investigate any further - and Lucretia's disgusting crooks, Humphrey and Pickering, are out of prison. Hope rests on Novak, Lucretia's daughter and a Hollywood actress, but the beetle diva is always one scuttle ahead ...

Waiting for Callback: Take Two by Perdita Cargill

This is a new series which started off with great promise in Waiting for Callback, and the second story lives up to the expectations of the first. Elektra seems to have finally won her dream role in a film - until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that almost everyone really does wish the world would come to an end! And things are no better with her love life with Archie. Elektra is a great character - Full of humour and warmth, the reader really warms to her and shares in her ups and downs. Laughs, friendships, teenage angst - it's all here, superbly written so that the reader is completely drawn into the storyline.

Happiest Days (Jack Sheffield 10) by Jack Sheffield

The conclusion of Star Teacher left us, once again, on a real cliffhanger. What was going to happen to Ragley village school and which direction was Jack's life going to take? So for all those of you who, like me, have been longing to find out, here at last is the answer. Once again, we are treated to a wonderfully evocative journey through a year in Jack's life. It’s 1986 - key events, faithfully recorded, include Margaret Thatcher’s third election victory, Dynasty and shoulder pads, Neighbours and a Transformer for Christmas. At Ragley-on-the-Forest School, another year of surprises is in store - the the school becomes Ragley and Morton CE School. Ruby the Caretaker find happiness at last, Vera the Secretary makes an important decision, a new teacher is appointed and a disaster threatens the school. Meanwhile Jack receives unexpected news, and is faced with the biggest decision of his career... This is a real-feel good series which will leave you feeling warm and positive; the historical background is always spot-on and shows just how much research goes into making the background accurate - a great piece of social history. Over the years, readers have come to know and love (mostly!) the wonderful cast of characters and it's always good to greet old friends. And the wonderful quotes from the children really keep the reader amused. I just hope this isn't the last...

The Bone Sparrow: a refugee novel by Zana Fraillon

Sometimes, you come across a really significant novel; a novel which conveys a powerful and essential message, and this is one such book. Subhi has never known a world outside the refugee camp. His view of the world is that he's at least 19 fence diamonds high, the nice Jackets never stay long, and at night he dreams that the sea finds its way to his tent, bringing with it unusual treasures. And then, one day it brings him Jimmie. Carrying a notebook that she's unable to read and wearing a sparrow made out of bone around her neck - both talismans of her family's past and the mother she's lost - Jimmie strikes up an unlikely friendship with Subhi beyond the fence. As he reads aloud the tale of how Jimmie's family came to be, both children discover the importance of their own stories in writing their futures. Far from an easy read, the book is harrowing and heartbreaking yet carries a positive and upbuilding message.

Wild Lily by K. M. Peyton

K M Peyton has been bringing us superlative children's fiction for 50 years - Flambards won the Carnegie Medal 50 years ago. Still her books are fresh, topical, and perfectly pitched for today's readers. A world away from our fast-moving society - It's the 1920s and cars and aeroplanes are new. Lily Gabriel is scruffy, confident and takes no nonsense from anyone. Antony is rich, spoiled and arrogant and Lily is completely and utterly in love with him. An unpredictable roller-coaster of a book that takes the reader from the 1920s to the 1980s, following Lily through highs and lows.

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

This breathtaking story is tinged with the power of darkness and yet is ultimately positive. Zoe is struggling to keep going since the loss of her father; now she is solely responsible for keeping her young brother alive. It's a huge burden but when she finds temporary refuge in the cabin beyond the woods, she meets a man whose muscular body, marked with strange and primitive tattoos, hints at an extraordinary story. He has the power to light up the lake, and with it, Zoe's world. Zoe calls the stranger X. He is a bounty hunter, tormented by the evils of his victims, which course through his veins. X has never known anything but hate, until he meets Zoe. She shows him what a heart is really for and, if they can find a way to be together, just maybe, his pain can help Zoe forget her own. Powerful and moving.

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

This suspense-filled novel tells the story of Reuben who lives a semi-feral secret life in the desolate city of New Umbra. When he discovers an old pocket watch, he soon realizes it holds an incredible power: it can turn you invisible for fifteen minutes. He can't resist the lure of disappearance: for a time, he can vanish from the despotic regime of New Umbra. But the watch's power is even more extraordinary than he imagines. Soon, he's on the run from New Umbra's ruler, The Smoke, who's determined to possess it for himself ... Magic, mystery and adventure, this exciting and compellingly-written novel will keep the reader entranced.

Cradle and All by James Patterson

Two young women, both virgins, and living thousands of miles apart. find themselves pregnant. And that's not all - in cities all around the world, medical authorities are overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods and worse. It all feels like a sign that something awful is coming. Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private investigator, is hired by the Archdiocese of Boston to investigate the immaculate conceptions. Even as she comes to care about and trust the young women, she realises that both are in great danger. Terrifying forces of light and darkness are gathering. Stepping into uncharted territory where the unknown is just the beginning, Anne must discover the truth – to save the young women, to save herself and to protect the future of all mankind.

Mark of the Plague (A Blackthorn Key adventure) by Kevin Sands

It's 1665. It's London. And the dreaded plague has returned. Rich and poor, young and old are struck down every day. Can anything halt its dreadful march? Perhaps it is the unknown man who arrives with a miracle cure. But when an assassin threatens the life of the city's new saviour, young apothecary Christopher Rowe and his faithful friend Tom must risk their lives to untangle another dark conspiracy. This friendship is at the heart of the book but Christopher and Tom are far from being the only compelling characters - the book is full of them! Sally is a new character and she proves herself as strong and resourceful as anyone as the thrilling events unfold. In some ways a dark story - necessarily so, because of the setting, the touches of humour lift it. It's an action-packed, tension-ridden story with a superlative atmosphere. Unputdownable.

Maresi (Red Abbey Chronicles 1) by Maria Turtschaninoff

The Red Abbey is on a mysterious island; it is populated only by women and girls - girls whose learning is strictly curtailed. Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter, and now she is compelled to write her story - and to face her fears. Jai fled to the island to escape terrible danger, unimaginable cruelty and men who will stop at nothing to find her. The women of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. The setting is wonderfully depicted, blending reality and fantasy in a compelling way - the perfect backdrop to the story. The story unfolds, with the tension gradually building, but it's pacy enough to keep you reading, mesmerised by the poetic text and wonderful characters. Fantasy and friendship with trauma and darkness make for a memorable book.

Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

Imaginative and compelling, this is the dramatic sequel to Railhead. From nothing, there came a train. A train with two passengers: Zen Starling, a petty thief from a dead-end town, and Nova, a girl who is not really a girl. Join Zen and Nova as they find out what really lies beyond the end of the universe... Full of extraordinary beings who are superbly depicted to bring us totally real, complex and believable characters; packed with thrills which contrast with thoughtful introspective moments, this is a stunning read which will appeal to both sci-fi fans and those who resolutely avoid the genre - they may well have a change of heart, so do encourage them to try this book. Fast-paced and wonderfully descriptive, the book grabs you and takes you into a futuristic world, connected by trains, which has enough familiarity to make it seem all-too-real.

Child of Fire: Dragon Born: Book Two by Ela Lourenco

The darkness is rising; the shadows on Azmantium grow stronger with each passing day. Only one can hold back the tides of destruction – only the Chosen One can walk the path of light - the Child of Fire… The ever brave Lara, still reeling from the revelation surrounding her origins, will be plunged head first into the plotting schemes of several secret factions as each side battles to win the sacred Karnac – the ancient and perilous tournament to decide the future King. Lara must overcome her fear and embrace her true self if she is to learn how to control the power boiling under her skin, and evolve into what she was fated to be. Treachery and deceit loom over her every step, her path embedded with traps and danger, will the support of friends, old and new, give Lara the strength she needs to stay on the path destiny has chosen for her?

The White Tower by Cathryn Constable

Sad and lonely, missing her best friend Mahalia, Livy finds herself at Temple College, a school for the very brightest and richest. She finds herself strangely drawn to the roof, where, among its towering stone angels, she has a powerful desire to fly. But her behaviour is noticed by others, for whom the ability to defy gravity is a possible reality ...one that they'll stop at nothing to use for their own ends. Superbly atmospheric, with a strong character in Livy, this is a book which grabbed my attention from the very start, making me really want to know more. Chicken House say the story is ethereal - dreamy - heart-rending; it's all those things as it whisks the reader off into what, at times, almost seems another world.

The Great Gatsby (Alma Classics Evergreens) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This classic is the story of Nick Carraway, a young bachelor, who is invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion. The host is the mysterious Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby's impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy. Regarded as Fitzgerald's masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the "Jazz Age", as well as a timeless cautionary critique of the American dream. It's a powerful evocation of the American society of the time with characters very much of their period, vividly and realistically depicted. A good value edition of an exceptional story.

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Alma Children's Classics) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This classic collection is the perfect introduction to the exploits of Sherlock Holmes. It is an excellent mix of stories and includes many of the best-loved stories - 'The red-headed league', 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band', 'The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb' and 'A Scandal in Bohemia' are just some of the stories which showcase Holmes' superlative sleuthing. First appearing separately in the Strand Magazine, these stories were published together in 1892 in a volume that rapidly became one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes collections. These stories are proof that the famous detective remains one of the greatest crime fighters ever created, and this edition is excellent value, with many hours of engrossing reading. The book includes extra material for young readers, to give them an insight into the great man and the books about him.

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

It's hard enough knowing your Dad has terminal cancer, but just imagine living out the last of his life in a glare of publicity. Well, that's what Jackie has to face when Dad sold his life to the highest bidder in order to cover the medical bills. When the highest bidder turns out to be a TV station, the family find themselves in the spotlight. Everyone from psychotic millionaires to cyber-savvy nuns wants a piece of Jackie's family as they become a reality TV sensation. Jackie's life spirals out of control just as her dad's starts to run out, and meanwhile the whole world is tuning in to watch her family fall apart. There is (perhaps surprisingly) humour, and heartbreak in this thought-provoking book about a well-portrayed family and their feelings. The book takes a perceptive and often disturbing look at the world of reality TV and the lengths to which producers will go to offer sensational TV. It raises important questions about how far things should be allowed to go in search of 'entertainment', and the impact this has on all of us. It would make an excellent basis for class discussion or for a school reading group.

The Making of Mollie by Anna Carey

It’s 1912 in Ireland, and 14-year-old Mollie thinks her everyday life is boring. But all that changes when she discovers that her older sister Phyllis is a secret suffragette. Mollie is soon drawn into the movement herself, along with her best friend Nora. It seems they are the only ones in their class who take any interest - and despite their enthusiasm for the cause, it seems the Suffragettes don't want them either. They do find themselves a role, but then things start to get dangerous... how far are the friends prepared to go? Packed with atmosphere and period detail, it's good to see the subject from the viewpoint of a young girl; Mollie is a feisty character and I found myself really involved with her story.

Blink and You Die (Ruby Redfort, Book 6) by Lauren Child

Sadly, this is the last outing for Ruby Redfort. Ruby Redfort: undercover agent, code-cracker and thirteen-year-old genius – you can count on her when the ice starts to crack. But now she is facing big trouble and she's scared - there are people who want her dead. Worst of all, one of them is on her team, so Ruby doesn't know who to trust. Ruby is a brilliant heroine - she's not perfect and that helps the reader to really engage with her. A gripping and totally satisfying end to what has been a fantastic series... and I wonder what great strong female character Lauren Child will bring us next? Not read the others? Read them first and don't spoil things by starting off with this book.

The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories (Alma Childrens Classics) by Oscar Wilde

The Canterville Ghost was the first of Oscar Wilde's stories to be published.It tells of a family which moves to a castle haunted by the ghost of a dead nobleman who killed his wife and was starved to death by his wife's brothers. Lord Canterville warns the now occupants that the ghost of his ancestor still haunts the house. Soon, the ghost makes his presence felt but the down-to-earth family counter all that he does. However, when they get to know his story, their attitude changes... Full of the sharp wit we expect from Oscar Wilde, the book also includes 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime', 'The Sphinx without a Secret' and 'The Model Millionaire'. An excellent showcase of the author's work.

Kings of the Boyne by Nicola Pierce

The Battle of the Boyne was a fierce battle fought to decide who would rule the lands of England and of Ireland. Eager to prove his courage and defend his family honour, young Irish noble Gerald O'Connor rides his warhorse Troy north in King James II's cavalry. On the opposing side, brothers Robert and Daniel Sherrard march south from the once-besieged city of Derry with King William’s army. A fierce battle lies ahead, with a great deal at stake. Full of action, fast-moving and very descriptive, this is an engrossing account with some exceptionally strongly drawn characters. It really brings the period to life, and will help young people understand this key event in Irish history.

Sweet Dreams, Little One by Massimo Gramellini

It's early morning on New Year's Eve, when young Massimo wakes up to see his dad being supported by two strangers, and to find his . mother has disappeared, leaving only a vague trail of perfume in his room and her dressing gown bundled up at the foot of his bed. Where has she gone? Will she ever come back? And will Massimo be able to say sorry, after quarrel ling with her the night before? A dramatic start to a story which takes many years to resolve. At turns poignant and funny, Sweet Dreams, Little One - the most successful book to come out of Italy last year, and an international sensation - is the story of a secret which has been kept hidden for forty years and the uplifting tale of a boy who, as he grows into an adult, has to learn how to cope with the pain of bereavement and the demons of his own nightmares. It's a haunting story, poignant and touching. Find out about the film here.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition by John Boyne

Bruno doesn't like his new house. He had to leave all his friends behind in Berlin, and there are no children to play with here - until Bruno meets Shmuel, a boy who lives on the other side of the wire fence near Bruno's house, and who wears a strange uniform of striped pyjamas. Powerful and moving, this is an unforgettable account that leaves much to the reader's imagination, but so dramatically is the story told, that it's all too easy to read between the lines. Superbly written, this should be essential reading for all teens - those who hold the future in their hands. This is a stunning anniversary edition of John Boyne's powerful classic bestseller, with illustrations from award-winning artist Oliver Jeffers.

ZOM-B by Darren Shan

These are big questions - and teenager B Smith is about to find the answers. Can you love a bullying racist thug if he's your father? How do you react when confronted with your darkest inner demons? What do you do when zombies attack? From realism to fantasy, the book manages to combine the two perfectly. Key to the book is the relationship between B Smith and his bully of a father; the teachers are also strong characters who have the reader guessing. Add zombies to this volatile mix and the result is a dramatic read. This is the first in a series of 12, all to be re-issued by Simon and Schuster with stunning new covers.

A Darkness at the End: The shadows know your name ... by Ruth Frances Long

The Dublin of today and the mythical city of Dubh Linn are beautifully interwoven in this powerful story. Long Angels, fae demons and humans are drawn into lethal conflict as the fate of the world hangs in the balance in the final installment in this urban fantasy. Holly, the fae matriarch, tries to seize the power of heaven for herself, while Izzy has lost her memory and Jinx is dead ... or is he? Confronted with ancient powers, sacrifice and treachery. War is looming within the ranks of the Sidhe. The angels and the demons begin to draw lines, daring each other to transgress and start another war. The story is full of atmosphere, rich with legend and history, and full of excellently drawn characters.

Gravity (The Inventory) by Andy Briggs

The Inventory is an amazing collection of technology. It lies hidden beneath a small suburban town, because the world is simply not ready for it. This is the sequel to Iron Fist, and now much of the Inventory's technology has fallen into the wrong hands - including Newton's Arrow, a powerful weapon that can manipulate gravity. It's a terrifying thing to be in the hands of the wrong people and now it's up to Dev and his friends to get it back. In this drama-packed story, they follow the weapon's trail around the world. As they go, they discover the terrible truth about Newton's Arrow's capabilities ... as well as disturbing details about Dev's origins.
   

 

 

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