Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

BOOK 1 of the Hex Hall Series

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My review
If you love Harry Potter then you’ll love this book and will be up until 3am in the morning not wanting to put it down just like I did! Sophie just like Harry Potter grew up in the human world and well it’s an interesting twist with the boarding school she ends up going to where it’s more like juvie for the supernatural, but the things is that Sophie actually doesn’t know how to do any magic yet. Follow on her journey to making friends, making enemies, getting into trouble, saving her friend, dealing with a boy crush on someone she can’t have and let’s not forget the evil groups that want her and her school mates dead. A fun filled series that I’m eager to keep reading about.

Recomendation
I’m going to say ages 8 and up but I think anyone at an age that can understand the imaginary and loves books about magic will love this book. Also great for Harry Potter fans who love stories about teenage witches and even twilight fans will enjoy the vamipire and other mythical beings elements in this book.

– Crystal

Advertisements

Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

First installment of the Knights of the Borrowed Dark Trilogy – A book you wont put down!!!

Denizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought…
One dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. The car and the man in it retrieve Denizen with the promise of introducing him to a long-lost aunt. But on the ride into the city, they are attacked. Denizen soon learns that monsters can grow out of the shadows. And there is an ancient order of knights who keep them at bay. Denizen has a unique connection to these knights, but everything they tell him feels like a half-truth. If Denizen joins the order, is he fulfilling his destiny, or turning his back on everything his family did to keep him alive

Once I started to read Knights of the Borrowed Dark, I couldn’t put it down. It dragged me right in. I found myself not caring that I have work tomorrow… I had to finish reading this book. I was not to move until I had finished it. Knights of the Borrowed Dark is well worth the read. I’m going to be tracking down the second book as soon as work finishes tomorrow!!!

Many thanks to Penguin Publishers Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Meredith

Flying Through Clouds by Michelle Morgan

A wonderful Historical Fiction YA novel set in Sydney, Australia in the 1930’s!!!

It’s not easy being a teenage boy growing up in the tough neighbourhood of Glebe in the 1930s. It’s even harder when your dream is to become an aviator, your parents are dead against it, and your girlfriend’s father is the School Principal. But Joe has even bigger challenges he must face and obstacles to overcome if he wants to achieve his dream. He has a plan and won’t let anyone stand in his way…

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank the author, Michelle Morgan, for posting me a copy of her book in exchange for my review. This book really touched my heart as I have a personal connection to a lot of the references made in the story. This story was set in Sydney during the 1930’s and it follows the story of Joe who is a 14 year old Catholic boy living in Glebe who idolises Kingsford Smith and wants to be an aviator when he grows up. Not only was this story set in the same era as my catholic Grandfather and late Grand Uncle, Joe’s friend shares the same name as my late Grand Uncle – Pete. They both loved cricket and Sir Donald Bradman and even remember the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932!!! Can’t say anyone in my family wanted to be an aviator though… But still, I found a lot of references to the 30’s and Sydney in this story that my family was able to relate to which made it a bit more personal experience.

This story is so well written and easy to follow, I would recommend this to fans of YA and is suitable for readers 12 years and up. Such accurate historical referencing throughout the story, it would be an enjoyable history lesson for a young audience. A book that brought me happy tears, this is one of my 2017 favourites.
-Annie

 

The Junior Readers Round Up

We’ve posted a few blogs that cater for our children’s readers however I thought it may also be beneficial to post a Junior Fiction Round Up. These recommendations are for the older kids who don’t quite read YA just yet…

Here are some recommendations!!!


The Rogues: Accidental Heroes, Book 1 by Lian Tanner
Expected Publication: October 2017

Synopsis as seen on Goodreads: In the city of Berren, strange things happen. People disappear, trees sprout overnight. But no one believes in magic. To believe in magic would be disloyal…The devious Lord Rump and his granddaughter, Duckling, need a disposable boy, and Pummel, a farm boy looking for work in the city, fits the bill perfectly. Duckling is happy to tangle him in her grandpa’s web, as long as Grandpa keeps his promise – that this will be his very last Scheme. Lord Rump’s intrigues take both children into the Strong-hold of Berren – where time has stopped – and before long they are entwined in a plot to kill the heir to the Faithful Throne. If they want to protect the Young Margrave, and save themselves from an awful death, Duckling and Pummel must learn to use the magic that no one believes in. This is a book filled with epic adventure!! It’s highly recommended to readers who love fantasy adventure and are aged between 8-12 year olds. Even as an adult, I found this book to be quite exciting and a lot of fun to read – I am sure kids will love this!!

Special thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
 

Girlish: An empowering journal for the twenty-first century girl by Alana Wulff.
“Don’t be afraid to be the smartest person in the room”

“I never cut class. I loved getting A’s. I liked being smart. I liked being on time. I thought being smart was cooler than anything in the world” -Michelle Obama

A great journal every young girl from the age of 9 years old should have – a journal that teaches young girls a sense of empowerment and self-confidence. I think it’s great for young girls to have this book – it’s ok to be smart, it’s ok to go for your goals – don’t let anyone else tell you differently!!!

Special thanks to Black Inc. Publishers for sending me an Advance Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.

Pirate McSnottbeard in the Zombie Terror Rampage by Paul Whitfield
This was a funny book – one that can be enjoyed by all the family and the laughter (as in the LOL type) starts from its title.. Pirate McSnottbeard!!! This story is about Emilie and her brother William who embark on an adventure to rescue their parents from the horrible and smelly pirate king – Pirate McSnottbeard. Whisked from the high seas, through prehistoric lands, into an evil wizard’s castle and finally to the PIRATES’ clifftop hideout, they must tackle dinosaurs, zombies, angry parrots, and at least one warlock. I read this book then handed it to my friend’s daughter who is 8 years old who then handed it to her brother who is 7 years old – the 3 of us absolutely loved this book!!! From beginning to end we found ourselves cracking up laughing at the characters and the story line. Highly recommended for junior fiction readers aged 7+

Special thanks to Walker Books Publishers for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Secret Throne by Peter F. Hamilton.

The Secret Throne is the first installment of the children’s fantasy series: Queen of Dreams.
Taggie and her younger sister, Jemima, live with their mum, go to school, play sports and spend their holidays with their dad in the countryside. But one day, everything changes, when a white squirrel wearing purple glasses turns up in their lives. Next minute.. their dad has been kidnapped and it’s up to Taggie and Jemima to get him back. But it seems their father has been keeping some very large secrets from his young daughters and it appears their dad is no ordinary man.
Once again I read this one and passed it on to younger readers I know for a second opinion and this one was very well received. It’s an intelligent tale – one that is very suitale to the junior readers as it’s full of adventure and intrigue with underlying words of wisdom that all kids should know. I highly recommend this to junior readers who love adventures and mystery!!! This book is the first of a series that is worth investing in. Peter F. Hamilton is better known for his fantasy fiction/sci-fi stories that target an adult audience however he’s done very well with plot and dialogue with his children’s series!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me review copies in exchange for my honest review.

-Round Up compiled by Annie

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

To simply call this a fairytale retelling would do this story an injustice.. This is a uniquely, magical story in its own right…

This would be one of the best books I have read this year… A story of mystery, identity, magical betrayal and intrigue.. A story of one crown – two women: Mina, whose heart is made of glass.. Lynet, who is made of snow.. both brought to life by a magician the kingdom is taught to fear..

A step-mother/step-daughter relationship based in a kingdom in need of only one queen. At sixteen years of age, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees their king for the first time, Mina makes it her mission to win the king’s heart through her beauty to become queen and finally know what love is. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother to Lynet, who at aged fifteen, is the  splitting image of her late mother but one day Lynet discovers why… A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order but rather than filling the shoes of her late mother, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. What started as a bond between step-mother and step-daughter may soon become a fight to the death for the crown…

 I gave this book a standing ovation. This story takes you into a whole new world of twists, turns and mystery whicht left me gaping, page turning and confused as to which character had my allegiance. This story had fantastic world building and was mildly paced so it allowed me to immerse myself into this new world as well as the character development but the suspensful plot got the heart pumping and captivated me to the very end!!! Such an amazing story and I highly recommend this to fans of fairytale retellings (although I find this book is more than that) and fans of YA Fantasy Fiction… This is on the shelf as one of the best of 2017!!!

Special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Allen and Unwin Publishers

An interesting book that I flew through in a matter of hours.

What starts off with character profiling and world building, I thought this would be a crime/thriller – a case of ‘who done it’? – however, it sends you on a rollercoaster ride to something completely different.

The book is told in various perspectives however it focuses on Jazmin Little who has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared – however, Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground!!! Like she simply vanished into thin air!! Since Becky’s disappearance, the question remains – did Jazmin have something to do with her friend’s disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus? an infamous character you get to know as you read the book.

A short book approx. 215 pages, It had a futuristic Frankenstien vibe to this story. The characters’ voices were projected quite well throughout the story though some of the dialogue got a little annoying – I guess teenagers communicate a little differently these days. As the story goes on, I found myself turning the page wanting to know what happens next and where all of this “mess” was coming from. I can definitely see a sequel coming out of this one. I liked the plot and how we get to know each character by the page – the story isn’t an info dump, it progresses and the plot thickens at each turn. I recommend this to fans of YA Sci-Fi and Thrillers.

Special thanks to Allen dnd Unwin Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie

And I Darken by Kiersten White

This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed from page 1. The plot was so intriguing and although this is an alternative history story, I can see the immense research the author put into this book.

Taking us back to the era of the Ottoman Empire, this book follows a female protagonist one may consider cruel and brutal, though if you were a Princess who was abandoned by their father to be raised in Ottoman Sultan’s courts and living in a world where women did not have rights, I guess I can understand Lada Dragwyla’s character. Ruthlessness is her key to survival, especially when her lineage has made her and her brother targets in this cruel world.

As the story progresses, Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and her brother Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes!!! The characters were so well defined which made the story so great. Lada was the ruthless one, Radu is struggling to be true to himself and Mehmed is the misunderstood son of the Sultan that Lada plans to seek vengeance on.

Personally, I found the plot intriguing even the strain between Radu, Lada and Mehmed wasn’t cliché, it was interesting given the year and time it was set in. I found the alternative history setting very thorough and I was especially excited to see accurate Islamic representation in this book through the dialogue as the characters discussed the 5 pillars of Islam, prayers and even the Umrah/Hajj pilgrimage!! This is the first of an epic trilogy and I am really excited to read the sequel, “Now I Rise” as soon as possible.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
-Annie