The Revelry by Katherine Webber, reviewed by Tegan

I adored this book! It’s only quite short, about 260 pages long but there is so much depth and detail in the story. The story goes that every year, there is a huge party for graduates of the local high school. It’s very secretive and you are only meant to go if you are a graduate. Our two main characters, Bitsy Clark and Amy, one year break into The Revelry. However, they blackout, and when they wake up, they don’t remember anything from the night, only a few flashbacks. Suddenly Bitsy is unlucky and Amy is getting everything she wants. As the story continues, Bitsy and Amy are tested in their friendship. How far will Bitsy go to prove something happened that night of the Revelry. And will anyone believe her? This story is great, I loved the way Katherine Webber created a world in such a short amount of time. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes mystery and fantasy. 

About the book

A story of best friends, bad luck and the consequences of breaking the rules in a town built on secrets and superstitions.

Growing up in Ember Grove, Bitsy Clark knows better than to break the rules around the Revelry, the mysterious end-of-year party in the woods. So when her best friend, Amy, persuades her to sneak in, Bitsy is full of misgivings.

Misgivings that she should have listened to, because it’s after the Revelry that Bitsy’s luck turns and her life starts to unravel. For Amy it’s the opposite, as if she’s been blessed with good fortune. Soon Bitsy is convinced that the Revelry has tied the two friends together in a curse that only she can break…

Pax: Journey Home by Sara Pennypacker, reviewed by Mia and Kate

Mia says:

We received ‘Pax – Journey Home’ to review and so we read Pax first! They really need to be read in order. 
Peter is a young teenager whose mum died when he when seven. He had a pet fox, Pax, who he raised from a kit, but was forced to abandon when his dad went off to war and Peter was sent to his Grandfathers. He then goes on a journey to find Pax.  Along the way, Peter meets a special person who helps him when he gets injured, but who also needs Peter’s help without knowing it. 
Peter later finds Pax, who he realises is better off in the wild. 
In Pax – Journey Home, Peter feels like he loses everyone he loves, thinks things are his fault, and that it is best not to let anyone get close to him or to care about anyone.
Peter travels with the Water Warriors who work hard to put the rivers and reservoirs right after the war poisoned the water, while planning a life alone. Along the way he has to visit places with difficult memories from his past. 
Pax is making a similar journey for his family.

I loved these books. They describe feelings so well. They show how people can change and get over bad times, no matter how old you are. 
I really loved that the chapters alternated between  Peter’s point of view and Pax’s point of view.  
It was really interesting to see the world through the foxes’ eyes; how they would describe the things we do (which can seem really odd); how they sense feelings and danger through smells; and how they’d find our ‘dens’ strange. It also made me think a lot about how destructive people can be to the world and wildlife.
We couldn’t decide when the book is set – past, present or future, but it could be anytime as it is everyone’s life journey that matters.
The books gave us lots to talk about, 
A five star rating from me!

Mum Kate says:
These were wonderful books to read together and I think they’d be a great choice for a class. 
The books deal with a lot of trauma, without being traumatic – they are simply honest, in a very clear way. They offer so much opportunity for discussion about loss, emotions (a lot of anger, fear and sadness), human impact on the world, and connections and bonds. Also, if and when wild animals should be captive. 
The setting both in place and time is hard to gauge which puts more emphasis on the journey and bond of this boy and his fox.
A brilliantly told story which we couldn’t put down, and will revisit.

About the book

From bestselling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes the long-awaited sequel to Pax; gorgeously crafted, utterly compelling with stunning illustrations by award-winning author and illustrator Jon Klassen.

It’s been a year since Peter and his pet fox, Pax, have seen each other. Once inseparable, they now lead very different lives. Pax must protect his litter of kits in a dangerous world. Meanwhile Peter, orphaned after the war, has left his adopted home and joined the Water Warriors, a group determined to heal the land from the scars of the war.

When one of Pax’s kits falls desperately ill, he turns to the one human he knows he can trust. And no matter how hard Peter tries to harden his broken heart, love keeps finding a way in. Now both boy and fox find themselves on journeys toward home, healing – and each other.
A breathtaking novel about chosen families and the healing power of love.

Furthermoor by Darren Simpson, reviewed by James

Furthermoor is an extremely well written book in which one boy overcomes the challenges he faces after his older sister is fatally injured in a car crash near his home. This book is extremely thought-provoking, as it personifies this boys problems into a physical being, that he needs to overcome to be able to achieve his full potential, with or without his sister. I enjoyed this story immensely, and, as I mentioned before, it really made me think about how different people deal with their problems, and how to be accepting and supportive in finding ways to help those people, in whatever way you feel is needed. As it deals with some quite serious issues, I would recommend this book for anyone 10+ who wants to read a book about forgiveness, and facing problems. I will be looking forward to reading more books by this author!

About the book

The real world is a hostile place for twelve-year-old Bren, his schooldays stalked by vicious bully, Shaun, and his family life fractured at home. Ever since his sister Evie died in an accident, Bren’s only safe space is Furthermoor, an imagined world of mechanised trees and clockwork animals, where Evie is still alive. In Furthermoor, no one can hurt Bren…until the mysterious Featherly arrives.

Now Bren is forced to confront his deepest fears and decide if his place in the real world is worth fighting for.Enter a world as vast and dark as your imagination, in this unforgettable coming-of-age story about courage, friendship and finding your voice.

Alex Rider: Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz, reviewed by Ben

Nightshade is the most recent book of the Alex Rider series, a wildly popular set of books set on a 15-year-old boy who has been recruited by MI5. MI5 use him for missions that adults can’t achieve, this mission was like wise. Him breaching a high security prison, acting like a criminal in an attempt to befriend and get information out of a similar aged boy who was part of a cult. 

This book was very exciting and well written. It made you want to know more from page one. I think the book could mainly be enjoyed by early teens and a little younger, but I think most people would like to read Nightshade. Although many argue the Alex Rider series peaked near Scorpia rising, I think all the books have been very good in the Alex Rider series.

Dragon Skin by Karen Foxlee, reviewed by Leontine

An enthralling story about the bond between a girl and a baby dragon.

What to expect: a baby dragon, friendship, a never-ending waterhole, and a secret cave.

As you step in Pip, Laura and Archie’s world, you will follow Pip as she learns to care for a lost baby dragon with unexpected friends, while escaping her hard family life.

I liked this book as it was a page turner, and it was a book like no other, filled to the brim with a character’s big thoughts. It was also full of tips on how to look after a dragon, so if I ever find a dragon near a waterhole like Pip did, I’ll be prepared!

I would say that this book is suitable for 8+. I would recommend this book to those who liked “A glasshouse of stars” by Shirley Marr. Dragon skin is a great book, you should read it!

About the book

Pip never wants to be at home nowadays. There’s no laughter anymore and her mum isn’t happy. She spends most of her time alone, daydreaming and digging for treasure by the dirty creek.

But one night, Pip finds something incredible – a dragon. Tiny, possibly dying, but definitely a dragon. She quickly realises that dragons don’t come with instructions: what do you feed a dragon? Where could it have come from? And how can Pip cope with the enormous changes this creature will bring into her life? Full of enchanting magic and poignant truths, Dragon Skin is a moving story of friendship, family and finding a way to fly.

All the Money in the World by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, reviewed by Isobel

This is a heart-warming story about social status, privilege and identity. The moral being: Don’t be ashamed of where you come from and who you are. 

In this story the protagonist, Penny Nolan, lives in a place ominously referred to as ‘The Flats’. The flats have poor lighting, rats and a damp problem. Penny feels that people look down on her because of where she comes from, for not having enough money. She longs to escape. 

When Penny befriends Violet Fitzsimons, the mysterious elderly woman living in the large house next door, she feels a sense of escape as Violet teaches her to play the piano and tells stories of her much-loved schooldays at a respectable boarding school called Pearlbourne. Hearing about Pearlbourne makes Penny jealous. It makes her realise, properly, how different she and her friends from The Flats are, and she becomes determined to find a way to attend Pearlbourne herself. However, when Penny eventually finds herself thrust into a world of privilege, her shame about who she is and where she comes from grows.  

This is the story of a poor girl in a rich world. A girl who has to earn respect, rather than be born with it. A girl who feels she has to lie about everything, her friends, her family, and her life, just to be accepted by society. This is the story of someone pretending to be something she isn’t, even though the person she was originally was just as good, in fact, better.  

This is a story of family, friends, lies, secrets, playing, working, acting, hiding and pretending. This is a story of how much good a person can do when fuelled by cold, hard ambition. 

Hide and Seek by Robin Scott-Elliot, reviewed by James

Hide and Seek is a thought-provoking book about Amelie, a Jewish French girl who witnesses her family being taken away by the gestapo during World War Two, and her quest to be reunited with them in Nazi occupied Paris. This is a brilliantly written book that had me sitting on the edge of my seat all the way through and should I come across any other books written by this author, I would definitely be inclined to read them.

About the book:

‘Hide and Seek brings to vivid life the courage of young people who risked all in the French resistance in the second world war.’ OBSERVER

‘Beautifully told’ TELEGRAPH

Thrilling new page turner by Robin Scott-Elliot, author of The Tzar’s Curious Runaways and The Acrobats of Agra.

Paris, 1942. When Amelie Dreyfus hides in her mother’s wardrobe it’s a game; when she comes out it’s a matter of life or death. With her family taken, Amelie has to fend for herself in Nazi-occupied France – she’s no choice but to resist. In the Resistance life hangs by a thread. Betrayed, Amelie’s forced to flee to Britain. But Paris is home and she returns to face one final, desperate mission.

Locked out Lily by Nick Lake and Emily Gravett, reviewed by Catherine

Locked Out Lily tells the story of a girl whose mum is having a baby. She’s about to become a big sister but she’s not happy about it! Lily is sent to her granny’s house when her parents go to hospital and that’s when strange things start happening. She runs away back to her house and realises she is locked out. Lily finds a talking crow who tries to help her, along with a band of his friends. Mouse, Mole and Snake are all talking creatures too who each help Lily in their own unique way.

Some of the other characters include the father-thing, the mother-thing and the baby-thing. These are like replacements of Lily’s family but they have empty black eyes and are not all they seem. Nick Lake is good at writing scary scenes with Lily and these demons – you don’t really know what they might do and the reader feels constantly on edge.

My favourite character was Mole because although she can’t see, she still helps Lily as much as she can. It’s not exactly a friendship between Lily and the animals but it is funny when Lily asks Crow if she’s dreaming and he does a poo on her head and asks, ‘Would that happen in a dream?’

Emily Gravett’s illustrations are amazing. I like how they are only done in black and white  but they still look and feel very real. She is famous for her drawings of little mice and some of the best pictures are the ones with Mouse. I wonder if Nick Lake put a mouse in his book for that exact reason?!

About the book

A startlingly original, stunningly-illustrated modern classic about learning to face your fears from the multi award-winning partnership of Nick Lake and Emily Gravett.

Lily just wants things to go back to the way they were: before she got sick, before her parents decided to have another baby. So when she’s sent away to stay with her grandmother while her mum has the baby, Lily is determined to go home. But she doesn’t expect to find people in her house – people who look like her parents, but definitely aren’t … Together with some unlikely animal companions, Lily must face her fears and summon the courage to break into her own house, and defeat ‘The Replacements’ before the night is out. 

Nick Lake’s atmospheric story of family and friendship is brought to spectacular life by Emily Gravett, twice winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal. 

‘A book of such wit and flair and delight: the kind of book you finish and immediately begin again, so that you can live again alongside the characters’ Katherine Rundell, bestselling author of The Explorer 

The Five Clues (Don’t Doubt The Rainbow 1) by Anthony Kessel, reviewed by Laura-May

Edie is distraught after her mums death however at the stone setting she finds a clue! And with it a letter from her mum containing the knowledge that she was murdered!! Following Edie as she solves clues leading to important research -the last case her mum took! 

I loved this book! It was funny, heartwarming and gripping! It carried an amazing sense of mystery that enraptures the audience. Friendly characters, mind-bending puzzles and lots and lots of laughter.

Recommend for 10+ action and mystery lovers!  

About the book

The first book in the series, The Five Clues, is a real-time murder-mystery thriller and family drama, combining an exciting race against time with a heart-rending story about a teenager learning to live with the loss of a beloved parent.

Walking back from her mother’s grave, 13-year-old schoolgirl Edie Marble finds a note in a pocket of the sheepskin coat that she hasn’t worn since the day, a year earlier, when she received the awful news of her mother’s death. The note is from her mother, who had been looking into a corporate human rights violation and had become fearful for her life after receiving death threats. She trusts only Edie – because of their special bond and Edie’s intelligence – and has laid a trail of clues for Edie to find that will help her to shed light on the violation and uncover the mystery around her death.

Through her wit and determination, Edie steadily gathers evidence and negotiates the dramatic twists and turns of the story by collaborating with her friends and family to gradually unearth a sinister attempt by a pharmaceutical company to conceal their illegal development of a lethal virus.

As Edie’s investigations progress she is introduced, in parallel, to the Three Principles, which help her conquer various psychological stresses and support her in coming to terms with her grief. Reading age 11+

All the Money in the World by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, reviewed by Abi

All the Money in the World focuses on fifteen-year-old Penny and her struggle to remain true to herself following a life-changing event. Penny lives in a small, damp flat, a modern-day tenement in a once grand house that has seen better days. Struggling to cope with the grind of consistent poverty, bullied at school because of her socio-economic status, Penny wishes for more. And that wish comes true when a new friendship and a huge sum of money suddenly enter her life.

This is a timely story for readers of all ages, especially in a country facing an ongoing housing crisis, where the right to a home can no longer be taken for granted. Penny is a wonderful character, flawed and fallible but wonderfully empathetic, and inspiring in her resilience.

While there is a moral at the heart of the story – who you is what matters, not what you have or don’t have – the author never falls into the trap of preaching to her readers, offering instead and realistic and resonant account of what happens when a teenager’s dreams seem to come true. Compelling and extremely readable, this new story from an already accomplished author will stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

I have two sisters, both are younger than me (I’m the oldest child). I’ve lived in Brighton and Hove my whole life. I live with both of my parents and siblings. I have 6 cats which can be very stressful at times. When I’m older I want to become an English teacher, I want to inspire young people to follow their dreams.

About the book

One day you’re broke. The next, you have all the money in the world. What would you do? A gripping, timely story about cold, hard cash and little white lies for fans of Jenny Valentine, Siobhan Dowd and Lara Williamson.

Fifteen-year-old Penny longs for something better. Better than a small, damp flat. Better than her bullying classmates and uninterested teachers. Better than misery and poverty day in day out. 

An unlikely friendship and a huge sum of money promise a whole lot of new chances for Penny, and she realises that not only can she change her life, she can change herself . 

But at what cost?

Perfect for readers of 10+.

‘If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 13, and they’re not reading Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s work, you’re missing a trick. Her latest book is laced with her trademark compassion and kindness, as well as being a cracking good read on privilege, wealth and identity. Not to be missed.’ Louise O’Neill, Irish Examiner