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
By: Dyan Sheldon
This book was sent to me by the publisher
Loretta Reynolds and Giselle Abruzzio somehow became best friends. Somehow because the two girls could not have been more opposite in everything. This difference though drives them towards what seems like a silly bet but quickly becomes something far more. Who knew one bet could be so life changing. Loretta has to embrace the feminine side of herself, that part that she has kept hidden because she believes there is more to a girl than what she looks like. Giselle has to give up the make up and fashion, dress down and act smarter. The girls learn so much over the course of the summer.
This isn’t a book I would automatically be drawn to, having said that I was curious to see how it would play out, who would be the victor in this battle of gender stereotypes. I was wonderfully engaged and totally drawn into this social experiment. Witty, fun and achingly real, Sheldon’s telling of this story from both points of view was a great decision. Seeing things from both sides gives equal weight and emphasises the the fact of the title, there is ‘more than one way to be a girl’. This is the sort of book that will hopefully encourage people to see things from more than their own limited perspective. This for me was a delightful surprise. I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoiling the fun.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 1st September 2017
Key Words: Friends, Family, Relationships, Gender Stereotypes
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.
Published: 1st June 2014
Key Words: Life, Adventure, Friendship, Family, Hardship, Ghana
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 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.
Publisher: Hodder Children’s
Published: 31st May 2016
Key Words: Action, Crime
I received my copy from the publisher.
By: Frank Woodley
Part of the Kizmet Papancillo series
Kizmet and Gretchen are assisting Kizmet’s father Detective Spencer with another case. This time they are in Hugelstein and the job at hand is to protect a couple of priceless Stradivarius violins. Something disastrous happens and one of the violins is destroyed. The more they pursue the case, the more complicated things seem and the more dangerous the case becomes.
I have to admit that this series is quite a lot of fun. Silly moments, with the parental figure being somewhat of the bumbling detective and Kizmet being the brains of the operation. Kizmet follows the train of evidence with skill and learns a new trick along the way. Woodley has put together interesting stories and a strong character in Kizmet and used his experience in comedy to good effect.
Remains on the recommended list.
Published: 29th July 2015
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Genre: Detective, Fun, Adventure
I received my copy from the publisher.
By: Frank Woodley
Livestock are being attacked by a strange creature in the Tasmanian bush. Sightings are claiming it is the, supposedly extinct, Tasmanian tiger. Kizmet, Gretchen and Detective Spencer are called to investigate.
This is a fun little story, part of a new series written by comedian Frank Woodley. Kizmet is the daughter of Detective Spencer, a somewhat bumbling investigator from IMPACT – International Mysteries Puzzles and Crime Taskforce. She is the brains of the operation and is ably assisted by her pet currawong. The story itself moves at a good pace and is entertaining, written with a tone of humour.
Published: 29th July 2015
Format: Paperback 112 pages
Genre: Adventure, Fun
I received my copy from the publisher.
By: David Hofmeyr
Adam Stone wants nothing more than to escape Blackwater, the hole of a town that he lives in. He longs for something more, something better, and if Sadie Blood is part of that then all the better. The thing is there are only two ways out of Blackwater, death or riding in the brutal Blackwater Trail. The race is harsh, desert environs, savages and the other competitors. The competition is so fierce because the prize is a one way ticket to Sky-Base, a place of freedom, health and luxury.
Adam wants to ride but he has to overcome his fears to get to the starting line. Then he has to overcome everything else. He believes he has to ride the race alone, but things soon change and he ends up alongside Sadie and outsider Kane. Will Adam overcome his fears and find his courage and will any of them make it to the end?
This is a dystopian book with a very immediate goal. Setting the events around the race give it tension because time is limited. The world Hofmeyr has created is a bleak one. Parched desert, a people downtrodden and filled with anything but hope. This world, though some sort of post apocalyptic is also filled with futuristic touches – the bikes that meld with the rider, tech implants, robots, non terrestrial transport and living.
Adam is very definitely an underdog. He is bullied, withdrawn and has a condition that only makes his life harder. Sadie is a strong willed girl who is determined to separate herself from her own legacy, and Adam’s attraction to her is strong but doesn’t overwhelm the plot, in some places it very much drives it. Kane gives the story a darker twist, who is he and where does he fit.
A fast paced and entertaining read. I really enjoyed it and recommend it for those who like dystopian or action stories.
Published: 24th June 2015
Format: Paperback 305 pages
Genre: Action, Dystopian
I received this book from the publisher
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.
Published: 11th November 2014
Format: Paperback 424 pgs
Key Words: Crime, Survival, Family, Courage
I was sent this book by the publisher
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.
Publisher: Little Brown
Published: 10th March 2015
Format: Paperback, 336
Key Words: Fairy Tales, Friendship, Adventure