The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, reviewed by Farrah (16)

In a deeply patriarchal society, where young girls undergo a ‘purity ceremony’, our main character Deka is forced to lead a different life than the predetermined path set out for her, when her blood runs gold with deemed impurity.

I massively enjoyed the experience of living inside Deka’s brain as she undergoes all of these shocking and exciting new experiences.

Farrah (16)

Snatched from her village, she is thrust into a world of battle and demons and is forced to deconstruct the indoctrinated misogyny housed in her brain, as she enters the Emperor’s army, as a special sector of the legions. Along the way she makes alliances and bands together with others, in the kinship of sisterhood, whilst also blossoming as an individual, piecing together her past and fighting for her future.

As this is a book told in first-person, I massively enjoyed the experience of living inside Deka’s brain as she undergoes all of these shocking and exciting new experiences. The overall message and themes contained within the pages, such as the importance of friendship and defiance, with the feminist overtone make for an impactful fantasy. The world building is unique, and the characters feel fleshed out and multi-faceted. As a debut novel, this is certainly commendable.

If you are a lover of the fantasy genre, or if you are interested in trying fantasy, I would definitely recommend ‘The Gilded Ones’. The writing style is eloquent, but easy to read, and you will find yourself gripped in no time. It’s sequel, ‘The Merciless Ones’ has recently been released, and therefore if upon finishing, you are eager for more, there is a whole new novel for you to devour. If however, you would prefer to read it as a stand-alone, then ‘The Gilded Ones’ will not disappoint. The ending ties the tale together neatly,  and you could leave the story there.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency: The Secrets of the Stormforest : Book 3 by L.D.Lapinski, reviewed by Leontine (11)

The epic final of The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was an amazing book, packed full of adventure, magic and courage. I really enjoyed reading this book and once I started I couldn’t stop reading it.

Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous.

Leontine (11)

The secrets of stormforest are all about Flick and her friends stopping an evil danger from stealing magic. Flick is really powerful, strong and courageous. Together Flick and her friends are unstoppable.

Tristyan is my favourite character because he’s really wise, brave and prepared to do anything to protect his friends and family.

I really liked this book and would recommend this book to all magic lovers.

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame by Louie Stowell, reviewed by Niamh (10)

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Taking the Blame is Louie Stowell’s second book in the series. Norse trickster, Loki, was previously sent to Midgard\Earth in the form of an 11-year-old boy to do good deeds or face punishment by Odin. 

In the body of a mortal child, he is cruelly forced to go to school, while Heimdall and Hyrrokkin pretend to be his parents and Thor his twin brother. Loki being Loki, he always somehow finds a way to cause trouble even without trying!

I love this book so much! It’s hilarious and is packed with fun adventures and a good twist at the end. I liked the bit where Loki turned himself, Thor and two mortal friends into horses and started a horse rampage!

Niamh (10)

Despite having done a good deed in the last book, in the second instalment Loki must stay on Earth to protect it from fearsome Frost Giants and clear his name after Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, goes missing…

The book is in the form of Loki’s diary and is filled with lots of funny illustrations and sometimes the diary talks back and detects when Loki is lying! 

I love this book so much! It’s hilarious and is packed with fun adventures and a good twist at the end. I liked the bit where Loki turned himself, Thor and two mortal friends into horses and when they started a horse rampage! 

It also made me laugh when Loki explained the ‘birthday rituals’, which includes Thor spitting on a burning cake and a game where you win prices for stopping dancing, where he says: “but my dancing is EXCELLENT. Why would I stop?”.

My friend Harrison loves the Loki books too and he says his favourite part was when Loki tries to start a spitting contest to get spit for a spell to test if someone was a giant.

I would recommend the Loki books to anyone who likes Norse mythology, funny adventures, lots of mischief and hilarious illustrations. I can’t wait for the third book!

Perfect for fans of: Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to be Good by Louie Stowell; and Who Let the Gods Out series by Maz Evans.

Giant by Nicola Skinner, reviewed by Aysha (11)

This book is amazing!!!

I love the way it is written and illustrated and told.

As a person who does not usually read a lot of books about Giants, this book was great! As you can tell by the title, this book is about Giants. 

I loved reading this story, there were so many twists to the story, it kept me guessing right till the very end. 

Aysha (11)

In Minnie’s island of people, there are also Giants. The Giants work for the Giant Management Company which is run by Mrs Primrose. How does it work, you ask? Well, Giants get trained to be servants and look after children until the children turn 12. When the children turn 12, there is a ceremony where the children kiss their Giant. When the child kisses their Giant, their Giant turns to stone.

When a massive earthquake hits Quake Quarter, Minnie’s ceremony is fast-tracked. But she is not ready for her ceremony and not ready to say goodbye to Speck her Giant, so Minnie runs away. How will she survive and are there some hidden secrets along the way!?

I loved reading this story, there were so many twists to the story, it kept me guessing right till the very end. 

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge, reviewed by Farrah (16)

Unraveller is a vivid and delightful fantasy novel, which had me gripped from the very first chapter. Featuring Kellen, an unraveller of curses, and Nettle, an individual whose curse was unravelled by Kellen, we follow these characters as they are joined by unlikely allies in a journey to uncover the conspiracy surrounding a band of fugitive cursers. Along the way they travel through the alluring and vibrantly depicted locations of Mizzleport, the Shallow and the Deep Wilds.

It will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

Farrah (16)

Covering a variety of topics in this expertly crafted fantasy, this is a book which you will find yourself unable to put down. I loved the vast cast of characters, and the incredible set-up of this fantastical world and its ‘magic system’. From the fearsome creatures inhabiting the Wilds, to the victims of strange curses and their seemingly formidable cursers, these are characters who’s escapades are a joy to read. Nettle’s quiet compassion and Kellen’s vivacious lust for adventure (and often the danger that accompanies it) are enchantingly written.

Lover of the fantasy genre or not, the lyrical writing and engaging characters will entice you in from the get-go. I would highly recommend this book to a large variety of age groups, and it will certainly go down as one of my favourite stories of the year.

Leonora Bolt by Lucy Brandt, reviewed by Caitlin (7)

This book is really good and it has lots of mysteries. 

Leonora Bolt and her friend Jack go on an exciting adventure with Millie the cook. With lots of unexpected happenings.

Some bits were very funny and some bits were a little scary (but in an exciting way.)

Caitlin (7)

Leonora is a kind girl who is a secret inventor. But she does not know what the mainland looks like because she is stuck on an island, called Crabby Island, in the middle of nowhere with her horrible Uncle. Leonora Bolt also has a little sea otter Twitchy as her pet. And he helps her with her mission. 

The book was amazing, and some bits were very funny and some bits were a little scary (but in an exciting way). 

There is a cliff hanger and I think it is really cool that there is a mystery to be solved. I want to read the next one. And I loved the funny ferry timetable.

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter, reviewed by Riley (12)

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, by Helen Rutter, is a touching story about a young boy called Billy Plimpton, who has a stammer.

Heart warming but also hilariously funny!

Riley (12)

He dreams of becoming a famous stand-up comedian, but first he has to overcome the many complications that come with his stammer.

This book is not only heart warming but also hilariously funny!

It is a perfect mixture of warmth and humour. And you don’t just have to take my word for it, as it has received great reviews, including one from Jacqueline Wilson herself!

I highly recommend that you read this book, or purchase it as a gift for a loved one. It can be enjoyed by anyone from age 11 to adult!

The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson, Reviewed by Aysha (11)

The Thief Who Sang Storms is a great book written by Sophie Anderson. 

It contains magic, creativity, teamwork and most of all love (but not the romance kind).

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too

Aysha (11)

It’s all about a bird girl called Linnet and her Island of Morovia, which is now divided into areas where humans live and a swamp area where all the bird people now reside, after something drastic happened. 

The bird people formed a group called the Unity Movement who have been trying to take down Captain Ilya who separated the bird people from humans for ‘safety’ after what happened. When Linnet’s father, Nightingale, gets caught by the bogatyrs (Captain IIya’s troops), Linnet realises she needs to do something. 

She teams up with humans to help stop this nonsense, but can she do it?

I love how this book has lots of flashbacks so you can understand the back story too.

The Light Thieves by Helena Duggan, reviewed by Catherine (11)

The planet has shifted on its axis in what is known as The Tilt, an enormous earthquake which also caused a black mark to appear on the sun. Billionaire tech genius Howard Hansomhas a plan to harness PEOPLEPOWER! to fix the earth – but not everyone is convinced…

I love it when they enter the Wilde Forest. It is a dark and mysterious place and you can tell that exciting things are going to happen there.

Catherine (11)

The main character in this story is schoolboy Grian Woods, closely followed by Jeffrey Slight, Grian’s neighbour and classmate, and Shelli, a Wilde girl. Both have unique and exciting abilities; Jeffrey has an impressive skill with all things technology, and Shelli can communicate with animals. The three team up to bring home Grian’s older sister Solas after she runs away to the Tipping Point – a city designed by Howard Hansom in the perfect position to save the world.

However, when the heroic trio arrive, not all is as it seems. Something dark is going on in the city of everybody’s dreams – could it have anything to do with Grian’s missing grandfather? It’s up to Grian and his new friends to find out and put it right.

My favourite character is Shelli’s clever fox friend Nach and I love it when they enter the Wilde Forest. It is a dark and mysterious place and you can tell that exciting things are going to happen there. I would recommend this book to ages 8-12. Other books by Helena Duggan are A Place Called Perfect, The Trouble with Perfect, and The Battle for Perfect. I haven’t read this trilogy but it sounds good!

Spellstoppers, by Cat Gray reviewed by Evie M (9)

Favourite character: My favourite character is Courageous Kit with her smart witted brain and sea-cret!

Read on if you dare!

Evie M (9)

What it’s about: It’s about a boy called Max who possesses a magic he can’t control so he is sent to stay with Bewitching Bram. There he discovers the Spellbinding Cove of Spellstoppers, evil enchantresses, Super Sulkies, Overhead Owls, mysterious mysts, and a crazy castle.

Adventures await! Read on if you dare!