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)

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Zach King – My Magical Life

Author – Zach King35069280

Illustrator – Beverly Arce

Age – 7+

Zach is home schooled as he is part of a magical family. But when his magic still hasn’t arrived at the age of 11, his parents believe he has beeen ‘skipped’ and the best thing for him is to go to middle school and learn to be ‘normal’ like other non-magical kids.

His first day at Horace Greeley Middle School finds him inside a vending machine in nothing but his boxers. But how did it happen? When an online video of ‘the trick’ goes viral, his new friend Aaron is keen to know how he did it, and for him to do more tricks like that. That’s not his only problem – the coolest kid in school has decided to make him look a fool – as often as possible.

When Zach does finally find his magic, it’s way cooler than he ever dreamed, but how does he hide the truth from his new friends when they are keen to see more of his ‘tricks’ online?

Zach soon finds a way, but has to face the bully, his parents and an alligator!

This is the 1st in a new series, made up of both text and full page, full colour illustrations. Set mostly in Horace Greeley Middle School, it’s a fun read.

(School, Bully, Friendship, Magic, Secret, Series, YouTube, Popularity)

S.TA.G.S

Author – M A Bennett35154365

Age – 12+

Greer MacDonald has a scholarship to the exclusive British School S.T.A.G.S.

She doesn’t have any friends, so when she is invited to Longcross Hall, the home of one of the most popular prefects; she believes her luck is finally changing.

Wined and dined along with two other ‘unpopular’ students, Chanel and Shafeen, Greer enjoys the attention. But something’s not quite right. The Hunting, Shooting and Fishing weekend they have been promised turns macabre, and Greer is swimming for her life…

A thriller that twists and turns. Who is on Greer’s side? Who can she trust? With references to movies throughout the novel (Greer’s father is a cameraman), this novel contrasts between the now (technology) and the then of the Aristocrat (servants, and an age-old order). Great read.

(Popularity, Change, Technology, Suicide, Cult, School)

 

 

The Pudding Problem (Lyttle Lies 1)

Author/Illustrator – Joe Berger33980482

Age – 7+

Sam Lyttle is a liar. He can’t help it, it just happens. After all, life is complicated. So of course, anything and everything that happens at home that shouldn’t – is automatically blamed on Sam.
School is complicated too – especially when it comes to Feeny, the class bully. The school legend says that if you cross Feeny 3 times, life as you know it will change forever.

Unfortunately, Sam crosses this line.
1) A lie about an imaginary cheese burger
2) Theft of a foot long super salami
3) Saving a cat from Feeny’s dog

Now he has to face the famous Feeny deadeye, AND face up to his family about the broken items at home.  Will he finally tell the truth? Will he survive Feeny?

Part Black & White Graphic format and part novel, this story is funny! The truth is finally divulged to his family – or is it? Loved the conclusion.

(Series, School, Friends, Bully, Lies, Magic, Family, Funny)

 

After the Fire

Author – Will Hill33357614

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)

 

Thornhill

Author / Illustrator – Pam Smy28107168

Age – 10+

Thornhill is an eerie tale told in two ways:

One story is set in 1982 and told in text by a girl called Mary Baines. She lives in Thornhill with other foster kids (all girls) and keeps to herself after being bullied terribly by one of the other girls. The bullying intensifies and she can’t take it anymore. She plans her revenge. But when things don’t go to plan, she has another solution.

The other story is set in 2017 and told in pictures about a girl called Ella moving into a new house. She is alone a lot as her father often works late, and she’s intrigued by the big old house over the back fence – the derelict and abandoned Thornhill Institute for girls. When she sees another girl over there she goes to investigate, exploring the grounds and then the house.

The more she discovers the more she wants to know – will the girl be her friend?

Two girls – two stories, woven into each other. This was an intriguing way to tell a story about loneliness, bullying, revenge and friendship. The final pictures were a great twist!

(Girls, Foster kids, Eerie, Intriguing, Orphanage, Loneliness, Bullying, Bully, Friendship, Foster care, Mystery)

 

 

The Wonderling

Author/Illustrator – Mira Bartok26046482

Age – 10+

Arthur lives a troubled life in an Orphanage called ‘The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures.’ These creatures are groundlings (mixed-up animals) like Arthur (a foxling who walks on two legs and with only one ear).

Arthur tries to avoid the bullies and Miss Carbunkle who believes groundlings only exist to serve and suffer. But there is a light in Arthur’s life – a new friend called Trinket, who shares her songs and stories with Arthur, igniting hope in his heart for something different outside the Home’s damp, grey walls.

They are soon on an adventure, as Arthur seeks his destiny with only an address stolen from Miss Carbunkle’s filing cabinet. Along the way, he meets many other groundlings of every mix, shape and size and is taken in when he reaches the city, by a rat called Quintus. Quintus is very much like Fagan in Oliver Twist, teaching, feeding, and sheltering Arthur in return for stealing.

But this is a very different world from Oliver Twist, with the High Hats (Humans) just as tough as Miss Carbunkle – who has her own evil plans in mind. Can Arthur and Trinket stop her and her evil manticore from ruining the world forever?

The Wonderling’s world is a little steampunk, a little fantasy, a little Cruella Deville and as Arthur finally discovers within himself, a lot wonderful. Beautifully told with rich description and multiple sub-plots afoot. And as the reader will discover in the gorgeous illustrations – Arthur’s best friend Trinket is not only an amazing inventor but a Kiwi Bird!

(Steampunk, Destiny, Journey, Quest, Creatures, World building, Fantasy, Orphan, Kiwi, Friendship, Courage, Bravery, Crime)