The Price Guide to the Occult

Author – Leslye Walton35879387

Age – 13+

Nor Blackburn likes being invisible. As much as possible anyway. She never joins teams or groups at school and doesn’t have lots of friends. She likes to run alone on the island where she lives with her grandmother and her aging wolf hound Antiquity.

But her island isn’t any old island. It has a long history of witches who bore only daughters to bewitched island men. Nor is a fifth generation witch, keeping her skills a secret – even from her grandmother.

Nor’s memories of her mother are cruel and pain-filled and she is just as shocked as the rest of the island to see her mother (Fern) on TV talking about her new book – The Price Guide to the Occult. Suddenly Fern is everywhere, casting amazing spells, healings and fortunes to anyone who will pay. And pay they do. But Nor knows her mother well. She knows what skills her mother has and that someone else is ‘paying’ in blood for them.

A thrilling tale of family, black magic, good witches and bad. Although Nor is keen to blend into the background, she must face up to who she was is born to be – a nemesis to her powerful mother. Loved it.

(Witches, Thriller, Romance, Action, Curse, Island, Control, Family, Conflict)

 

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Frindle

Author – Andrew Clements439173

Age – 8+

Nick has a reputation in school for making class interesting. He uses stalling tactics, or time-wasting questions to trick teachers into not setting homework, or to avoid more work in class.

But Mrs Granger is different. She is a 5th grade (Year 6 in NZ and UK) teacher, and at first his intended trick backfires. But something she says in class triggers an idea. Mrs Granger loves her dictionary and insists they all have their own personal copies for their homework. Nick decides he’d like to change a word and begins calling a pen a Frindle.

His friends follow his example. Mrs Granger isn’t happy. The school principal isn’t happy. But is it against school rules? Is it offensive? Is it really such a big deal?

Nick’s word soon becomes a HUGE deal, with run-away results.

I learnt about this book in the Kid’s Lit Quiz (An International Reading Competition run by Wayne Mills NZOM). I can see why it is a favourite of so many people, young and old. It would make a great read-aloud to 7-8 yr olds.

(School, Words, Dictionary, Language, Humour, Teaching, Teacher, Self-belief)

 

 

Girl Mans Up

Author – M-E Girard28217802

Age – 14+

Pen loves hanging out with her friends, gaming, wearing her brother’s clothes and just being herself.

She hates being called Penelope, people thinking she dresses and acts the way she does because she wants to be a boy, her mother wanting her to be a pink, sparkly, princess type of girl, and guys acting like douche bags.

Her best friend (since age about 9) is Coby. He’s popular, good looking, shares her love of gaming (even though she can thrash him at it), but he can be a douche bag to girls.

Coby is always talking about loyalty, so when Pen learns about a girl he has treated badly and tries to help, he calls her out on it. Pen is torn at first. She’s already angry at people who just won’t let her be herself, always trying to stick a  label on her. Bi, Trans, Lesbian, Gay. Pen just wants to be Pen – it’s that simple.

Her parents are always talking about respect, but the only person in her family Pen has respect for is her brother Johnny who has come to her rescue multiple times. She feels she can look after herself, but their bond is what keeps her sane.

Dealing with family pressures, toxic friendships and new relationships, Pen finally finds her own identity, her own tribe (without Coby), and a deeper understanding of the people who share her life – at home and high school.

I loved Pen. She was strong, brave and determined. She loves her parents but has to come to terms with the fact they may never understand who she really is. The friendships were real, the banter convincing and the relationships (both toxic and supportive) were intense. I wanted to climb into the book and slap some of the characters. You’ll have to read it and find out who!

(Diversity, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, School, Friendships, Secret, Relationships, High School, Family, Portuguese)

The Wild Magic Trilogy (1) Begone the Raggedy Witches

Author – Celine Kiernan

Age – 10+36131823

Mup’s great-aunt told Mup she must tell her if she ever sees any witches. She is not to say a word to her parents about it.

But Aunty has just passed away, Mum is grieving and weary as she drives them home from the hospital, and Dad is far away working on an oil rig.

When Aunty appears on the end of Mup’s bed as a ghost, Mup tells her what she saw – and their entire world is changed forever. Mup’s mum is someone special. Someone taken from another realm as a young child, to save her from her own mother – Mup’s grandmother – an extremely powerful witch who rules her lands with hate, suspicion and cruelty.

The raggedy witches Mup saw following them home from the hospital have been sent to take her mother back with them now Aunty isn’t around to prevent it. But Aunty’s ghost is still powerful. When the witches’ plan to take Mup’s mother fails, they snatch her father instead, to use him as bait.

Mup’s mum is shocked to learn the truth about herself, but is determined to get her husband back. Mup’s family is thrown into an epic battle of good against evil, with crows that must talk in rhyme, women who morph into cats and witches who revere their evil queen.

This story grabbed me very quickly and held on until the end. Mup is a brave and kind character, determined to find her father and increasingly proud of her mother. Mup not only looks out for her younger brother (who has been transformed into a young dog), but also stands up for a boy called Crow who has lost his own father to the queen. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

(Morphing, Magic, Family, Determination, Bravery, Courage, Witches, Action, Conflict)

The Boy who Grew Dragons

Author – Andy Shepherd39355816

Illustrator – Sara Ogilvie

Age – 7+

Have you ever wanted your very own dragon? Maybe you’ve dreamed about flying on one high above your town or city? Tomas can tell you all about that and what to do if you ever find one – just like he did.

It all began while he was helping his Grandad in his new vegie garden. Suddenly he is dealing with a tiny bundle of sparks and exploding poos, all the while trying to keep it all a secret from his parents, friends, grandparents and especially a kid called Liam from school.

But it’s all just too exciting to keep to himself, and he’s dying to tell someone!

The first in a series, this was a fun read and guide on how to keep a dragon and where you might find one. Looking forward to The Boy who Lived with Dragons.

(Funny, Dragons, Grandfather, Humour, Bully, School, Friends, Secret, Younger Sibling)

 

Embassy of the Dead

Author – Will Mabbitt39875529

Age – 7+

The most exciting thing Jake Green was supposed to be doing was attending a school camp. But when a ghost unexpectedly hands him a strange package, life becomes far more exciting than he thinks he can handle.

Curiosity overwhelms him and he opens the package – which is the worst possible thing he could have done. A secret organisation called The Embassy of the Dead has now issued a Death Order against him, unleashing one of the worst Grim Reapers. Oh yes, there’s more than one, and they love following through with a Death Order!

Jake never knew he was a ‘sensitive’ – someone who can see and hear ghosts. But soon, they are the only ones who can help him avoid the reaper, get the package back to the Embassy and keep it away from a creature wanting to take over the Land of the Living.

The first in a series, this was a fast-paced, funny story about a boy getting caught up with ghosts of every kind and their ruling organisation that has more paperwork than a tax department; all while trying to pretend to his parents that he is at a school camp. Looking forward to more in the series!

(Series, Secret, Ghost, Friendship, Funny, Humour)

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers

Author – Brian Conaghan36578967

Age – 14+

Bobby loves his mum and his little brother Danny. Mum has worsening Multiple Sclerosis and Danny is well… challenging. Bobby is up early, tending to his mum and making sure Danny is up, dressed, fed and ready for school. At only 17 Bobby is still at school himself and does his best whilst trying not to worry about mum on her own at home.

When Bobby is offered a place at a young carer’s group, he balks at first. He doesn’t want to sit in a circle with a bunch of whingers and ‘woe is me’s.’ He doesn’t resent looking after his mum no matter how hard it is getting.

The group turns out to be just what he needed. Somewhere to be and have some fun without worrying about home. But one guy (Lou) is making him feel things he has never felt before. When Lou tells him a secret, Bobby wonders if he can share his own.

A heart-breaking, funny, moving, beautiful story about a caring young teen and the love for his mum. This award-winning author will capture you on the first page and not let you go until the last. I didn’t want to put it down and read deep into the night.

(Grief, Family, Carer, Multiple Sclerosis, LGBT, Relationships)