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Freeks

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By: Amanda Hocking
A travelling carnival is a strange place to grow up in but it is the only home Mars Besnick knows. The carnival though is a place of mysteries and secrets, filled with people with hidden, or not so hidden powers. Mara doesn’t think she has any powers but she gets along. In this last stop though she meets a boy, Gabe Alvarado and chemistry happens. He’s not the first boy she’s been drawn to but he is the first to reach her so deeply. The more time they spend together the more Mara realises she isn’t the only one with secrets and Gabie’s family legacy could destroy her world. As carnival folk go missing, get attacked or even wind up dead Mara is determined to figure out exactly what is going on.
Set in 1982 this world is close to the one we live in, making characters and settings familiar. The mystery of the carnival draws us in, the many characters add wonderful colour to a tale that could be much bleaker without them. Mara is likeable and her hesitation about getting involved with Gabe is believable. Her determination draws you along as the darkness expands and the story unfolds. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of mystery and supernatural.
Recommended if you like those genres.

Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: 31st January 2017
Key Words: Supernatural, Mystery
ISBN: 9781509807659
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By: Mark Wilson
Flapper is a homing pigeon whose life became one big adventure that began at a young age when he was trained to be a homing pigeon. It took on grander dimensions when he was shipped off to war.
Based on a true story of war time communications this tale will give readers a glimpse of history. The story is a little dark by nature of the topic. The illustrations beautifully detailed and varied to give additional dimension and emotion to the story. Mark Wilson always does a wonderful job with these historic picture books.
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: 31st January 2017
Key Words: Historic, Animals
ISBN: 9780734416759

The Great Paper Caper

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By: Oliver Jeffers

Something is happening in the woods. Something is happening to the trees. Something must be done so the animals get together to investigate. At first they find nothing, no clues, then they catch a break. Bear hasn’t meant to cause trouble, he’s just trying to practice for the great paper plane race. He really wants to win. Will bear achieve what he wants, and will he stop taking the trees?
A fun mystery story, with easy to read text. Jeffers stylised illustrations are always wonderful and tell the story more completely than just the text can. An enjoyable read.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 1st Nov 2009
Key Words: Crime, Mystery, Paper Planes
ISBN: 9780007182336
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By: David Melling
Hugless Douglas has woken up hungry but all his honey is missing. Following the sticky trail of honey footprints, he finds the sheep have taken it so they can bake honey cakes. Douglas is still hungry but he likes honey cakes so he helps. Will Douglas get something to eat when all the messing around is done? Will he try something new.
Fun, familiar characters for those who’ve read other books from this series. Easy to understand text, accompanied by fun illustrations.
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Published: 9th August 2016
Key Words: Humour, Fun, Animals
ISBN: 9781444919899

All Fall Down

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By: Ally Carter

An Embassy Row Novel

Grace Blakely is back in Adria, where her Grandfather is US Ambassador and her mother grew up. Her mother is why she is back, and there are so many memories. And memories are a big part of the problem, because Grace knows three things with certainty; that she isn’t crazy, that her mother was murdered and she is determined to find the killer and make them pay. No-one else believes her. Her issues mean she has no-one to trust.

Into this comes Noah, her new self-proclaimed best friend, he simply won’t take no for an answer when he pushes his way into her life. To complicate matters, Alexei the Russian, has promised to keep an eye on her because her brother has asked him to. Then she sees the man she swears killed her mother. Who can she get to help to prove it? It’s all more complicated because everyone on Embassy Row has to constantly be aware of scandal and international implications of what happens between them. Every move, every little action can have big ramifications, even going through the wrong door can cause an international incident. How will she convince people she is not losing it?

Carter has created a city with a story centred on the complexities of growing up in a truly international street. The gravitas provided by the knowledge everything that happens could have impact outside of the small contained world these characters live in, gives the story a whole other dimension. Grace is a damaged character and whilst it is good to see things such as anxiety and the like represented I find the extremes a little too intense. The brief moments of relief somehow don’t seem long enough, even though it does make sense eventually. Even though I did have a few niggles with Grace herself the story was entertaining and I went straight onto the second book.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st February 2015

Key Words: Politics, Family, Conspiracy, Thriller

ISBN: 9781743628942

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By: Stefan Bachmann

Bartholomew Kettle and his sister are different. They are Peculiars, that is they are half human, half faery. They live by the words, ‘Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged’. Bartholomew wants more, he doesn’t always listen to his mother, he tries to summon a house faery just to start. It gets worse though because Bartholomew sees a strange lady mysteriously disappear with the boy across they way, that is when he forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

This tale takes the idea of the the fae, the not always nice creatures who have, in this world taken a place in it and in it’s politics. The world is complex with a very Victorian feel about it. Bartholomew is likeable enough and loyal beyond measure when something happens to his sister. The world is gritty and layered, nice little touches like mechanical creatures make for nice accents. The fae are as varied as humans can be so their is the element of the familiar mixed in with the different.

A good choice for those who like grittier tales and old mixed with new.

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 1st October 2012

Key Words: Faery, Steampunk, Family, Loyalty

ISBN: 9780007498857

 

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By: Tamsin Janu

Figgy is a determined young girl who has two very big problems. The first is her name, there is no one else in the whole country that has Figgy for a name, unfortunately that is a problem she can do nothing about. The second problem and the worst one is that her Grandmother is very sick and needs special medicine. Figgy thinks there might be something she can do about that. In America they have the medicine that will help her Grandma, so she sets out to get herself and her goat to America. She doesn’t really know how to go about it but that isn’t going to stop her. It turns out getting to America isn’t so easy and many things happen along the way.

Figgy is a wonderful, determined and loyal girl. She sets her mind to something and goes about trying to do it the best way she can. Life though is something that happens whilst you are doing things and for Figgy it becomes the most incredible adventure filled with loss and gain. Nana comes into her life and fills it in a way Figgy hadn’t expected, he opens his life to her and his actions tug at her loyalty strings. Figgy’s bravery speaks to those who come in contact with her and you cannot help but champion her along her way. A wonderful read set in a world of poverty and lack that many will have limited understanding of, this though gives the chance to open dialogue about things that really matter, or you can just read and be swept up into Figgy’s world.

Recommended

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st June 2014

Key Words: Life, Adventure, Friendship, Family, Hardship, Ghana

ISBN: 9781742990453

 

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