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July 2016 Debut of the Month Absolutely compelling. I have to admit to being rather surprised by ‘The Otherlife’, I think I was expecting a rollicking fantasy adventure, instead a startling, yet subtle and thought provoking read awaited. Either told from the viewpoint of Ben as he is about to take his GCSE’s in 2012, or through his classmate Hobie’s journal in 2008, The Otherlife focuses on the importance of friendship and a variety of issues such as the pressure of being a teenager and parent’s expectations. While Ben copes with pain, both physical and mental, Hobie bulldozes his way through the school year, with few morals, and little thought. Julia Gray sets the Otherlife flickering on the edge of the page, on the knife edge of reality... waiting. As I settled in and felt as though I was beginning to understand, the writing ripped my thoughts apart and set me off on a new path. An intruiging, slicing read, The Otherlife, is also warmly tender and compassionate, and I highly recommend it. ~ Liz Robinson
In a nutshell: the agony and the ecstasy of the pre-teen The return of Arthur Bean, self-proclaimed creative genius and star of one already highly successful diary-based narrative is to be welcomed. Arthur is a rather special voice in fiction for young people: he’s smart, perceptive (except when it comes to his relationships with girls), frequently cynical and often very funny. His adventures – mostly concerning girls and the accidental loan/theft of a video camera, something that weighs heavily on him - are recounted in a variety of forms, from diary entries, texts and emails to homework assignments, even the script of a zombie movie he’s writing. It makes for varied, refreshing reading and feels both real and true. As well as the usual issues of friendships and first romances, Arthur is also mourning the loss of his mother, and this too is sensitively handled. ~ Andrea Reece
In the expert hands of James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein middle school is the funniest place on earth, especially in this series starring Jamie Grimm, the wheelchair-using kid with the super-sharp line in banter. Things should be looking good for Jamie following his triumph in the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic competition, but part of his prize is the starring role in his own sitcom and Jamie’s not sure he wants that. Plus, there’s a new bully at school who is impervious to Jamie’s secret weapon – comedy. As ever the story moves so smoothly that readers won’t even notice how quickly the pages are turning while Jamie’s resilience as much as his comic timing make him a hugely appealing hero. ~ Andrea Reece
This is a hilarious story of dead fish, gorillas with bananas in their ears, poetry, cunning plans and highly legal documents (kind of). Oh and iPads, iPhones and vlogging of course. I’m sitting at home chortling away at How To Update Your Parents when Ben suddenly looks up from his gamepad and asks… ‘Whatcha reading Mum?’ ‘Oh just a book I’m reviewing.’ I say and carry on reading. Not long after he can’t help but come and take a peek. The cover alone is enticing and the title well… ‘Does it really tell you how to update your parents?’ And then I tell him it’s about a boy called Louis The Laugh who is really funny and all he wants to do is make as many people as possible laugh so he attempts to start his own comedy vlog. However his parents think he spends too much time ‘glued to a screen’ and have decided that their home should become totally device free. Louie of course thinks they’ve ‘totally lost the plot’. Oh the horror, the indignity! Yes, Louis and his younger brother Elliot are forced to return to ‘ye olden days’. The days when people would sit around the fire playing board games, take long walks and do jigsaw puzzles – all the time. ~ Shelley Fallows A Piece of Passion from the Editor How to Update Your Parents is the fourth instalment in the highly successful and popular Louis the Laugh series. Louis is an aspiring comedian and, with the help of girlfriend and ‘agent’, Maddy, he sets out to conquer the world of comedy using vlogs and social media. But there’s just one rather big problem – his parents have enforced a total ban on technology! This results in Louis’ hilarious attempts to get his parents to change their minds and to make them see the error of their ways.Will Louis convince his parents that social media and technology are good things after all? Or will Louis have to find another way to make his voice heard? You’ll have to read the book to find out!In an age where the issue of technology and social media addiction is becoming ever more topical and debated, How to Update Your Parents provides a fresh outlook on the subject and shows both sides of the argument in a thoroughly entertaining, non-judgmental, and hilarious way.
In a Nutshell: the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth! If they gave out black-belts for telling fibs, Beaky Malone would be a seventh Dan master. All that changes though when he steps into a rusty metal box that appears to be a truth-telling machine and becomes incapable of uttering a single untruth. It’s a brilliant comic set-up, made even more entertaining thanks to Beaky’s family situation: his bickering aunt and uncle have just arrived for the weekend, with his cousins Max aka ‘Satan in shorts’ and creepy Sophie in tow. Add his teenage sister Jodie into the mix, and their nutty dog Destructo, and the stage is set for a very silly, but very, very funny adventure. Barry Hutchison expertly keeps the plates spinning and there’s an involving adventure beneath the absurdity. ~ Andrea Reece
June 2016 Debut of the Month Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she's falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out... Lovereading Review to follow...
One of our Books of the Year 2016 | June 2016 Book of the Month Lil might look like an ordinary schoolgirl, but under her jumper and vest she’s a pirate! When the thoroughly rotten Stinkbeard arrives Lil flies into battle against him, because Lil is a pirate who’ll do what is right, if it takes her all night – and no matter what her teacher Miss Lubber says. Lil is able to defeat Stinkbeard, once using school dinner as ammunition, and still come first in the sack race! Is Lil really a pirate? Parents and children might disagree, but everyone will enjoy her antics. Told in jolly rhyme that makes reading the stories particularly fun and easy and with lively black and white illustrations on every page these are the perfect step up from picture books to chapter books. Readers who enjoy Lil’s adventures will also like the Squishy McFluff stories and Alex T Smith’s series about Claude. ~ Andrea Reece
James Patterson continues to do sterling work turning reluctant readers onto books, and this latest instalment in the ongoing trials of Rafe Khatchadorian will more than satisfy his young fans. Things couldn’t look worse for Rafe, he’s back at Hills Village Middle School, but enrolled in a special needs class. The only person showing any enthusiasm for his return is his least favourite person in the world, Miller, aka the Killer. But as readers know, Raffe is nothing less than resilient, and things might not turn out as badly as he expects. Short action-packed chapters, snappy dialogue, lots of humour, cartoons and extra graphics, they all contribute to make these some of the most accessible page-turners around. ~ Andrea Reece
May 2016 Debut of the Month A brand new, innovative and fun series that's pitch-perfect fiction for aspirational vloggers, digital devotees and readers with a passion for all things online! There’s always a demand for contemporary fiction for young girls that explores in a positive, reassuring way some of the concerns they might have – worries about friends, fitting in, changing emotions. Lucy Locket Online Disaster is just such a book. Lucy has moved to the UK from America and is faced with making new friends not just in a new school but a new country. On top of that, Lucy has a stammer which gets worse when she’s under pressure. It’s all pretty stressful, but creating a regular vlog – video diary – offers Lucy a way to relax and be herself. Comments from other young people on the vlog show that she’s not alone in sometimes feeling insecure. It’s a lively, fun read, the vlogging theme putting a fresh spin on the tried and tested diary format. This will appeal to fans of Cathy Cassidy, Karen McCombie and Gwynneth Rees. If it inspires any would-be vloggers, as is quite likely, Super Skills Blogging & Vlogging published by Usborne is a practical, helpful and appealing guide. ~ Andrea Reece
April 2016 Book of the Month Gosh, but the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries are jolly good reads! After their adventures on the Orient Express, crime-solving friends Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are back at school for a new term. From the outset though, the atmosphere at school is different, nastier: the new head girl Elizabeth Hurst is a thoroughly bad egg, maintaining her authority through bullying and even blackmail. When she’s found dead at the school firework display, Daisy is convinced it’s murder and determined to discover the truth. Boarding schools make a perfect setting for murder mysteries, all claustrophobia, shifting alliances and niggling irritations between the girls, and this is a particularly atmospheric story. Stevens is as good at describing the relationships between the girls, and the social customs of the times as she is at plotting, it’s no wonder that these books have such a devoted following amongst readers. Readers will also enjoy Katherine Woodfine’s The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, another entertaining helping of sleuthing set in an Edwardian department store, and Patricia Elliott’s Connie Carew Mysteries. ~ Andrea Reece
March 2016 Debut of the Month Twelve year old Suzy’s confusion following the death of her best friend fuels this roller-coaster debut novel. When Franny drowns in a freak accident during the school holiday Suzy finds herself dealing not with the death of her best friend as her mother thinks but with the far more devastating loss of their friendship sometime earlier. Suzy copes by becoming electively mute and by constructing a story to explain what happened to Franny. Moving back and forth between Suzy’s obsessive behaviour after Franny’s death as she finds out everything she can about the lethal jellyfish who is, she is sure, responsible for it and, the last few months before Franny’s death when the friendship unravelled is clever as she loses Franny to the cool set.
Love hurts ...but should it hurt this much? Reeling from her mum's sudden departure, Anna finds the comfort she needs in her blossoming relationship with Will. He's handsome and loving, everything Anna has always dreamt of. He's also moody and unpredictable, pushing her away from her friends and her music. He wants her to be his and his alone. He wants her to be perfect. Anna's world is closing in. But threatening everything is a dark secret that not even Will can control...