Books Monthly's Christmas Issue 2014 - Children's Book Reviews

Two children's books of the month this month!

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Just out:

EVANGELINE LILLY: THE SQUICKERWONKERS

 

Published by Titan Books, Hardback, 18th November 2014

 

Meet Selma of the Rin-Run Royals, a clever little girl who is spoiled to the core. One day Selma stumbles upon a band of colourful marionettes, and gets more than she bargained for. The remarkable Squickerwonkers of the fabulous Squickershow are about to teach Selma that she’ll not always get her way.

Evangeline Lilly is best known for her work as an actress, but her foremost passion has always been writing. This book is her first published work. Beautifully illustrated by Johnny Fraser-Allen, this eccentric and visually stunning cautionary tale will appeal to adults and children alike.

 

 

 

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Just out:

Gillian Johnson: The Lost Sock

 

Published by Constable, Hardback, 16th October 2014

 

When a man loses one of his favourite pair of socks at the laundromat, he sets out on a quest to find out what happens to lost socks, and why every sock drawer contains a plethora of single socks. On his eventful journey, he discovers why you always lose the sock you love, visits a sockiatrist who teaches him about the Planet of Lost Socks, and eventually finds his perfect partner at a puppet show. A wryly sweet story of love, loss and destiny.

 

I've never had the problem of lost socks, because when they come out of the wash, I tuck one inside the other so that the pairs are kept together - I'm a Virgo, and we're supposed to be tidy almost to the point of obsession, so that's my excuse, but lost socks have been the mainstay of many a situation comedy over the past fifty or so years, and remain a staple of our British humour, so I can really appreciate this charming and very funny book - I particularly like the "sockiatrist"! Excellent fun, beautifully illustrated.

 

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William Osborne: Winter's Bullet

Published by Chicken House, Paperback 2nd October 2014

Tygo, a locksmith's son, is forced by the Nazis to loot abandoned Dutch homes for valuables. Known as 'the Ferret', he's despised by everyone, but it's the only way he can keep his family alive. But when he discovers a girl with a diamond in a chimney, he refuses to give her up. Instead he turns spy and trades the jewel for information about Hitler's ultimate weapon. Can a ferret become a hero? He has one shot to stop the war.

Wartime escapades are all the rage right now, thanks to the WW1 centenary remembrance - William Osbirne's Winter's Bullet is reminiscent in many ways of Anne Frank's Diary and other wartime classics such as Carve Her Name With Pride - this type of story always brings a lump to my throat, and Osborne's way with words is guaranteed to get you thinking, and remembering. Truly moving, poignant, and beautifully written.

 

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Young Children's Book of the Month:

Yoohoo & friends: The Search for the Rainbow Gem

Published by Award, Paperback

 

When Chewoo is helped by her squirrel friends, Yoohoo and the gang want to do something to say thank you. And so the friends find themselves on an incredible new adventure to look for the squirrels' lost Rainbow Gem! Join Yoohoo and his feriends on their exciting quest to save Yootopia!

 

A complete rainbow of colours and a charming little story will amaze your baby/toddler - a perfect, winning formula for little ones.

 

Also in this brilliant series:

 

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Young Adult's Book of the Month:

Robert Swindells: The Secret of Weeping Wood

Published by Award, Paperback

 

The Outfit had never really believed the stories about the ghosts of Weeping Wood until now. But as they investigate the mysterious cries, truth suddenly becomes stranger and more terrifying than fiction! As the chilling cries grew louder they fled. hey burst sobbing from the haunted thicket and ran on till the cries of the phantom infants faded and they could run no more...

 

A brilliant alternative to Enid Blyton's Famous Five, a series of terrific adventures involving "the outfit". These adventure titles by the brilliant Robert Swindells seem to have been first published in the early-mid 1990s, but they're not dated at all - the silhouette covers are very effective, but if you want to know what "the outfit" really lool like, search through Amazon for previous editions... Absolutely first class entertainment for children.

 

Also in this thrilling series:

 

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Laura Wall: Goose

Published by Award, Paperback

 

The Goose stories are beautifully illustrated children's books by Laura Wall. This is one book of a six series collection which features the main character, Goose, with his rather silly big nose. He is brought to life in stunning colour with each story detailing a new adventure with his best friend, Sophie.

 

A super, simple, but effective read-along story involving Goose - board versions are available for really young children, but this and its companion titles in the same series is just right for bedtime.

 

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Laura Wall: Goose Goes Shopping

Published by Award, Paperback

 

When Sophie and Goose go shopping with Mum, there's lots of fun in store. An enchanting story about an unusual and heart-warming friendship...

 

 

 

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Barbara Robertson: the Art of Penguins of Madagascar

Published by Titan Books, hardback, 7th November 2014

 

The Art of The Penguins of Madagascar takes a deep dive into the making of the animated film, featuring everything from concept art, character backstories, and design inspirations, to interviews with key animation talent. Offering an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of the remarkable film, this must-have book tells the story behind The Penguins of Madagascar.

 

A delightful look at the making of the film, concentrating heavily on the art, from concept to finished article. Fascinating.

 

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Gayle Foreman: I was Here

Published by Simon and Schuster, paperback, January 2015

 

From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film. This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide. As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

 

A superb glimpse at teenage angst-ridden life from the author of If I Stay, which I reviewed last year. Gayle Foreman has her finger on the pulse. Make a note of this one, it's coming at the end of January...

 

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Peter Lynas: Madeleine Goes To The Moon

 

Published by English Rose Publishing, Paperback,26th September 2014

 

Madeleine is a little girl with a BIG imagination. One day she builds herself a rocket and flies it to the moon. What will happen when she gets there? Will she make new friends? Will she return home safely? And more importantly, will she tidy her room? Madeleine Goes to the Moon is a beautiful, musical, rhyming story that children are sure to love. Find out more at: www.peteandcharlie.com Visit English Rose at www.englishrosebooks.co.uk and view our other titles and new releases.

 

A delightful, brilliantly imagined and illustrated picture-story book for young children. Highly coloured, a wonderful rhyming story about Madeleine who has the kind of imagination most young children will have - she builds a moon rocket and flies it to the moon. Enchanting, simply enchanting.

 

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Steve Cole: Young Bond - Shoot to Kill

 

Published by Random House, Paperback, 6th November 2014

 

BEFORE THE MAN BECAME THE LEGEND. BEFORE THE BOY BECAME THE MAN. Lights. Camera. Murder. Young Bond is back – in his most action-packed, explosive adventure yet; something terrible is happening in Tinseltown . . . Young Bond makes a much anticipated return this autumn in SHOOT TO KILL by Steve Cole. Set in the glamorous world of the 1930s movie industry in LA, where gangsters are on the rise and danger lurks behind the scenes. The thrilling story follows teenaged James in the aftermath of his expulsion from Eton and takes him on a cross-Atlantic adventure to Hollywood, where it doesn't take long for Young Bond to realise that something terrible is happening in Tinseltown...

 

I was never a massive James Bond fan, preferring home grown crime in the form of The Saint, Agatha Christie and John Creasey's Inspector West... But this is a superb achievement, and finds a young James Bond in 1930s Los Angeles on the film lots... I'm not quite sure how to reconcile this with the age of the James Bond in the latest movies, but it doesn't matter, because this is sure-fire terrific entertainment!

 

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James Thorp & Angus McKinnon: Dog on Stilts

 

Published by Digital Leaf, 17th November 2014

 

Medium Dog is just an average, everyday dog - not particularly tall or spotty or interesting in any way. So he dreams up a way to become extraordinary, a dog to be noticed at last! An exquisitely illustrated story about friendship and the desire to be 'more', from the creators of the Weasel Puffin Unicorn Baboon Pig Lobster Race book.

 

A terrific story that reminded me of Harry Nilsson's The Point for some reason. Excellent illustrations, could maybe have done with a little more colour variety, but the story is great!

 

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Richard Sinclair: What Will I Be?

 

Published by Digital Leaf, 1st October 2014

 

A dad spends some quality time with his son who has one mighty big question for him: What will I be when I grow up? Together they explore the many possibilities - A wonderful first book by Richard Sinclair that helps young children discover and believe in their dreams. Hailing from London, England, Richard Sinclair is a first time author with a growing reputation. This follows the international success of What Will I Be? the interactive children's app, which launched in 2013 for Apple and Android devices receiving multiple 5 star reviews, including the prestigious Children's Techology Review's Editor's Choice award. Richard's second book in the When I Grow Up series, 'Where Will I Go?' is due to be launched as board book and app in early 2015.

 

A question that surfaces in every child's life sooner or later, and this marvellous book by Richard Sinclair is terrific fun and beautifully illustrated.

 

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Ian Somers: The Secret Gift

 

Published by O'Brien, paperback, on 29th September 2014

 

Book three in in the Ross Bentley series. Ross has spent the past twelve months in hiding in the west coast of Ireland. He has turned his back on the Guild and his gifts. In trying to escape his past and the dangers brought with his gifts, Ross has spiralled into a world of anxiety and depression and, with Cathy leaving for Paris, Ross is completely alone. Suddenly an unexpected visitor arrives. Hunter has come to call in his favour. Through loneliness and a sense of debt, Ross agrees to join Hunter for one day only. What first appears to be a simple task becomes so much more. Ross is dragged back into the world of the gifted where a supernatural war is about to break loose. Ross must choose which side to fight on. Will he turn his back on the Guild forever? Or will he fight to save the Guild members who have kept so much from him

 

Super supernatural thrills and spills - a brilliant third Ross Bentley adventure...

 

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Debi Gliori: Alfie in the Garden

 

Published by Bloomsbury, Hardback, on 9th October 2014

 

Alfie Rabbit is helping his mummy in the garden. His world turns from real to imagined, as a gatefold spread is opened. Now he's in the jungle! He's a lion on the prowl, an elephant spraying water from his trunk, and a little bird flying home to his nest . . . to have a nap with Mummy! A delightful book for toddlers, celebrating their irrepressible imagination, with exquisite illustrations featuring all sorts of garden - and jungle! - creatures.

 

Alfie Rabbit is now an established and firm children's favourite. This latest adventure finds him outside, in the garden - great fun!

 

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Alyxandra Harvey: Whisper The Dead

Published by Bloomsbury, Paperback, on 9th Octoberr 2014

 

Gretchen is struggling with her newfound gift as a Whisperer; the constant buzzing in her ears from detecting spells is more frustrating than fun, especially when she is spending time with one of the Order of the Iron Nail's Keepers, the icy but strikingly handsome Tobias Lawless. While Gretchen tries to hide the truth from him, London fades from beautiful and bustling to deathly silent . . . Something evil is once again menacing Mayfair, and Gretchen and her cousins must use their powers to prevent a horrible sacrifice. This second book in the Lovegrove Legacy trilogy is full of dark twists, spellbinding suspense and sweeping romance - perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, Lauren Kate and Ruth Warburton.

 

I didn't get to read the first in the series, but I am familiar with Alyxandra's work and the high quality of this story comes as no surprise. High fantasy from a brilliant author!

 

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Meg Wolitzer: Belzhar

 

Published by Simon and Schuster, paperback, on 9th October 2014

 

I was sent here because of a boy. His name was Reeve Maxfield, and I loved him and then he died, and almost a year passed and no one knew what to do with me. A group of emotionally fragile, highly intelligent teenagers gather at a therapeutic boarding school where they are mysteriously picked for 'Special Topics in English'. Here, they are tasked with studying Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and keeping a journal. Each time the teens write in their diaries they are transported to a miraculous other world called Belzhar, a world where they are no longer haunted by their trauma and grief - and each begins to tell their own story. From internationally bestselling author Meg Wolitzer, and published by John Green's editor, Belzhar is a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance. 'A story about what it means to lose someone, or something, you love. Twice.' Kirkus Reviews 'An unusual gem of a novel' Entertainment Weekly 'Wolitzer has imagined a world for young readers that celebrates the sacred, transcendent power of reading and writing' New York Times

 

Meg Wolitzer knows exactly what young teens are looking for in a book, and Belzhar proves it...

 

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Sophie Tilley: Amelie and Nanette - Snowflakes and Fairy Wishes

Published by Bloomsbury, hardback, on 23rd October 2014

 

Amelie and Nanette are very excited! Christmas is coming, and they are busy making their fairy costumes for the party at school. There are cakes to bake and paper chains to make too. But on the day of the party, poor Nanette starts to shiver and sneeze - and has to stay at home! They are both very sad, but when Nanette gets better, a special fairy comes to visit, and Pilou the dog delivers a sack full of cards from her school friends! An enchanting festive story featuring two very special girls, who discover that the best gift of all is to have a friend to share Christmas with.

 

Young girls can't resist fairy stories - Sophie Tilley's characters are charming and delightful - just right!

 

 

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Zoe Cox: Leafy Lee and Other Bedtime Stories

Published by Matador, Paperback, on 28th November 2014

 

Leafy Lee and Other Bedtime Stories is a collection of nine short stories especially written with a feel-good factor to help with a calm and happy night for the very young. When Grandy Sandy and Grampy Graham go bowling, disaster strikes...Auntie Win tells of amazing adventures from the treasures in her tin...Mucky Micky goes on holiday...Rusty the robot is rescued from a puddle...Something goes wrong for Flora the fairy when she has a bad day...Enjoy Rachel's birthday and go shopping for a present with Hannah and Sophie...Watch the leaves changing with Leafy Lee...See the night time stars with the man in the moon. Like Zoe's first book, Rainbow in My Room, Leafy Lee is gorgeously illustrated with full-colour pictures. The beautiful picture book is suitable for children aged 5+ to read on their own, or for younger children to be read to. Author Zoe has been inspired by Enid Blyton all her life. Her stories are comparable in style to Michael Bond.

 

A brilliant collection of lovely stories, lovingly packaged. A delight to read to your youngster, and the illustrations are second to none!

 

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Clement Clarke Moore: The Night Before Christmas

Published by Random House, paperback, on 6th November 2014

 

"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." This classic Christmas verse is well known to every parent and child preparing for Christmas and this beautifully illustrated new edition is the perfect Christmas gift for young and old.

 

A classic story brilliantly illstrated by Richard Johnson. There are loads of versions around - this is one of the very best!

 

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Lauren Kate: Waterfall

Published by Random House, paperback, on 6th November 2014

 

Eureka's tears have flooded the earth and now Atlantis is rising, along with its evil king, Atlas. Eureka is the only one who can stop him – but first she must learn how to fight. She travels across the ocean with Ander to try and make sense of the dark world her sorrow has created. But dark secrets are hidden in the depths – will she be strong enough to defeat Atlas, or is her broken heart just what he needs to power his rising kingdom? Eureka has the chance to save the world. But she'll have to give up on everything – even love . . .

 

Pure teen fantasy which will thrill and delight its readers. Eureka is a brilliant character, and the prose is lyrical and a perfect intro to fantasy for young teens.

 

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Linda Newbery: The Brockenspectre

Published by Random House, hardback, on 6th November 2014

 

Tomas wants to be like his father – strong, brave and fearless. Pappi is a mountain guide, often away from home. He has taught Tomas to love the mountains, but also to fear their dangers – the winds and blizzards, the treacherous paths, the giddying slopes. Above all, Tomas fears the Brockenspectre – a huge, shadowy creature that lives alone in the heights, waiting for unwary climbers. Its looming figure haunts his thoughts and his dreams. When Pappi goes out one day and fails to return, Tomas knows it’s up to him to search – up on the high mountain passes, where dangers await. Will Tomas find his father . . . or will the Brockenspectre find him?

 

A kind of supernatural legend that Linda Newberry has given monumental proportions in the sense that people will come to think of it alongside the Yeti and other such rural myths and legends. Awesome!

 

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Jacqueline Harvey: Clementine Rose and the Farm Fiasco

Published by Random House Children's, paperback, on 6th November 2014

 

Clementine Rose and her classmates are so excited. They're going on a springtime trip to a local farm! Clementine's a little worried, though, because cross Aunt Violet is coming along too. Things take an unexpected turn when Aunt Violet and Clementine's teacher, Miss Bottomley, go missing - and Joshua is cornered by a feisty ram! Can Clementine save the day?

 

The fun and frolics come thick and fast in this terrific yarn which introduces Clementine Rose to the delights of the farmyard on her school trip! Can't fault it...

 

 

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Jacqueline Harvey: Clementine Rose and the Perfect Present

Published by Random House, paperback, on 6th November 2014

 

Clementine Rose is so excited! There’s going to be a wedding at Penberthy House. But amid the excitement, Uncle Digby falls ill, an invitation goes astray and, to everyone’s horror, mean Aunt Violet is left in charge . . . The beautifully wrapped wedding gifts give Clementine a great idea, but will she find the perfect present in time?

 

A race against time for Clementine to find a suitable wedding present. The tension is just right, the characters are just right, the story is brilliant!

 

 

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Meagan Spooner: Lark Ascending

Published by Corgi, paperback, on 9th October 2014

Lark returns to the city within the wall, only to discover that mass rebellion has broken out against the Institute. She is even more shocked to find that her brother Caesar is the leader of the revolution. But rebellion is not the only problem. The city is running out of magic and once it’s gone, nothing can protect the citizens from the Shadows that lurk outside the wall. Nothing, except Lark . . .

 

A superb introduction to urban fantasy for young teens - Lark is someone the reader can readily identify with. Brilliant.

 

 

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John Flanagan: Brotherband - Scorpion Mountain

Published by Yearling, Paperback, on 6th November 2014

 

When the worlds of Ranger's Apprentice and Brotherband cross over, action and adventure are guaranteed! King Duncan of Araluen has an urgent mission for Hal and the Heron Brotherband. One assassination attempt on Princess Cassandra was foiled. But the killers won’t be satisfied until they have fulfilled their honour-bound duty. The Herons, along with Ranger Gilan, set off for Arrida. There they must track the cult of killers across the desert, and infiltrate the cult’s mountain lair to find their leader – and stop him. But the giant assassin isn’t the only threat they will face. There is a seaside battle looming, and the Herons are called upon to help an old friend of Araluen in his fight. Trapped in an unfamiliar land, their forces split between searing hot land and treacherous seas, can the Herons complete their mission – before the killers find their royal target?

 

John Flanagan's RANGER'S APPRENTICE series is one of my favourite teen fantasies, and this crossover into his other fantasy world of Brotherband is sensationally good!

 

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Chris O'Dowd & Nick V Murphy: Moone Boy

Published by Macmillan, Paperback, on 23rd October 2014

 

Successful film and TV star, Chris O' Dowd, collaborates with friend and screenwriter Nick Vincent Murphy in this hilarious, illustrated series. Martin Moone is eleven and completely fed up with being the only boy in a family of girls. He's desperate for a decent wingman to help him navigate his idiotic life. So when best mate Padraic suggests Martin get an imaginary friend - or 'IF' for short - he decides to give it a go. His first attempt is Loopy Lou, a hyperactive goofball who loves writing rubbish rap songs. But Martin soon gets fed up with Lou's loopiness and decides to trade in his IF for someone a little less wacky. Enter Sean 'Caution' Murphy, an imaginary office clerk in a bad suit with a passion for laziness and a head full of dodgy jokes. Sean is full of tips and tricks to guide Martin through the perils of the playground, from dealing with his sisters' pranks to beating the bullying Bonner boys. But getting rid of Lou is not that easy, and having TWO imaginary friends is a recipe for trouble!

 

All kids have imaginary friends - don't they? Chris O'Dowd takes it one step further and has Martin try out a couple of IFs, trading them in for others when they start to bore or annoy him. Highly original, quirky, funny, hugely enjoyable!

 

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Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13

Published by Macmillan Children's books, paperback, on 9th October 2014

 

Under Platform 13 at King's Cross Station there is a secret door that leads to a magical island . . . It appears only once every nine years. And when it opens, four mysterious figures step into the streets of London. A wizard, an ogre, a fey and a young hag have come to find the prince of their kingdom, stolen as a baby nine years before. But the prince has become a horrible rich boy called Raymond Trottle, who doesn't understand magic and is determined not to be rescued.

 

A perfect time to reissue Ibbotson's classic children's stories - timeless, scary, inventive...

 

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Eva Ibbotson: Monster Mission

Published by Macmillan Children's books, paperback, on 9th October 2014

 

'We must kidnap some children,' announced Aunt Etta. 'Young, strong ones. It will be dangerous, but it must be done.' Three children are stolen and taken to a bizarre island, which is home to some extraordinary creatures - including mermaids, selkies and the legendary kraken. The island is the base for a very mysterious mission. But the magical adventure is cut short when the island is suddenly under siege. Can the children save themselves and their new friends?

 

Another of Eva Ibbotson's classic children's stories revitalised with a stunning new cover - terrific entertainment value from a brilliant author.

 

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Eva Ibbotson: The Beasts of Clawstone Castle

Published by Macmillan Children's books, paperback, on 9th October 2014

 

'We need proper ghosts,' said Ned, 'really scary ones with heads that come off and daggers in their chests!' When Madlyn and her younger brother Rollo arrive at crumbling Clawstone Castle, they can see that emergency action is needed before Clawstone falls down completely. With the help of a team of homeless, scary ghosts - including a one-eyed skeleton and Brenda the Bloodstained Bride - they hatch a spooky plan to get the money rolling in. But with a sinister scientist on the loose, money might not be enough to save the mysterious beasts of Clawstone Castle . . .

 

The third of Macmillan's Eva Ibbotson reissues sees Clawstone Manor taken over by ghosts with the singular purpose of raising money to save it. Hilarious, wacky fun from a terrifically inventive mind.

 

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Tony Ibbotson: Mountwood School for Ghosts

Published by Macmillan Children's books, paperback, on 9th October 2014

 

Fredegonda, Goneril, and Drusilla are Great Hagges, much more important and much rarer than regular old hags. They think that ghosts these days are decidedly lacking and that people haven't been scared of ghosts for years. So one day they decide that something needs to change - it's time for these ghosts to learn a thing or two about being scary. And what better way to teach them than to set up their very own school for ghosts?

 

Tony Ibbotson,Eva's son, picks up where his Mum left off, and quite frankly, it's difficult to separate the two authors. Classic comedy horror from an extraordinarily talented family of writers. Absolutely terrific.

 

 

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Hollis Seamon: Somebody Up There Hates You

Published by Workman, paperback, on 20th November 2014

 

Smart-mouthed and funny, sometimes raunchy, Richard Casey is in most ways a typical seventeen-year-old boy. Except Richie has cancer, and he's spending his final days in a hospice unit. In this place where people go to die, Richie has plans to make the most of the life he has left. Sylvie, the only other hospice inmate under sixty, has a few plans of her own for Richie. What begins as camaraderie quickly blossoms into real love, and this star-crossed pair is determined to live on their own terms, in whatever time remains.

 

Hollis Seamon's tale of young love in terribly difficult circumstances will tug at your heart strings...

 

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Sara Farizan: If You Could Be Mine

Published by Workman, paperback, on 20th November 2014

 

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They've shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love--Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light. So they carry on in secret--until Nasrin's parents announce that they've arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they had before, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively--and openly. Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman's body is seen as nature's mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants in the body she wants to be loved in without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

 

Another dark and brooding tale of young forbidden love. Sara Farizan paints a disturbing picture of a community which punishes such illicit bondings. Very readable...

 

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Nick Handel: Newskids on the Net

Published by Matador, paperback, on 28th October 2014

 

Set in an England that is finally hosting the World Cup, Newskids on the Net is the re-release of Nick Handel’s popular children’s thriller. It’s a perfect read for 9 – 13 years olds in this World Cup year and will have even reluctant readers on the edges of their seats.

Ever wondered what it would be like to have your own TV station? With the help of cameraman Ollie ‘Sniffer’ Morris (who can smell a great news story from miles away), designer Becky Morris (aka the ‘IT’ girl), presenter Rachael Cooper (a cool and talented American actress in year 10) and Akbar Khan (techno wizard), fourteen-year-old Max Taylor finds a way to create one in his dad’s garden shed.

Their first programme is a disaster, but the reaction from the audience is beyond the team’s wildest dreams. And when a girl at school goes missing, Newskids on the Net becomes the nerve centre of a desperate nationwide search. Soon, the kids themselves are front-page news and are propelled into a deadly adventure where kidnaps, secret recordings lead to a nerve-jangling climax at the World Cup semifinals at Wembley Stadium.

 

 

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Debbie Kelly: The Adventures of Alonzo the Chicken

Published by Digital Leaf, paperback, on 1st November 2014

 

Alonzo the Chicken has an evil twin and a naughty monster to contend with in this action-packed third book in the Alonzo series. Can he capture the Dazzling Diamond, defeat the Gangster Geese and keep the sun in the sky where it belongs? A madcap, partially illustrated adventure that makes a wonderful early reader for boy or girl. . Debbie Kelly is the author of the Alonzo the Chicken series of books for children. She is best described as a trampolining, jive-dancing, cat-loving, children's writer living in Newbury, England.

 

I believe this is the first Alonzo the Chicken tale I've reviewed - I certainly hope it won't be the last. Terrific illustrations and a brilliant story for young readers to tackle alone or with a little help... Superb.

 

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Abbi Glines: Hold On Tight

Published by Simon and Schuster, paperback, on 23rd October 2014

 

Get ready for another steamy summer fling from the NYT bestselling author and online sensation, Abbi Glines. Dewayne Falco has been a fixture in Sea Breeze since his appearance in the very first book, Breathe. He always had the one-liners and smart remarks that made you laugh. But there was never any insight into his life. Other than being best friends with Marcus, Preston, and Rock all his life, you knew little else. Until now. In Hold on Tight, Dewayne's past pain is brought front and centre while he realizes not all was lost-and that there may be hope for him yet.

 

Hold onto your hats - Abi Glines turns out these sizzing YA reads like there's no tomorrow! Contains explicit sex and lots of rude words - if only books like this had been around when I was a teenager...

 

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The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.