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Kisses for Lula – Samantha Mackintosh

Title: Kisses for Lula
Author: Samantha Mackintosh
Published by: Electric Monkey

Publication date: 2010
Pages: 368
Genres: Mystery; Romance; Chick Lit
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

7/10

Kisses for Lula

 

Lula Bird is gorgeous, funny and dreading her birthday because you can’t turn 16 if you’ve never been kissed…

So why does every boy in Hambledon run a mile the second she bats her eyelashes? The fact is, they fear for their lives. Rumour has it Lula’s been jinxed!

And it’s not as if that’s her only problem: Lula thinks she has a stalker, her dad keeps sneaking out at night with a lady’s handbag, and a mysterious theft is threatening to bring the town to its knees…

With only 5 days to go till her birthday, can Lula get the guy, solve the crime and jilt the jinx for good?

 

Although not initially my type of book, I surprisingly enjoyed the drama and mystery surrounding Lula and her family and peers. I found it humorous the amount of drama created by Lula not being kissed by the age of 16 (does this mean I’m jinxed?!?!) but the accompanying side story lines gave this book an added depth which I wasn’t expecting from a romance, chick lit genre of book. I have had very bad experiences with similar books to this one and found them very two-dimensional. This book was definitely the exception! I would definitely recommend it to teens!

Amazon: Buy this book

Picture Me Gone – Meg Rosoff

Title: Picture Me Gone
Author: Meg Rosoff
Published by: Puffin

Publication date: 2013
Pages: 195
Genres: Mystery; Adventure
Format: Hardback
Source: Library

2/10

 

picture me gone

 

Mila has a gift. She can read a room, a person, a situation – and tell if you’re happy or pregnant, or having an affair.

When her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing, Mila joins in the search. She sees clues no one else notices, facts everyone else overlooks.

But the answers refuse to line up and Matthew refuses to be found. Is there something Mila has missed? Something closer to home than she ever imagined.

 

I feel like I’ve wasted a day of my life reading this book – a few months ago I read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and I gave it a 3/10. However, the lack of speech marks in dialogue is still rendering me confused and I find it a bit strange that this vital punctuation is missing from every one of Rosoff’s books. It isn’t unique, it’s irritating.

To make matters worse, I found the plot line dull, very dull. It was incredibly hard to follow despite it being aimed at a much younger audience (12-13 year olds) and I just couldn’t wait for the end to come to be honest.

Killing Sound – Paul Southern

Title: Killing Sound
Author: Paul Southern
Published by: Chicken House

Publication date: 2014
Pages: 317
Genres: Horror; Young Adult; Supernatural; Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

7/10

 

Killing-Sound-Paul-Southern

 

When Jodie was little, she saw something terrifying – something she’s blocked from her mind. But now it’s coming back to her – a sound only she can hear. A sound more chilling than human screams. What happened that night will not stay silent for long…

 

I don’t read a lot of horror/supernatural books, mainly because I find them very fake and poorly written, however this book is definitely the exception. From the very first page, Southern sets tense, creepy atmosphere, setting the scene for later on in the novel. For the next 300 pages, Paul takes the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions following the main character Jodie and her best friend Luca who set out to find out what actually happened the night her parents were killed.

I loved this book right up until I reached the last chapter and the epilogue, at which point I felt a little cheated and disappointed. I still had many questions and I felt that it ended on a slight cliff hanger which, considering I cannot find any talk of a sequel, I feel is sorely disappointing considering I was going to give this book a solid 9/10. The ending really did spoil the whole atmosphere and plot of Killing Sound and left me feeling a bit sad that a proper ending had not been constructed.

Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend this book if you are able to look past the cliff hanger ending, as the rest of the novel holds high merits.

Amazon: Buy this book

Web of Darkness – Bali Rai

Title: Web of Darkness
Author: Bali Rai
Published by: Corgi Books

Publication date: 2014
Pages: 426
Genres: Mystery; Detective; Thriller; Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Library Loan

10/10

 

Web of Darkness

 

Lily needs someone to confide in more than ever before as a spate of apparent suicides rocks her school – and her group of mates.

Benedict, her new online friend, is there for her. Lily finds herself opening up to him, telling him things she wouldn’t tell anybody else.

But who is Benedict really…?

 

Web of Darkness is a thrilling story about internet safety and whether or not you know who you’re talking to online. Lily believes her new online friend who says he’s from New York is a model because of his pictures posted on Facebook, however Benedict proves how easy it is to fake his identity by pretending to be Charlotte for another of Lily’s friend who then is driven to commit ‘suicide’. All of the suicides are later shown to be cleverly disguised murders.

This is a cleverly put together plot line which seems confusing to begin with however once all of the jigsaw pieces begin to stitch together it comes together for the big reveal right at the end of the book. I couldn’t fault it!

Amazon: Buy this book

Poppet – Mo Hayder

Title: Poppet
Author: Mo Hayder
Published by: Bantam Press

Publication date: 2013
Pages: 378
Genres: Detective; Mystery; Crime; Thriller
Format: Hardback
Source: Library Loan

9/10

 

Poppet

 

The mentally ill patients in Amberly Secure Unit are highly suggestible. A hallucination can spread like a virus. When unexplained power cuts lead to a series of horrifying incidents, fear spreads from the inmates to the staff. Amidst the growing hysteria, AJ, a senior psychiatric nurse, is desperate to protect his charges.

Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is looking for the corpse of a missing woman. He knows all too well how it feels to fail to find a loved one’s body. When AJ seeks Caffery’s help in investigating the trouble at Amberly, each man must face bitter truth in his own life. Before staring pure evil in the eye.

 

Mo Hayder is one of my favourite authors for a few reasons, the main one being that she has the ability to keep me hooked and identifying with the characters right from the first page. Never once did I find myself bored and the short, snappy chapters meant that the pace was fast, exciting and thrilling. An hour after finishing this book, I can still feel excess adrenaline coursing through my veins.

‘Poppet’ takes you on a rollercoaster ride in the dark, with unexpected twists and turns in the plot which keep you gasping but eager to continue reading. I absolutely adored this book!

Amazon: Buy this book!

Man vs Beast – Robert Muchamore

Title: Man Vs. Beast
Author: Robert Muchamore
Published by: Hodder

Publication date: 2006
Pages: 295
Genres: Detective; Mystery; Adventure; Action
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

7/10

 

Man_Versus_Beast

 

Every day thousands of animals die in laboratory experiments. Some say these experiments provide essential scientific knowledge, while others commit acts of extreme violence in order to stop them. James and Lauren Adams are stuck in the middle. They’re CHERUB agents. Trained professionals with one essential advantage: adults never suspect that children are spying on them.

I love all of Robert Muchamore books, but I particularly enjoy those in the CHERUB series; with a perfect blend of adventure, mystery, suspense, action and thriller, this book kept me on the edge of my seat from page one. The characters are well developed and each have their own unique characteristics which make them interesting to follow, however whilst on their mission, the children are able to act professionally whilst still allowing their characters to show through.

Muchamore’s writing is gripping and thrilling, with perfect length chapters to keep you turning the pages, to find out what happens next. A wonderful book for junior readers.

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Amazon: Man vs Beast

Fallen – Lauren Kate

Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Published by: Corgi

Publication date: 2009
Pages: 452
Genres: Young Adult; Mystery; Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

Fallen

8/10

 

Some angels are destined to fall.

Instant. Intense. Weirdly familiar… The moment Luce looks at Daniel she knows she has never felt like this before. Except she can’t shake the feeling that she has … and with him – a boy she doesn’t remember ever setting eyes on.

Will her attempt to find out why enlighten her – or destroy her?

 

To begin with, I thought that this book was going to be one of those vampire, werewolf books where the girl and the ‘bad boy’ fall in love but discover that they are unable to be together for some reason that the author has made up that makes absolutely no sense. But this book was not like that at all! From the very first page, it kept me captivated with the twisting, turning, mysterious storyline which takes the reader on a whirlwind of emotions from love, to fear, to worry, to sadness.

Luce is your stereotypical ‘bad girl’ main character sent against her will to reform school and the love triangle between Luce, Daniel and Cam keeps a constant tense atmosphere throughout the plot. There are many plot twists throughout this book, though I don’t want to give them away. 😛

 

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Amazon: Fallen

Witch and Wizard – James Patterson

Title: Witch and Wizard
Author: James Patterson
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 2009
Pages: 307
Genres: Adventure; Magic; Mystery
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

 

Witch and Wizard

7/10

This review first appeared on the 31st January 2016 on The Guardian Childrens’ Book Website: here

You are holding an urgent and vital narrative that reveals the forbidden truth about our perilous times….

This is the astonishing testimonial of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and a wizard. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared—for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic…and the pursuit of being a normal teenager.

Wisty is a fifteen year-old with no regard for rules, whilst White is her eighteen year-old brother suffering with depression as a result of his girlfriend, Celia, mysteriously vanishing.

The two siblings are living their normal lives when one night they are snatched from their homes in the dead of night, accused of having magical powers they didn’t even know they possessed (although their parents did).

Their parents hand them last gifts before they are separated and along the way discover powers which – besides scaring their kidnappers – doesn’t do anything to help their horrific situation.

This book by James Patterson is a wonderful book about adventure and magic, aimed at younger readers with easy to read, signature short chapters, making it very easy to be drawn into the story line.

The pace of the plot moves quickly and succinctly – finishing on a “to be continued” after 300 pages. This book had me on the edge of my seat in many places throughout, as in some sections it seemed like the two protagonists would be unable to escape the predicaments they constantly found themselves in.

For me, this book was the one that introduced me to the author James Patterson; you may know him as the author of the Maximum Ride series, or the Alex Cross detective books for adult readers. So I would highly recommended this book to get you hooked on a new author.

In my opinion, the short chapters are the reason his books are so addictive – this is not saying that Patterson’s character development and plot lines aren’t amazing, because they are – but that the short, snappy chapters ranging between half a page to three pages (as a general rule) means that the plot lines always travel at an astonishing pace, without feeling like the action is being rushed.

Many authors attempt to incorporate fast-moving plot but it feels rushed and unconvincing, but James Patterson is one author that adopts the fast plotline strategy in an effective manner.

Despite my heavy praise for the short chapters I hated the alternating narrators between Whit and Wisty because it broke up the plot, causing some confusion around what was happening.

I tend to become very much involved in the story so forget to read who is narrating the next section of the story, which is more so of a problem with short chapters as you are barely able to get involved with one character’s scenario before you are whisked to another part of the story with the other sibling.

Looking past this, though, this is merely a personal issue which other people may not have problems. However, all in all, I would definitely recommend this book!

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Amazon: Witch & Wizard

The Name of This Book is Secret – Psuedonymous Bosch

Title: The Name of This Book is Secret
Author: Pseudonymous Bosch
Published by: Usborne

Publication date: 2008
Pages: 380
Genres: Mystery; Suspense; Adventure; Magic
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

the name of this book is secret

7/10

This review first appeared on the 5th January on The Guardian Childrens’ Book Website: here

 

Warning: Do not read this book! …For amongst its strange and alarming contents you will find:

Two extraordinary adventurers…

A missing magician’s diary…

A symphony of smells…

And a deadly secret

But wait, you already know too much! It is too late. I’m afraid nothing will stop you now. Open the book if you must. But, please, tell no one.

 

Cass is 11 years old and is the female protagonist of the story; she is prepared for every disaster going from floods, to tornadoes and drives everyone crazy with her constant fretting about the next catastrophic calamity that could occur.

Max-Ernest is also 11 years old and his parents are divorced due to not being able to decide whether he should be called Max or Ernest (hence the double-barrelled first name). They live in the same house so Max is able to live a normal-ish childhood with two parents however both parents act as though the other isn’t there and the house is split down the middle with neither parent talking to the other. Max-Ernest has a speech impediment causing him to talk and talk and talk and talk and talk until he is told to shut up and as a result Cass is his only friend.

Cass and Max-Ernest are a match made in heaven as they both have their unique and, er quirky, personalities making them different to the average 11 year-old. Cass with her predicting of the next catastrophe and Max-Ernest with his lack of knowing when to shut up means that they get on like a house on fire even when no one else wants to know them.

An estate agent investigating a dead magician’s house finds a box labelled “a symphony of smells” and gives it to Cass’ grandfathers who investigate strange and mystifying objects, much to Cass’ mother’s dismay. Cass lets her new friend, Max-Ernest, in on the mystery and they begin to work out the mystery of the smells and look around the dead magician’s house. It is whilst they are in the house that they find a secret belonging to the dead magician but have to escape from a young couple who are looking around the house.

The couple then trace Cass and Max-Ernest to their school, but instead of finding them, they find a young artist named Benjamin Blake and Cass decides to be a hero and try to save him. The young couple aren’t what they seem from the outside as they have a goal and won’t stop until they achieve it. Will Cass and Max-Ernest save Benjamin and find out the secret of the dead magician?

Can we just look at the front and back pages of this book to begin with? The book is called “The Name of this Book is Secret”, now if that doesn’t make you want to read it, I don’t know what will. The author’s name is a pseudonym as well, I mean obviously “Pseudonymous Bosch” isn’t the author’s real name; but right from the word go, the author has cleverly built the mystery and suspense that this book incorporates into every single page. On the back page it reads “warning: do not read this book!” and I don’t know about you but that immediately makes me want to read it anyway, because it’s just a book, right? What harm can it do?

Right from page one, Cass and Max-Ernest are such quirky characters that they introduce an element of humour into the book. Cass is paranoid about the next disaster that always seems to be imminent, and Max-Ernest never shuts up. No, seriously. Taking these factors into account, it seems strange that they make such a good team to work out a mystery. Cass seems like the last person who would want to put herself in any danger considering she’s always working herself up over absolutely nothing. And Max-Ernest, surely you’d hear him from a mile off, I mean he just talks. And talks. And talks. But somehow, they work together as a dream team to solve the mystery of the dead magician.

I loved this book, from beginning to end; it has constant suspense and leaves you on cliff hangers at the end of chapters causing quite a few late nights/early mornings because it is very hard to put down once you begin. This book isn’t quite aimed at my age group (young adult) but I still enjoyed the story and plotline.

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Amazon: The Name of This Book is Secret (The “Secret” Series)

The Fire Eaters by David Almond

8/10

The Fire Eaters

Title: The Fire Eaters
Author: David Almond
Published by: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication date: 2003
Pages: 249
Genres: Historical; Realistic; Junior Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought

 

Bobby Burns is a lucky lad. He lives by the sea in sleepy Keely Bay. He has a wonderful family. He has great friends: the tough guy, Joseph Connor, who’s always looked out for him; Ailsa Spink, the seacoaler’s daughter, who can heal injured fawns with her dreams.

But things are starting to fall apart. His Dad’s mysteriously ill. His new school is a cold and cruel place. The Third World War seems about to start.

And now he’s met McNulty, the fire-eater. What does McNulty want with Bobby Burns? Why does he come to Bobby’s beach? This is the story of two months in Bobby’s life. A time of trouble, a time of change, a time of miracles.

 

This novel is set in 1962 during the Cuban missile catastrophe that was occurring at the time; however, this is the least of Bobby’s troubles. He starts attending a new school who are keen on disciplining via the use of a whip to keep the pupils in line, but when Bobby becomes friends with Daniel, things get rather out of hand for him as he becomes caught up in a riotous act of rebellion against the school. As well as this, his best friend Joseph is becoming very rough with Bobby, his other friend Ailsa refuses to attend school and his Dad has been struck down with a mysterious illness, plus there is the strange McNulty with his fire-eating skills who seems struck with Bobby.

For a book that is not aimed at my age group, this had a fantastic storyline full of mystery and empathy for the character of Bobby. Almond has written it in such a way which makes the reader feel the worry and despair of the characters in the book as they worry about the Cuban Missiles and the potential for World War Three to kick off, as well as Bobby’s school worries and his Dad’s illness which the doctors are unable to find a reason for.

Overall, I thought this was a very well-written and constructed book suitable for junior readers aged between 8 and 12 years of age, however this doesn’t mean that older reader won’t enjoy it as well.

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Amazon: The Fire Eaters