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In a Nutshell: Falling in love, taking a stand, and standing tall Exploring an unforgettable relationship between two young women and obstructive social inequalities, this is a thoroughly thought-provoking, engaging read. I was mightily impressed by the author’s debut Countless, and this confirms her prowess at covering big social and emotional themes with heartfelt depth. Joni’s family is struggling to make ends meet. With her mum working all hours and her dad incapacitated by a bad back, she brings in extra cash with a weekend job at the local library. It’s at the library that Joni meets Annabel, daughter of a big shot businessman and benefactor. Joni has good reason to dislike posh Annabel, but her first reaction soon shifts to overwhelming attraction, a feeling that turns out to be mutual. The scenes in which Joni and Annabel visit each other’s homes are incredibly affecting, with the passion of their first intimate encounters and increasing closeness contrasted with the class chasm that separates them. Their life chances are as different as their life styles. While Annabel has a huge house and an actual lake, Joni’s family is on the brink of being evicted as a result of a corporate buy-out of their estate. As is clear from Annabel’s situation, money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does keep a roof over your head, and so with time running out Joni steps up her involvement in her brother’s campaign to save their estate. Throughout Joni’s spirit and sense of hope are inspirational. Despite the unfairness she and her family must fight in order to survive, she holds onto to the belief that “things can change, if you keep trying”. Highly recommended for readers who like their YA to mix real-life issues with romance, and I loved the twist that makes the political all too personal. ~ Joanne Owen
UKLA Longlist Book Awards - 2019 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | “The day is long, the world is wide, you’re young and free,” Davie’s mam announces at the start of a sweltering day. But Davie doesn’t feel that way. He recently lost his dad and “he hates this dead-end place, where nothing seems to happen, nothing seems to change. Sometimes he just wants to walk out of it and keep on walking and leave it all behind”. Then this morning, as Davie walks through his hometown, David discovers that something has happened - a local lad has been killed, and Davie thinks he knows who’s responsible. Amidst the speculation of his Tyneside neighbours, Davie embarks on a pilgrimage of sorts, encountering a cast of wisdom-imparting folk along the way. There’s wooden-legged Wilf who shares advice and fruit gums; the openhearted priest who makes a confession; the girls creating a “world of wonders” garden. While walking, Davie feels the flutter and ache of grief as “bleak, black memories” surface but, as a friend of his father says, “sometimes a memory or a dream is a fine place to be”. “What is lost might be discovered again, but in a different form”, counsels another character. And as he continues on his way, watching out for the murder suspect, Davie seems to find his father in another form. Wise and soulfully unexpected, this is truly a book for all ages, by an author who exudes the uncanny elegance of a master conjurer.
It's hard to be the new girl but for Ella things are even more complicated. She has recently moved to a new area - and a new school - with her mum and brother, and a big secret. Ella has a talent for art, particularly photography, and joins the art club where she grows her friendship with Lydia, the school queen bee. But Lydia isn't all she seems and her motives behind her friendship with Ella are unpleasant. Soon Ella realises she is under Lydia's control but why? And what does Lydia hold against Molly? This is a pacy story of secrets and lies but it also carries a heartwarming message of friendship and finding the inner strength to be who you really want to be.
In a Nutshell: Epic fantasy packed with passion and paranormal intrigue There are dark dangers and dilemmas aplenty in this glamorous, gripping sequel to Lady Midnight, second in The Dark Artifices trilogy. Part-angel, part-human Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs may have accomplished her mission to avenge her parents’ death, but a new dark shadow now looms over her Los Angeles hometown. As a Shadowhunter, she’s bound to her parabatai soulmate, Julian Blackthorn. They must fight together, even die together, but to fall in love – as they do – could prove fatal. Yet Emma cannot flee Julian to escape this conflict. They need each other, they need the Black Volume of the Dead, and only a Blackthorn can find it. With the eponymous Lord of Shadows set on annihilating those with Blackthorn blood, the stakes could not be higher as Emma and co. voyage into the Courts of Faerie to find the powerful spell book. With her fiercely indomitable spirit and razor-sharp tongue, Emma is a brilliantly badass heroine, and the tangled dynamics of her relationships with her co-characters are intoxicatingly compelling. Simmering with tension, and heady with high-stakes action, sequels don’t come more satisfying than this. ~ Joanne Owen
Interest Age 8-12 Reading Age 8 | Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | A new story for that best of all dogs, McTavish, and another delicious helping of wry, insightful observation on human and family life. McTavish’s efforts to help the Peachey family become happier and more organised still has a way to go, but he’s an intelligent dog and up to the job. When the family embark on a camping holiday in a remote but beautiful bit of Scotland, McTavish needs all his cleverness and patience to show them how to relax and properly enjoy themselves. McTavish is an irresistible character, his gentle guiding of the Peacheys is very funny indeed, and this beautifully story will leave all readers smiling. ~ Andrea Reece Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
James Patterson creates books kids love, and his latest book is all about a boy who decides to create books kids love by setting up his own book company. Jimmy is determined to follow his dream of a company run by kids for kids, despite the scepticism of parents, teachers and the bank. The story mixes real life and fantasy, and along the way slips lots of recommendations for other unputdownable children’s books from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, the book that inspires Jimmy to keep trying no matter what. It could have sunk under the weight of self-reference (the book also mentions lots of Patterson’s own children’s books) but the author knows what he’s doing and the pacey narrative, variety of scenes and events, and Jimmy’s straight-to-camera narrative keeps the pages turning nicely.
May 2018 Book of the Month | | Interest Age 5-8 | The villagers in this charming story rely on their telephone for different reasons and when the local line is damaged in a storm they are all affected. Margaret can't organise her May Fair, Jean can't keep in touch with her family and Will's mum might miss the latest naughty escapades her son has got up to! After the telephone company arrives to fix the wires things get more complicated as the houses are mistakenly connected to the wrong number and confusion reigns. But as the neighbours have to relay messages to each other the community starts to grow closer. Based upon true events this is a heartwarming tale of friendship and solidarity borne out of adversity, with the uplifting message that co-operation and kindness brings the highest rewards.
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.
Cape Town is the setting for Jaco Jacobs’ quirky adventure, but the emotions described will be familiar to all young readers. It’s the holidays and Marnus is bored, fed up too of being pushed around by his wheeler-dealer little brother, overlooked by his parents, and teased by his big brother. Everything changes when he meets Leila; within minutes he’s drawn into her campaign to save a tree in the local park, and actually camped out in its branches in defiance of the man from the water board, and his own mum. Their joint protest turns Marnus and Leila into special friends, and introduces them to a host of other eccentric characters too. When Marnus finally goes home, he’s quite a different boy. A lovely story about the importance of standing up for what you believe in and accepting who you are. Readers who relish Marnus’ adventure will also enjoy The Wilderness War by Julia Green.
There are seven brand new Paddington stories in this lovely collection and the little bear is the same lovable character he’s ever been - well meaning, inquisitive, innocent, responsible for comical misunderstandings and mishaps wherever he goes. Paddington appears in a TV cookery show and the settings for the new stories are right up to date but the language is of another age - ‘I should cocoa’ says Mr Brown – and gives the stories a particular charm. At a time when we need these values more than ever, Michael Bond continues to champion tolerance and openness – we’re reminded that Paddington is an immigrant on the second page of the first story. ‘Bears may come and bears may go, but there’s only one Paddington’ says Judy. Hear, hear. Readers looking for modern day stories in the same vein should look at Clara Vulliamy and Polly Faber’s Mango and Bambang series or The Bolds by Julian Clary and David Roberts.
Twins Ben and Fee will be the envy of children everywhere: their school is a tall ship and alongside ordinary lessons they learn seamanship and how to sail. No surprise therefore that there’s plenty of opportunity for adventure, which in this latest episode actually takes place on land, although in Australia, the end point of their latest voyage. The action is pretty well non-stop, and in a satisfying sub-plot, some of the threats come from the actions of an unprincipled group of fellow-students. This is another thrilling adventure with an underlying message about fair-play and doing the right thing.
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