The Inn Between

Author – Marina Cohen25667027

Age – 10+

11 yr old Quinn has had a rough time of it lately, her younger sister’s disappearance turning her world upside down. And Quinn believes it was her fault. To make things worse, her best friend Kara is moving across the country and Quinn misses her already.

Kara’s parents invite Quinn on a road trip with them, so the girls can have time together before their move and on the way across the desert, they stop at a hotel. Inn Between.

Despite the staff being incredibly friendly, Quinn’s feeling of dread hasn’t diminished ever since they took the turnoff to the hotel. When Kara’s parents vanish and then her older brother too, the girls are left to try and figure out why.

What is the strange hum that Quinn can hear? Why is a strange old man following them everywhere? And what grabbed her leg in the swimming pool?

Sometimes sad, sometimes creepy and with a clever conclusion, this story is packed with plot and twists and turns to keep any tween reading. I never expected the ending. Great read.

(Creepy, Eerie, Spooky, Friendship, Guilt, Abduction, Disappearance, Siblings, School)





Maybe a Fox

Authors – Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee31581480

Age – 10+

What happens when you die? Maybe you turn into the wind. Maybe you become a shooting star. Maybe a fox?

When Jules loses her older sister Sylvie to a forbidden place in the woods, she is left with Dad and ‘Life After Sylvie.’ She’s angry at Sylvie’s incessant need to run faster. If only she hadn’t run off into the woods that day. If only she’d grabbed Sylvie’s hand tighter?

But if onlys don’t make things any easier, for Jules or their neighbour who has his own if onlys. But a fox called Senna is growing up nearby, and she is drawn to Jules. She knows she has to help this young human full of sadness.

Maybe a Fox is a story of grief, sisterhood and wishing rocks. Some that have worked and some that haven’t.  Jules and Senna become closer throughout the story and then an event links them forever just as Jules learns the reason for her sister’s need to run faster….


(Fox, Animals, Secret, Catamount, Wishes, Friendship, Loss, Grief)

Strange Star

ER – CARStrange Star

Author – Emma Carroll

Age – 10+

A tale within a tale – there is a gathering of like-minded souls who baulk at the expected conforms of 1816 etiquette. They are planning to tell ghost stories on this particular evening, but one of their group cannot think of anything. Mary Shelley has no ideas to share.
But when her step sister screams at the sight of someone in the window, a true tale is about to be told – more frightening than any of the stories that evening.
A girl who arrives on the doorstep, bangs on the door and collapses, is revived by Mary in front of the fire. Her name is Lizzie and she’s come to claim her sister back. But first she has to tell them how she got there and the terrible things she’s seen….

The author has taken what is known about Mary Shelley and built her own story around it, making us wonder where Mary got her ideas for her classic novel ‘Frankenstein’. For anyone who’d like to read more about Mary Shelley and her ghost story friends – read ‘Summer of Monsters’ by Tony Thompson.

(Frankenstein, 1816, Villa Diodati, Friendship, Lightning, Scary, Mystery, Historical, Science)

The Sky is Everywhere

TEEN – NEL23573399

Author – Jandy Nelson

Age – 16+

Lennie is grieving the loss of her vibrant, loving, carefree, older sister Bailey. When Lennie returns to school, trying to avoid all the sympathetic stares, she returns to band practice with her best friend Sarah. There’s a new boy at school called Joe Fontaine and he too attends the practice. He’s already caused a stir around school with his good looks and mystery, but he’s also a brilliant musician.

Lennie wonders how she can be so awestruck by Joe, experiencing feelings she’s never felt before, when she’s supposed to be grieving. And then there’s Toby – Bailey’s boyfriend. He too is grieving, trying to find a way to cope without Bailey in his life. When Lennie is with Toby they both feel closer to Bailey. But are they getting too close themselves?

Joe begins to seek out Lennie, at school and at home, until he becomes a regular visitor. Lennie slowly falls for Joe, all the while a tumult of grief, guilt, love, and happiness she’s never felt before. But then there’s Toby too…..

This novel with its love ‘triangle’ is beautifully written, with realistic, believable, quirky characters and emotions. It’s a complicated love story interspered with Lennie’s poetry, and sub-plot about her mother who left them when she was only one. Jandy Nelson is nothing short of brilliant!

Dear Charlie

(Not in Napier/Taradale Libraries)31296412

Author – N D Gomes

Age – 13+

Sam Macmillan looked up to his older brother Charlie. Sam loves music and Charlie loved art and they had a close bond. But Sam can’t figure out how his caring big brother could buy a black-market gun at 1am one morning, take it to school and shoot 14 people before turning the gun on himself.

Dear Charlie is a story about a family of the shooter dealing with the fallout after the event. Constant media attention, abuse, hate mail, and bullying follow the family for months until they are not only at breaking point as a family, but each of them all but consumed in their own pain, guilt and confusion.

But surprisingly, a group of teens at Sam’s new school accept him as one of their own, giving him a lifeline out of the darkness of what his brother did. Sam discovers more than friendship among this group, even as he battles his therapist who is trying to help, copes with his dysfunctional parents and his own anger at his brother’s actions.

This story portraying the aftermath on a shooter’s family was well written, travelling through all the emotions they would encounter. Each chapter of ‘Dear Charlie’ begins with a song that portrays the feeling of the chapter. From classical to popular music, the songs add something real to the story. These can be listened to before or after each chapter read. Compelling.

(School shooting, Guilt, Grief, Love, Family, School, Music)

Yong – The Journey of an unworthy son

EXT – BRI29619484

Author – Janeen Brian

Age – 10+

Yong – The journey of an unworthy son is the story of a young Chinese boy who is unhappy about leaving his family behind as they travel by ship to Australia and its goldfields and tales of promise. Yong and his father have a strained relationship along the way, and Yong feels guilty and unworthy for most of the time as he wishes he was home in China. But Yong must face many trials on their journey and even becomes the only one in their small group who can tackle the problems they face.

Yong was a realistic character caught up in a land he knew nothing of, with only adults for company and homesickness that all but consumed him. But he rose to the challenges with the help of his group, while making tough choices and facing his fears and his guilt. This would make a great historical study for a school project about the Chinese immigrating to Australia for the 1800’s gold rush.

(Historical, Chinese, Goldfields, Ship journey, Australian, Prejudice)

Level Up


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)