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Blister

Alyssa Reed is an ordinary 10-year-old girl looking forward to the birth of her baby sister. Her parents and grandmother Daisy G. hope that the baby will be a new start for the whole family, which has had its share of troubles. But when little Lila Rose is stillborn, Alyssa’s world begins to fall apart.…

Blood Red Road

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Moira Young’s first novel for young adults is the violent but moral tale of a young woman, Saba, learning to fight for her survival as she travels across a harsh and unforgiving landscape to be reunited with her kidnapped twin brother Lugh. Reluctantly, she is forced into taking her young…

Born Confused

This writer knows just how to tell a good story. This is plainly and simply a wonderful book – no qualifications on this. The story centres on the life of Dimple Rohitbhai Lala, the American-born daughter of Indian parents living in New Jersey. Her best friend is Gwyn Sexton, white, blonde and Dimple’s role model…

Clarity

Clarity 'Clare' Fern, her brother Perriwinkle 'Perry' and her mother, Starla, are all very gifted people. Each one has a different gift – seeing the past, communicating with the dead and reading minds, respectively. These skills prove to be extremely useful when the family becomes mixed up in a murder and Perry is a prime…

Colour Young Hippo (Series)

‘Brilliant stories, irresistible characters’ goes the blurb. I’m afraid I cannot agree. The books look good: strong covers, colour throughout, text at an appropriate level and size and broken up on the page. Most of the ingredients are there, but for one very important item – a really authentic, engaging story. Reviewing is subjective, merely…

Count Krinkelfiend’s Quest

Part of the series ‘The Tall Tales of Dracula’s Daggers’, this book tells the tale of the dastardly Count Arnold Krinkelfiend and his quest to find the legendary dagger. It fails in its attempt to be funny and its plot fails to be engaging. It is packed with one-liners that are more irritating than amusing…

Create Your Own Spy Mission

The perfect book for a long journey, young readers will quite literally get drawn into Create Your Own Spy Mission by Irish brothers Andrew and Chris Judge. A fun, interactive story which invites the reader to draw, doodle, decide, fold and tear, this quirky little book is part comic, spy story, quiz and drawing book…

Create Your Own Superhero Epic

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s a book! (You must need glasses) That pretty much sets the tone for the third in a series of Create your own… books from the Judge Bros. and the results are ridiculously fun. Doodletown needs a superhero and you need to draw them. It is…

Dark Parallel

Dark Parallel is the fourth volume in the Joshua Files, an action adventure series set around the Mayan Prophesies in about 2012. This series is a forerunner in a new genre of children’s literature, in which ordinary children must save the world from untold disaster. Dealing with time travel and its inherent problems, such as…

Dead to You

This novel deals with the theme of child abduction from the perspective of a returning abductee, 16-year-old Evan. Paced and written in tense, thriller style, the story is gripping and very well constructed. The psychological tension and fraught relationships between Evan and his younger brother and mother are drawn in particularly close and effective detail,…

Everything on a Waffle

Impossible to pigeon-hole, this book has an original voice and a definite sense of place, with writing that shows you don’t have to be long-winded to describe scenery and wildlife in breathtaking detail. The story is set in a small Canadian fishing port peopled with an eccentric cast of characters who would not be out…

Fake

‘You know, you’re at an important stage in your life. It’s hard to give up childhood and assume adult responsibilities…’ Thus Mrs Carmichael, a well-meaning teacher, to 17-year-old Keith at one point in KK Beck’s engrossing novel. This move from ‘childhood’ to ‘adult responsibilities’ has served as theme for so much teenage fiction that it…

Gracie Grabbit and the Tiger

It’s lovely to get two books together to review featuring two different young girls.   Gracie Grabbit is a strong, independent young girl whose dad likes to take things that do not belong to him. On a day trip to the Zoo, Gracie warns him to be good, or she will get the Zoo Keeper…

How to be a Dog

Williamson's début picturebook will appeal to canine lovers especially. Written from the dog's perspective and as the title implies, it contains clear instructions on how to live life successfully as a pooch. Those are ranging from choosing an owner, to greeting humans and learning to use the toilet correctly, and we are shown the objective…

My Funny Valentine

‘I’d settle for a boy who’d drape daisy chains around my neck. Or a guy who wanted to make snow angels in the park in the middle of winter…’ Shaunna, the 15-year-old narrator of My Funny Valentine is smart, self-deprecating and determinedly individual. Her sister Ruth is planning the most traditional of traditional weddings –…

My Story: The Hunger

Originally published in 2001, The Hunger is a 2015 reissue of one of the My Story books, all of which focus on first-person accounts of key moments in European and American history.  The year is 1845. Phyllis McCormack is fourteen in rural Ireland – just old enough to begin questioning the way her country is…

My Story: The Hunger

Originally published in 2001, The Hunger is a 2015 reissue of one of the My Story books, all of which focus on first-person accounts of key moments in European and American history. The year is 1845. Phyllis McCormack is fourteen in rural Ireland – just old enough to begin questioning the way her country is…

Night of the Living Veg & The Big Freeze

The ‘Buster Bayliss’ series is made up of fast-paced adventure stories told with energy and humour. In both Night of the Living Veg and The Big Freeze, Buster and his Fake Cousin Polly must save their town of Smogley from being taken over by manic evil forces. Their heroics save the town and the citizens…

Noah Can’t Even

Noah Grimes is an exceedingly awkward almost-16-year-old who wants more than anything else to just be normal. Problem is, his mum’s Beyonce tribute act doesn’t help matters in school. His dad disappeared years ago, his beloved gran isn’t herself any more, and school is pure hell. He only has one friend, Harry, who has been…

Poison

Poison is the eponymous heroine of this fantasy tale, out to reclaim her kidnapped sister from the land of Phaerie with the aid of companions she meets along the way. While at first this story seems too determined to fulfill every cliché of the genre, with a neat twist Wooding uses this very predictability as…

Poolboy

The night rich Californian teenager Brett witnesses his father’s arrest for fraud, his life changes forever. How Brett copes with relative poverty, degrading jobs in a burger joint and most interesting of all, visiting his father in jail, makes for a lively, heartwarming read. Like many teenagers, Brett’s pain translates into aggression and rudeness, coupled…

Predator’s Gold

Set in a future where cities must be able to move from place to place in order to survive, Predator’s Gold continues with both the story and the broader preoccupations of Reeve’s 2001 debut novel, Mortal Engines. Each novel is a stunning interweaving of delicately drawn characters, universal themes and fast-moving plot, and both deal…

Quarry

Someone is texting strange dares to Michael ‘Scrappy’ Singer. Convinced they’re a joke from a friend, the 15 year-old rises to the challenges, even earning money for each completed task. But as the tests become weirder and more dangerous, Scrappy is caught in a web he can’t escape. The stakes get higher, the game becomes…

Scorpio Races

Every November, the Scorpio Races are held on the island of Skarmouth, when the ‘capaill uisce’ or water horses are dragged from the sea and raced on the land. The game is deadly and the horses treachorous.  The men ride at their own risk, knowing that every year, riders are lost to the savagery of…

South Pole

This interesting book, part of a series that aims to present events in history from the point of view of more than one participant, is the story of Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen and of their rivalry in the quest to become the first to reach the South Pole. The prologue gives useful information on…

Space, Henry’s House

‘The Earth is not only spinning, it’s also speeding around the Sun at 66,630 miles an hour (107,230 kmph). That’s 30 times faster than a speeding bullet!’ Ever wondered how to explain the difference between meteors, meteorites and meteoroids? Do you know what solar flares are or what a lunar roaming vehicle is? Fact-packed and…

The Babysitters Club: The Summer Before

Taking the opposite approach to Francine Pascal, whose follow-up ten years on to the Sweet Valley High series is aimed at nostalgic adult readers, Martin’s prequel to the highly successful ‘Babysitters Club’ series is designed to lure a new generation of young readers into the world of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey and Dawn. The…

The Bookshop Girl

Abandoned as a child, Property Jones is now eleven and living in a bookshop with the owner, Netty, and her son Michael. Property fits perfectly into the family of booksellers, apart from one minor detail: she can’t read! Nobody knows her secret and, too ashamed to admit the truth, Property invents clever methods to conceal…

The Curse of the Bogle’s Beard

Burping, slurping, dribbling, pickled onions and sprouts on toast. There’s more to the purple preserves of Barnaby’s gruesome Granny Hogsflesh than meets the eye – or the nose.  In the much-loved tradition of nasty, smelly old people as popularised by Roald Dahl, Granny is a mean bully with plans to take over life-as-we-know-it but in…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Part 3)

The conclusion to Suzanne Collins’s hotly anticipated, highly acclaimed and hugely successful series was always going to be a contentious issue. The already-grim premise inevitably descends into war, which is unflinchingly displayed in a way that is both praiseworthy but might be difficult for readers to get through without feeling ‘My God, it’s all hopeless!…

The King’s Head

Told like a Dark Ages cycle of stories, these tales are embedded in a framing eerie tale of a beheaded storyteller whose head keeps asking to be brought to his king. This yearning pulses through all the stories the head tells people who help him, and we constantly wonder what it is that he wants…

The Lines We Cross

Michael and Mina come from two very different backgrounds and belief systems, but when Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s school, they slowly start to become friends, until Mina finds out that his parents are founding members of an anti-immigration group. This is especially difficult for Mina to deal with, seeing as her family had…

The Revenge of the Ballybogs

Siobhan Rowden’s follow-up to The Curse of the Bogle’s Beardcontinues the story of Barnaby Figg, a boy who works alongside his half-bogle grandmother in her pickle factory. The Revenge of the Ballybogs is essentially a rehash of the same formula: this time it is Barnaby’s mother, rather than his father, who is kidnapped, prompting Barnaby once again to…

The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life is a dark thriller about Kenny, a 16 year old whose life descends into nightmare following a chance meeting with Mack, a thug with a dark past, on a London railway platform. This fateful meeting with Mack, who initially saves Kenny from a beating by local thugs before dragging him…

The Traitors

Adam Wilson kissed his best friend’s girlfriend. Three days later someone is taking over Adam’s radio and sending mysterious letters calling him a traitor. Then he is hunted down and transported aboard a Zeppelin via a warphole to the Dial. The Dial is a prison for children who have committed the crime of betrayal. It…

Tom Gates: Genius Ideas (Mostly)

Tom’s day doesn’t start off well. Firstly, there’s the shock of seeing Delia without her sunglasses on – it’s not a sight for sore eyes. Then his Dad is actually wearing tight blue cycling shorts and threatening to appear in public in them… to collect Tom from Norman’s house. It’s enough to make anyone run…

Twister

Twister is a fabulous rollercoaster ride of imagination and excitement. Its main protagonist, Twister, the book’s namesake, is a fiery and fun character who brings us on a magical adventure through forests and rivers on the hunt for her missing Pa. Accompanied by her trusty four-legged friend Point, Twister goes in search of Maymay, the…

Warning! Vampires Are Living Next Door!

Warning! Vampires Are Living Next Door! is a book about three boys who think vampires have moved in next door. The main character (Jordan) and his friends (Boy Dave and Ryan) have been grounded for life. They all have to buy their own Christmas presents for relatives this year instead of just picking them out…


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