They say she’s cursed…

9781925324976Title: Black
Author: Fleur Ferris
Interest Level:  Year 8 +

Death follows Ebony Marshall. That’s what the whispers say anyway. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. She’s not just bad luck; she’s cursed; she’s Black.

Once it bothered her, but now Black’s used to being on her own and she’s gotten very good at pushing people away. That is, until a new boy comes to school. He’s interesting and persistent, he won’t be pushed away. But after he’s rushed to hospital, the whispers get louder… Who or what is behind these deaths? Black doesn’t know who to trust and she can’t fight on her own anymore. Can she solve this mystery before death comes for her too? Or is she really cursed..?

A gripping read from start to finish, you’ll find that this thriller has teeth. Enter Black’s lonely world, set in the small Victorian town of Dainsfield, where a young girl’s hope of moving on becomes a fight for survival. In her second thrilling novel, Fleur Ferris grips her audience and causes you to question: who you really trust? If you’re a fan of thrillers or crime novels, then this fast-paced mystery will be perfect for you.

Highly Recommended: **** (ofr)

Fast-paced from start to finish

machine warsTITLE = MACHINE WARS

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION, FUTURE, ACTION, ADVENTURE 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This novel is a fast-paced adventure from the very first line.

Bram’s mum (the genius behind many Artificial Intelligence (AI) inventions) has always been aware of the potential problems inherent in AI so when one of her creations (Ahriman) starts to act strangely, she has prepared her family with a well-researched “Scatter-and-Hide” safety plan.

But for 14 year old Bram, practising a safety plan and the reality of a safety plan are 2 very different things. Bram finds it exhausting, nerve-wracking and down-right dangerous being on the run from robotic-internet driven AI controlled bugs. IT is just as well he has 2 companions: a friend from school (Stella) who distinguishes herself with her intelligence, and Bob the duck (Bram’s favourite toy when he was a toddler but since turned into an AI protector by Bram’s mum).

Can Bram, Stella and Bob the Duck outwit the power hungry Ahriman long enough for Bram’s mum to come up with a counter-attack?? With clever robots on their tails, the machine wars are very, very real and could end very, very badly for Bram, Stella and Bob.

Great pace, great action and clever plotting make this story an enjoyable romp from start to finish. There are plenty of punches and punchlines andjust  a touch of romance, so it is wonderful  entertainment for younger readers.

Recommended (dma) ****

A gripping read

KILLING-WOODS-Final2-196x300TITLE = THE KILLING WOODS

AUTHOR = LUCY CHRISTOPHER

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY, ADVENTURE, HORROR  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

This is a clever but quite chilling tale told by 2 key characters: Emily and Damon. Emily is the daughter of a battle-shattered man who has been arrested for the murder of a teenager in the woods behind their house. The doctors and police have decided that her dad’s wounded mind has led him to mistakenly kill the girl whilst in the throes of a flashback. Emily refuses to believe that her dad is guilty of the murder so she wants answers: why was the teenage girl (Ashlee Parker) in the woods on that night anyway? Was her dad simply trying to save the girl as he had saved many woodland creatures in the past?

Damon was Ashlee’s boyfriend. He too wants answers – whilst he firmly believes that Emily’s father is the guilty party, he was actually in the woods with Ashlee on that fateful night  … but a combination of drink and drugs means he cannot clearly remember what happened. He is haunted by the suspicion that he could or should have saved her. Worse still, could he have anything to do with her death?

Can Emily and Damon trust each other enough to find answers for both of them? And what about their own close friends – are they helping or hindering the police investigation … can they be trusted?

A gripping story which is a real page-turner from go to whoa. Like Emily and Damon, the reader will be keen to piece together the events which have led to Ashlee’s death, but will we see the truth before they do?

Why not check out the author’s website to learn more about this gripping novel and her other award winning books?

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Pretty girl

TITLE = PRETTY GIRL

AUTHOR = J C  BURKE

GENRE = THRILLER, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10-12

Four girls went to boarding school together and were the best of friends: Sarah, Talullah, Paige and Jess. They hoped to all get into the same uni and board in the same college residency. But their first year at uni has turned into one tragedy after another: Paige has been hospitalised with a serious head injury after a disaster in the college swimming pool (was it an accident? Was she on drugs?) and Jess has died after falling off the laundry roof. What has gone so terribly, terribly wrong?? Can Talullah and Sarah find answers or are they too busy living their own lives to delve too far … in fact, what lies in wait for them?

Told alternately by Sarah and Paige, the reader will probably piece together the circumstances before the girls themselves and what begins as a compelling read will become an urgent one – it is like watching a horror movie and wanting to scream at the girls “No … don’t do that” … but will they hear you before it is too late???

A gripping psychological drama that older girls are likely to enjoy.

Highly Recommended (Deb Marshall) *****

A beautifully written story with a dark edge

TITLE = THE BONE DRAGON

AUTHOR = ALEXIA CASALE

GENRE = FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, REVENGE, DRAGONS, FANTASY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10-11

This is a genuinely spinechilling novel but cleverly crafted so that the chills literally creep up on you in unexpected ways. The novel’s cover looks magical but we soon realise there is a bleak layer beneath that surface appearance.

Evie is recovering from an operation which removed a fractured rib. From this rib she begins to carve a magical and beautiful dragon with whom she has night time rambles on the fens surrounding her home. There is beauty and magic in the descriptions of these nightly forays – darkness, mist and dampness suddenly look quite bewitching rather than scary  – when you have a dragon accompanying you. Dragon says he has come to protect Evie and his nightly rambles seem to help her sleep and recover more fully. But is there a darker reason for these adventures? We suspect that Evie has been badly treated by her mother and grandparents and part of the gripping feel of this book comes from our desire to learn the truth of Evie’s past. The more we guess, the more we pity her for what she has suffered and what she still suffers. For Evie is subjected to bullying from one of the lads at school – but this is where the first warning comes into the story … has Evie coirrectly interpreted events?

The reader will be on the edge of their seats as they turn the last few pages with equal amounts of awe and dread: the ending will stun and surprise and make you adjust your thoughts – not just about Evie but also about the ethics of revenge and the nature of evil. This is the true magic of this amazing and compelling novel by first time author, Alexia Casale; beautifully written but with a layer of darkness beneath each page.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A satisfying conclusion to an exciting series

TITLE = THE PHOENIX FILES Book 6: DOOMSDAY

AUTHOR =  CHRIS MORPHEW

GENRE = ACTION, ADVENTURE, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

After 5 action-packed books, we finally come to the conclusion of this engaging series. The clock continues to tick for Luke and Jordan and this time they take it in turns to tell the story,  which only serves to increase the sense of drama.

Once more the odds are set against them: not only are they trying to prevent Luke’s murder but they also have broader concerns: harnessing the potential power of baby Tobias, who remains their last chance of saving the world from the outbreak of Tabitha. All the while, they are trying to avoid being captured by Shackleton and his army.

Yet help suddenly appears from unexpected quarters … or does it? Realistically, neiter the characters nor the reader knows quite who to trust apart for much of the story which only adds to the tension that Morphew has created.

Some might quibble that there are one too many character about-faces to be truly credible but the fact that we are never certain about their motivation ensures most readers will be carried along with the story.

Readers looking for fast paced action and nailbiting tension will be satisfied with this final instalment in what has been an exciting series.

Recommended (dma) ****

 

Final instalment was worth the wait.

TITLE = THE POWER OF FIVE: OBLIVION

AUTHOR = ANTHONY HOROWITZ

GENRE = FANTASY, ACTION, ADVENTURE, ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-10

When we last left the 5 teens who represent “the Power of 5” they were racing against the elements – diving through a gate in Hong Kong, in the hope of saving themselves and the future of the world. “Oblivion” is the final instalment of this highly charged fantasy-adventure series. It is double the size of previous volumes for a very good reason: each of the 5 main characters has been separated as they travelled through the gate, so each of their stories is told separately. They have landed on separate continents, sometimes alone, sometimes with another but there is a certain unity to their situations: firstly, time has progressed at an alarming rate and secondly, they are also ALL in a life and death struggle – almost on a daily basis.

Matthew has been the leader of the group in past series and he shoulders this mantle again, somewhat reluctantly. Can the five meet in the dream world? Can they each survive, let alone find each other and save the world?

Or in this strange new world of the future, is it all too late? Are the human race saving? And will 5 teens really stand alone against their longtime enemy … or is help at hand? Each character will be tested… but who will win?

Another exciting instalment with action and drama aplenty, as is to be expected from Anthony Horowitz. A fitting conclusion to what has been an amazing journey for Matt and his peers … and for readers, too

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Part action, part thriller … all entertainment!

TITLE = LEGEND

AUTHOR = MARIE LU

GENRE = DYSTOPIAN FUTURE, ACTION, THRILLER, ROMANCE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 10

June has lost her parents so when her sole surviving relative (her beloved brother Metias) is brutally killed, she is keen for revenge.  As a prodigy in her republic she is a well-trained soldier, perceptive and courageous, a good match for the prime suspect in her brother’s death: fugitive and wanted criminal, Day. He is also a prodigy of sorts, having escaped capture for so long. Can June bring him to justice or will her search for revenge also lead her to more questions than she bargained for??

Action packed from the opening scene, with a strong female lead and an equally endearing male opponent, this novel is sure to be enthusiastically received by lovers of dystopian fiction and thrillers. The story is told in alternating chapters by the 2 main protagonists which readers will find very satisfying. Fans of “The Hunger Games” and the “Gone” series will love this book and be especially pleased that it is the first in a trilogy.

Recommended (dma) ****

Monsters of Men

Monsters Of Men

TITLE= MONSTERS OF MEN

AUTHOR=PATRICK NESS

GENRE=WAR

INTREST LEVEL=YOUNG ADULT

The awesome conclusion to the most heartbreaking series.

Todd and Viola have survived everything the planet can throw at them for six months. This is the end. But what end? Overwhelmed by an alien force tens of thousands strong. The battles being fought by the Answer, led by the fierce and harsh Mistress Coyle, and New Prentisstown, ruled by President Prentiss, deadly and mysterious lord of the planet, are swept away. The two merciless warlords must band together to defeat the threat. But when a settler scout lands, bringing a spaceship’s awesome firepower into the mix, only one side will win, and Todd and Viola are on opposite sides. The Spackle are unstoppable, President Prentiss is cunning, Todd is lying, Viola is dying and the world is ending.

What if you woke up in someone else’s body????

flipTITLE =FLIP

AUTHOR = MARTYN BEDFORD

GENRE = SUSPENSE, MYSTERY, SUPERNATURAL, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9, 10

Imagine you woke up one morning and discovered that you were inside someone else’s body! So the person in the kitchen cooking you breakfast must be your mum but you have never met her before. You put on a school uniform but you don’t know which school you go to or what subjects you study, let alone who your friends are. And to make matters worse, six months have elapsed and you don’t know why.

This is the dilemma which faces Alex one morning. So he spends the first part of the book trying desperately to work out what has happened to himself and his former family whilst trying to live the life of the boy whose body he now inhabits, a boy named Philip, or Flip to his friends (which gives a dark irony to the novel’s title).

Alex struggles to come to terms with his new self, let alone the reasons that lie behind the switch. Then he must decide what to do about it … because now it isn’t only himself that may be affected  – now he has to consider Philip’s future and the impact his actions may have on TWO families.

This is a compelling story which is made to seem quite credible. Alex’s story is grounded in real, everyday events (like walking the dog or trying to decide where to sit in the classroom) and sticky situations (when he gets arrested whilst trying to get in touch with a former friend). The ending is gripping and believable and should satisfy most readers. A great suspenseful read.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****