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In a nutshell: rags to riches ghostly mystery story Roald Dahl would surely approve of this exciting story, which rivals Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the importance it places on delicious sweets! Archie is astonished to learn that he’s heir to Archibald McBudge of Honeystone Hall, owner of McBudge’s Fudge and Confectionary Company. Archie loves the hall, which seems to be home to all sorts of strange creatures, and he loves the fudge factory too. There’s just one problem: no-one knows the secret ingredient that makes McBudge Fudge so delicious, and without it the factory will close. Can Archie solve the clues left by his uncle, and can he avoid his revolting relatives the Puddingham-Pyes too? With nods to Harry Potter too, it’s a tasty mix of fantasy, adventure, comedy and detection which will definitely have readers coming back for more. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2018 Book of the Month | Jamie lives on an island in the Outer Hebrides. He loves its wild beauty and the remoteness too, though he’s aware of just how much they are at the mercy of wind, waves and weather. The island is also home to Mara, a wild spirit not much older than Jamie but, it seems, completely fearless. Her ambition is to sail her boat out to St Kilda, an island that really is at the edge of the world, and when she finally sets out, pretty well accidentally, Jamie goes too. It’s a wonderful adventure story and brilliantly told, as much about the friendship between the two children and their efforts to find a place in the world as it is about their extraordinary trip. Readers who enjoy this story of courage, resilience and survival will also like Wild Song by Janis Mackay.
April 2018 Debut of the Month | An ambitious and atmospheric fantasy adventure in which an eleven-year-old girl discovers an uncanny world following the disappearance of her dad. Kay’s curious quest begins one Christmas Eve when she, her sister and mum go to collect her dad from working late at his Cambridge college. Eerily, no one knows who he is - not the porters who see him every day, and not the academic now occupying his office. Stranger still is the calling card Kay discovers on her pillow. Who are Will O. de Wisp and Phillip R. T. Gibbet? And how did this card for their removals business find its way into her room? Kay meets these strangers that very same night, and learns that they have “removed” her father. What this means, why, and where to is a mystery, but Kay is determined to discover the truth, along with the truth as to why she can see these wraiths, when humans are not generally able to. This lyrical debut boasts something of the fantastical dreaminess and classic adventuring conjured by the likes of Michael Ende and Cornelia Funke, yet the plot here unfolds in an all together more ethereal manner, with feelings and atmospheres evoked in painterly detail, and the plot progressing at an unhurried pace. Indeed, this not a book to race through. The poetic style invites utter absorption, a suspension of time, and, for that reason it comes recommended for readers who like to savour language, and suspend belief.
April 2018 Book of the Month The penultimate in the series, Beyond The Odyssey continues with poor Elliot’s life becoming more difficult by the day. The situation with his mum is desperate and poor Hermes is still in a coma, but there is a glimmer of hope as Elliot hears of a potion that is rumoured to cure all. Yet even the gods doubt its existence and even if it does exist it won’t be easy to find. And so they set out on yet another quest to find the third chaos stone AND the mythical potion in an attempt to cure his mum and Hermes, whilst saving the world from evil Deamon of Death, Thanatos. No pressure there then! This series just keeps getting better and better and Maz will have you crying tears of laughter and sadness whilst cheering on our hero as we watch him face his toughest challenge yet. Superb, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the fourth and final instalment to this epic tale of courage, heartache and heroism. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here. A Piece of Passion from Barry Cunningham, Publisher ‘What I like about the classical gods is that they are so true to life. Wild, naughty, emotional and unpredictable, they carry on a bit like us humans – but with superpowers! Of course, in this story our hero Elliot has some serious real life problems to deal with too, and so Maz Evans takes us on a funny yet thoughtful romp. Hold on to your pants because you are likely to lose everything else!’
April 2018 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: a brief and enthralling time-bending mystery | Maisie Day is ten years old and should be celebrating her birthday but something very odd has happened: not only has her family disappeared, but her house seems to be floating in an endless – and encroaching – black void. It’s hard to comprehend, but Maisie is a science genius, already studying for a degree in physics at the Open University. At the same time that she works out she’s on the edge of a black hole she makes contact with her teenage sister, Lily, the only person who can help her. In a story that explores really big ideas, Christopher Edge also finds time and space to describe one particular family’s relationships, and their experience of terrible loss. Mind-boggling and heart-breaking, the story nonetheless finishes in a moment of hope and simple happiness that everyone will understand. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: girl loves boy/supernatural bounty hunter | When star-crossed lovers Zoe and the boy she nicknames X meet the circumstances are hardly promising: stranded in a blizzard Zoe has fallen into the hands of a psychotic murderer and X, there in his capacity as supernatural bounty hunter responsible for dragging wicked souls to Hell, saves her. When Zoe persuades him to let the man go, her fate and X’s intertwine but as the plot unfolds, we begin to realise that maybe they were part of a bigger story all along. Sassy, fast-talking Zoe is a hugely appealing heroine and X amply supplies in smouldering good looks and romantic anguish what he sometimes lacks in characterisation. It all builds to a terrific climax and this can-they-can’t they-be-together romance is definitely hot. This is one to recommend to fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and readers will also enjoy The Diabolic by S J Kincaid and Frostblood by Elly Blake. ~ Andrea Reece
Extreme pressure, perils and outright horrors fester when five friends enter a contest on a private island and find themselves in a gruesome fight for survival. How hard can it be for a bunch of bright young things to solve a series of riddles and locate geocaches on an island? The prize seems to be theirs for the taking. But on arrival, abuzz with ideas about what they’ll spend the prize money on, the friends realise that there’s more to the competition than they’ve been led to believe. In fact, it’s not long before they’re trapped in a horrifying ‘hunt or be hunted’ situation as the story twists and turns in disturbing directions. The author’s characterisation is exceptional (of particular note is the background story of brothers Ben and Will, whose pre-island home life was racked with horrors of its own), and the plot is genuine edge-of-your-seat stuff, suffused in an atmosphere of fear and distrust. This is a strong concept, excellently executed, and comes recommended for fans of survival-type reality TV shows – even the most reluctant of readers will find it hard to resist its page-turning pull. But be warned if you’re faint of heart - this gripping, gory psychological story pulls no punches when it comes to gore.
In a nutshell: brave, loyal, upstanding rabbit hero versus despicable rats Fans of rabbit hero Shylo Tawny-Tail will be delighted to hear that he is back for another exciting adventure. Shylo and the other Royal Rabbits of London are pledged to protect the queen and operate from secret headquarters under Buckingham Palace itself. Their arch enemies are the rat Ratzis, unscrupulous vermin not above using the internet to spread their web of evil. The forthcoming visit of POTUS provides the Ratzis with the opportunity to cause chaos, can Shylo stop them? This second adventure is faster-paced and more action-packed than the first, full of exciting moments though there’s plenty of room for humour and lovely character descriptions too. It’s great fun and there’s a proper emphasis on doing the right thing and discovering your own reserves of courage too. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: exciting new adventure for the deservedly popular Emily Windsnap An idyllic holiday in the sun with her parents and best friends turns into a testing adventure for mer-girl Emily, and she finds herself caught up in an ancient prophecy. As ever, it makes for very exciting reading, Emily’s first-person narrative keeping things both immediate and completely recognisable for readers, even if she does swap her legs for a tail when she’s in water. What really sets this series apart though is what goes on beneath the surface, and the stories explore themes of tolerance, understanding and identity – all issues that are particularly important for the readership. There’s a big surprise at the end of this story, and an unexpected separation, but in true Emily Windsnap style, readers can be reassured that the bonds of friendship are as strong as ever. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: super-kid-friendly super-hero comic adventures with real heart Murph Cooper, aka Kid Normal, and his band of Super Zeroes are back in a new adventure that will delight their fans. Fresh from their successful defeat of the hideous wasp-man they’re ready for more excitement, and they get it. The new term has barely started when the Heroes’ Alliance call for Murph. Magpie, the roguest Rogue Hero of them all, has demanded Murph come to his top security prison cell. Why? And what’s the meaning of the mysterious poem he hands over? The Heroes’ Alliance think Magpie is just wasting everyone’s time, but the Super Zeroes decide to investigate – and it’s just as well… Packed with jokes that will have everyone cracking up, children and adults, this also delivers a proper adventure story while reminding readers that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Super! Kid normals will also enjoy the My Brother is a Superhero series and Shane Hegarty’s Darkmouth books. ~ Andrea Reece
A charming tale of adventure and exploration, which will inspire young readers to get crafting and storytelling. Brian the Lion loves space. He dreams of adventures on Mars and finds life on the plain (the lying around and the snoring) boring. So when the other lions buy him a DIY rocket kit he’s thrilled. He blasts off, landing on a moon near Saturn and makes friends with the gnomes who live there before flying back home to his family. The friendly characters and backdrops too are all created from painted paper plates, cardboard tubes and the like, stuff we all have in our homes, and the book will inspire children to make their own characters and tell their own stories. You’ll find instructions on author Tracey Radford’s website www.patchworkparent.blogspot.co.uk ~ Andrea Reece
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