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In a nutshell: thrilling rugby action plus ghosts plus mystery | The latest in Gerard Siggins’ Rugby Spirit series is typically filled with rugby action so vividly described that you feel you’re there on the pitch, together with a solid helping of history, ghosts and mystery. Young Eoin Madden is a midfield dynamo always at the centre of the action, whichever team he’s playing for. In this story he plays so well in a provincial championship for youngsters that he’s picked to play for Ireland Under 16s. As though this wasn’t enough, there’s more drama when the Webb-Ellis cup is stolen from the stadium hosting the tournament. Eoin is particularly concerned, because he’s recently become friends with the ghost of William Webb-Ellis, the man credited with the invention of rugby. The mix of on-pitch and off-pitch action with mystery and history is well handled and there’s lots to appeal to all readers, but particularly young rugby fans. There are more books in this series and readers will also enjoy Tom Palmer’s Rugby Academy series from Barrington Stoke. ~ Andrea Reece A Piece of Passion from Editor Helen Carr : Ger Siggins never fails to come up with interesting ghosts to haunt Castlerock, the boarding school Eoin Madden and his gang of rugby-mad friends attend. These spirits and their back-stories – Rugby Runner’s ghost, William Webb-Ellis is credited as the creator of the game of rugby! – always intrigue, but I also love the books because of Ger’s skill in describing the ups and downs of Eoin’s life, both on and off the rugby pitch. Friends and rivals, teachers and coaches are so well drawn, and I really enjoy the matter-of-fact way Eoin deals with everything life throws at him, from captaining the junior cup team to helping ghosts to foil crimes or right old wrongs.
Moving from Stockholm to an isolated pine plantation in northern Sweden is bad enough, but when the snows come early and all links between the Strombergs and the outside world are cut off, it gets worse. With only a grudging housekeeper and increasingly withdrawn parents for company, there is nothing to do but to explore the old plantation house. Anything to stay out of the endless pine trees pressing in on them. But soon it becomes clear that the danger within the old plantation house is even greater than what lies outside... A chilling YA horror, perfect for fans of Dawn Kurtagich, Juno Dawson and Stephen King.
Special 11th Anniversary Edition As ever, Melvin Burgess makes readers think. Sara signs up for a face transplant but is it her who wants it or, is she being pushed into doing it against her will by the scarred pop-star who wants her face? Glamour and fame are not always what they seem. ~ Julia Eccleshare Lovereading Comment: This is young adult fiction at its challenging and thrilling best - and Melvin Burgess has yet again struck a chord with a teenager’s world. The issue of cosmetic surgery is brought sharply into focus and in such a way that the reader will feel more informed and as a result the ever present peer pressures which are a part of teenage life more keenly borne.
In a Nutshell: Classically creepy supernatural struggles Exquisitely chilling and brimming with beasts, this third book in the Spooks’ Starblade Chronicles series is an utterly enthralling, spine-tingling treat. Tom Ward is now a fully-fledged Spook and, as such, his life is dedicated to protecting the County from all manner of terrors, among them beastly boggarts, scuttling skelts and wild witches. He now also has charge of his own apprentice, Jenny, who claims to be the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, as he was the seventh son of a seventh son. With the County-dwellers living under the shadow of a war that threatens to tear humankind apart, the stakes are higher than ever and, alongside the gripping descriptions of battles and beasts, Tom’s alliances and friendships are depicted with tremendous warmth and humanity, further adding to the atmosphere of high-octane urgency. “I only need one ally,” Tom insists. “And that is you, Alice. Together we shall be as gods”. As ever, the writing is as elegantly incisive as it is chilling. In fact, the entire Spooks saga has a real sense of classic timelessness and glorious inter-generational appeal. ~ Joanne Owen
A special collector's edition of Patrick Ness's original prize-winning illustrated novel and the remarkable story behind the book and film. Patrick Ness displays brilliant new skills of sensitivity in this hauntingly touching story of how a boy deals with the looming threat of his mother’s death from cancer. Haunted by a monster in his dreams, denied much information by his family and treated as a weirdo by his class mates and a ‘special case’ by his teachers, Conor struggles to get to grips with the devastating emotions which threaten to overwhelm him. How he finds the courage and strength to face the end when it happens is both utterly shattering and deeply satisfying. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Winner of the 2012 Carnegie Medal Rachel Levy chair of the 2012 CILIP Carnegie judging panel said: "A Monster Calls" is an exquisite piece of writing. It is a beautifully economical, structurally brilliant and lyrically descriptive account of a challenging episode in one child's life." Click here to view the paperback movie tie-in edition of A Monster Calls.
It’s the perfect time of year for scary stories and there’s a wonderfully varied selection in this excellent collection all written by prize-winning children’s authors. For example, Michael Rosen retells a couple of scary folk tales to deliver thrills with a moral, while Jamie Rix describes the misery suffered by a man whose school dinners return to haunt him – a ghastly thought indeed! Bel Mooney’s story shows that a powerful imagination is not always a good thing, while Ruth Ainsworth tells a ghostly story of loss and remembrance. Chosen by an experienced children's bookseller, the stories are just right for either newly confident independent readers or for sharing with an adult. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: Daisy does trick or treating | Spending time with the irrepressible Daisy is always fun, and with their short chapters, large print and lively pictures Kes Gray’s books are perfect for children reading on their own. As Hallowe’en approaches Daisy’s classmate Jack Beechwhistle regales his friends with spooky stories (the water in their playground comes from a wicked well! Some mums are witches!). Daisy’s not sure she wants Hallowe’en to come at all, and sadly her efforts to Hallowe’en proof their house don’t impress Mum! A typically lively story with just the right mix of creepy thrills and laughs. Fans of Daisy will also enjoy Wendy Meddour’s Wendy Quill stories, or Kate Pankhurst’s Mariella Mysteries, which also star determined little girls with big imaginations. ~ Andrea Reece
September 2016 Book of the Month In a Nutshell: Historical haunting | Eerie intrigue | Sinister secrets Chilling historical novel in which an orphan becomes entangled in a web of supernatural goings-on and family secrets. It’s 1853 and, following the death of his father, William’s Uncle Seth offers to take him in, so he walks the eighty miles to Seth's cliff top mansion in North Wales, land of his deceased father. While William tries to settle into these unfamiliar, unfriendly circumstances (his uncle is arrogant, ill-humoured and makes William work as a valet to his stepson, Toby), he witnesses a series of unsettling occurrences - the sound of a woman sobbing for help, the sight of a cloaked figure near the cliffs, words written in frost on his window. Could these haunting happenings be the work of the Hag of the Mist, as claimed by Rhiannon, the superstitious scullery maid? William is unconvinced, but the home truths turn out to be even more terrifying than local folklore. Alongside the thrilling unfolding of the mystery, this truly gripping tale also features a strong strand about seeing the good in people and acting nobly. Perceptive, good-natured and empathetic, William is a character you really do root for (he even finds it in his heart to understand how Toby came to be such an idle brat, and he even risks his own life to protect him), and his action-packed story would surely make an enthralling screen adaptation. ~ Joanne Owen
Following the shocking final events of A New Darkness, fans of the Spook’s series will be desperate to find out what happens next. The opening chapter is riveting as Tom Ward, slaughtered at the end of the previous book, is dragged from his grave by the dark mage Lukrasta. He’s been resurrected to fight the terrible forces of the Kobalos army, threatening to destroy the whole human race. Delaney is an expert at keeping tension high as Tom and his friends – particularly new apprentice Jenny – face grotesque monsters, but skilful too at depicting relationships. The action leads to another devastating climax, and there’s more heartbreak instore for Tom. Unbeatable stuff for readers who like to be terrified! There’s more gripping ghost-hunting action in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co. series, and lots of opportunities for monster combat in Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson’s seminal Fighting Fantasy series. ~ Andrea Reece
In a Nutshell: Dead gripping • Dead funny • Deadpan urban fantasy Full of fantastical thrills, supernatural spills and wail-out-loud wit, this sublimely plotted sequel to “Thirteen Days of Midnight” is a riotously riveting read. There was a time when Luke Manchett was Mr Popular, but all that changed when he inherited a bunch of ghosts from his necromancer dad. After doing a deal with the Devil to banish the ghosts, he’s now doing his best to get on with his life. But, as Luke knows only too well, “life doesn’t give you a friendly warning when everything changes. There’s no five-minute call before the ice breaks under your feet”, which is what happens when Ash, a glamorous Californian with a shock of white hair, rocks up at his school. Ash’s presence has an immediate and profound impact on Luke, and it’s not long before he discovers that she’s the daughter of his dead dad’s greatest enemy. It’s his dad’s fault that Ash’s twin sister is on a life support machine and has to be sustained by Ash’s life force. That’s what turned her hair white and dulled her blue eyes to grey. And now Ash needs Luke and his Book of Eight to save her sister, and herself… Luke’s wry, dry narrative voice is an absolute joy - for example, on the subject of striking a deal with the actual Devil he deadpans, “I think it's fair to say that was one of the more eventful nights of my life” - and this is a spine-tinglingly refreshing take on paranormal-themed YA, with more unexpected twists than the rivers of the Ancient Greek Underworld. ~ Joanne Owen
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 7+ There’s more than one ghost in Michelle Magorian’s genuinely creepy new short novel. Hannah, her mum and dad and little brother are on holiday and she’s sure there’s a sinister presence in their little holiday flat. But her mum and dad are distracted, ever since Mum lost the baby they’ve been snapping at each other, and they won’t believe her. It’s only when they do that Hannah can escape the ghost and find a way to acknowledge the loss of the baby too. Magorian explores family relationships with typical sensitivity and insight and there’s lots to think about in this spare, economically written novel, as well as moments to send shivers down the spine. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of super-readable short fiction by some of the very best children’s authors and illustrators in the UK. Each title has a host of unique accessibility features to offer cracking reads to more children including reluctant and struggling readers and those with dyslexia or visual stress. Here at Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting the best of their new and backlist titles to recommend to you. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
May 2016 Debut of the Month Max Helsing is seriously cool – a dab hand with a yo-yo, with a great line in banter, and he rides a Chopper. Oh yes, and he’s descended from Professor Van Helsing, of Dracula fame, and fights vampires when he’s not at school. Max is a trainee monster hunter and he needs all that cool and all his wits to stay alive until the end of the book because on his 13th birthday he suddenly becomes the target for all manner of aggressive supernatural creatures. As you’d expect this is full of thrilling action sequences but Max is a proper character, a decent young man at that, and his sardonic commentary on the gruesome goings on keep the balance between frightening and funny. Monstrous fun! Max Helsing and the Thirteenth Curse will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson’s adventures. 13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt is another smart, sophisticated horror story. ~ Andrea Reece