Will's brother Shawn has just been murdered.
Will tucks a gun into the waistband of his jeans and sets off to exact revenge. In Will's neighbourhood, revenge is part of the rules of surviving.
As he rides the elevator to the lobby of his building, he's joined by a man who looks eerily familiar.
The man strikes up a conversation and to Will's horror, he realises that it's Buck. This wouldn't be odd except for the fact that Will knows Buck is dead.
Then the doors open and in walks Dani, a girl who Will knew when he was eight years old. A girl he saw get hit by a stray bullet and die in front of him.
Fearing he's losing it, Will doesn't know what to do with the information the ghosts are telling him as he makes his way down the floors of the building.
As more ghosts from his past enter the elevator, Will learns some surprising and disturbing truths about his family.
Told in gritty verse, Long Way Down is a powerful story about family, revenge and making ultimate choices. It's an important book for teens to read and will be a part of our Year 9 boys books club in the Library. Amazing, don't miss it!
Sky Song is the second book I've read for the #BritishBooksChallenge18.
You can read all about the Challenge and how to participate here.
Sky Song is about Eska, a girl trapped inside the vicious Ice Queen's fortress. She is saved by Flint, a boy who dared to venture into the fortress to save his mother. In the land of Erkenwald, all of the adults are the Queen's prisoner and no amount of force or magic can set them free.
Flint fancy's himself an inventor whereas his tribesmen want him to be more of a warrior. Flint's tribe is wary of Eska and assume she is one of the Queen's spy. Because of this, they exile her from the confines of the tribe and set her on her way, presumably to die in the frozen wild.
The wild has other plans for Eska, though. She befriends a golden eagle who teaches her how to survive. When Eska and Flint's path rejoin, they decide to form their own tribe and take on the Ice Queen to save their families from destruction.
The answer lies in a series of task they must complete, namely finding an ancient and lost horn that only exists in legend. With help from unexpected places, Eska and Flint discover what real friendship is and the power of forming your own tribe.
Sky Song is a dreamy, powerful read with amazing characters. I am really excited to promote this in the School Library I manage and get it into the hands of the students, they are going to love it. I recommend it for ages 10 and up!
The Polar Bear Explorers' Club is the first book I've read for the #BritishBookChallenge18
You can find out more about the Challenge here. Now, on to the review!
Stella has wanted to be an explorer for as long as she can remember. Her foster-father, Felix, is preparing for a big trip to a strange and dangerous place called the Icelands and Stella is finally able to convince him to take her.
On the voyage she teams up with three other junior explorers, Shay, Ethan and Beanie. Each explorer has their own unique approach to adventuring. Ethan is a magician, Beanie is a medic obsessed with macabre facts about the untimely demise of past explorers and Shay can summon wolves. Stella is unsure of her gift yet this becomes more clear as the novel progresses.
When the four children get separated from the expedition, they embark on a wild adventure involving deadly frost fairies, man-eating cabbages, escaped convicts, an ice castle and singing cucumbers. Throughout the journey they learn a lot about each other and what really makes a good explorer.
This is a perfect winter read, the characters are full of life and the novel speeds along at a great pace. The dangers are real and even somewhat terrifying (in a good way) and Stella is a fantastic hero. I really recommend this novel to anyone ages 10 and up!
I'm very excited to be taking part in the 2018 British Books Challenge! The main focus of the challenge is reading and reviewing books by British authors.
This is my first time taking part in the Challenge and I can't wait to be a part of it.
The Challenge is hosted by Michelle Toy (@ChelleyToy) you can learn all about the rules and events surrounding it and you can sign up by clicking here or on the British Books Challenge button on the right side of this page!
You can follow the Challenge on social media by using #BritishBooksChallenge18
If you sign up for the challenge you will be aiming to read at least 12 books by British authors (which works out to one a month).
For every book you review each month you will get an entry into the draw to win a monthly prize pack (assuming that you’ve left all appropriate links on the monthly link page!). Therefore the more you review the more chances you have at winning that month’s prize(s).
Here are just some of the British books I'm hoping to read and review in the coming months!
How did I take this long to read this?
I loved A Wizard of Earthsea. It tells the tale of Ged as he goes from apprentice to master wizard. On his journey, he unleashes a powerful evil in the land, one that stalks him right up until the final pages. In between, he fights dragons, gets shipwrecked, becomes an oarsman on a longship and meets strange and mysterious people. His quest becomes more of a mad obsession, destroy the shadow creature that he himself pulled from the darkness. Not even his mentor, friends or his own powerful magic seems to be enough to destroy it.
This books is much more than a series of trials though. It reads like a scroll discovered in a cave, telling the story that has never been told before. It's a philosophical story that touches upon greed, lust, pride, revenge and the duality of humans. It's a brilliant book that deserves to be re-read. I recommend it for ages 12 and up!
Morrigan Crow has been having a strange few days.
As a cursed child, she's destined to die on her eleventh birthday on an event known as Eventide.
The kingdom blames Morrigan for all of the ills that befall them and even her own family seems to be ready to get rid of her.
As the hour of birthday approaches, she is visited by a mysterious man named Jupiter North. Jupiter tells her that she isn't cursed and that he can help her escape. To do so, though, she must leave her family behind forever.
As Morrigan is contemplating this bizarre offer, a death cloud of murderous hounds and demons appears, seemingly ready to take her life and move it to the realm of death. Morrigan finds herself without options so she takes a giant leap of faith and puts her trust in the hands of Jupiter. Jupiter takes her to a bizarre world called Nevermoor, where she must undergo a series of four trials. To pass them means entrance into an elite society, to fail means deportation and most likely death.
Nevermoor is a book you can really get lost in. It has some truly original and great ideas sprinkled throughout. It has elements of steampunk, fantasy and horror all mixed in. Harry Potter is an obvious comparison yet it will appeal to a brand new set of readers looking for something really thrilling and exciting. I recommend Nevermoor to ages 10 and up!
Castle Cranshaw, aka Ghost, has a lot on his mind, mostly anger.
His favourite sport is basketball but a chance encounter on the track field gets the attention of an Olympic medal-winning coach who recruits him for the track team.
Ghost has some real talent that the coach tries to draw out but things keep getting in the way.
Things like Ghost's dark past, his anger issues, his lying and his belief that nobody is willing to truly help him. If he's going to be serious about running and be part of a team, he needs to confront the things that are haunting him first.
Ghost is an amazing book, I think it should be required reading. It taps into the anger and frustration that a lot of young teens face, especially those from broken homes or those who don't have privileged upbringings. However, this is a book for everyone, it's a shot of hope and resilience in the arm. Everyone needs someone like Coach in their life, someone who cuts through red tape with a razor sharp tongue. Someone who doesn't cut you any slack but still deep down cares about you very much. If all of the students I interact with in the library had someone like Coach in their ear, I think they'd be better off for it. Ghost is the next best thing. I cannot wait to get this into the hands of our students this year. I recommend it for ages 10 and up!
When AJ's grandfather dies, his life seems to spiral out of control in a matter of days. AJ's parents are around, but due to their learning disabilities they aren't able to maintain a stable living environment.
AJ's only escape is running. He's aiming to get into the national competition that's coming up. His big problem is that his running shoes don't fit anymore. He's resorted to cutting the toes out so he can squeeze into him. All of his money goes to paying the electric meter at his house.
As the bills pile up, so does AJ's anxiety. He starts lashing out at school and nobody seems to know what the problem is. He's dealing with way too much for an eleven year old but nobody seems to notice. Will he be able to keep his family afloat and make it into the national running competition?
Running on Empty is a really strong novel. It deals with sensitive topics and turns them into a story that everyone can relate to. If you like See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, which was one of my favourites of 2017, then you'll love Running on Empty. I can guarantee this will be a student favourite at the school library I manage. Recommended for ages 10 and up!
Crow has a lot of questions. At twelve years old, the only home she has know is Cuttyhunk, a tiny island in Massachusetts. The only family she knows is Osh, the man who rescued her when he found her washed up on shore in a skiff when she was only a baby and Miss Maggie, their neighbour who is both stern and compassionate at the same time.
Crow has a good life, but she wants to know where she's from and who her real parents are. One night, she spies a fire on Penikese a neighbouring island where no one ventures. Penikese has a dark past, one that Crow only half knows. Osh and Miss Maggie give her bits of information about the people that used to live there, how they suffered. Crow convinces Miss Maggie and Osh to take her to Penikese to investigate. What they find sets forth a series of events that will not only change Crow's life forever, it will also put them in grave danger.
This is a beautifully written novel. My family is from an island off of Nova Scotia called Cape Sable Island and I connected immediately with the descriptions of island life. Being covered in salty, sharp air, hunting for sea life in rock pools, gathering mussels when it's low tide and being a part of the lobster fishing community is in my blood. So I'm probably biased but I could read this book over and over again and not get tired of hearing about that life. Wolk has written a novel that speaks to anyone who has ever felt curiosity take over, who knows that friendship and family, when done right, can blend into one. It's a powerful book that deserves all of the praise it's currently receiving. I recommend it for ages 11 and up!
When Frank is putting up posters to help find her missing cat, the last thing she needs is to run into the pack of bullies that makes her life miserable on a daily basis.
The bullies find her though, and the humiliating ritual of name calling and psychological tug of war ensues.
Suddenly, Frank is rescued by an unlikely classmate, Nick Underbridge. Frank doesn't really know Nick, like the other students in her class, she views him as strange and withdrawn.
On a visit to Nick's house, everything changes for Frank. She hears strange music coming from the basement, it seems magical, far away yet everywhere at the same time.
When Nick and his father are preoccupied, Frank decides to go down to the basement. What she finds will change her life forever.
The Song From Somewhere Else reads like a fever dream. Sprinkled with Levi Pinfold's stark, haunting illustrations, it has a constant feeling of uneasiness throughout. The horror is effective in that it is relatively unknown and therefore more disturbing. This novel feels like the moment before a thunderstorm during a summer's evening. I don't know how else to describe it. It's odd, cool, weird and wonderful. I highly recommend it for ages 11 and up!