By: Rick Riordan
Magnus Chase Book Two
Magnus is still alive and is meeting Otis, an informant with a lead on Thor’s missing hammer. That’s the only good news and it isn’t much before Magnus is warned to stay away. It’s never that simple in Magnus’s world, what with Loki manipulating Randolph and plenty of others behind the scenes. Magic swords, elven realms, relics that can drive you mad, dwarves turned to stone and a wedding between a Valkyrie and a giant, what could possibly go wrong?
Oh that wasn’t rhetorical, so many things could go wrong, and all Magnus needs to do is make sure Thor gets his hammer back, and a couple of other things.
As with all Riordan books, the pace is breakneck the action constant. The characters varied and work well together, despite the times they clash, you know, personality wise. If you love Percy Jackson, then you’ll enjoy these.
Published: 4th October 2016
Key Words: Mythology, Action
By: RA Spratt
Book One Friday Barnes
Friday Barnes is eleven and incredibly smart. Her parents were incredibly smart but distant parents and Friday basically raised herself. There is one person she enjoys spending time with, Uncle Bernie, who is a private investigator, which is how Friday finds herself solving a bank robbery. With the reward she sends herself to an incredibly exclusive boarding school.
She thought she would just be going to school, somewhere away from her family. There though she finds the school is filled with crime and she finds she has a taste for investigating it. Then there is the boy who hates Friday for some reason and really likes playing nasty pranks. High school isn’t turning out to be what exactly Friday thought it would be.
This was a thoroughly entertaining book. Friday is possibly the kind of girl I’d have loved to have been. Mysteries make more sense than people and keep things interesting. The pace Spratt sets is brisk and the variety of things happening are enough to keep you turning the pages.
A fun mystery read that I would recommend without hesitation.
Published: 1st July 2014
Publisher: Random House
Key Words: Mystery, Crime, High School
Trials of Apollo bk 2
By: Rick Riordan
Apollo is still a human, still Lester and has to find the second oracle. This one has a strong personal connection to him, one he is reluctant to look too closely at. This oracle is not only part of Apollo’s dark past, it also has the potential to drive him, or anyone who uses it, mad. To make matters worse this Oracle is guarded by the second member of the Triumvirate, a mad emperor who also belongs in the darker parts of Apollo’s past.
Accompanied by Leo and Calypso they find themselves at the Waystation, a place of refuge run by two ex-hunters of Artemis. Apollo has not just one thing to do in order to find the Oracle, he has several mini quests that need to be undertaken, one is rescuing a young girl who may be family. Along the way he reconnects with Meg and even though she betrayed him, it is clear the two are destined to continue forward together.
The action as always is swift and fun. Apollo himself gets a bit annoying for me, there is only so many times he can say how great is or was as a god, when really he was a bit of an idiot. Other characters do a great job of balancing him out. Leo is brash, like Apollo though he isn’t as pompous and is therefore more appealing. The relationship between Leo and Calypso is hesitant and lovely. Emmie and Jo who run the Waystation add weight to the story, that being told through Apollo’s eyes has a tendency to become rather flippant. These two characters weave humanity, love and family through the adventure. Meg is the perfect foil for Apollo’s pomposity. These books are a lot of fun, but I find Apollo a much harder character to enjoy following than either Jason or Percy.
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.
Published: 1st October 2012
Key Words: Faery, Steampunk, Family, Loyalty
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
By: 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.
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 3rd May 2016
Key Words: Action, Adventure, Humour, Mythology
I was sent this by the publisher
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
I received this book from the publisher
By: Meg Cabot
Notebooks of a Middle School Princess Bk 2
Olivia Grace is now in residence at the palace in Genovia where she is doing all she can to help out with her half sister’s upcoming wedding. There is so much to learn being a new princess, with all those table settings which one is for what or whom? Then to make matters worse she has to start school, during the last week, not something she wants to do at all. Starting a new school is hard enough, let alone if everyone at your school is a noble of some sort, and your distant cousin is doing all she can to make you feel uncomfortable. Let’s hope that everything for the wedding goes smoothly.
This is a fun story. Even being set in the world of princesses it remains very relatable, Olivia’s issues are ones that most kids can identify with; friends, new schools, learning new skills and an beginning interest in the opposite sex. (Not that Olivia is, really.) The story moves at a good pace, the text is broken up by occasional simple illustrations. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Publisher : Pan MacMillan
Published : 21st April 2016
Key Words : Fun, Humour, Family, School, Friends
Age : 8+
ISBN : 9781447292487
I received this book from the publisher
Fyrelit Bk 1
By: Alison & Nicholas Lochel
Neleik, Ervine and Skye Fyrelit are orphans, but they have each other and their farm. Together they will survive. One day Neleik and Ervine are witness to their sister being kidnapped. They leave everything behind in order to find her, they will not stop till they are a family once again. This journey will not be an easy one, it takes them to halls of power and on unexpected quests. Along their way they meet a princess who wants more from her life, a half-giant, a damaged dragon and a strange sword master who knows something of a secret that will change their lives forever. First though they must survive.
A detailed world with some fun little touches provides the backdrop to this story of family. The brothers brave but naive, they are driven to find their sister no matter what obstacle appears in their path. They are ill equipped for much of what they face and their allies balance out their party well. When I first picked this book up I struggled a little, maybe because I was tired because when I went back to it, feeling fresh and really wanting to read and escape, this story swept me along. There are some funny little modern touches, that have been adjusted for the world that gave me cause to laugh and in no way took me out of the world these siblings have created. It was a good read and truthfully, I hope to get around to finishing the series one day.
Published: 30th June 2015
Key Words: Fantasy, Family, Adventure
I received a copy of this from the publisher.
By: Lauren Oliver & HC Chester
A museum and freak show may be a strange place to grow up but it is what Phillipa, Sam and Thomas are used to. They are all gifted in some strange way and know that Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities and Wonders is where they belong. One day though a young girl, a gifted knife thrower named Max, joins them and this seems to start a series of events that change everything, beginning with the theft of the museum’s Amazonian Shrunken Head. The children are determined to get it back. This investigation though tangles them up in murder and a secret about their past. They are more connected than they could ever know.
Children as part of a freak show, another way to say mutants? This story though is very solidly set in a time and place where their gifts mark them as freaks. They don’t belong and everything about this tale is part of their struggle to find their place. Each child has their own issues and together they make a good team, if somewhat hesitant and fractured due to their insecurities. This is a good read, though has a dark feel about it, not just due to the crime but to the nature of a world where different is viewed as somehow wrong or something that should be put on display. These children will draw you in and at the end you are left wanting to know more about their past and how that will affect their future.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 13 Oct 2015
Key Words: Adventure, Mystery