The Wonderling

Author/Illustrator – Mira BartokThe Wonderling (HB)

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)

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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 Butterfly Tattoo

Author – Philip Pullman35083953

Age – 15+ (Sexual Content)

When Chris helps a girl escape a group of guys at a posh party he is working at, he finds a love that consumes him. Jenny is smart, beautiful and independent. She lives in a squat with two friends and one weekend he invites her to stay with him as he house sits his dad’s place and looks after their cat.

When Jenny goes home, her squat is boarded up, her friends arrested for drug dealing and she is without a home. Not wanting to go back to Chris’ dad’s place to ask where he lives, she loses contact with Chris. She doesn’t know his surname and doesn’t know exactly where he works. They both spend months searching for each other in the city of Oxford.

Jenny gets a job baby-sitting. She doesn’t know Chris works for the child’s father, or that the father is being hunted down by a killer. Somebody is going to die…

Quick but thrilling read by this master story-teller,

(Thriller, Love, IRA, Betrayal, Lies, Growing up, Blended family, Step mother, Abuse)

 

 

Contagion

Author – Teri Terry31298617

Age – 12+

(This is the 1st in a series)

16 yr old Shay (Sharona) is being teased about her full name again.  When she fights back, leaving the bully on the floor, she flees bumping into a noticeboard on the way out. She snatches up flyers she has knocked off and escapes. When she is free, she opens the scrunched flyers and one of them shows a face she recognises. It is a photo of 11 yr Calista Tanzer, missing for a year. There is a contact number beneath the photo and Shay rings to say she has seen Calista.

1 year before, on a bike trail, Shay had noticed the young girl walking alone. She’d asked if she was ok then saw her get into a car with a man. Calista’s grieving brother (Kai) answers Shay’s call and wants to know everything she can remember and comes to see where his little sister was seen.

At the same time, some sort of virus seems to spreading through Scotland – fast. And it’s no ordinary sickness. It involves a temperature and pain – lots of pain. Is Calista part of this contagion?

Contagion is a thrill-ride that builds in intensity as Shay and Kai get to know each other, following anything they can find out about Calista’s last movements. It takes Shay to hell and back while people they know die around them. But where did the contagion come from and was it an experiment? 

(Series, Love, Contagion, Experiment, Death, Revenge, Mystery)

Radio Boy

Author – Christian O’Connell33905710

Illustrator – Rob Biddulph

Age – 8+

Spike Hughes loves radio. His biggest dream is to be a radio host like his idol DJ Howard Wright. When his radio show is cancelled at the hospital his mum works at he is devastated. His show (with apparently no listeners) is to be replaced by an extension of a gardening show.

He and his friends Holly and Artie, who are also the only three members of the school AV (Audio Visual) club now rest their hopes on a drawn out promise of the St Brenda’s School principal – they will get a school radio show.

Finally at a school assembly it is announced the long awaited radio show is to be launched, and the host will be….. (the entire school, and even some of the teachers turn to look at Spike.) Everyone knows he’s the man for the job. BUT…

Spike and his friends fight back at the injustice of it all, and Radio Boy and The Secret Shed Show are born. Finally, his dream has come true. Fame, fun, and fans are growing day by day – but so is his ego. And things that grow too fast sometimes explode!

Radio Boy is a funny story about following your dreams and being brave enough to be yourself while you do it. The illustrations, random lists (as Spike tells his story), and zany characters all add up to a great read.

(Belief in yourself, Follow your dream, Humour, Funny, Friendship, School, Revenge, Secret)

The Severed Land

ER – GEE32867597

Author – Maurice Gee

Age – 9+

Fliss lives in a severed land – split by an invisible wall made by an ancient people to save their lands from a group of tyranical families wanting land, slaves and power.

But the wall is under threat. Soldiers are attacking it with cannon fire daily and the only thing keeping the wall intact is a very old bedridden man Fliss calls The Old One. He is the last of The People who built the wall with their minds, and he needs Fliss’ help.

She is sent on a quest with a boy from the other side of the wall to free the only person who can help save their lands and way of life. But will the boy agree?

A new novel from one of NZ’s most celebrated authors, The Severed Land is a fantasy quest that requires courage and determination. Fliss is a brave character, drawing on her skills learnt as a young child living on the streets. She has to face soldiers, sailors, murder, and a blood thirsty crowd to achieve their goal and complete their journey home.

(NZ Author, Fantasy, Courage, Determination, Power, Wall)