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)

Finch

Author – Penny MatthewsFinch - Penny Matthews

Age – 10+

Audrey is a nerd. She knows it, and her younger sister Chloe reminds her all the time.

Audrey loves birds. She learnt the latin names for birds at a young age and recites them to herself when she sees any bird on their new vineyard property, and the paddocks beyond. Their new neighbour, chatty and confident Mavis, also loves birds, but Audrey isn’t keen to go bird watching with her and her elderly friends. Now that would be nerdy.

One day, while exploring with Chloe (and watching birds, they spy a cave further inside a neighbour’s property. At first they go no further. They have been warned about trespassing in the country. But later when Audrey is alone, she ventures further.

She is surprised to find someone. He’s hiding. He’s got a secret, and his name is Finch.

He loves birds as much as her, and she finds his company relaxing. But who is he and where did he suddenly go?

With a secret, a mystery and feuding parents, this is a coming of age story. Audrey is learning about herself, her family and coming to terms with her new home and surroundings.

(New home, Family, Secret, Historical, Siblings, Sisters, Mystery, Birds, Bird watching, Geek, Ornithology)

 

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)

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 Promise Horse

Author – Jackie Merchant40191001

Age – 8+

Harry wasn’t happy about moving away from all her friends, pony club and all the memories she had made with her older sister Sissy before her illness. The one thing that eases the move (besides being closer to her loving grandparents), is the promise of a horse of her very own.

Little do her parents know, but Sissy has come with them, even if only in spirit. Harry has been to therapy about ‘hearing voices’ so now she keeps Sissy a secret. After all, if she was just imagining her older, bossy, strong sister’s voice, wouldn’t she make her less annoying?

When an impressive Appaloosa called Marksman is offered to her in her new town, Harry isn’t sure she can handle such a big horse. But with Sissy’s constant pushing, and her grandparent’s support, maybe it is something she can achieve for herself. If only Mum didn’t regret the promise made in the first place.

This story isn’t just about horses, pony club, friendship and family. Harry’s family is still dealing with their grief at the loss of Sissy, but all in their own way. A boy called Billy from school has his own problems, and Harry has to find her own courage (without Sissy) to hold onto what she loves.

(Animals, Horses, Pony Club, Gymkhana, Friendship, Fitting in, Moving)

 

Lucky Button

Author – Michael Morpurgo

36584192Illustrator – Michael Foreman

Age 7+

Jonah has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders at home and is bullied at school. This school used to be The Foundling Hospital – a place children were taken to save them from the 18th century streets of London.

Jonah loves music, and humming the songs his mum used to play on her piano always lifts his spirits. But one day after more bullying, he hides in the school chapel. He finds a small gold button on the chapel floor then hears beautiful music coming from the organ. He is entranced.

Out of nowhere, an ghostly old man approaches him. At first Jonah is petrified but soon realises the man means him no trouble. All he wants to do is tell Jonah about the Lucky Button he has found, where it came from, and how important it is.

Another gentle tale of family, and friendship from this popular author. Among the colour and black & white illustrations scattered through the text, the reader will meet Mozart as a boy and learn about Handel too.

(Family, School, Bullying, Music, History)

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)

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)

 

 

Evie’s Ghost

Author – Helen Peters32716469

Age – 10+

Evie is not happy. Her Mum has remarried and gone off on honeymoon, leaving Evie to stay with a godmother she has never met. The room she is shown on the first night looks just like any other room – except for a message scratched into the glass of the window.

Her godmother tells her of a tale told about her room. The message is said to be left by a girl over 200 hundred years before, after being locked in there by her own father.

Evie soon learns more about this girl first hand – waking up in 1814 in the same house, wearing maid’s clothing. Life is very different in 1814 and she has to learn her dawn to dusk duties very quickly or be fired and forced to leave the house. But how would she get home again?

The more she learns about the house and its occupants, she soon meets the girl who scratched the message in the window. Evie knows she has to warn her about her father before it is too late – hoping this righting of a terrible wrong will return her to her own time.

Another great read by Helen Peters – connecting our time with the past in a unique way.

(History, Historical, Godmother, Courage, 1814, Time Travel)

 

I woke up dead at the mall

Author – Judy Sheehan22005713

Age – 14+

Sarah is dead. How can this be? She was at her father’s wedding. Life was good. Sure she’d lost her mum and her dad became a workaholic and they’d drifted apart. But then Karen came along and she mended the hurts and the the distance between Sarah and her dad. And they were getting married.

How did she die? And what is this place she has ended up in? It looks like a shopping mall, but there are weird people walking around with no light in their eyes, mumbling to themselves and taking absolutely no notice of her when she asks them – what the heck is going on? Is she really dead? And why is she still wearing the gross coral coloured fluffy bridesmaid’s dress. Could she at least wear something else for all eternity?

Humour, ghosts, angels, murder, revenge, love, and a mission to achieve, I woke up Dead at the Mall is an entertaining read. It sure made me look at things like sunshine, good company, friends, family and the simple things in life in a whole different way.

(Funny, Humour, First love, Angels, Friendship)

The Turnkey

Author – Allison Rushby34198914

Age – 9+

Flossie is only 12 but has a very important job. She is the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery in London. WWII is raging around them, with bombs dropped every night, which makes her job quite difficult. As Turnkey, she is responsible for keeping the thousands of people buried at Highgate – at peace.

Flossie herself is also a ghost and can travel around London and even further afield just by thinking of the place. It is one night from St Paul’s Cathedral that she sees someone who shouldn’t be in London. He shouldn’t even exist. The German Soldier she sees is defying the rules of the dead as he hatches a plot to win the war.

With only her ghost friends to help, they follow the SS Officer to try and prevent him causing trouble. Along the way she discovers he is connected to her own past. Now that all of London’s cemetery’s are at risk, not to mention the entire country, she doesn’t know who to trust among the dead. Can Flossie stop him in time?

(Ghost, Friends, WWII, Cemetery, Grief)

The Silver Boy

Author – Kristina Ohlsson30079408

Age – 7+

Aladdin’s family owns the Turkish restaurant ‘Turk in the Tower’ in an old water tower in Sweden. They don’t know that the tower was built on land that held an age old mystery. A silversmith used to live there and one night a lightning storm destroyed his home and all his silver was stolen. It was never found.

Who is the strange boy hanging around the restaurant? Is he one of the refugees in town or is he ‘The Silver Boy’ – the ghost of a young boy searching for the silver? Aladdin and his friend Billie are caught up in the mystery, and he’s determined to find the silver to help save the family restaurant.

A ghost, a mystery, a family problem to solve. Twists and turns will intrigue young mystery fans.

(Friendship, Mystery, Ghost, Sweden, Refugees)

The Fox and the Ghost King

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Author – Michael Morpurgo

Illustrator – Michael Foreman

A wonderful tale from the talented team of Morpurgo and Foreman. It’s a mix of fox, football, ghosts and a little Shakespeare for good measure. These foxes love football and the local team believes this fox family bring them good luck. But when they hear the voice of a king long gone, they help their favourite footy team even more!

(Animals, Ghost, King Richard III, Shakespeare, Leicester Football Club, Foxes)

Nothing Tastes as Good

28101625Author – Claire Hennessy

Age – 14+

Annabel has passed away. She had a heart attack at the age of 17 after years of starving herself to look thin. She admired the bones that showed through her translucent skin, and denies even after death, that she was sick.

She wants to send a message to her family, and there is only one way to do that. First she has to help an overweight troubled girl called Julia. She is given this mission by another unworldly presence in the story, that Annabel calls The Boss.

Annabel struggles with this as she sees Julia as all the things she hates, especially the consumption of so much food. Annabel can read Julia’s mind and anyone else’s she chooses to, but to her frustration, cannot access her family’s thoughts or even see them. But at The Boss’ gentle prompting Annabel slowly works her way into Julia’s consciousness.

This story is amazingly different, dealing with the terrible mental illness of anorexia, via a love story, and a journey the spirit makes along with the young woman she has been sent to help. It’s been called phenomenal, and I’d have to agree. 

(Mental illness, Anorexia, Journalism, School Newspaper, Editor, Love)

Level Up

9630403

Author – Gene Luen Yang

Illustrator – Thien Pham

A graphic novel about a boy who wants to honour his dead father’s wishes but discovers it is at a personal cost. When he finally makes the decision to do what’s right for him, he discovers that he can follow both his father’s and his own dreams.

For anyone who loves gaming, (especially old fashioned pacman). I enjoyed this story and the simple but clever illustration.

(Graphic Novel, School, University, Parent’s expectations, Gaming)

The Haunting

 

28100273

Author – Alex Bell

Age – 13+

Part of a Spooky Series called Red Eye, this was a very creepy book.

The Waterwitch Inn was built from a sunken ship with a history of terrible things happening to it, even before its maiden voyage.

When Emma returns to her home village to see her dying grandmother, she is drawn back to the closed down Waterwitch that her Gran used to own. Soon meeting her best friend Jem from her childhood, she is drawn back into his life and his worries that his sister Shell thinks she is a witch, their abusive father has broken Shell’s arm and now they have nowhere to live except hiding in the Waterwitch Inn.

But Gran claims she never sent them the keys they have, and she shut it because it is haunted. Emma, along with Jem scoffs at this notion, but Shell knows better. Something is in the cellar, and it’s all their fault.

(3 points of view – Emma, Jem and Shell – all 1st person)

A tale of witches, sunken ships and an age old curse. Should Jem believe Shell’s explanations of the strange things happening or is she unbalanced after the suicide of her mother and her father’s constant anger and abuse? The Inn setting is great with its ocean theme and the tension builds throughout the novel. Great read.

(Witch, Ship, Haunting, Creepy, Spooky, Curse, Ghost, Horror, Revenge)

I’ll give you the Sun

23573418

Author – Jandy Nelson

Age – 14+

Noah and Jude are twins and are very close. Jude is popular at school and at home, where Noah is the opposite. He feels his father’s disappointment in him, not being strong, masculine, and sporty like him.

But Noah is a brilliant artist and constantly draws the world around him. He not only can draw anything, he sees and thinks things in possible portraits and drawings. As the twins grow older, a tragedy forces them apart. Both have to deal with new and destructive relationships and face truths about themselves – all the while dealing with their troubles without the other.

But it’s art that brings them back together, making them face the tragedy that’s train-wrecked their family. And with each other’s help, find the love they needed to grow again.

It took 3 years for the author to write this novel, and after reading it I can understand why. She knows these characters inside and out, and it felt like I did when I had finished this novel. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Written beautifully, the story  constructed wonderfully, and with a beautiful ending after so much pain. 

(Gay, Twins, Siblings, Love, Art, Family, Friendship, Grief, Ghost, Truth)

 

Magrit

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Author – Lee Battersby

Age – 9+

Magrit lives in an abandoned cemetery, surrounded by tenement buildings. When a stork flies by and drops a crying bundle into the cemetery, her only friend Master Puppet (who she made herself out of bones and sticks and rags), tells her to leave it alone. But she can’t and as soon as she picks it up knows what it is. And she also knows, if she doesn’t quieten it, one of the surrounding tenement windows will open and discover her hiding place.

A quick read, but one that holds you until you discover the truth about Magrit, along with her. Her world is the cemetery and as you read, the walls of the buildings and chapel surround you as you join her world. A little creepy, but not too much for young readers, who will enjoy the ending.

Something different.

(Cemetery, Imagination, Survival, Secret, Creepy)

Thirteen Chairs

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Author – Dave Shelton

Age – 11+

Jack has heard about the strange house in town – even that it might be haunted. So when he finds 12 people sitting in a room, each with a flickering candle in front of them and ready to tell a scary story, he makes sure he is close to the door. Just in case. But the stories he hears draw him in – until he has to tell one of his own….

On the Carnegie/CILIP Medal Longlist 2016.
This is a great collection of scary stories, wrapped up in a story of its own. Clever!

(Short Stories, Ghost, Creepy, Intrigue, Murder, Horror, Advanced readers 11+)

The Ghost Prison

17412800Author – Joseph Delaney

Illustrations – Scott M Fischer
Age 8+
Billy was nervous about his new job at the prison. He’d had two weeks training but it wasn’t just any prison. Everyone knew it was full of the ghosts of murderers, witches and worse. Night shift as a prison guard wasn’t going to be easy, but he was keen to get out of the Home for Unfortunate Boys.
He arrives late on his first shift but is let off by the head guard with a warning not to let it happen again. Billy is quickly told he wouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t for one of the ghosts of the prison, who’d asked specifically for him. She must’ve seen him while he was doing his training, and no one wanted to upset this particular ghost.
His first night is scary but he soon grows used to it. Another warning he receives that first night, is to stay away from the Witch Well. ‘ … behind that door you’d face your worst nightmare. Don’t ever go through there!’
But one night he has to do just that, and the warning doesn’t come close to preparing him for the other side of the locked door.
Goosebumps fans or anyone who loves a scary story would love this tale and the creepy black and white illustrations throughout the book. It’s a short story at only 103 pages but neatly tied up at the end, making the young reader think about what might’ve happened to young Billy Calder.
(Creepy, Ghost, Historical, Short Story)