Tilly and the Book Wanderers (Pages and Co 1)

Author – Anna James

Age – 8+

Matilda Pages loves living with her grandparents next to their popular bookshop Pages & Co. She also loves curling up in her favourite sofa in the store with a favourite title and getting lost in it. Her only heart ache is wondering why her mother left her behind as a baby, and never knowing her father.

Now Matilda is eleven, she has even more questions about her parents. Her grandparents have been loving and wonderful her whole life, but Tilly can’t help wondering about them. When odd people start showing up in the store, Tilly is confused. There is something familiar about them. The next time she sees them, she learns the truth. They are in fact Alice from Wonderland and Anne from Green Gables. But how is that possible?

Her grandparents explain the world between Pages & Co and books and the ability to move back and forth between them. But there is another strange man lurking around. He’s no character Tilly has seen or read before. What does he want?

With her best friend Oskar alongside, Tilly delves deeper into this new world and discovers even more secrets. This world can be dangerous, even life-threatening – but it could also hold the answers she has been looking for.

An exciting premise, which all book lovers will devour, Pages & Co takes us to a place we all wish we could go – inside our favourite books. Connections were made between me and the story every time I recognised a character or lines from books, drawing me even further into the tale. Purely magical! 

(Magic, Books, Reading, Favourite characters, Mystery, Secret, Villain, Bookshop, Grandparents, Series)

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Magician’s Moustache (Circus Quest 2)

Author – Maureen CrispMagician's Moustache (Circus Quest Book 2) by [Crisp, Maureen]

Illustrator – Irina Burtseva

Age – 7+

Circus Charles has arrived on the island of Papenton. It is the first stop in the Circus tour and also the first place to look for more clues needed to attend the Circus Challenge Convention. Once there, they not only can enter an important competition to help Circus Charles stay together, Kestrel may find his missing mother.

The first clue is among the town clocks, but Papenton is famous for them, with nearly every building sporting one. Kestrel’s best friend Skye is hard at work looking for the clue they need while Kes and the circus perform in front of their first audience of the tour.

Things are still going wrong within the circus. Are they really accidents or is someone responsible? Tension rises as Kes and Skye are left with a puzzle to unravel and a broken mirror bringing 7 years of bad luck. Will they be able to keep their clues safe, and will Kes ever see his mum again?

The 2nd in this series, emerging readers can follow Kes and Skye’s quest and try to solve the clues themselves. Not only are there puzzles in the books, the back covers hold another.

(Circus, Clues, Mystery, Family, Friendship, Series)

The Playbill (Circus Quest 1)

Author – Maureen CrispImage result for the playbill maureen crisp

Illustrator – Irina Burtseva

Age – 7+

Kestrel and his best friend Skye are part of Circus Charles with their families. They have been working hard preparing for the next circus season when their ringmaster Monsieur Charles calls the entire circus together.

He has some news that may drastically change their lives, possibly even closing Circus Charles for good. They have been invited into a competition to find the best circus. But the last time they competed, the clues they needed to solve to enter, were stolen!

Will they be able to keep the clues hidden this time? Can Kes and Skye help keep Circus Charles together and work out the answers to enable them to compete in the ultimate Circus competition?

A new, fun series set in the lives of circus performers. Young readers will discover what goes on behind the scenes of all the acts. There are routines to be learnt, tricks to perfect, hard work to be done preparing the equipment and safety gear, not to mention the packing, erection and unpacking of the Big Top itself.

But there are devious people among them. Kes and Skye could be in real danger as they try to work out who is causing the circus’ troubles. Intriguing and exciting, drawing the reader from chapter to chapter; this will be a popular series for emerging readers.

(Series, Kiwi Author, NZ, New Zealand, Circus, Family, Friends)

Jinxed

Author – Amy McCullochJinxed

Age – 11+

Imagine your cellphone is now outdated tech. Its replacement is a companion called a baku – invented to stop us spending all our hours looking at a screen and totally in sync with your likes and dislikes, friend and business connections and so much more. It is also much nicer to have around as it it is in the form of an animal.

The more money you have, the more high-tech your baku. A level 1 baku may be an insect, still beautiful in construction but simple compared to a level 3 eagle or wolf.

Lacey Chu lives in this future world, with a dream of going to the Profectus Academy. From there she wants to be a companioneer – an engineer who designs new bakus.

Despite her years of hard work and excellent grades, she receives a rejection from the Academy. Wandering and despondent, she finds a wrecked baku in some scrub. She’s determined to repair it, calling it Jinx, and as she does her future turns around.

Profectus suddenly say she’s in, and she begins her dream towards being a companioneer like her father before her. Soon however, she realises other things aren’t adding up. Jinx doesn’t behave like other bakus and someone powerful is looking for him.

Lacey is a likeable character, driven to making life better for her mum. When her life-time goal is suddenly overshadowed, she is true to her new feelings, sending her and her new friends into a tail-spin of intrigue and action. With just a touch of romance and a ending in the middle of the climax, this series will definitely be one to follow.

(Technology, Cat, Pets, Romance, School, Ring fighting, Robot fighting, Competition, Friendship, Coding, Engineering)

There’s a boy in the girl’s bathroom

Author – Louis SacharThere's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom

Age – 8+

An intriguing title which instantly makes you think of school, and this is where this story is set. A boy suddenly appearing in the girl’s bathroom is scandalous to 9-10 yr olds, and this pops up throughout the novel.

The key character is Bradley Chalkers. The teachers dislike him, the kids hate him. He doesn’t listen in class, is rude, surly, destructive and has been kept behind to do the year again because of it. Then a couple of things happen that change everything for Bradley.

A new kid called Jeff Fisher joins his class, and a new counselor has come to his school. Bradley balks when his teacher organises an appointment with his mum, then some visits with the new counselor, Carla.

It’s not all plain sailing by any means. Making friends, losing friends, refusing to listen, then learning new things, insisting he’s right, and the toughest, the strongest and then discovering otherwise – all things Bradley Chalkers must learn for himself. The most important lesson of all being, self esteem, believing in yourself, and being open to change.

A wonderful story. The school theme, inspirational adults and strong-minded younger characters reminded me much of a classic school title – Frindle. If you loved Frindle, you will enjoy Bradley’s journey too.

(School, Friendships, Bullying, Bullies, Confidence,

 

 

Small Spaces

Author – Sarah EpsteinSmall Spaces

Age – 14+

It’s been 10 years since it happened. When Tash was 8 years old she saw her imaginary friend (who she named Sparrow after he appeared on her windowsill one night), lead a 6 year old girl away from the town carnival. The girl re-appeared 5 days later, mute, dirty and wandering in the bush alone.

Since then, Tash’s life has been a whirl of therapy, accusations of attention seeking, confusion and tension. And now the girl’s family have moved back to town. Tash thought she was better, but now she’s beginning to see Sparrow in the shadows. She can’t tell anyone because they’ll think she’s crazy again. All Tash wants to do is go to Uni and escape it all.

But when she is at breaking point, she forces herself to look deeper and into places she never thought to look. Is Sparrow real or not? Is the girl’s brother involved? The deeper she digs, the more real everything becomes, until lives are on the line – including hers.

A YA thriller that swaps between Then – showing therapy sessions and police reports, and Now – Tash’s journey back into the nightmare of her childhood. But she’s not a child anymore, and this time she fights back. Gripping!

(Imaginary Friend, Fears, Claustrophobia, Family, Aunt, Drugs, Secret, School, Loyalty, Thriller)

Sea Witch

Author – Sarah HenningSea Witch

Age – 12+

Nik, Anna and Evie are best friends. They are all different, Anna a beautiful little blonde girl and of high birth, Evie, the opposite with her dark hair and humble roots, and Nik, Prince of Havnestad.

One day while playing on the beach, there is a terrible accident and Nik and Evie lose their beloved friend Anna.

Years later, Evie remains Nik’s best friend, despite the whispers and taunts of the town who know she is beneath him.

Just before the Havnestad Annual Festival and on the year of Nik’s 16th birthday, a girl arrives, strikingly similar to Anna. Evie is taken aback at the resemblance, but the girl claims her name is Annemette. When Evie takes Annemette under her wing for the festival, Annemette reveals a secret involving Nik.

Evie, stirred by the memory of Anna in this girl, does everything she can to help, but the results cost lives, with devastating results for Evie and Annemette.

Sea Witch tells the back story of Ursula – the villain of The Little Mermaid. We learn where Ursula came from – her life above the waves before she became the tentacled creature we know from the story. Sea Witch is a love story, a tale of revenge, magic, suspicion, and loyalty. Fabulous!

(Fairytale, Fable, Ocean, Sea, Love story, Princes, Magic, Witch, Octopus, Revenge, Friendship, Secret)