Author – Geoffrey Girard
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)
Author – Melissa Albert
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!
Author – Kate DiCamillo
Illustrator – Chris Van Dusen
Age – 7+
Eugenia Lincoln is a no nonsense kind of lady, unlike her sister Baby Lincoln who loves fun and joy and music. When they receive a large unexpected package one day, all the neighbours come to see what it might be.
Eugenia is unhappy. She didn’t order it, doesn’t want it and will just about do anything to get rid of it! On her way to do just that, something unexpected happens.
Another tale from the multi-award winning Kate DiCamillo which will make a fantastic Read Aloud for Year 3-4’s (7-8 yr olds). Kate DiCamillo is the author of The Tale of Despereaux and the popular Mercy Watson series. This story involves characters from that series.
(Neighbours, Mystery, Music, Series, Humour)
Author – Ella West
Age – 12+
Annie lives in a small town called Westport (west coast, Sth Island, NZ). Westport has endless rain, struggling coal mines and small town gossip. When Annie’s neighbour’s house is surrounded by armed defenders, it is the most exciting thing that’s happened for a while.
Annie doesn’t believe her neighbour Pete did any of the things they say he did. He’s always been friendly and quiet. But he’s gone missing and the longer he’s gone, the more suspicious he looks.
A police detective from the city arrives from Christchurch for the case, and his son Jack has come with him. Jack loves horses as much as Annie, and they meet by chance on the beach in the rain. More horse rides on the deserted beach build something between them. But surely it’s just for fun?
Annie’s comfortable life is turning on its head. There’s Jack and his smile, the local coalmine upsetting whole families by laying off staff, and Pete still on the run. Will things ever be back to normal?
I felt I was right there in Westport with the rain and the worries Annie and her family faced. I learnt about the dwindling coal mining industry and the upheaval it caused, and also a little about the mining disasters that have occurred there over the years. Rich with horse lore, animal lovers will enjoy this story. The mystery woven throughout the narrative will keep you guessing.
(Coalmine, Mystery, Romance, Fugitive, West Coast, Horses, Murder)
Author – Philip Ardagh
Illustrations – Jamie Littler
Age – 7+
Jane is very excited to be starting work at Lytton House. ‘House don’t describe it. It looks more like a palace,’ exclaims Jane in her diary. Despite a page full of rules she must soon learn, the mistress and master are good employers and the many other staff friendly.
All is well until a jade necklace is stolen from the mistress’s bedroom. One of the maids is under suspicion, but is too well thought of to be blamed outright. Jane decides to try and figure out who stole it. After checking drainpipes, looking for footprints and thinking through the staff schedules she finds a real clue. Will she unmask the culprit?
This story set in Victorian times was something different. Jane speaks just as she would do as an uneducated maid, and as the story unfolds, footnotes are added at the bottom of the page for the reader to understand Victorian terms or behavior. It added so much more to the story for those who are interested, or they can be skipped at the reader’s choice. This is part of the ‘Only the facts are true‘ series.
(Victorian, Maid, Mystery, Diary, Series)
Author – Jay Jay Burridge
Illustrator – Chris West/Jay Jay Burridge
Age – 10 +
Beatrice Kingsley can’t understand why her grandmother (nicknamed Bunty) has brought her halfway around the world to look at the Raptors of Aru. Sure they are said to be beautiful and elusive but it was such a long way to go. Along with them was Theodore, loyal to Bea and Bunty after being ‘adopted’ into the family many years before.
But there is another reason for them to visit the wild Islands of Aru, and Bunty isn’t ready to tell Bea why just yet.
But this island has more secrets than they know, and as they enter the jungle with the help of a plucky nine year old porter and his father, they encounter many dangers. This island may have the most beautiful raptors, but it also hides very dangerous ones too. Not to mention the arrogant, vicious leader of the island, Christian Hayter, who isn’t happy about strangers in ‘his’ jungle.
What they find is beyond their imagination, but worth fighting for. But first they have to survive!
This is the 1st in a series of 6 books – with two more out 2018. If you’re after Dinosaurs, Courage, and Action, this story has bucket loads. Both Bea and Bunty are brave and determined, despite all Bunty’s rules on behaving like a lady. Jam-packed with luscious B&W illustrations, this adventure is going to popular!
(Dinosaurs, Courage, Adventure, Jungle, Orphan, Grandmother)
Author – E Lockhart
Age – 14+
This book is in effect written backwards. I loved the way this story was structured with the main character Jule living a charmed life of luxury, and then the further you read the more you learn, all the things she did, had to do, or was lucky enough to happen, to allow her this life. But things are unravelling and she is having to run faster to keep up with it all.
The more I read, the more intrigued I was. There were hints along the way that she wasn’t supposed to be who or where she was, and I wanted to know how on earth she got there. The plot went back and forth and I had to keep track of the dates, but it just added to the enjoyment of the book as things were revealed, piece by piece, for the past year or so of Jules life to click together – but the finale could blow it all apart again!
She’s no angel this girl, but I loved her character and that we found out what drove her to be the person she is now. We Were Liars by the same author is one of my favourite reads ever and Genuine Fraud is one to match it. I’d like to read it all over again….
(Thriller, Family, Privilege, Rich, Wealthy, Crime, Friendship, Deception, Secret)