The Raven Boys

Author – Maggie Stiefvater

Age – 12+

Blue lives in a house full of psychics, her mother being one of them. Blue doesn’t share her mother’s gifts but she has learnt early that she enhances other’s gifts, just by being in the room.

When she receives a warning that she will kill her true love with a kiss, she is intrigued but saddened at the same time. How can this be, and how is it fair? She’s never had a boyfriend, preferring to keep to herself and her family – especially avoiding the rich, loud, confident boys who attend the local private school. They are known as Raven Boys.

Despite the warning and her dislike of the rich kids, she is soon caught up with a group of them after getting to know a boy called Adam – a local trailer-park resident who works three jobs just to attend the school.

Adam’s friends – Roman (seeming angry and devastated at the same time), Noah (quiet and trusting) and his best friend Gansey (rich, handsome, driven), soon become her friends. Gansey is the leader, and he leads them on a quest to find a buried Welsh King’s bones, thought to be buried on an invisible, spiritual ley line. But someone else is looking too. Someone else is determined to receive the power the King will release when found.

(Told in third person but multiple viewpoints, the reader gets to know the characters well. The search for the elusive ley-line brings these unlikely characters together while weaving being the supernatural and realism. 1st in a series) 

(Magic, Spiritual, Secrets, Ley line, Quest, Determination, Abuse, Bully, Family, Friendship)

Six of Crows

Author – Leigh BardugoSix of Crows (#1)

Age – 13+ (Violence)

Six teens are pulled together by their leader Kaz Brekker to perform the most dangerous, outrageous, death-defying theft. Are they stealing money? Gold or Jewels? No. It’s something much more important. Something that will plummet the world into war, and tear trade, people and lives to shreds. And they will be paid more than they’ve ever dreamed of.

Kaz – 17 years old, with the mind of someone much older. Kaz Brekker is also known as a demon. He has no sympathy for weakness, no empathy for others, and a brilliant calculating brain that has built him a ruthless gang and cut throat business of underhand deals, thefts and knowledge about all those around him. When offered a deal too good to refuse, he needs only the best to accompany him on his quest.

Jesper – Has worked for Kaz for some time, and after a betrayal in their ranks, becomes as close to a right-hand-man Kaz will allow. Jesper is skilled with guns and loves the thrill of his life on the line, but has an expensive gambling streak he cannot deny. This quest may be the answer to all his problems.

Inej – Also known as The Wraith, Inej has the power of appearing out of nowhere, climbing anything, and all the while having a calming influence – especially on Kaz. Friction builds between these two throughout the story, until they realise the truth. Will this heist finally give her the direction and purpose she has been searching for?

Matthias – Tall, strong, blond and incredibly angry after being set-up and flung in a hell-hole prison to rot. Little does he know the person who put him there is doing everything to get him out. The quest he is offered turns him inside out. Does he protect his country and all he has trained for, or let his true feelings decide?

Wylan – Son of a rich merchant, who has fled his privileged life to forge his own way. He is determined to prove himself useful in this gang, and not just be collateral if things go wrong.

Nina – Nina is a Grisha – a race hunted down over decades in order to eradicate them and their special powers. There are Tidemakers who can draw blood from their enemies, Fabrikators who design and build, Healers, and Heartrenders like Nina who can stop an enemy’s heart with one flick of a wrist.

A fantasy world set in a time of thieves, con men, pickpockets, blades and guns (with an early Victorian flavour), Six of Crows is told from the viewpoint of these six young men and women. Their back stories are woven into the narrative, explaining their actions, desires, dreams and separate agendas. Absolutely brilliant!! Can’t wait to read the sequel Crooked Kingdom.

(Fantasy, Betrayal, Loyalty, Courage, Quest, Heist, Magic, Fighting, Theft, Historical, Hate, Love)

 

Liars – The Truth App

Author – Jack HeathThe Truth App (Liars #1)

Age – 9+

A brown ute comes out of nowhere and smashes into Jarli and his dad in their car. To make things even worse, they quickly realise it wasn’t an accident when it comes at them again. The driver is an old guy with thick black glasses.

But when Jarli tries to tell the police afterwards, no-one believes him. They are all more interested in the throngs of media outside the hospital. Jarli has released his new app to some testers, who in turn released it to the world – with horrifying consequences.

The app detects a lie when spoken aloud, and it is causing havoc everywhere. Did the old man have something to hide and the app exposed it? Will there be more angry people out there keen for Jarli’s skin?

He and his friends are suddenly on a pell-mell flight from a killer who just won’t give up. It’s not only the app exposing people’s lies, there are more just under the surface of Jarli’s life, closer than he can imagine.

By the author of Countdown to Danger series and many more action filled books for children – this is the first in a new series of heart pumping titles. Each page is rimmed in a shaded grey and the text is interspersed with text-speak and technology.

(Action, Technology, App, Assassin, Car Accident, Family, Friends, Boxing, Series)

Kevin

Author/Illustrator – Rob BiddulphKevin (PB)

Picture Book

Sid Gibbons is in trouble. He blames an imaginary monster for all the havoc he has caused. When he is sent to his room, that very monster appears from the hatch in his ceiling.

Sid climbs to Kevin’s brightly coloured land of purple trees and jelly leaves. He sees other strange creatures and is invited to Kevin’s to play.

Sid sees an opportunity to be as naughty as he’s ever been, with no-one to answer to. But when Kevin gets the blame for Sid’s behaviour, Sid finally realises the result of his actions.

(Friendship, Kindness, Responsibility)

 

After the lights go out

Author – Lili Wilkinson

Age – 14+

Imagine it – suddenly, without warning or reason, there is no electricity. Anywhere. Modern cars are useless and even pacemakers fail.

The isolated Australian outback town of Jubilee begin to struggle with this after a few days, and even more so when their men don’t return from the mine where they work.

After she finds an old Holden to travel in, 17 yr-old Pru Palmer decides to go to the mine to look for her father. They have a secret. Her father Rick is a doomsday prepper and they have a bunker not far from their house packed with supplies to last years underground. Pru and her sisters have been trained to survive in almost any situation. But Pru is now in charge. She always thought her dad would be there too.

Along with a stranger in town (whose mother was facilitating a safety seminar at the mine), Pru finds disaster at the mine. They return to Jubilee to find her usually docile community beginning to attack eachother – just like her father said they would. But can she just walk away and leave them all to starve?

Her dad always said “Family first,” and Pru is torn between how she was raised and the people in town.

This story drew me in early and surprised me again and again. Pru is an authentic character, suddenly dealing with so much responsibility and guilt. She feels surrounded by anger, fear and even death and has to find solutions. But realistically, she doesn’t have to cope all on her own – until the unthinkable happens.

(Doomsday prepper, Apocalypse, Bunker, Romance, Siblings, Twins, Family, Courage, Australia, Outback, Secret)

Scarlett Hart Monster Hunter

Author/Illustrator – Marcus Sedgwick

Age – 8+         Graphic Novel

Scarlett Hart was born to be a monster hunter, just like her dead parents. Now living with the family butler, Napolean and the housekeeper, she is carrying on the tradition of monster hunting.

Napolen is no ordinary butler and neither is the housekeeper, assisting Scarlett in killing monsters to claim the rewards posted for their demise. But Scarlett is officially too young to be a monster hunter, even if she could fence at 6, is clever and fearless. Count Stankovic is also a hunter, and will do anything for reward money. He is determined to catch and photograph Scarlett as she hunts, so she will be arrested and no longer any competition.

But that’s not all he’s up to. Why is there an increase in monsters lately? Has he teamed up with someone even worse than him, able to summon monsters from another realm?

This graphic novel is full of action from the first page! Scarlett is feisty, funny and brave, and The Count is a perfect nemesis. Loved it!

(Graphic Novel, Courage, Orphan, Monsters, Betrayal, Humour, Funny)

Fahrenheit 451

Author – Ray Bradbury

Age – 16+

It’s not until firefighter Guy Montag meets his new 17 yr old neighbour, Clarisse McLellan, that he begins to think about his life. She seems strange, taking pleasure out of simple things and asking personal questions. The toughest of these being, ‘Are you happy?’

This gets Guy thinking, and he realises he hasn’t just sat and thought for a long time. When he discovers his wife has tried to commit suicide, and doesn’t even remember doing it – just waking up and asking for another full wall TV screen (they are already trying to pay off the third they purchased only 2 months ago), Guy really starts to look at his life.

He is a firefighter – no, make that a firestarter. He works shifts at a firestation, responding to alarms that tell them someone, somewhere, has books that need to be disposed of – burnt, by him and his crew. They spray kerosine, not water, from their pipes, then throw a match.

It’s not until he witnesses a woman preferring to die amongst her books that he realises what he has become. Almost a robot. Just going through the motions of life, not thinking or asking questions. Will books help him make sense of his life. Will they wake him up?

He can’t talk to his wife. She’s only interested in the TV programs and radio broadcasts she is addicted to. Who will help him in his quest?

His firestation Captain seems to understand his confusion – at first. But soon Guy’s life tips upside down, and he can’t return to how life was before, even if he wanted to…..

This classic was written in 1953 and has been classed as Dystopian, Futuristic, and a story about Censorship. But the author said simply, it was about too much TV turning people into morons. This story fascinated me in the fact that the author seems to have looked into the future (our now), and seen our TV and screen addictions, and often ‘sameness’ culture.

Brilliant!

(Dystopian, Censorship, Friendship, Books, Book-burning, Future, Classic)

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)

White Rabbit, Red Wolf

Author – Tom Pollock

Age – 14+

Pete has terrible anxiety. He has mechanisms to help him deal with it, taught to him by his scientist mum. One of these is using maths, numbers, probability, etc to help determine the likelihood of something happening and find some level of calm.

But he’s still anxious about an upcoming award ceremony recognising his mother’s work. There will be so many people and just about anything triggers his crushing panic attacks.

Bel is Pete’s twin sister – older ‘but only by eight minutes’ reminds Pete constantly. Bel is his comforter, protector and pusher of boundaries – trying to help him overcome normal everyday things that terrify him.

Just before their mother’s ceremony, hell breaks loose. He is in the custody of armed, professionals, Bel is missing and their mum has been stabbed and is being raced to hospital – or is she?

This story is a lie – that’s the premise – and the reason I was torn this way and that throughout the story. It tipped me forward and back, through time, thoughts and an endless stream of lies to the last page. Who is telling the truth? Who can Pete trust? Each betrayal shocked me as Pete discovered them. A densely packed read. A page turner from the very first page. Brilliant!

(Twins, Science, Maths, Fears, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Action, Betrayal, Trust, Lies)

The Invasion (The Call 2)

Author – Peadar O’Guilan38592818

Age – 13+

Nessa may have returned from ‘The Grey Land’, but her battle isn’t over yet. She is instantly under suspicion. How could she survive with her bent and twisted legs? How could someone so weak return unscarred when bigger, stronger, better trained children and teens do not?

She is labelled a traitor – someone who has made a deal with the S’dhe in order to survive. There are now government agents searching for such traitors, and they will find them at any cost.

Something terrible is happening to Ireland. More terrible than The Call itself, with nothing to stop it.

Told in different viewpoints of Nessa, Anto, and others from the survival school Nessa attended, there is action at every turn, choices to make or believe and survival an even thinner thread than before.

Be careful what you promise, and who you promise to, as they are assembling out there, and coming for you….

(Fantasy, Violence, Fairy Folk, Legends, Myths, Ireland, Love, Friendship, Courage, Trust)

The List of Real Things

Author – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald36562488

Age – 10+

Grace and her little sister Bee became orphans 5 years ago, losing their mother to an illness and their father two days later. Their sun-loving, travelling Uncle Freddy returned immediately to become their guardian. Soon after their grandfather moved in too.

Five years on and they’ve done ok. Uncle Freddy forgets to pay the bills sometimes and housework isn’t his top priority, but the girls feel loved and cared for. If only they could talk about the not-to-be-mentioned subject. The loss of their parents and in turn, their grief.

Now Grace is older, she’s become embarrassed by her little sister’s quirkyness and insistence on imaginary things being real. According to Bee, their parents are still around, their dog talks to her, and there is a magical hotel at the top of tall cliffs nearby.

When Grace wants to be part of the ‘top group’ at school, she fears Bee will spoil it for her, and she does everything she can to prevent that – with terrible consequences.

Another wonderful story by this author. This is a tale of a blended family all dealing with a great loss all in their own way, and a special little girl who sees things differently. Beautiful.

(School, Popularity, Blended Family, Family, Grief, Love)

The Red Ribbon

Author – Lucy Adlington35681404

Age – 12+

Ella is a designer. She loves clothes and fashion, after being taught everything she knows by her no-nonsense but loving grandmother. She is hurrying to the nearby Upper Tailoring Studio who are looking for a new seamstress.

But this is no normal sewing shop. There is no pay, no breaks, and an armed guard by the door who can shoot you at any disturbance. This is Birchwood – better known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Ella makes a friend at the Studio in funny, book-loving Rose whose mother is a Countess. Together the girls bond over their sewing skills as they work for the camp commandant’s wife and female guards. They learn to barter, steal, and fight to keep themselves alive while Rose tells stories and they both dream of opening a dress shop together – the hope helping to keep them going.

A hidden red ribbon, although causing a vicious beating, helps keep that dream alive, even when they’re separated.

When a human has hope, it can keep them alive, filling their thoughts with wonderful things as they are starved, beaten, humiliated, terrified and shocked to their core. The Upper Tailoring Studio was real at Auschwitz and this story shares another side of this terrible time in history.

Truthers

Author – Geoffrey Girard28486039

Age – 14+

Katie Wallace’s dad isn’t much of a dad these days. As she has grown she has watched him get high, drunk and unconscious. When official looking people arrive on her doorstep she’s not surprised.

But it’s not what she expected. Her dad has been hospitalised for random threats against the vice president and he’s telling lies about the government. She is swept quickly into foster care.

When she finally gets to see her dad he is heavily drugged in a guarded hospital room. But he fights through his haze to tell her something. Something she never expected and cannot ignore. This is where her fight to free her father begins.

This novel has received some negative feedback because of its main topic – 9/11 conspiracy theories. The people who believe these theories and/or others call themselves Truthers. I for one, much enjoyed the story and the way it was written. Although in third person I was reading other character’s point of view without knowing who they were yet. Very intriguing! The author specifically states he means no disrespect to anyone with this novel and I appreciated that. I liked the characters who drew me in and had me wondering who telling the truth. Great read.

(Twin Towers, Conspiracy, 9/11, Lies, Truth, Mental Illness, PTSD, Soldier, Government, Mystery, Murder, Family, Trust)

How to Hang a Witch

Author – Adriana Mather37819386

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)

Genuine Fraud

Author – E Lockhart33843362

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)

The Traitor and the Thief (1) The Sin Chronicles

Author – Gareth Ward35296530

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)

The Serpent’s Heir (How to Train your Dragon)

Author / Illustrator – Dark Horse Comics25810228

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)

 

The Butterfly Tattoo

Author – Philip Pullman35083953

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)

 

 

Codename Quicksilver (In the Zone)

15836467

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)

Gemina

29236299

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)