News & Reviews

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.

Adam-2 by Alastair Chisholm, reviewed by Ben

Adam-2 is book based on a robot that has been built with the ability to learn and feel pain. He has been told by his creator to stay in the basement but when two human kids enter, and he realises they need help, Adam-2 makes the decision to go out to find a vastly different world than he had last seen it. 

I thought it was very cleverly written as the fact the author did not give anything away at the start of the book made it a gripping read. The ending was very interesting as Adam-2 has a conflict of interests either side of the robot – man war that ripped the world apart; both sides are counting on him to destroy the opposition. 

This book would be great for 8- and 16-year-olds alike and although the concept of it was clearly sci-fi, it had real connections with the real world and how the advancements in technology are likely to replace many people’s jobs with robots. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys sci-fi. I thought the characters were very realistic in the way they thought.

About the book:

With incredible twists and turns and an action-packed story, this is a thrilling, unputdownable adventure.

The robot Adam-2 has been locked in the basement of a lost building for over two hundred years – until one day he is discovered by two children, and emerges into a world ruined by a civil war between humans and advanced intelligence.

Hunted by both sides, Adam discovers that he holds the key to the war, and the power to end it – to destroy one side and save the other. But which side is right?

Surrounded by enemies who want to use him, and allies who mistrust him, Adam must decide who – and what – he really is.

From the author of the highly-acclaimed Orion Lost, Adam-2 is an exciting and hugely gripping science fiction thriller – perfect for fans of Eoin Colfer, Anthony Horowitz, and Philip Reeve.

“Brilliant – one of the best middle grade books I’ve read this year … Action, tension, a marvellous mix of characters, and incredibly thought-provoking while being huge fun to read. What more could you want?” – Jennifer Killick, author of Crater Lake

Clara Claus Saves Christmas by Bonnie Bridgman and Louise Forshaw, reviewed by Evie

5 out of 5 Joy-O-Meter rating! This book is jingles all the way!

This book is about a girl called Clara Claus and Nick Claus and the both want to save Christmas because the joy-o-metre goes down to 0!

Read this book to find out out how they save or try to save Christmas.

Why you should read this book – because it’s so intresting it will put you on the edge of your seat. Your perfect Christmas countdown!

About the book:

First the reindeer got sick. Then Santa got sick. Now it’s up to Clara Claus and her slightly annoying brother Nick to save Christmas. But with toys to make, elves to manage, lists to sort and flying reindeer to train, can they summon enough Christmas spirit to deliver the perfect Christmas?

Clara Claus Saves Christmas is an exciting festive adventure filled with fun and Christmas spirit from the author/illustrator team that created the hugely popular Catch that Cough.

Filled with friendship, family, heart and trust, as well as beautiful illustrations, Clara Claus is the perfect book to bring home this Christmas.

Fledgling by Lucy Hope, reviewed by Evie

‘Fledgling’ is a story that will suck you in from the very beginning, and make it very hard for you to put the book down.

About the book

A dark, gothic adventure set deep in a Bavarian forest, with angels and owls and magic and a boy who isn’t all that he seems to be…

A cherub is blown into Cassie Engel’s bedroom during a thunderstorm, triggering a series of terrifying events. Cassie must discover if its arrival was an accident or part of something more sinister.

With a self-obsessed opera singer for a mother, a strange taxidermist father, and a best friend who isn’t quite what he seems, Cassie is forced to unearth the secrets of her family’s past. As the dark forces gather around them, can Cassie protect all that she holds dear?

The fantastic debut novel from Lucy Hope, with cover illustration by Anna Shepeta.

Dog Man review by Emily

Emily really enjoys the Dogman books and thinks you should read them too!

How I Saved the World in a Week by Polly Ho Yen, reviewed by Rosa

I loved How I Saved the World in a Week. The way she described the ‘greys’ sent a shoulder shaking chill down my spine. Even the cover feels suspenseful, tense, and mysterious. It is also handy because dotted throughout the tale there are little survival tips and skills. This perfectly written story had me hooked in the first few chapters. 

Are you on the edge of your seat and shaking with excitement yet? Well, if you’re not then the storyline will get you biting your nails.

It is about a boy who gets taken out of school to do activities with his mum but when something goes wrong, he goes to live with Steve, his stepdad. Suddenly, these creatures start appearing, and together, he and his two friends save the world in a week.

It was a touching and tear coaxing triumph that made me want to laugh and cry, I dearly hope that Polly Ho-Yen will make a follow up version soon.

About the book

A brilliantly imagined new 8+ adventure about resilience, family and hope. From the bestselling and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlisted author of BOY IN THE TOWER. Perfect for fans of Ross Welford, Lisa Thompson and Onjali Rauf.

Rule number one: Always be prepared . . .

Billy’s mum isn’t like other mums. All she wants is to teach him the Rules of Survival – how to make fire, build shelter and find food . She likes to test Billy on the rules until one day she goes too far, and Billy is sent to live with a dad he barely knows.

Then the world changes forever as people begin to be infected with a mysterious virusthat turns their skin grey. As chaos breaks out, Billy has to flee the city. Suddenly he realises that this is what his mum was preparing him for – not just to save his family, but to save the whole world. 

Keeper of Secrets by Sarah J. Dodd, reviewed by Evie-Belle

This book put me on a rollercoaster of feelings… “The rock in Emily’s stomach dropped right down to her boots, weighing down her feet so that she couldn’t move.”

Heartfelt and emotional, this book has lots of highs and lows !  With all the descriptive words being used, I almost felt as though I was in the scene and in the moment.

The story unfolds when Emily’s Dad meets a woman named Josie who disrupts the poor girl’s life. The setting is at Badger Cottage, a cottage that is set in a dreary, dark wood, where lynx’s lurk nearby. Emily is a likeable, kind character who I can relate to immensely. I felt sorry for her countless times as being and feeling alone can really hurt. 

It’s Christmas time in the book – so don’t worry ,it does have many heart warming moments !As a 10 year old (the same age as Emily) , I would recommend you read Emily’s story , as I really enjoyed it.

About the book

Eleven-year-old Emily doesn’t think Badger Cottage will ever be home. But there is something out there that needs her; a bright pair of eyes in the darkness. In the middle of a fierce battle between conservationists, who want to to rewild the lynx in the woods, and the local farmers, Emily tries to shield a baby lynx she calls Lotta, afraid it will be killed by the person who killed its mother. But can Emily work out who the illegal hunter is in time, and who can she trust?

Edie and the Box of Flits by Kate Wilkinson and Joe Berger, reviewed by Niamh

Edie and the Box of Flits is the first book written by Kate Wilkinson and is illustrated by Joe Berger, who is the well-known illustrator of the Hubble Bubble book series.

While helping her dad at London Transport’s Lost Property Office, 11-year-old Edie finds a mysterious box. When Edie hears tapping coming from inside, she encounters tiny flying people called Flits needing her help. Edie must embark on an adventure across London’s forgotten underground stations to help her new little friends and solve the mystery of what the sinister magpin birds are up to and if Vera Creech, who works at the lost property office, has anything to do with it…

I thought the book was really exciting and I loved reading about the world of the Flits, especially imagining what it would be like to be that miniature size. The illustrations are beautiful and really bring the Flits and the other characters to life.

I would definitely recommend Edie and the Box of Flits to anyone who likes adventurous and mysterious books like I do. It really reminds me of the story of The Borrowers, but set in modern times. I would absolutely love for Kate Wilkinson to continue to share the story of the Flits in future books. 

Only children under the age of 13 can see Flits. I’m only 9 so have lots more years of adventures with the Flits ahead!

Perfect for fans of: The Borrowers by Mary Norton, and the Hubble Bubble series by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Joe Berger 

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne, reviewed by Abi

5 Word Review: Love, family, friendship, tragedy, death.

Grab the tissues, you will need them. And a blanket to combat the chills that this love story will give you. I am struggling to review this, because I loved it so much. Basically: Good book. Book booked good. Read book.

Ash and Poppy are just… They’re my OTP now, the one ship I will go down with. I loved their love, the way that even though their situations in life are so different it doesn’t matter to them. Their hearts are full of love. And when Ash becomes a reaper, I have to be honest – it broke me. Afterlove doesn’t shy away from difficult topics – whether its homophobia, or racism, or class disparity, or religious beliefs in the face of your family. It was empathetically done, carefully done, and wasn’t afraid to be ugly when it had to be. This book gently plays with the paranormal, and if I’m honest I barely realised it for what it was. I loved the lore behind it, and I thought it was very clever in the way it was executed.

The story is split into before and after and I think that was a clever way to play with the concepts of the words. It’s not just Ash’s death, but herself and how she experiences the world, her new role.

That ending though? Excuse me, I need more. I loved the ending, but it left me gasping. It wraps up beautifully but I’m aching for more. Afterlove is the romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet want to be.

Afterlove is a gloriously beautiful story that will fill your heart to bursting and then break it into a million pieces. You will never be ready, and you will never get over it, but you need to read this book.

About the book

THE LESBIAN LOVE STORY YOU’VE BEEN DYING TO READ. Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death. 

Car headlights. The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars. But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?

This New Year’s Eve, Ash gets an invitation from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate. 

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive …


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.