Author – Adriana Mather
Age – 13+
Sam (Samantha) and her step-mum Vivian have moved to her dead grandmother’s house in Salem, a small town where Sam’s dad grew up. She is instantly disliked at her new high school and she knows why. Her ancestor Cotton Mather was largely responsible for the Witch Trials in Salem centuries before.
‘The Descendants’ (a group of 5 teens always dressed in black, and true descendants of the so-called witches that died) are scathing of Sam and make life difficult. If it wasn’t for the neighbours, handsome Jaxon who sticks up for her and his mum; Sam would be just like she’s always been – friendless and feared.
People around Sam often end up hurt and she’s felt cursed since small. When this ‘curse’ follows her to Salem, it becomes much more serious. Is it all her fault? Where did this curse come from? Can she defeat it?
How to Hang a Witch is not only a fantastic read, it makes the reader aware of how close the 17th century witch trials were compared to the cyber-bullying of today. The phrase ‘Witch Hunt’ is applied to people in all sorts of conflict and this novel makes it clear why.
The other fascinating fact is the author is a descendant of Cotton Mather herself. Salem is a real town in America and she wanted to know more about both the Witch Trials and her own family history. Loved it!
(History, Witches, Ghost, Spell, Curse, High School, Popularity, Romance)
Author – E Lockhart
Age – 14+
This book is in effect written backwards. I loved the way this story was structured with the main character Jule living a charmed life of luxury, and then the further you read the more you learn, all the things she did, had to do, or was lucky enough to happen, to allow her this life. But things are unravelling and she is having to run faster to keep up with it all.
The more I read, the more intrigued I was. There were hints along the way that she wasn’t supposed to be who or where she was, and I wanted to know how on earth she got there. The plot went back and forth and I had to keep track of the dates, but it just added to the enjoyment of the book as things were revealed, piece by piece, for the past year or so of Jules life to click together – but the finale could blow it all apart again!
She’s no angel this girl, but I loved her character and that we found out what drove her to be the person she is now. We Were Liars by the same author is one of my favourite reads ever and Genuine Fraud is one to match it. I’d like to read it all over again….
(Thriller, Family, Privilege, Rich, Wealthy, Crime, Friendship, Deception, Secret)
Author – Gareth Ward
Age – 10+
Caught stealing at Coxford’s Corn Market, 14 yr old Sin is hunted across the city. But his street skills can’t evade his pursuers. They want Sin to join their Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. Used to his life of crime on the streets he’s not sure of these people, (but he does enjoy a nice warm bed and plenty to eat for a change.)
Wary to begin with, Sin soon makes a friend in Zonda Chubb, and an unlikely alliance with the school bully Velvet Von Darque. But there is an assassin among them, and he’s not sure who he can trust. Is his own life in danger?
A rip-roaring steampunk adventure by the winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Writing Competition for Young Adults in 2016! With rich writing, well developed characters and awesome world building, The Traitor and the Thief is a fantastic read and not to be missed!
(Series, Friendship, Spy, Assassin, Courage, Conflict, Adventure, Action, Betrayal)
Author / Illustrator – Dark Horse Comics
Age – 8+ (Graphic Novel)
Hiccup is the new chief of his village and when a visitor arrives (Calder of the Nepenthe), he asks Hiccup for help. His island is experiencing fearful earthquakes and they’re not sure what to do. Can Hiccup and his skill with dragons come to their aid?
But they find more than they’ve bargained for, with dragons aplenty, a madman who believes he’s a dragon and a surprise under the island.
This story begins after the events in the movie – How to Train your Dragon 2….
(Graphic Novel, Adventure, Action, Dragons, Courage, Fantasy)
Author – Philip Pullman
Age – 15+ (Sexual Content)
When Chris helps a girl escape a group of guys at a posh party he is working at, he finds a love that consumes him. Jenny is smart, beautiful and independent. She lives in a squat with two friends and one weekend he invites her to stay with him as he house sits his dad’s place and looks after their cat.
When Jenny goes home, her squat is boarded up, her friends arrested for drug dealing and she is without a home. Not wanting to go back to Chris’ dad’s place to ask where he lives, she loses contact with Chris. She doesn’t know his surname and doesn’t know exactly where he works. They both spend months searching for each other in the city of Oxford.
Jenny gets a job baby-sitting. She doesn’t know Chris works for the child’s father, or that the father is being hunted down by a killer. Somebody is going to die…
Quick but thrilling read by this master story-teller,
(Thriller, Love, IRA, Betrayal, Lies, Growing up, Blended family, Step mother, Abuse)
ER – JON
Author – Allan Jones
Age – 8+
Zac Archer is 12 and lives in a children’s home. He is a bright kid but doesn’t achieve his potential at school. His true love is free-running and he’s exceptional at it, but doesn’t know how exceptional.
When he witnesses a murder he’s suddenly caught up in an action-packed, dangerous mission to help find a memory stick of international importance. Two spy agencies are after it. Zac knows where the memory stick is and after a girl called Rina (codename Ballerina) comes to his aid more than once, he tries to help her retrieve it.
While bullets fly, Zac uses his skills to flee from enemy agents with Rina. But how do they know where he’ll be? And why does Rina tell him one thing and other agents tell him another? Who is telling the truth and which side should he take?
Zak is a likeable character – even with his exceptional speed he is just a normal kid caught up in something terrifying and thrilling at the same time. If you like Cherub, you’ll like this one.
(Spy, Crime, Betrayal, Action, Murder, Courage, London)
TEEN – KAU
Authors – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Age – 13+
Gemina is the 2nd part in the bestselling Illuminae series. A new heroine is the key character – at first just preparing for a party onboard her father’s ship the Heimdall – then attacked by Beitech Industries from the inside. Beitech is the company that attacked the Kerenza colony (in the first story).
This story was told in transcripts of ship chat rooms, analyst reports of ship’s surveillance camera’s, a journal, and secret personal palm pad conversations, (all collected by a tribunal afterwards).
This brings immediacy to the story, pulling the reader right in among the action, determination, pain, and highs and lows of the characters.
It’s part love story, part invasion, rebellion and alien attack, all while a countdown is marked through the book of drone ships on their way to wipe them from existence.
(Science Fiction, Wormhole, Series, Relationships, Drugs, Murder, Attack)