They Saw Too Much

Author – Alan Gibbons38318466

Age – 14+

John is on the beach with a girl called Ceri James from school. They have been teamed up to do a photography project together. John is enjoying using the school’s expensive camera and is aiming at everything around him, getting the feel of it.

A car pulls up near them and John is instantly on alert. Things in his past have made him aware of anything looking a little shifty, and the two guys inside the car ring alarm bells.

He watches them in the camera viewfinder and uses the zoom on them when they follow a man out onto the beach. What he sees next sends him and Ceri on a pell-mell, dash from place to place – trying to find somewhere to hide. The men saw them with a camera and will do anything to stop them from taking any pictures taken, to the police.

Not sure who to trust, realising his own father is connected somehow, and trying to protect Ceri who has her own secrets and past swirling just under her skin; John is angry, confused, and scared. They are running for their lives.

(Murder, Crime, Trust, Hostage, Gangster, Witness, Family, Foster, Action)

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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 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)

The Hazel Wood

Author – Melissa Albert35997403

Age – 13+

Alice and her mum have always been on the move. Bad luck seems to plague them wherever they try to settle, and it’s only now that Alice is 17 that she realises there is something eerie about their particular bad luck.

Alice’s grandmother was famous for a book she wrote of very dark fairytales. This book is now impossible to find so she never got to read it. She’d hoped her entire childhood that she would meet her grandmother but it never happened. Her mother was adamant about never returning to The Hazel Wood where her mother lived.

Alice’s mum marries and they seem finally settled – until her mum vanishes. Was she kidnapped? Did she run away from an unhappy marriage? The strange things that have happened through her life manifest into even stranger creatures and events and the only person she can turn to is a boy from her school. Finch is ridiculously wealthy and also a huge fan of her grandmother’s tales.

After avoiding fans for years, Alice has no option but to ask for Finch’s help. He knows the tales inside out and she finds she is connected to one in particular. Despite a warning to the contrary, Alice knows she has to find and then search the elusive Hazel Wood if she is ever to see her mother again.

The writing is superb, the intrigue all encompassing, and the place Alice finds herself in – VERY Alice in Wonderland – but even weirder!

The Mice of the Round Table – A Tail of Camelot

Author – Julie Leung34455819

Age – 8+

Two stories in one that entwine as the lives of two kingdoms are at stake.

Calib Christopher is a shy, quiet mouse – nothing like his father or grandfather who were brave mouse knights in battle, and strong rulers of their kingdom – under the floors of Camelot.

Calib wants nothing more to be a honoured knight and carry on the revered Christopher name, but courage is something he hasn’t found yet. When there is an attack on one of their leaders, their kingdom is quick to blame the Darklings – another band of animals they signed a truce with years before.

But the clues left by the assassin weren’t left by a Darkling. Calib tries to convince the knights, but no-one will listen. Can he stop a war with the wrong kind? Can he discover who the true assassin is?

Galahad is a young boy returning to Camelot without his famous father Sir Lancelot. He is scoffed at by the other pages and squires who know he has been living in a nunnery for protection. He is soon banished to the kitchens when unsuccessful at early knight training. When he discovers a mouse that seems to be trying to talk to him, he knows that something important is happening. Can they work together to save Camelot?

A fantastic story! A cross between Narnia and The Knights of the Round Table with a quest to achieve, courage to find and epic battle scenes. Loved it! 1st in a series.

(Series, Knights, Bravery, Magic, Courage, Camelot, Assassin, Revenge, War, Animals, Mice)