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It’s not easy being immortal in Rick Riordan’s Greek-myth inspired sagas, and Apollo has every right to feel fed up in this one. As punishment for misdemeanours, he’s been sent to Earth by Zeus to live as a mortal teenager. Not only has he various heroic quests to fulfil, none of them easy, he has all the indignities of adolescence to cope with too; no wonder the book opens with his exclamation, ‘Gods, I hate my life!’. Cruising into Indiana aboard their flying metal dragon, he and his divine friends Leo and Calypso immediately run into trouble in the form of non-human adversaries, and from then on the action is fast, furious and often very funny. Once again, Riordan mixes adventure and mythology, delivering it all via his sharp, sassy teen characters. It makes for irresistible reading, and Riordan really is ‘storyteller of the gods’. Readers who haven’t read the Percy Jackson books, which are referenced throughout this series, really should. More more larger than life adventure, Derek Landy’s Demon Road series is more gruesome, but just as addictive and entertaining.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. A beautiful new edition of the first volume in the Surya Trilogy by Whitbread award-winning author Jamila Gavin. India, August 1947: Fleeing from their burnt-out village as civil war rages in the Punjab, Marvinder and Jaspal are separated from their mother, Jhoti. Marvinder has already saved her brother's life once, but now they both face a daily fight for survival. Together they escape across India and nearly halfway around the world to England, to find a father they hardly know in a new, hostile culture...
May 2018 MEGA Book of the Month | In a nutshell: gods and monsters, heroism and humour | The Burning Maze is book three in Riordan’s The Trials of Apollo series, and the best yet. It opens with Apollo, trapped on Earth in the form of spotty teenager Lester Papadopoulos, struggling through an underground Labyrinth. He and his companions, pushy twelve-old demigod called Meg, and satyr Grover Underwood, are on the trail of one of the five great Oracles, racing to find it before it falls into the hands of an evil Roman emperor. They barely make it to the end of the first chapter before they’re attacked by monsters … No-one can beat Riordan for action scenes, and Apollo’s sardonic running commentary on his misery is very funny indeed. We’re used to him being arrogant, selfish and annoying, but could there be signs that he’s changing, and becoming – gulp – a bit more human, as well as mortal? One thing’s for certain, the ending will surprise everyone, and leave readers desperate for the next instalment. Riordan rules! ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: comic-book inspired crime story | The action in this exciting crime story is set in a comic shop, and come-strip sensibilities inspire the whole adventure. The Cosmic Comic Shop and adjoining café are threatened with closure by ruthless developers and the one thing that might cover the rent and save the day is a rare edition of a Komodo Jones comic. When it disappears, young friends Zac and Coco set out to find the villains, using everything they’ve learned from reading about Komodo and her crime-solving techniques. They are as lively a pair of protagonists as you could hope to meet and there are twists, turns and surprises galore as the story unfolds. Each chapter opens with a Komodo Jones comic front cover – someone should publish those stories too! ~ Andrea Reece One to recommend to fans of the Ruby Redfort stories by Lauren Child.
May 2018 Book of the Month | Wonderful rhyme carries you through this rollicking ride through the wild west and a town they called Fear, whose scary inhabitants wear rattlesnake socks, chew rocks and and soon leave newcomer, the colourful and jolly Bingo B. Brown without his cheerful grin. Bingo soon discovers that as scary as the cowboys in town are, the wildest, scariest cowboy of all comes calling after dark. Frightened by the tales he hears of this terrible stranger, Bingo and his dog decide to leave town. They soon discover that you can't run away from the things that scare you as they come face to face with the fear spreading cowboy. Bingo soon finds his courage though and before long this baddie goes from spiteful to delightful. This is an absolute joy to read and is packed full of fun and colourful illustrations that complement the story perfectly. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
Riga is the setting for this fairy-tale like adventure, and the city is depicted so clearly that it’s almost a character in the story. Jacob lives with his father and, often lonely, distracts himself by drawing maps of the city and dreaming about its myths, especially the one that says when the city is finally complete, all building work finished, its river will rise up and flood the streets. When he’s sent across town to stay with his uncle and cousin, he finds himself caught up in a battle against developers with – of all things – a pack of talking dogs at his side. The real world and magic mix in a story that will wriggle its way into children’s imaginations and stay there for a long time.
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