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 – Will Hill
Age – 13+
Moonbeam survived. She is full of grief and guilt that many of her brothers and sisters didn’t. Even Father John didn’t make it out, and he was their whole world for so long. But was he telling the truth about the outside?
The Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion has been Moonbeam’s home her entire life. She is promised to Father John as one of his future wives, which she once thought was a great honour.
But she’s not so sure anymore. Things are changing in the compound. Harsher rules and penalties are being dealt until Moonbeam can’t stand back with her head bowed any longer.
But the result is nothing like she could ever imagine.
From the talented Will Hill (Author of the Department 19 Series), After the Fire is completely different but just as intriguing. Moonbeam’s story is told in two different times. Before the fire that claimed many of her friend’s lives, and after as she is interviewed by the FBI and a psychiatrist. Loved it!
(Cult, Religion, Belief, Family, Blended family, Truth, Lies, Guilt)
Author – Anne Kayes
Age – 8+
Jack, Tim, Ella, Harry, Gemma, Louie, Lucy and Terri live on Tui Street. Here are 7 separate tales of their daily lives of school, family and friends, but all with a touch of fantasy, fairytale, or maori legend.
They are all great characters, sometimes dealing with things on their own, pushing their boundaries a little, helping each other, and learning about others in the street without any sign of preachy morals or corny outcomes.
Winner of the NZ Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a debut author, Tui Street Tales would make a great Read a Loud for class or home reading.
(Award winner, New Zealand, NZ, Fairy tale, Fantasy, Maori Legend, Friends, Neighbourhood)
Author – J C Jones
Illustrator -Serena Geddes
Age – 8+
Pip’s birthday hasn’t gone to plan at all. Just as she’s about to have some cake, her carer Sully falls to the ground taking the cake with him. “He’s had a stroke,” say the ambulance men, and he’s taken to hospital.
Sully is the only family Pip knows. She was left as a tiny baby on his doorstep inside an apple crate, with a note from her mother. She’ll be back when she’s settled – but she never returns. Pip is what Sully names her.
But with Sully in hospital, Pip knows she will be placed in welfare. She’s been warned about welfare by her friend Ginger, who has been mistreated in different foster homes. So, with a bag packed she avoids police and welfare and looks after herself, keeping one step ahead of the authorities while she waits for Sully to get well.
Pip is polite and thoughtful of others and a diligent pupil, but also tough and resourceful on the streets. This street savvy gets her through some tricky situations, but it’s the people who care for her that eventually help her through. Great story for 8+
(Poverty, Love, Grief, Family, Friendship, Foster care)
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)
Author – Huw Powell
Age – 8+
Jake Cutler was just a baby when he was left at a cyber-monk monastery by a strange injured man. The only clue to Jake’s past is an amulet encrusted with 3 crystals which hangs around his neck.
On his 11th birthday, his past finds him in a fiery attack on the monks. He flees to the nearest space port and with the help of an infamous fortune seeker he escapes the planet he grew up on. But little do they know, the cargo ship they’ve hidden on is a pirate ship – the Captain, Granny Leatherhead – an eye-patched, no-nonsense woman, is the leader of the Space Dogs.
Instantly locked up, Jake and his new acquaintances wonder what will happen to them. They are about to embark on the adventure of their lives. Space monsters, black holes, the evil Intergalactic Army and even other pirates are part of their adventure, not to mention a purple skinned alien and their search for a hidden planet with more wealth than all the other planets together!
Fantastic! Pumped with action, adventure, an orphan (or is he?), aliens and a family betrayal, this first book in the Space Jackers series is perfect for thrill seekers.
(Pirates, Space, Aliens, Friendship, Adventure, Action, Humour, Series)
Author – Gary D Schmidt
Age – 12+
This isn’t a long read and would be great for those teens who are a little reluctant at the thought of reading one of the doorstops they regularly see on library or bookshop shelves for teens. But just because it’s only 192 pages, doesn’t mean it won’t pack a punch – because it sure does.
I felt so much for Joseph, who at only 14 had experienced prison for attempted murder of a teacher, found an all consuming wonderful first love then lost it again, and learned that he was a father but was forbidden to ever have any contact with his baby daughter (called Jupiter.)
Now in foster care with 12 yr old Jack and his parents, Joseph is quiet, deliberately and instantly misunderstood by some of his teachers and the school bus driver, and the target of some school bullies.
But Jack quickly finds that Joseph is none of the things he is labelled with and he stands by him, just like he would an older brother. Jack’s parents treat Joseph as if he is their son, and Joseph responds to that – but his past soon catches up with him, with terrible results. Joseph has to make a choice. A sad but beautiful story of friendship, family and belief in someone you love.
(Family, Foster Care, Bullying, Prejudice, School, Young father, Love, Trust)