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Nightbird

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By: Alice Hoffman

Twig is isolated, she doesn’t really have friends. It’s not that she isn’t loved it’s just her family has a secret. Twig’s mother is the most beautiful woman in their town and is famous for her apple pies and honey butter, that doesn’t stop the talk and that doesn’t stop the mystery. Everything changes though when Julia and Agate move in next door. Twig has never had friends before and their influence brings her out of her shell. These girls are bound together even more so as the secrets reach the surface and lives will be changed forever.

Hoffman has created a twisting and enchanting tale. Twig pulls at the emotions as you want her to embrace these new friends but as you are drawn into the family story and it’s secret heart. It is a story that whilst removed from the familiar and the possible parallels in our world where difference is at the heart of so many problems. This is a story that can simply be read and enjoyed as it comes to its emotional and uplifting crescendo or you can look deeper into its themes and use it to springboard some solid discussion of weightier matters.

An enchanting read and recommended.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 1st March 2015

Key Words: Family, Mystery

ISBN:  9781471124211

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By: Ally Carter

Bk 4 of the Gallagher Girls series

Cammie was born to be a Gallagher Girl, and that has always come with the knowledge that it is a life full of risk and danger. There has always been a buzz associated with that, with knowing that she was Cammie the Chameleon. Now though things have changed a terrorist organisation is set on kidnapping her and someone she has always looked up to, trusted and respected has been come to be labelled as a double agent, a traitor. For Cammie it feels as though her world is falling apart. All of this impacts on her school life as well, so many things have changed. Who can Cammie now trust? Her best friends of course. Together they must work through the new problems and still deal with all the stuff spy school throws at them.

This addition to the series throws a darker twist on things as Cammie’s safety nets are pulled from her and she has to discern truth in amongst a whole lot of lies, lies delivered by trained liars. The complexity of the story and the layers drag the reader in an keep you engaged. The world is one as we know it and that makes it identifiable and let’s face it there is a part of many of us who’d love to believe a spy school such as this existed. The characters are varied and complement each other well, within themselves they have strengths and weaknesses that Carter draws out of them. These books are fast paced and sheer entertainment. A great read and to be honest in my humble opinion would be decent source material for a movie or three.

Recommended.

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 24th June 2010

Key Words: Spy, Action, Friendship

ISBN: 9780734411143

The Hidden Oracle

xthe-hidden-oracle.jpg.pagespeed.ic.eQ1MXlIOfDBy: Rick Riordan

The Trials of Apollo Bk 1

Apollo is in a whole world of hurt, he is used to being a god but now he is a 16 year old boy stuck in the mortal world because Zeus has cast him down. He now has to find what it is he has to do in order to regain his godhood. To add to his mortification he is rescued from his first beating by twelve year old Meg. He persuades Percy Jackson to take them both to Camp Half-Blood hoping that whilst there he can find some answers but the Camp is in chaos, things are not as they should be, campers are missing and the oracle is not working. How can you go on a quest when the being who issues the quests is unable to do so? Somehow Apollo needs to confront his fears, overcome the limitations of his now teenage, human body and deal with betrayal such as he has never felt before.

This is a fun entry into the world of demigods. Apollo is a funny and at times irritating character with his self-importance and egotistic ways. The blending of a teenagers imperfections with the mind of an ancient god makes for some very amusing moments. Twelve year old Meg is the perfect foil for the fallen god, her street smarts and ultimately damaged personality contrast beautifully with his grandiosity. It is going to be interesting to see where the character of Meg is taken, all the demigods have issues and most have parental issues but it seems that Meg’s issues have the potential to touch on some darker territory. The pace as always with these stories is fast, the action at times quite nasty. Riordan has given us a horrible yet interesting villain (an no I won’t tell you who it is – no spoilers). It is always nice to go back to the camp and see what has changed and what hasn’t, new campers who come to the fore. I look forward to the next instalment of this series.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Puffin Books

Published: 3rd May 2016

Key Words: Action, Adventure, Humour, Mythology

ISBN: 9780141363936

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By Robert Muchamore

A CHERUB story

James Adams has come a long way since his first days as a CHERUB agent, he is now a mission controller and handling a team of boys sent out to look into a potential new recruit. That mission turns out to be a bust but in the process a larger mission is uncovered. Now he has to assemble a team of ex agents to rescue two kidnapping victims. Things have changed though, not least being James’s office lifestyle is far removed from the brutal physical regime the young agents are put through. Intense training aside the old team is back together, it is going to  be one heck of a ride.

This story does a good job of blending both the old and new guard and in no way will disappoint fans of the series, in fact many may enjoy the chance to catch up with some old favourites. The banter and action are still there. The brashness of the teenagers shines out from the page to the point where they can just frustrate you like any teenager can, this adds to the reality and relatability of the characters. The world they tend to live in is gritty and dirty, the action fast when it needs to be. The scenes between the old and new guard are fun, giving the story a welcome lightness. This was an enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Publisher: Hodder Children’s

Published: 31st May 2016

Key Words: Action, Crime

ISBN: 9781444932157

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By: Alison Goodman

Lady Helen Series Bk 1

The year is 1812 and Lady Helen Wrexhall is preparing for her debut, such an important and changing event in the life of young women in Regency London. Helen’s debut is tainted by the demise of her parents, by her mother’s apparent treason and subsequent death. Despite being told to keep as much distance between herself and her past there is something going on that Helen finds she just cannot let go of. Then there is Lord Carlston, who is reentering society after some scandal of his own. He is a man of many secrets, some of them directly related to Helen, her past and possible future. Helen is supposed to be a lady but a lady doesn’t get herself involved in a hidden world of missing servants and demonic conspiracies, surely.

Goodman has woven a tale that transports us into Regency London with all it’s intricacies and foibles. Helen is a young woman on the cusp of rest of her life, how is that a thing when you aren’t sure who you are? That is the crux of Helen’s dilemma, the known and expected verses the unknown but possibilities. Goodman’s attention to detail transports the reader to the drawing rooms, ballrooms, and habits of the wealthy as well as plunging you into the dank, crudeness of the lower classes.

A thoroughly entertaining read that delves into dark fantasy in the midst of structured culture.

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 14th December 2015

Key Words: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Demons, Regency

ISBN: 978732296094

I was sent this by the publisher

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By: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Prez is a Temporary, a kid who doesn’t live at home, he can’t he doesn’t have parents and his Granddad can no longer look after him. During the summer though Temporary kids are sent to stay with families. Prez’s family live on a farm, it’s not where he wants to be but it is better than nothing. He is at the farm when Sputnik comes into his life. Sputnik is a small, loud alien that wears a kilt, the thing is though everyone else just sees a dog. Sputnik tells Prez he is there to look after him and that the Earth is going to be destroyed unless they can find ten things worth doing or seeing. So a normal summer turns into a ridiculous time of learning to see things through another creatures eyes and hopefully saving the planet. Of course all Prez really wants is to see his Granddad again.

This is a fun and somewhat ridiculous story that turns some very familiar things on their head. Believe me some of the things Sputnik discovers will make you wish it really was that way. Prez is so relatable his ordinariness and Sputnik is a great counterbalance to that. The pace is cracking and the adventures they go on are so much fun, despite their bland kind of beginnings.A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Publisher: Pan MacMillan

Published: 7th April 2016

Key Words: Fun, Adventure, Space

Age: 8-12

ISBN: 9781509819973

 

By: Shane Crawford & Adrian Beck

Books 5 and 6 of the series

Footybot Face Off

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Science week at school really isn’t all that exciting as far as Nick is concerned, there are things he would much rather be doing and one of them is playing football. Things take a turn for the better when the principal announces they have a demonstration happening by the footybots. It all is starting to look exciting but then something goes wrong. The robots start acting outside of their coding and somehow Nick and his friends find themselves battling robots on the footy field.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 25th February 2015

Key Words: Football, Friends, School

Age : 4-9

ISBN: 9780143307891

The Fanged Footys

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The Crocs finally have their footy oval back just in time for the last game and the team can’t wait to get back on it. Nick though does have concerns considering all the weird things that had happened on that oval. Nick was right to be concerned, something happens to the footballs. Suddenly they get mouths, grow fangs and start attacking the players. It isn’t a problem kept to the footy ground as the balls somehow make there way to many other locations. It is up to Nick and his friends to get rid of all the fanged footys.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 25th February 2015

Key Words: Football, Friends, School

Age: 4-9

ISBN: 9780143307907

These are a fun read that combines action and sport for those who like AFL. Large print, easy language, fast paced story, short chapters and black and white illustrations to break up the text, making this series a good choice for sport loving young readers.

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