News & Reviews

The Howling Hag Mystery by Nicki Thornton, Reviewed by Aysha

As a fan of mystery, action and adventure stories, the Howling Hag has become one of my favourite stories, along with some other books! It’s great for ages 7-8+ and I would recommend this book to people who love reading a good old mystery book sitting on the couch. Like me, you won’t be able to stop reading it!

The Howling Hag mystery is about two people (well three, if you count the talking cat, Nightshade.) Raven Charming, Mortimer Scratch (but he likes to be called Morti) and Nightshade (the talking cat). Raven knows that her family is the only magical family in Twinhills. Her sister Rookery can move things with her mind and eyes and her mum can detect magic. Sadly, Raven does not have an affinity for magic but will that change?

In Twinhills Primary, some unusual things have been going on and people think that a mysterious witch, The Howling Hag, is causing it. Is there another magical family in Twinhills? As Raven, Morti and Nightshade wander into investigating the case of the Howling Hag. Can they solve the case before it’s too late?

About the book

From the author of The Last Chance Hotel comes a brand new fantastical mystery series! ‘Blending magical adventure with Golden Age crime mystery, this delightfully atmospheric spin-off from the author of The Last Chance Hotel confirms Thornton’s place as one of the most original children’s writers around.’ WATERSTONES When there’s a murder in the village and a hag is heard howling at the local inn, secret witch Raven Charming realizes she could have a rival – one who practises the worst kind of magic.

With the help of amateur sleuth, Mortimer Scratch, and Nightshade, a talking cat with a feline sense of detection, she sets out to solve what’s been going on …

A magical murder mystery perfect for fans of Robin Stevens and Harry Potter

Book 1 in a new spin-off series from the author of The Last Chance Hotel, chosen as Waterstones Book of the Month and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Award

Features fan-favourite Nightshade as the star of her very own mystery!

Hello my name is Aysha and I’m 10 years old. I love reading, sports and baking. I like to read mystery and adventure books. I play two instruments the piano and the tenor horn which I enjoy. In my spare time I like to draw. 

The Upper World by Femi Fadugba, reviewed by Torrin

The Upper World is the stunning debut from Femi Fadugba. Interstellar meets Attack the Block in a head on collision of fact and physics.

Esso hits his head in a car crash and is transported to the mysterious “Uppper World” which may or may not facilitate a form of mental time-travel. 
Meanwhile Rhia meets her new personal tutor Dr Esso, who begins to explain not just her  homework but the physics of time-travel itself. 

This is one of the best science fiction novels I have read in a long, long time. What might seen like a time-travel story from the outside is in [reality] a carefully veiled story of redemption, loss and acceptance. Esso and Rhia have a very different dynamic to the central characters of a typical teen novel. The story is not about love but acceptance. 

Although the concept of time travel is an important aspect of the book. It often takes a backseat to so it’s effects on the novel’s characters can be explored. With something as high concept as time travel it can often be difficult to get your head around the mechanics of it. But Fadugba uses modern metaphors and simple language to make the concept accessible for all. 

This book is a truly excellent read, and one that I urge you to pick up! 

Hello, I’m Torrin. I like good books. I’m a fan of Crime, Fantasy and Sci-Fi. My favourite quote from any book is: “Doors are for people with no imagination” If it’s got too much description and emotions, I probably won’t read it.  Check out my website at www.ananonymousautistic.wordpress.com   

About the book

This epic thriller is soon to be a major Netflix movie starring Academy Award winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther, Judas and the Black Messiah).  

‘Believing is seeing, Esso . . .’

Esso is running out of time and into trouble. When he discovers he has the ability to see glimpses of the future, he becomes haunted by a vision of a bullet fired in an alleyway with devastating consequences. 

A generation later, fifteen-year-old Rhia is desperately searching for answers – and a catastrophic moment from the past holds the key to understanding the parents she never got to meet.

Whether on the roads of South London or in the mysterious Upper World, Esso and Rhia’s fates must collide.

And when they do, a race against the clock will become a race against time itself . . .

Evie and the Animals by Matt Haig, reviewed by Aletha

Evie and the Animals is a thrilling adventurous book about an eleven-year-old girl called Evie who can talk to animals!!!  Her ‘Talent’ leads her into brilliant adventures and difficult situations. Evie and the Animals is one of the best books I have ever read and that is saying something!  My two favourite characters are Evie and a dog called Scruff who is really cute and funny.  One of my favourite parts of the book is when Evie is helping out at the Zoo and a boy falls in the lion enclosure.  I won’t give away what happens next but  it’s very dramatic!!! Whilst reading this book I was so excited that I couldn’t put the book down!!! 

Aletha is 7 and three-quarters. She lives in Brighton and has a guinea pig called Bella. Her favourite authors are Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl, Jill Murphy and J.K Rowling. The fictional world she would most like to live in is the Land of Roar and the character she would most like to be is Evie from the book Evie and the Animals. The character she would least to be stuck in a lift with is Draco Malfoy.

About the book

WHEN EVIE TALKS TO ANIMALS . . . THEY TALK BACK.

Eleven-year-old Evie has a talent: a supertalent. She can HEAR what animals are thinking.

She promises to keep it top secret, but then an evil pet-thief strikes.

Every animal in town is in danger and only by DARING TO BE HERSELF can Evie save her furry and feathered friends.

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson, reviewed by Farrah

If you like to be kept on the edge of your seat, in a constant state of suspense whilst reading, this may just be the book for you. To call ‘Every Line of You’ a rollercoaster, filled with twists and turns as it was, would be an understatement. Although this is not my usual go to kind of story, I read it in one sitting as I was gripped from the very first chapter. It is packed with action and intrigue.

‘Every Line of You’ follows Lydia and the AI (Artificial Intelligence) she has created as it develops and gains power. The author, Naomi Gibson, examines grief, loneliness and the effects of bullying through the metamorphosis of her AI as it acquires human characteristics. You’ll continue thinking about the characters and the themes explored long after you’ve finished reading the book.

About the book

The edge-of-your-seat thriller you’ve been looking for this summer … ‘What a debut. So tense – and it didn’t lead where I thought it was going.’ SUE WALLMAN, author of YOUR TURN TO DIE

Lydia has been creating her AI, Henry, for years – since before her little brother died in the accident that haunts her nightmares; since before her dad walked out, leaving her and Mum painfully alone; since before her best friend turned into her worst enemy.

Now, Henry is strong, clever, loving and scarily capable: Lydia’s built herself the perfect boyfriend in a hard-drive filled with lines of code.

But what is Henry really – and how far is he willing to go to be everything Lydia desires?

This summer’s must-read: EVERY LINE OF YOU’s twist after twist will have everyone talking about Lydia and Henry’s complex Bonnie-and-Clyde relationship

Elements of thriller, psychological drama and love: Her meets Girl, Interrupted with hints of Black MirrorThis dark, modern twist on young love explores the complexity and scope of artificial intelligence while also examining bigger themes of humanity, revenge, grief, love and forgiveness

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr, reviewed by Leontine

Three ways to describe this book are: heart-warming, beautiful and inspiring.

At first it was a bit confusing as the style of writing the author, Shirley Marr, used was one I hadn’t come across before. But I soon got used to it and started to really enjoy the story.

Meixing Lim ( the main character) had very strong and relatable feelings that I thought fitted into the story perfectly. The characters were amazing! Like Meixing they were also very realistic, with really well thought out personalities.

It’s a story bursting with big feelings about the life of a girl moving to a new land. 

It’s a sad story but also (like I said before) heart- warming with a satisfying ending.

I didn’t know what to expect as it wasn’t like the books I read most of the time and for the same reason I wasn’t sure I would like it, I was definitely proven wrong.

An unforgettable story.

My name is Leontine, I’m 10 years old and I live in Hove with my French mum, my Italian dad and my annoying little brother, who is 7 years old. I love reading books especially books about adventure, magic, myths and mysteries. I also enjoy reading comics with my brother.

About the book

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived in the New Land to begin a New Life. Everything is scary and different. Their ever-changing house is confusing and she finds it hard to understand the other children at school. Yet in her magical glasshouse, with a strange black-and-white cat, Meixing finds a place to dream.

But then Meixing’s life comes crashing down in unimaginable ways. Only her two new and unexpected friends can help. By being brave together, they will learn how to make the stars shine brighter. 

A Glasshouse of Stars is based on the author’s childhood and beautifully illustrates the importance of friendship, kindness and love.

 “Told in a unique second-person narrative, this is an exceptionally beautiful and lyrical debut, based on the author’s own experiences”. Picked as Editor’s Choice by Fiona Noble in her June Bookseller previews.

“Heart-twisting and hopeful, bursting with big feelings and gentle magic.” Jessica Townsend, New York Times bestselling author of the Nevermoor series

“A rare and beautiful masterpiece; deeply heartfelt, dreamily magical, and glitteringly hopeful. I adored it!” Sophie Anderson, bestselling author of The House with Chicken Legs

Hold Back the Tide by Melinda Salisbury, reviewed by Laura-May

It was bone-chillingly wonderful. A sense of quiet dread fills you up as you follow the characters along their journey! In a good way of course! It had a great plot and ending, but I’m not going to give it away it’s just such addictive of a story! I enjoyed the added Scottish culture we learn too! Once again I recommend!

I was born in Worthing but I live in Lancing, I really like it as I love my neighbourhood. I’ve always loved English and reading in fact in Year 3 I entered the Wicked writing competition and I got down to the final with my story Playdates about a girl making friends with a ghost. And the library ANY library has always been a place I feel calm and happy. So many doorways to adventure I can never pick! In Year 6 I volunteered to help put books away at lunch times. And of course my highlight of the summer the library reading challenge I participated in for about 6 years straight. I try to spread my love for reading too be it by tutoring my neighbour in English or by recommending books to friends I just love it. 

About the book

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past… Unsettling, sharply beautiful and thought-provoking, HOLD BACK THE TIDE is the new novel from Melinda Salisbury, bestselling author of The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy.

The Adventure Club: Red Panda Rescue by Jess Butterworth, reviewed by Katy

It is all about a girl called Tilly who gets selected to go camping with the Adventure Club in Nepal. One day she finds out that one of the red panadas is missing. One of the people who ran the Adventure Club said that the poachers must have stolen the red panda, so Tilly goes to look for it.

It is a really exciting book and I love it because I love adventure stories. I would recommend it for kids 8+. It is really clear to read because it is clear writing (font) and the pictures are very pretty. 

My name is Katy and I like horses, unicorns and cats. My hobbies are reading and playing and singing. At school I like all the subjects.

About the book

Do you like exploring, animals and adventure? Then join The Adventure Club this summer!

A brand new illustrated series for younger readers about animals and adventure from much-loved author Jess Butterworth – writer of classic adventure stories in vibrantly described settings.

Tilly has no plans for the summer holidays and is dreading months of boredom — that is until she becomes part of The Adventure Club and wins a place to go track and monitor endangered red pandas in Nepal!

In the Himalayas, she meets other members of the club, rides on yaks, plants a bamboo forest and even spots the secretive red panda. 

But then the red panda Tilly and her team has been monitoring disappears. Will Tilly be able to help find it, or will her first ever adventure end in disaster?

Packed full of illustrations and set as Tilly’s own diary, this new series is perfect for young readers who are beginning to read on their own.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, reviewed by Sophie

This book is a mystery that will capture your attention as the bond between the three Hollow sisters Grey, Vivi and Iris is deeply explored. A uniquely horrifying story, where the beauty of language is entwined into the very soul of this tale and Krystal Sutherland knows how to tell a tale. 

So when an unknown man in a bull skull kidnaps Grey, it is down to Iris and Vivi to find her – but where and from what? It really is a story of dark, dark secrets.

House of Hollow is a modern-day thriller like you’ve never read before. I ask you now, will you be prepared for the unexpected when it comes sinisterly crawling nearer?

Hi, I’m Sophie and I absolutely love books, tv, music and films. My favorite film has to be How to train your Dragon. I play the Saxophone and I’m studying English Lit/Lang, Film studies and Textiles for my A-levels.  

About the book

‘This story will steal up your spine, slip beneath your skin, and stick to you like honey.’ — Samantha Shannon

The Hollow sisters – Vivi, Grey and Iris – are as seductively glamorous as they are mysterious. They have black eyes and hair as white as milk. The Hollow sisters don’t have friends – they don’t need them. They move through the corridors like sharks, the other little fish parting around them, whispering behind their backs.

And everyone knows who the Hollow sisters are. Because one day the three Hollow sisters simply disappeared. And when they came back, one month later, with no memory of where they had been, it was as if nothing had changed. Almost nothing, Apart from, for example, the little scar that had appeared in the hollow of their throats … and a whispering sense that something is not quite right about them, despite (or maybe because of) the terrible passion to be with them that they can exert on anybody at will…A thrilling, twisting, novel that is as seductive and glamorous as the Hollow sisters themselves….

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths by Maisie Chan, reviewed by James

Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is a heart-warming story about a young boy (Danny) growing around his maths champion family, and when his nai nai (grandma) arrives from China, it doesn’t get any better! Why doesn’t he fit in with the rest of his family? All Danny wants to do is draw mythical creatures and hang out with his best friend Rav, but his parents have him baby-sitting (or grandma-sitting in this case) Nai Nai for the entire holidays! Maybe this is a good time to get to know each other? Or will they just grow apart even more? I would recommend this book to anyone 8+ who wants a light, heart-warming story to read when they’re feeling down. It is an extremely well written book that I thoroughly enjoyed!

I am 13 years old and I have Type 1 diabetes.  I like reading, experimenting with new things, playing football and I support Arsenal. At school my favourite subject is Drama.

About the book

‘DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS is both heartwarming and hilarious, filled with characters you’ll instantly love’ Jamie Smart, author and illustrator of BUNNY VS MONKEY

‘Funny, heartwarming and packed with fascinating snippets of Chinese culture. I loved reading about the intergenerational relationship between Danny and his grandmother. We all need a Nai Nai in our lives’ Jen Carney, author and illustrator of THE ACCIDENTAL DIARY OF B.U.G.

Eleven-year-old Danny Chung loves drawing more than anything – certainly more than maths, which, according to his dad and everyone else, is what he is ‘supposed’ to be good at. He also loves having his own room where he can draw in peace, so his life is turned upside down when a surprise that he’s been promised turns out to be his little, wrinkly, ex-maths-champion grandmother from China. What’s worse, Nai Nai has to share his room, AND she takes the top bunk!

Nai Nai can’t speak a word of English, which doesn’t make things easy for Danny when he is charged with looking after her during his school holidays. Babysitting Nai Nai is NOT what he wants to be doing! Before long though it becomes clear to Danny that there is more to Nai Nai than meets the eye, and that they have more in common that he thought possible …

The Three Impossibles by Susie Bower, reviewed by Malia

This is a gripping story, deliciously dark yet fairytale like. Mim is a brilliant character – she is strong and brave, independent and likeable. The storyline moves fast enough to keep you interested and reads beautifully with well written descriptive language. A great book to gift and read.
My name is Malia. I am in year nine at school and have just chosen my GSCE options. My favourite subject at school is English, this is because I really enjoy reading and writing, my favourite book as a child was “The Little Book of Big Words”. My favourite birthday present this year was my kindle, my current obsession is the “After” series by Anna Todd. I don’t have a favourite author as I enjoy reading books by lots of different authors. I would like to be a primary school teacher when I am older and would like to specialise in English with a keen interest in children’s literature. 
My favourite bookshop is The Book Nook, Hove as they are always well stocked with lots of different books (their cafe is quite good too). 

About the book

Mim grew up surrounded by secrets. On the day she was born, her mother died and a mysterious curse was cast on her family. Ever since, she’s been isolated in a walled castle, forbidden from venturing to the Outside. 

But Mim has never been able to stop asking questions – and when her father enlists the suspicious Madame Marionette to train her in the art of being a princess, her curiosity only gets more intense. Determined to understand, Mim sets out on an epic adventure in which she will break all the rules, encounter strange creatures and use all her cunning to solve impossible problems. But will it be enough to bring happiness back to the lonely castle on the rock?