Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Summer 2011 reviews: see magazine for more

When Baby Lost Bunny Written by Julia Jarman
Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds
Orchard £10.99

A family walk in the park — Mum, Dad, big brother, baby and Mr D the dog — plus baby’s brown bunny. Baby loses his bunny but no-one notices. In his efforts to talk and tell everyone about bunny, baby attracts a whole procession of animals who think that he is talking to each one of them. Fortunately, big brother eventually realises the problem and goes back to find the missing toy.
The cover is very inviting and offers lots of things to talk about, even before the book itself has been opened. Inside, the illustrations are big, bold, colourful and humorous. The limited text is clear, very rhythmic with plenty of good rhymes and some opportunities to predict what the rhyme might be when the end of the sentence is on the next page.
Pat Thomson

How Big is the Lion? Created by William Accorsi
Workman £11.99

This book works on two levels; it is basically a measuring book — a wooden ruler is supplied — but it also has bright clear illustrations and humorous rhyming text.
As an introduction to measurement, it goes straight to the heart of the matter. It uses standard measures and introduces the language of measurement such as larger, taller, wider, and begins to introduce the idea of problem solving ... Will this mouse of x cm fit into this hole of y cm? The ideas and activities are presented in a way that is very attractive and tempting to young children. It also has the potential to be a springboard for all sorts of other measuring and problem solving activities.
Pat Thomson

Whose Hat? Written by Fiona Munro
Illustrated by Jo Garden
Ladybird £5.99

Babies will try to turn chunky pages - they soon learn how books work - and this little one with sturdy, giant flaps will reward their effort. Bright shiny pictures and a fun rhyming text will appeal and, as they get a little older, they will be able to guess the friendly characters over the page.
Pat Thomson

Calling All Animals Written and illustrated by Matthew Porter
SimplyRead £5.99

A very distinctive board book with large-eyed, appealing images. As each page is turned a different animal is revealed - some in realistic shades, other familiar creatures in unexpected colours. Entertaining and playful it leads to some great guessing games. The book also introduces collective nouns for all the animals featured, guaranteed to cause giggles and much laughter with a paddling of ducks, a flamboyance of flamingos and an army of caterpillars!
Pat Thomson

Oh Boris! Written by Carrie Lewis
Illustrated by Tim Warns
Oxford University Press £5.99

A new animal in the class — a bear! Everyone has their own idea of what he would be like but no-one was prepared for Boris. Shy, and desperate to make friends, he was also huge and very scary! He was so big that he broke his chair when he sat on it and he was so scary that when he smiled it had quite the wrong effect — his teeth and claws were long and very sharp and his voice was incredibly loud. In fact, Boris had a very, very unhappy first day at school. However, on the way home Boris’ scariness was put to good use. Suddenly, he was a hero and his second day at school was perfect.
The illustrations are lively, fun and very expressive. The text itself is clear and well laid out so that the words and illustrations support each other and tempt nervous readers to have a go at joining in. There is a wonderful richness to the vocabulary which adds to the enjoyment of the story. The reader is enabled to empathise with both Boris and the other animals, so it is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride, but happily there is a very satisfactory ending.
Pat Thompson

Beautiful Oops!Created by Barney Saltzberg Workman £8.95
With a bright, humorous cover, this book is very appealing - tempting the reader to look inside to find brightly coloured attractive pages with lots of flaps to lift and pictures to look at and talk about. Promoting lots of discussion about mistakes and the creations that arise from them, this would be a perfect stimulus for any creative activity that could be shared between adult and child.

Picture Books

Ella Bella and Swan Lake Written and illustrated by James Mayhew
Orchard £10.99
James Mayhew’s Katie books are a brilliant introduction for children to the world of fine art, and here he’s turned his attention to the world of ballet. Taking the fable of Swan Lake as its basis, the book draws the reader in through the frame story Ella Bella, a little girl who is learning ballet. Ella Bella becomes our guide to Swan Lake as she steps through the portal of a musical box into the unfolding drama. We witness the trickery of the wicked sorcerer as he substitutes his own transformed daughter Odile, the black swan, for the Prince’s beloved white swan Odette. However, Odette and the Prince are allowed a happy ending in this version as true love triumphs over deception. The book, which is beautifully illustrated by the author, also gives information about the ballet’s history and how it is performed today.
Stella Madden

Jack's Fantastic Voyage Written and illustrated by Michael Foreman
Andersen (R) £5.99

Jack stays with his grandfather in an old house by the sea. The house is made of wood and looks a bit like a beached boat. Inside it is full of the most wonderful carvings and paintings - birds and fishes, scenes of wild seas and shipwrecks. These are his grandfather's memories of travels at sea. But has the old man really sailed the oceans and walked upon tropical islands? Jack's friends think that his grandad is crazy and they tease him when he says he believes the 'mad pictures' are of real places. But one stormy night when Jack is listening to another tall tale, he suddenly finds himself steering the ship out towards the misty lighthouse and through a sea of ice. Perhaps the old man isn't so mad after all. A great story to tell young boys before bed, with plenty of evocative watercolours to add to the atmosphere.
Richard Monte

When Martha’s Away Written and illustrated by Bruce Ingman
Walker £5.99
This is the book that reveals just what cats get up to when their owners are away. Those pet owners who think their pet curls up and snoozes o the window sill waiting their return are sorely mistaken, as Martha discovers. Lionel has a busy life - he enjoys listening to the radio, painting and reading the newspaper to be up-to-date with current affairs. He entertains his neighbours, phones his cousin and generally has a very full day. The highlight is his afternoon piano concert but you must read he book to find out more.
Bruce Ingman’s bold and colourful illustrations, with the clever use of colour and shape which indicate character and mood rather than detail it, are full of atmosphere. The language too is understated and apt and convey’s Lionel’s delight in duping all cat owners who should be warned of a surprise.
Louise Stothard

George and the Ghost Written by Cariona Hoy
Illustrated by CassiaThomas
Hodder £5.99

George and Ghost have been friends for a long time but suddenly George doesn’t believe in Ghost any more — he isn’t real! Ghost asks him to prove it, and by a series of ‘experiments’ George proves that because Ghost has no weight, takes up no space and cannot be seen, he is NOT real! So Ghost departs — suitcase in hand, leaving them both very sad! However, he does not give up without a struggle and soon returns with some good ideas to prove that just because things cannot be weighed, don’t take up any space or cannot be seen, does not mean that they do not exist. The story is a wonderful mix of humour and pathos and gives a lovely possibility for children and adults to talk about what is real and not real and what is important about friendship.
Pat Thomson

When Martha’s Away by Bruce Ingman
Walker £5.99
978 1 4063 2960 5

This is THE book that reveals just what cats get up to when their owners are away. Those cat lovers who think their pets curl up and snooze on the window sill waiting for their return are sorely mistaken, as Martha discovers. Lionel has a busy life – he enjoys listening to the radio, painting and reads the newspaper to be up to date with current affairs. He entertains his neighbours, phones his cousin and generally has a very full day. The high-light is his afternoon piano concert but you must read this book to find out more.
Bruce Ingman’s bold and colourful illustrations with the clever use of colour and shape which indicate character and mood rather than detail it, are full of atmosphere. The language too is understated and apt and conveys Lionel’s delight in duping all cat owners who should be warned of a surprise!
Louise Stothard

Mischief in the forest – a yarn yarn by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan
PMPress £10.99

This is an American picture book about Grandma Johnson who spends her days happily knitting for her grandchildren in her house in the forest. But ‘sometimes she felt just a little bit lonely’ with no neighbours nearby.
When Grandma returns from a visit to see her grandchildren in the city, she finds her yarn (knitting wool) store has been raided, and the yarn hung in strands all over the forest. Venturing into the forest to find out who has done this, she discovers the creatures who are her neighbours – bears, rabbits, racoons, birds etc. She gets to know them and opens up her house to them. Later her grandchildren visit and are inspired to look for their own wild neighbours when they return to the city. And so this book promotes an environmental message about the diversity of nature that is just outside our doors, wherever we may live.
The story reads well and was enjoyed by the two year old I shared it with, although the spellings, language and animals are all American. The illustrations are bold, clear and colourful, and support the story well, yet the book lacks that magical element which makes the best picture books unforgettable.
Liz Dubber

Reading Alone

Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout Written by Andy Stanton
Illustrated by David Tazzyman
Egmont £5.99
Warning! Health hazard! Don’t read this book when eating! What is that horrible smell? It’s them, those old Blisters Mr Gum and Billy Williams the Third shovelling entrails, turkey necks and horses’ legs into a furnace in their Brilliant Secret Hideout. “It’s got everythin’’! Rats! Cockroaches! Pipes what drip slime everywhere!” muses Mr Gum, reclining on a grubby sofa, until he is startled by a joyous cry and up pops Surprising Ben! And there’s Polly, Friday O’Leary and other funky inhabitants of Lemonic Bibber too, and has the Spirit of the Rainbow just passed this way? But enoughs! Clouds are falling on heads and action is called for so Polly and Frides set up the Department of Clouds and Yogurts to investigate. Meanwhile, Old Granny is taking her usual sip of sherry from her six-mile long straw, Crazy Barry Fungus thinks he’s a chaffinch and who is Nimpy Windowmarsh, I hear you cry! All you naughties out there, go and get this book AT ONCE as this is the daftest
Valerie Bierman

The Pasta Detectives Written by Andreas Steinhofel
Illustrated by Steve Wells
Chicken House £5.99
Charming, funny and exciting, this book’s hero is Rico - a child proddity meaning he thinks an awful lot but needs a lot of time to figure things out!. He is a lonely child, so when he meets Oscar, himself a child prodigy, and also very lonely, they become instant friends. At the time they meet their hometown is being terrorised by Mr 2000 who kidnaps children for a ransom. When Oscar disappears Rico, fearing the worst, sets out to find him. With genuine characters, especially Rico with his vivid imagination and simple, yet wise, world-view, beautifully complemented by gifted Oscar who is sadly terrified of almost everything, the tension builds. Written in the first person by Rico, the reader experiences the world through his eyes and empathises with his frustrated thoughts on modern language. Sensitively handled the story of Mr 2000, and possible abduction, avoids becoming unsettling as the reader is encouraged to spot the clues slightly ahead of Rico, thus urging him along on his investigations.
Jane Hall

Take Me Home. Tales of Battersea Dogs Written by Melissa Wareha
RedFox £5.99
978 1 849 41392 3
Melissa was always desperate to work with dogs and her first job was as kennel cleaner at Battersea Dogs’ Home. Despite getting most things wrong at first (including sitting on the head vet’s dog at interview) a combination of (often smelly) hard work, boundless enthusiasm and dogged persistence helps her win through.
Unusually unsentimental, she learns how to handle different breeds, personalities and illnesses in the dogs she encounters, many of their problems caused by neglect, cruelty or, surprisingly, spoiling by their owners. She tells amusing and at times pathetic stories of particular dogs and their lives, showing how retraining and firm but caring handling can make life much happier for both families and their pets.
When a favourite Labrador had been lovingly cleaned, groomed and trained to meet the Queen, a doggy diarrea meant a frantic clean – up and a substitute dog to be produced even as HM waited. The resulting Monarch – dog meeting (ED- P72) shows the spruced – up stray mongrel , eyes closed, snuggling adoringly into the Queen’s leg as if he were her own. A most unusual, funny, honest book which makes plain the problems and rewards of working with animals and, at times, their owners to help both have happy, rewarding lives. Super photographs and fact – files, too.
Tina Massey

Magicalamity Written by Kate Saunders
Scholastic £6.99
Tom wakes to find his parents gone and an odd old woman rummaging in his kitchen who claims to be Lorna Mustard, his fairy godmother. If that isn’t mad enough, he’s told that he’s a demi-sprite; half human, half fairy. His father is a wanted fairy on the run and they must flee, too, when Lorna can get her magic wings to work…
Local taxi driver and, it turns out, genie, Abdul offers the help of his magic carpet as they set off to find his other two, even odder fairy godmothers. Flighty Iris Moth runs a public school for ladylike thieves and Dahlia Peaseblossom inventively recycles her rich ex husbands as personal slaves, both to their own considerable advantage.
Dad, now a bat, and Mum, a sun – dried tomato, can’t help much. Tom needs to enter the fairy realm to save his father from a murder charge, though he knows his enemies, the powerful Falconer family, are waiting for him to do just that in order to accuse and eliminate him.
Inventive, funny, fast- moving and highly readable, this is a surprisingly realistic fantasy exploring very current themes of corrupt government and the nature of resistance movements.
Tina Massey

Jiggy’s Magic Balls Written by Michael Lawrence
Orchard £5.99

Jiggy McCue’s parents buy him an unusual birthday present Genetic Investigations in Time, a way of tracing ancestors via DNA. Jiggy is less than impressed, even when presented with evidence of his fifteenth century self, a peasant boy working for nothing for Sir Bozo de Beurk, a hapless knight. Although his toil goes unappreciated, he nevertheless tries to protect his master from the evil Merlin, Sir Bozo’s mortal enemy. Fast moving and funny, Jiggy has to use his wits to get the better of his ungrateful master and the double-crossing Merlin, whilst also uncovering the hilarious truth behind the myth of King Arthur.
Jane Hall

Reading with Confidence

Saxby Smart’s Detective Handbook Written by Simon Cheshire
PiccadillyPress £6.99
978-18481 0860
This is a neat and accessible handbook about detectives and the solving of crimes. It starts with a summary of notable true crime stories including tales of smugglers, highwaymen, Jack the Ripper, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Great Train Robbery, among others. This is followed by a summary history of detection in the UK and USA, with an introduction to forensics. The book then covers crime fiction, analysing what makes a good detective story, and providing an overview of famous fictional detectives. Finally there is a ‘do it yourself’ section on how to be a brilliant detective, with exercises and tips on how to investigate a crime, how to weigh up evidence, and how to avoid well known con tricks. At the end is a graphical display showing bookshelves of recommended reading.
This is a great little book that is easy to dip in to and fun to read. It can be used as a reference guide to notorious crimes from history, as well as a stimulus to explore crime fiction. It is written in a light style, but is honest in showing the results of violence and in no way condones crime.
Liz Dubber

Philippa Fisher and the Stone Fairy’s Promise
Written by Liz Kessler
Illustrated by Katei May
Published by Orion £9.99

Mix together a mystery, magic and fairies, friendship, loyalty and a quest and you have all the ingredients of this enjoyable story. Philippa and her parents are spending New Year at the house they rented In the Summer, which means that Philippa can meet up again with her new best friend Robyn. The girls are delighted to be together after their Summer adventures and soon realise that the holiday is not going to be quiet and boring.
Philippa soon has strange encounters with a mouse with blue eyes and a strange old lady and is startled to discover that in fact it is her Fairy God-Sister Daisy, trying to warn her that something dreadful may happen to her Mother unless Philippa and Robyn can prevent it. Thankfully the girls are able to keep her safe but Daisy is in dreadful trouble. Fairies are not allowed meddle in human affairs unless authorised.
As Philippa tries to help her Fairy God-Sister and ends up ATC (Above The Clouds) whilst Daisy is stuck on earth, everything gets very complicated and they learn that there is a far more serious problem to be solved. Robyn is enlisted to help and the three girls are tasked to prevent the closure of the portals between the two worlds and rescue the Stone Fairy who has disappeared. The girls’ loyalty and friendship is tested sorely but together they are able to save the day.
This is a lively tale with snapshot ink illustrations which embellish the various scrapes the girls get themselves into on their quest. This is the third in the Philippa Fisher series.
Louise Stothard

Call To War Written by Adam Blade
OrchardBooks £5.99
The good people of Avantia are under threat from annihilation as Lord Derthsin’s armies swarm the land. The evil lord wants the mask of death and once he has it he will be unstoppable. Now he is close, he possesses two of the pieces and knows where the next is. However, all is not lost. Three brave chosen ones ride three of the five beasts of Avantia against Derthsin’s evil and they search for the third piece of the mask so that Derthsin will not possess it. Each chapter title is accompanied by a fantastic illustration that gives a sneaky peak into the chapter to come. This third book in The Chronicles of Avantia series, which precededs The Beast Quest series, tells the story of Avantia before Tom fought to free the beasts. A younger audience (sevens to elevens) would be swept away by this magnificent novel and would be there, battling and riding beasts along the way, to save Avantia.
Owen Roberts


Buried Thunder Written by Tim Bowler
Oxford University Press £12.99

Maya, the central character in this story, spends a lot of time breathing hard, listening carefully, observing shadows, seeing yellow eyes staring at her, and being frightened by scratching noises. There is a fair amount of scratching to begin with, followed by growling and scrabbling and some creaking and shuffling sounds. In addition Maya has to sort out her relationships with a large cast of bizarre characters.
There is Briony, a brusque, unpredictable girl, guardian of Mo, a big bumbling boy who keeps disappearing. Zep is a wild, heavily tattoed shaven-headed youth who spends a lot of time running naked through the forest, taunting Maya with erotic references to his body before hiding himself in carvings sculpted in the tree trunks. We also meet Milly, Roxy and Jake who work in the kitchen of The Rowan Tree hotel (recently bought by Maya’s parents). In addition there is a heavy police presence; two doctors - one of whom seems to have psychiatric training; several foxes, some alive, some decapitated, and, here and there, supine bodies poisoned, perhaps with a concoction of wild berries. Oh, and Crystal who pops up just in time to help unravel the complicated plot.
At no point did I feel threatened or anxious about this hocus-pocus but the story will appeal to those readers who are looking for secret compartments, loose floorboards and ghostly emanations.
Jack Ousbey

Velvet Written by Mary Hooper
Bloomsbury £9.99
Mary Hooper’s latest book ’Velvet’ is an exciting, romantic, historical novel set in the murky world of Victorian spiritualism. It had me hooked from the very first chapter ‘In which Velvet Faints, and gains a New Position in the Laundry’.
We are transported to London at the turn of the century to experience life with a young working girl, our heroine Velvet, who struggles to survive the back-breaking regime of a Victorian steam laundry. When Velvet accidentally damages an expensive garment in her care, rather than ending up on the streets, she has an unexpected change of fortune when she is asked to go and work for one of her customers, the glamorous clairvoyant Madam Savoya. The reader will worry about the engagingly naïve and trusting Velvet, who does not (to begin with) see the deception and dishonesty that is central to the shadowy world of the medium she works for When she does eventually begin to realize the truth she finds herself in terrible danger.
There is enough historical research here to be interesting and give a good sense of time and place, but not too much to slow down the plot. ‘Velvet’ has a good pace, is immensely readable and has a very satisfying conclusion.
Gill MacDonald

Finding Sky Written by Joss Stirling
Oxford University Press £6.99
Sky and Zed are both savants, though Sky does not know her own powers when they meet. They are destined to fall in love, but their lives are in danger. In this weird mash of fantasy, teen romance and Jack Higgins-style adventure, Sky must discover who she is and what dark secrets lurk in her past while, at the same time, allying her powers with those of Jed and his family to fight the evil criminal gang who are using an unknown savant to betray them. There is genuine suspense and poignancy in the mix.
Yvonne Coppard

Heartless Dark Written by JP Buxton
Hodder £ 5.99
Tog is High King of Britain, but he rules over a fragmented and tribal country. What power he had is fading and mostly it’s his own fault. When Jenna, his queen, is kidnapped, Tog leave his kingdom to find her again. As a parallel to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Tog embarks on a long river journey through the wildly exciting and strange landscape of dark ages Britain – where Roman and even more ancient beliefs still linger - to learn about himself as well as his foe, the mysterious Kurtz-like Dragon. Only then does he learn that Dragon is lusting after the secret power of the ancient symbols tattooed on Jenna’s skin. In spite of the cover, both boys and girls will equally enjoy this well-crafted expedition to the ancient lands first visited in I Am The Blade.
Benjamin Scott

Flip Written by Martyn Bedford.
Walker £7.99
This is not the first time that a fictional character has woken up in someone else’s body (Freaky Friday, The Switch) but unlike those predecessors Martyn Bedford doesn’t play the situation for laughs. Rather he has created a tense page turner that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Alex may to all appearances have become Phillip, or Flip to his friends, inhabiting the stranger’s life as well as body, but he never accepts the change. Throughout the book he struggles, first to discover the truth about his transformation and then to decide how to act. He continues to be troubled by the question of what defines him – the way he looks, his talents, his thoughts or ultimately his soul – if such a thing exists. His unbelievable predicament causes Alex to feel isolated, forced to make difficult decisions based on what he needs to do rather than what is expected of him. However Bedford has managed to present the situation in such a way that the reader not only believes but roots for Alex till the very end. Overall the book manages to be both fast paced and thought provoking – much like Alex and Flip.
Annalise Taylor

The Cabinet of Curiosities Written by Paul Dowswell
Bloomsbury £6.99
Emperor Rudolph II Habsburg, leader of the Holy Roman Empire between 1576-1612, was well known for the collection of curiosities he had housed in a specially built wing of Prague Castle. The collection included clocks, astrolabes, gemstones, stuffed animals, paintings, swords, books, minerals... anything which the eccentric ruler could get his hands on in a bid to understand the ever expanding world in all its complexities. It is this hobby which provides the inspiration for Paul Dowswell's latest historical novel. Invited to work for his uncle Anselmus Declercq, the emperor's physician, young Lukas soon finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue. The new-found 'freethinking' philosophy of the court, is at odds with the Catholic traditions of parts of the empire - most notably Spain. It is not long before the young man uncovers a dangerous plot designed to get rid of the emperor. Even his uncle's reputation is at risk. Engaging and well researched, this book paints a vivid picture of the period between the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.
Richard Monte

Lunatics and Luck Written by Marcus Sedgewick
Illustrated by Peter Williamson
Orion £5.99
The third book in the wonderfully entertaining Raven Mysteries series set in Castle Otherhand – home of the ‘slightly’ weird Otherhand family. Valevine, in a break from creating his fantastic but ultimately useless contraptions and experiments declares that his children – gorgeous gothic Solstice and nice but dim Cudweed – need some education in their lives. By an amazing coincidence the very next day a travelling ‘educationalist’, Mr Brandish, knocks at the castle door and offers his services. But with his arrival the castle staff begin to fall victim to a series of unfortunate events and Fellah, the pet monkey, is acting distinctly odd. What is the secret that the teacher is trying to hide? Why is he so hairy and what does he keep in that huge wooden trunk? Solstice and Cudweed – ably assisted by their feathered friend Edgar (who tells the story) – strive to get to the bottom of the mystery. Marcus Sedgwick’s relaxed humourous style coupled with Peter Williamson’s wonderful pictures creates a quirky feeling redolent of The Addams Family meets Professor Branestawm. Brilliant fun!
Heather Blackham

Teen Reads
Siren Written by Tricia Rayburn
Faber £6.99
978-057126006 5
Seventeen year old Vanessa has always trailed in the wake of her daredevil sister Justine. Then Justine is found dead at the bottom of nearby cliffs and her boyfriend Caleb goes missing. Her shocked family tries to carry on as normal, remaining in the city while Vanessa returns to their Maine summer cottage to try to make sense of her sister’s death
There’s a strong sense of the American Atlantic seaboard, the attractive surfer lifestyle and the people who collect about the Winter Harbour Café. There Vanessa works, trying to uncover the mystery at the heart of the novel. She and Simon, Caleb’s brother are very convincing characters whose tentative relationship begins to meld, despite the families’ tragedies. Both need to know what happened to cause the death of a sister and disappearance of a brother. There’s also a strong undertow of menace. Violent local storms are unleashed as more and more men are washed up drowned, at the base of the cliffs, each wearing a ghastly grin. What secret are the silver-eyed girls of the café family hiding?
A summer-reading relationship story turns into a fantasy- horror, with sequels to come. Oddly compelling and vividly memorable reading for thirteen up
Tina Massey

Out for Blood Written by Alexandra Harvey
Bloomsbury £6.99
978-1408807064 Buffy meets Twilight in this dark and gutsy fantasy. Hunter Wild is a teenage girl majoring in vampire slaying at the Helios Ra Academy. Quinn Drake is a dishy bloodsucker from one of the most established vampire families. Luckily the Drakes are the good vampires but there are plenty of bad ones like the mindless, feral Hel-Blar. Hunter and Quinn are forbidden fruit to one other and, as might be expected, develop a mutual attraction.
Their blossoming friendship takes place against a dark conspiracy. Vampires are becoming more hostile while students at the Academy succumb to a mysterious illness. Events force Hunter and Quinn together and before long they are a perfect fighting team. Can they stop the bad guys and overcome the obstacles to true love?
Out for Blood is an easy-to-read, pacy thriller. The large cast of characters are sympathetic and convincing. The prose is tight and scattered with enough contemporary references to make today’s teens feel right at home. Plenty of stake-wielding, high-kicking, fang-flashing action, alongside the love interest, that will appeal to fans of the supernatural romance genre. This is book three in the Drake Chronicles and more are on the way!
Ian Douglas

Bruised Written by Siobhán Parkinson
Hodder £5.99

Jonathan, the “hero” of this book is 14 years old and has reluctantly taken upon himself the responsibility for the care of his 8 year old sister Julie and of his drunken and irresponsible mother, who has been left in sole charge of the children since the departure of their father. In fact his mother needs more care than Julie! For example, Jonathan has had to find ingenious, yet devious, ways to remind his mother that is today that she needs to collect her dole money so that they can all eat and be warm—unless she drinks it way first!
After a particular incident when Julie is badly injured by Mum, Jonathan and Julie decide to run away. It sounds very simple to them and they think there will be no problem in going across Ireland to find their absent father.
Of course it isn’t that easy and before long the Garda are on their trail. However it isn’t because Mum has reported them missing... To say more would reveal the incredible twist at the end of the story! This, not always cheerful, story is very difficult to put down. The reader is drawn into the resolution of Jonathan’s problem and needs to know how it will be resolved.
Yvonne Coppard

Entangled Written by Cat Clarke
Quercus £6.99

Grace is a 17 year old sixth-former with a lot of problems. When she appears to wake up in a totally white room, with no recollection of how she got there, she (and we), suspect she has been kidnapped. Ethan, her cool and handsome jailer, supplies paper and pens and through her writing we witness Grace’s confused life, her father’s suicide and her own self-harming.
Slowly Grace emerges as a mixed up teenager, falling in and out of love, showing frequent flashes of anger and frustration, and mismanaging a poor relationship with her widowed mother. Eventually we understand Grace’s situation, but there’s no easy resolution despite the hint of a positive future.
This is an emotionally challenging read. The friendships are intense and passionate. There is frank discussion of sex, a pregnancy and abortion, and some strong swearing. The story is compelling as we struggle to understand Grace’s captivity, yet the constant bickering of the reported dialogue is draining and occasionally irritating. This is a book for older teenagers - its subject matter, language, and the emotional stamina required by the reader make it less suitable for younger readers.
Liz Dubber