Book reviews - fiction 11 & over (page 8)

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

Sing Like No One's Listening by Vanessa Jones

Nettie Delaney has been offered a place at the prestigious Dukes performing arts college, following in her mum's footsteps. But there's a big problem - she hasn't been able to sing a note since her mum died. Will she ever get her singing voice back? One night, in an empty studio after college, Nettie finds herself suddenly singing, as someone behind the curtain accompanies her on the piano. Maybe she can find her voice again and survive her first year at Dukes. But can she do it before she gets thrown out? The author was stage-struck, and loved musicals, from a young age - this passion shines through in her book which is full of enthusiasm and with a very strong message about believing in yourself and never giving up.

Dragon Daughter by Liz Flanagan

Dragons are the very stuff of legends, imbued with magic, mystery and adventure, and bound to capture attention. Dragons ruled the skies over the island of Arcosi, but now they are just part of legend... or are they?  Servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself secretly caring for the last four dragon eggs. Tensions are rising all around and she doesn't know who can be trusted. But how can Milla and her friends keep the eggs safe when it means endangering everything she's ever loved? Worlds collide as friendships, family and power all vie for their places in this unsettling story, so reminiscent of the upheavals of today's world, with loyalties torn and uncertainty all aorund. This is a fabulous read and Milla is a superb character, credible and likeable.

The Last Life of Prince Alastor: Book 2 (Prosper Redding)​ by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the ordinary one in an extraordinary family. So he doesn't expect to discover that an 800-year-old demon called Alastor is responsible for their luck - and that this demon is currently living inside him. Now Prosper needs a favour from him. Prosper's sister Prue has fallen into the clutches of evil queen Pyra, and only Prince Alastor can help him get her back. His demonic malefactor agrees to be Prosper's guide through the demon realm under one condition - Prosper must enter into a contract of eternal servitude in the afterlife. With Prue in mortal danger, Prosper has no choice but to agree. Will Prosper ever make it out again, and if he does, will his afterlife be damned for all eternity?

The Valentines: Happy Girl Lucky​ by Holly Smale

Fans of Holly Smale's wonderful Geek Girl series will be thrilled with this new series, following the lives of the Valentine sisters, Hope, Faith and Mercy. It seems like the girls have everything - fame, success, money and beauty - and it's all come easily. But what is really important? What Hope wants most is love, and she's prepared to go to any lengths to find it... but the real world is far from her romantic imaginings. Family and friendship are the key themes in Hope's search for love. As the book progresses, the reader will warm to this initially rather naive girl whose character develops effectively as the story unfolds. The story is excellently told, with real insight into what teens want to read.

A Tudor Turk (The Chronicles of Will Ryde and Awa Maryam Al-Jameel 1) by Rehan Khan

This atmospheric historical novel is set in Istanbul, 1591. The Staff of Moses, a magical symbol of power, has been stolen from Sultan Murad III. Of course, he wants it back whatever the cost, so a trusted band is assembled to set off in pursuit of the thieves. They are a motley band from many countries, all playing their role in the story and with very different characters to keep interest levels high. The leader is Bosnian Mehmed Konjic, a wise counsellor and natural hero. With its vividly portrayed settings and exciting storyline, this is a powerful and engrossing story. Recently, I have reviewed very little top quality historical fiction for teens, so this fills a gap and I hope will engage a new generation with the genre.

Starting Over by Jack Sheffield

In a departure from the norm, Jack takes us back to earlier days - to Ragley in 1952. Central to the story is Lily, who is starting her first year as a teacher at the village school, under the Headship of John Pruett, who, after his years in the war, has settled into the role of headmaster. Local policeman Tom is on hand too. But can Lily build a new life or will past secrets get in the way? The storyline brings a new dimension to the well-loved series. The author's trademark devotion to accurate period detail (which is a huge part of the charm of his books) is as strong as ever, as we relive - or learn about - a world where TV was new and unusual, children learnt to read with Janet and John and Dairylea Cheese Spread is a new and exciting product. It's wonderful to meet so many of the characters that people the later books - there's Vera, Stan Coe, Big Dave and Little Malcolm, Nora and many more. As ever, full of humour and nostalgia with witty and perceptive observations on village life, coupled with atmospheric descriptions of the surroundings.

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