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A Tiny Bit of Luck

a-tiny-bit-luckyBy: L Pinchon
Part of the Tom Gates series

Tom is okay with his life, but his dad seems to think he needs to spend more time outside, so they make a kite. Somehow this doesn’t seem like a great idea to Tom, who’d much rather be watching his favourite shows or practicing with his band. Speaking of the band, they have a lot of work to do before the big Band Battle Competition. The last thing Tom wants to do is go to his neighbours place for a tea party, but his mother insists. What are you ring to do? They’re family.

Tom has a plan but outside influences always seem to get in the way of the plans. That’s what life is though and this is why these stories are easy to understand. We all have things we want to do before other people come along and get involved. The format is easy to read with large text and plenty of simply illustrations. Fans of Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid might like to take a look at these.

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: May 2014
Format: Paperback 253 pages
Age: 7+
Key Words: Humour, School, Family
ISBN: 9781743625347

tom-gates-extra-special-treats-not-By: L Pinchon
Part of the Tom Gates series

Tom is wanting to get a star pupil badge this term, some of the perks that come with it are good, but with all the things that go wrong at school he’s just not sure he’ll ever get one. That’s not going to stop him trying though. Then a horrible girl moves in next door and his relatives turn up needing a place to stay for a while. As if that isn’t all bad enough Uncle Kevin thinks the family should get a family portrait done for the grandparents where everyone is wearing matching sweaters. Urgh!

Filled with the silly little things that make up everyday life, this is a fun story. THe normality of the events make it easily relatable. Large text in a variety of fonts is broken up by plenty of black and white illustrations making this an easily approachable read.

Publisher: Scholastic
Published: Nov 2013
Format: Paperback 228 pages
Age: 7+
Key Words: Humour, School, Family
ISBN: 9781743622032

The Walled City

I received this book from the publisher
the-walled-city
By: Ryan Graudin

There are three rules of survival in the Walled City: run fast, trust no one and always carry your knife.
These rules are always to be remembered. Living on the streets of the Walled City isn’t the safest place to be, but for some it is the only place they can be.
Jin Ling is doing everything she can to hide the fact she is a girl, being a girl in the Walled City is a death sentence but she can’t die because she has a job, a task, a mission. She has come her to find her sister. That is all that matters, that and surviving.
Dai has his own secrets. He survives by trafficking drugs for the most dangerous man within the Walled City, but to rise in ranks he needs the help of someone who can be invisible, he needs to find a partner.
Mei Yee is trapped. She hasn’t come to the city by choice, she was taken here and now is trapped in a brothel doing what she has to to survive. When she can, she dreams of escape no matter how futile that dream seems.
Together these three can pull off something that can see all of them move away from their past and have something more for the future, but how do you find trust in a city built on everything but?
This is a dark and murky tale. A tale of survival, of doing what you need to, of owning up to the mistakes of your past. These three characters work very well together, balancing each other out. They each have secrets, they each have issues and the only way they can truly survive is to try as part of a team. The city itself is drenched in dark tones that make you grasp at any sign of light. You are desperate for the underdog to win, to just get away. Each character has their own arc, there own journey and to reveal too much would be to detract from the story itself.
If you like or are looking for something gritty, intriguing, with characters you can’t help but invest in give this a go.
Recommended.
Publisher: Indigo
Published: 11th November 2014
Format: Paperback 424 pgs
Key Words: Crime, Survival, Family, Courage
ISBN: 9781780621999

I received my copy from the publisher
prisoner-of-the-black-hawk
By: AL Tait
Book 2 of The Mapmaker Chronicles
Quinn is making the most of being part of the quest to map the world. He takes pride in his work and is enjoying time with friends and learning so many new things. It isn’t all fun and games though, they have had run-ins with their competitors and the fact it is a race is never far from mind. When Quinn is betrayed by someone close to him, things take a terrifying turn and he finds himself trapped on an enemy’s boat. He has to find a way to survive, can he do this without compromising his loyalty to his team? Can he stay strong enough so that when the time comes he can make his escape, if that is even an option.
The world in this story continues to expand as the characters explore new places and each is pushed to think a little outside what they are familiar with. Quinn tries to do what is asked of him, but his doubts linger. Even so, when his lack of trust in someone proves to be valid, it is a tough pill to swallow, especially when it puts him in so much danger. Quinn though has proven his ability to think quickly and now more so than ever he needs to keep a clear mind. Throughout the adventure theme a strong theme of loyalty is woven. Ash is a stubborn girl who does all she can for her friend and to fit in even though her secret coming out makes it harder she pushes on. Zain, the captain/slave is a great central adult character because he has had it tough, he knows how to survive and by simply being he is a good role model for the children in the story. The lessons he teaches directly and indirectly are foundational for fictional characters and good for readers to have laid out before them.
It will be interesting to see where Tait continues to take these characters.
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Published: 31st March 2015
Format: Paperback 241 pgs
Key Words: Adventure, Courage, Intrigue, Survival, Loyalty
ISBN: 9780734415790

I received my copy from the publisher
race-to-the-end-of-the-world
By: AL Tait
Book 1 of The Mapmaker Chronicles
Quinn Freeman has an unusual talent that his family have tried to keep hidden, but it is this talent that leads him to the halls of power. Quinn finds himself being trained as a mapmaker because his King has decided he wants a detailed map of the world. This seems like a silly idea to Quinn because everyone knows if you sail too far you will fall off the edge of the world and into the grasp of the dragon Genesi. What a King wants though is what his subjects will do and the reward at the end is pretty worth while, it will really help Quinn’s family out. Still he doesn’t seriously think he’ll get picked by one of the three adventurers. So when he does he finds he has to step up and take his part in the race to the end of the world, on a ship captained by a slave.
This is a fun read and a good way to start off a series. The world is both small and vast, the writing style conveys the smallness of what is known and compares it to the vastness of the unknown. So much is perspective, some see things one way, others see the same thing differently. Quinn has to come to terms with where he finds himself and keeping his secret hidden, if possible. He has to learn new skills, take on board what he can because he doesn’t know what he will need to survive, if there is any surviving when they get to the edge of the world. Quinn is a good central character, not exceptional in anyway except one and the situations he is put in mean he has to think fast and adapt, as well as find courage he never knew he had. It is also nice to see some stereotypes pushed a little with the inclusion of a girl on board, when it is considered such bad luck. Making a slave the captain of the ship also adds an interesting dynamic as a slave’s perspective is vastly different to the privileged who normally captain.
All up a thoroughly entertaining read. Well worth it if you are looking for some fun adventuring.
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Published: 14 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback 236 pgs
Key Words: Action, Adventure, Intrigue
ISBN: 9780734415776

A Wonderlandiful World

I was sent this book by the publisher
a-wonderlandiful-world
By Shannon Hale
Ever After High series bk 3

Things have been turned upside down at Ever After High ever since Raven Queen decided she didn’t want to follow the evil destiny get out in front of her. It turned out she wasn’t the only one. With things that followed though a creature from Wonderland has escaped from it’s prison and it seems to be infecting Ever After high with a corrupting magic that makes everything go topsy turvy.
Sometimes destiny isn’t what others want it to be for you, sometimes it is what you find for yourself along the way. Maddy Hatter understands it is Wonderland magic because it feels all twisty and home like. Lizzie Hearts feels the pull of home but she struggles to balance the lessons of her mother and the things she is feeling. Kitty Cheshire joins her Wonderland friends because Wonderlandians need to stick together even if they feel they can’t do what needs to be done. Cedar Wood has always wanted to be a real girl, but at what cost? It seems she is one of the few who can combat this growing, twisted magic. Along with the descendants of those from Wonderland, Cedar has to step up and save her friends.
This third instalment is just as enjoyable as the previous two. It is fun to delve into a world that houses characters so familiar and yet not. It is nice to see the characters develop into their own selves in the face of danger and change, when form says change is bad. I like the fact these characters buck against what others say is expected of them to find their own way, finding value in things they may not have thought to before. The moral, if you could say there was a moral to these stories, is that your path is the one you choose, you don’t have to let others choose it for you. I like that. The idea you don’t have to conform when you see a different and even better way.
Each of the Wonderland characters gets to grow a little in this story but really it is Cedar Woods arc that is the most interesting as she has the most to gain and the most to lose. I love these characters and Hale has managed to stay true to a fairy tale mode yet imbue the characters with modern attitudes and dilemmas.
Recommended.

Publisher: Little Brown
Published: 10th March 2015
Format: Paperback, 336
Key Words: Fairy Tales, Friendship, Adventure
ISBN: 9780349131870

I was sent this book by the publisher
mind-games
By: Teri Terry

Luna is different, she has a secret. In a world where nearly everything is done online she remains unplugged. The pressure to join the crowd is great but she stays strong for a long time, until someone hands her a possible answer. Even online though there are things she must keep hidden for she is different and those differences are ones that could cost her her life. Luna plunges into a world that killed her mother and is fraught with dangers that few others seem to be able to perceive. Even amongst the hackers she is gifted and can do things no-one else can do. She wishes she knew why, that she understood what was going on but finding out those answers changes everything for her.
Luna is an interesting character, her developing gifts make it difficult for her to be sure of her place as she finds she has abilities that no-one else has. She learns that everything she does is being watched. She doesn’t know who to trust, just when she thinks she has a grasp on it, things turn sideways. Luna has cause to be skeptical, every time she thinks she has a friend she can trust something happens to undermine that. The characters that come alongside her are an eclectic group of individuals all with their own agenda.
It is an intriguing read. The world is how is could be if everything goes digital, the pros and cons. There were some fascinating concepts woven into this story and it could certainly be listed as a tale of caution about relying too much on technology. The only thing that threw me was that the author put in a reference to her own books, an action that seems to me to be self serving and a bit pretentious. That aside I would say this book is well worth investing the time to read.
Recommended.
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 10th March 2015
Format: Paperback 433 pgs
Key Words: Science Fiction, Family, Intrigue
ISBN: 9781408334256

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