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Not all great books come through big publishers. Check out some of our favourite indie books on the market.
Suspenseful YA spy thriller that throngs with gaming, guts and deadly risks. Teenager Jack is up to his neck in trouble. His brother is about to be imprisoned for a crime Jack plotted and, on top of that, a secret agency is using this intelligence to force him to join them. Jack’s mission? To infiltrate the manufacturer of a hot new game to discover what’s really going on there. Caught between more than a few rocks and hard places, Jack is forced to make a near impossible decision. While the premise is strong and the story packed with action, the tendency to over-wordiness and repetitive descriptions slow down the plot in places. Having said that, there’s enough pace-turning peril to recommend it to fans of Alex Rider and Young Bond.
When Peter comes to live with his aunt and uncle at the shop on Peculiar Hill, he has a lot to learn. What are bogeys and heeble-greebs and the other fierce creatures which live in the nearby Vale of Strange? Why is it so important to wear a hat and sturdy boots? And what is this stuff called strangeness which comes bubbling out of the ground? When Peter discovers the dark secret which lies at the heart of this place, he finds his efforts to make things better do not go according to plan. He sets out to make amends with the aid of his new friend Amanda, but how can he know that requesting her help will prove to be such a very big mistake?
Freddie Jones is lonely, friendless and misunderstood. His father has gone missing and his wicked grandmother is now in charge. Only eleven years old, yet feeling like he wants to give up on life, Freddie opens his heart to the universe… and the universe hears him. To his amazement, Freddie is carried off to a strange world where he forges new friendships. However, even his newfound friends can’t replace his dear father; he longs to see him again. But perhaps his friends can give him some clues about his father’s sudden disappearance… Armed with some terrifying and unbelievable information, will Freddie dare to go on the adventure of a lifetime… and will he survive it?
iLK is a Glubwark from the planet Glub and his dad has just invaded Earth. iLK isn’t keen on being involved in the invasion, but his dad BiLK, quickly decides that Earth is useless and hands the mantle of "Emperor of the World," down to his son. iLK becomes responsible for ruling Earth and soon grows to love it. So when he discovers his father isn't interested in caring for the planet iLK is confronted with a difficult choice. How will iLK save Earth whilst also trying to fulfil the responsibilities assigned by his father? Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101 is an illustrated novel for ages 8-12. At an age where children are learning about different points of views and about taking responsibility, this book aims to not just extol the virtues of doing the right thing, but also asks why one would and what that choice involves. Using entries from iLK's journal and comic pages throughout, "Spacekid iLK: Invasion 101," is likely to engage even reluctant readers.
The Devil’s Apprentice is a YA fantasy novel written from the viewpoint of a 13-year-old boy who finds himself in hell – literally. It’s an adventure story with a twisty mystery to solve, with some innocent early-teen romance and historical references as well. It’s the first book in The Great Devil War series. The book is very well written and well translated from Danish, with plenty of dark humour. It features impressive world building through vivid imagery, and I enjoyed visualising the author’s clever concept of Hell and its occupants. The Devil’s Apprentice reminded me of the Harry Potter series, as the plot is complex enough to satisfy teenagers and adults (of all ages), yet simple enough to entertain pre-teens. It covers some moralistic themes, including good versus evil, knowing right from wrong and that even the most angelic people can have a dark side, so its suitability will depend on a child’s maturity. As expected, the book focuses mainly on death, with a mention of suicide and punishment/redemption in the afterlife. Some adults may disagree with certain concepts, but the book would provide a good starting point for discussions. I’m not surprised The Devil’s Apprentice is a popular series in Denmark and I can see it potentially doing well in the UK too. I found it highly compelling and raced through it. As soon as I finished, I eagerly looked forward to the next one, which is always a sign of an enjoyable read.
Continuing the dark and humorous adventure that begins with The Devil's Apprentice. Philip's adventures as the Devil's apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life. But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death's Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe. Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way. The Great Devil War is a gripping and humorous tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective, making the reader laugh and think. It’s filled with biblical and historical characters and set in a world beyond your wildest dreams. Or nightmares …
This action-packed blend of magical fantasy with classic kids’ adventuring is a swashbuckling read for 8+ year-olds, peppered with soft line-drawings and propelled by a strong sense of urgency. Siblings Finn (the narrator) and Aria, and their smuggler dad are undertaking a voyage aboard their home, a boat called Alcina. Their dad has to pick up a parcel, but this time they’re charting an unknown course. “This new route is dangerous”, Finn observes and, what’s more, they’re journeying to New London, a place that’s been “enclosed by the high stone city walls since the Last War”, a place “strangers are forbidden to enter”. And they are strangers… When they reach a port and Dad heads off to collect the parcel, Finn and Aria also go ashore (against Dad’s wishes) to explore the bustling bazaar where a mysterious vendor issues them with a grave warning. Then, soon after, Finn learns the shocking truth of his true identity as “a child born with the clan magic in their blood”, as a Sea-tamer, and so an elemental tale of ancient lore and magic unfolds as the family are pursued by a warlord with the weight of saving civilisation on their shoulders.
What a fun, fast-paced tale this is. A quirky comedy of errors populated by vampires and their hunters, and witches, all of whom live in an apparently ordinary town. Etty (“I hate Henrietta”) Steele is certainly no ordinary girl though. She’s a vampire hunter in-waiting with a tough, pushy mum. Since Etty longs for a normal life and to be allowed to hang out with her best (and only) friend April, plenty of comic conflict comes courtesy of the pull between the otherworldly and normal aspects of Etty’s life. Except it turns out that April isn’t exactly normal, and neither is Vladimir Nox, the pale, bowtie-wearing new boy at school. An action-packed mystery unfolds when it transpires that powerful vampires are plotting dastardly deeds, alongside heartwarming messages of friendship, not judging people because they’re different, and kindness (“There’s always a way to protect the ones we love without hurting anyone”). Recommended for readers who enjoyed Emma Fischel’s Witchworld series and Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl.
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