Cover Photo - photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via photopin cc,;photo credit: ★ jox via photopin cc; photo credit: spaceabstract via photopin

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

'Small Change for Stuart'
Life has never been that great for Stuart. Not only is he short for his age, but with a name like S. Horten, the nickname shorten is inevitable. But when his mum's job takes the family to his fathers home town, Beeton, he discovers a secret that had been hidden in the family for years...

When six three-penny bits fall out of his father's trick box, Stuart is drawn into a world of codes, machines, pictures clues and anagrams. But can he discover the combination of the safe before Uncle Tony's house is gone forever... And will he ever find Tony Horten's mysterious workshop?

Although I enjoyed this novel, it was very much for younger readers, I would only recommend this book to eleven and under.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

'Between Shades of Gray'
Imagine one night you were lying in bed, and a knock on the door changed everything...

Lina is a fifteen year old artist, she's been old a great future of drawing lies before her. But when she, her mother and her younger brother are separated from her father and sent to a Siberian prison camp, tortured, threatened, half starved, thrown into holes, forced to sleep in cattle cars and worked to the bone you wold think her future is lost. But through art, love, hope, honour, a not so terrible prison guard and a boy she hardly knows, but doesn't want to lose; Lina wonders, could there be a ray of sunshine between shades of grey?

Unforgettable, heart-wrenching and hopeful, this book had it all. I have read this book at least four times and I never tire of it. I perfectly understand why this book was short-listed for the Carnegie medal and would recommend this book to any teen because in my opinion, this is a story everyone should know.

First published at:

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

'My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece'
Imagine that an event you can barely remember destroyed your family. Imagine that one terrorist attack changed everything for you. Imagine that your sister lives on the mantelpiece.

That's exactly what's happened to ten year old Jamie. His dad's an alcoholic, his mum's left, his sister Jasmine has pink hair and Rose is dead. Jamie is left trying to work out the questions that he can't ask.

When Jamie's dad moves the family to Ambelside he promises them all a fresh start. A place here they can  move on, where there's no Muslims. But things don't quite go as planed. Jamie meets Sunya, a Muslim girl, she's the only person that truly understands him. But there's one problem. His dad blames Muslims for the terrorist attack which killed Rose. And if he found out he'd be furious...

I loved this book, it tackled so many themes and issues. Although many of the subjects were upsetting, this book was full of hope and determination. I would recommend this book to any teen, anywhere.

First published at:

My Name is Mina by David Almond

'My Name is Mina''
Home schooled Mina has always been different, she just doesn't seem to fit in. She always seems to attract trouble... One night, in the the moon, she starts a journal. A book of her thoughts, fears, dreams, family and friends. Through this unusual and daring diary, we begin to understand what has made Mina just so strange...

I really enjoyed this book as the fonts, pictures and layouts captured your imagination and interest. It also helps you understand that even if someone is different, that's nothing to be afraid of. That even someone seen to be weird or strange, can turn out to be a great friend

I would recommend this book to any teenager, for friendship, for family, for differences, and for great literature. It is the perfect prequel to Skellig.

First published at:

Monday, 9 April 2012

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran, (photo credit: <a href="">NRK P3</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <)
Since pop artist Ed Sheeran scooped Best Male and Best breakthrough act at the 2012 Brit Awards, Ed Sheeran's popularity has soared sky high. His lyrics, tunes, performance skills and fashion sense are superb, and I (like so many others) can hardly wait for his next song. It seems Ed and his followers can't be stopped, and in the words of Sheeran 'I'm going up in an elevator'.

There are many great qualities about Ed Sheeran. Ed writes his own lyrics, so it's impossible not to admire his creativity. But Ed Sheeran's musical style gives his songs a new dimension when both recording and listening. His music videos (unlike some many others), help fans to both understand the storyline and enjoy the music. And that's another thing! I have noticed nearly all of Sheeran's songs have a story line. Listen to Little Bird, Small Bump, A Team or Lego House; they all have story lines...

To sum up, he's a brilliant artist who I believe, has genuine talent. If you haven't heard him yet (which would mean you've either had your head in the sand or been fast asleep for the past three years!) you don't know what you're missing. A ten out of ten from me, Ed!

Sea Cadets (TS Tartar)

For about two years now I've been going to North Finchley's Sea Cadet Hall (TS Tartar). I can't say I was seen there every Wednesday and Friday or every district activity (in fact I would go as far to say quite the contrary!); but I have been enough to see the wonderful opportunities it can provide to a teen.

The name sea cadets makes you automatically assume everything about the service is connected to water. Inevitably, the wet substance is a major part of Sea Cadets, but there are certain 'dry land' activities e.g. 5 a side football.

Sea Cadets is not only about sports and activities. It aims to improve discipline for its young people using some techniques of the navy. New entries and juniors can join from the age of ten, at the age of twelve you become a full cadet and work your way through ordinary cadet, able cadet and, eventually, leading cadet.

Sea Cadets offer a wide range of opportunities for a low price. Find out more at:

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 
Arnold Spirit Junior has never had much luck in life. He was born with too much cerebral spine fluid in his skull (or as he puts it 'water on my brain') that has left him with brain damage, one near-sighted eye, one far-sighted eye, huge hands and feet, being super skinny and having forty two teeth. Junior has already been beaten up by the other kids (and adults) of his reservation and things get worse when he gets expelled from school after throwing a book at his maths teacher.

Following the advice of Mr P he goes to school at Reardan (a school for rich white kids). Not only has he betrayed the tribe (and lost his best mate, Rowdy, in process), he has to put up with being even more of an outsider then he was before. However, at least now he is surrounded by people who have hope in life. Junior surprises himself when he impresses the most popular boy in school, gets a girlfriend, gets in the basketball team and makes friends.

Through the words Junior says and cartoons he draws, this books teaches you to never give up, always have hope and dream big. I really enjoyed this book as it taught me to never give up hope. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of twelve as the language and storyline can be upsetting.

First published at:

Massive by Julia Bell

Carmen's mum is obsessed with the idea that thin equals beauty, success and a way to get what you want. So it's not surprising that weight has always been a big issue in Carmen's life. But things get too much when Carmen is whisked off to Birmingham and forced to leave her father, her home and her friends. Her old life is starting to disappear.

With her mum's diets getting out of hand and her family secrets are being revealed, Carmen wonders whether if she was thin, really thin, would all this be happening?

This book made me think about making the right choices and about how much people think about their appearance. It was written from Carmen's point of view. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of ten.

First published at:

Matched by Ally Conide

In Cassia's world society controls everything: who people love, where people work and when they die. All her life Cassia obeyed the rules because she though society was there for a reason.

On her seventeenth birthday Cassia meets her perfect partner – except he's not. When Cassia she sees her friend Ky's face on her micro card she just knows something isn't right.

As she finds herself falling in love, keeping secrets and questioning the society that she has trusted for so many years, her world starts to unravel.

This book is set in the future and written from Cassia's point of view. It taught me about love, family and how little things can mean a lot to you. I really enjoyed this book as I'd never read anything like it before. It was very unusual. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of ten.

First published at:

The Declaration by Gemma Malley

'The Declaration''
Imagine a world were you could live forever, where you could never die. All thanks to the Longevity pill, it replaces cells in people's bodies. It cures people of all illness. No one dies so no one is born.

If you want to take the Longevity pill, you sign the deceleration, saying you can never have children. Some people are irresponsible, they break the rules, and they're selfish. They take the longevity pill and they have children. They're children are found, taken away to a surplus hall.

Surplus Anna's parents were irresponsible. They broke the rule about not having children. Now Anna lives at Grange Hall, a place where she must
learn how to repay society for the selfish act of her parents. She must learn to be a Valuable Asset.

Then one day, her whole world and what she believes turns around… Peter arrives at Grange hall; he's the oldest surplus to be found, he's spent so much time hidden away. Peter says he knows Anna's parents, that they told him to tell her they love her. And most importantly, he's here to take her back home…

This book taught me no matter how bad that past was, you can always have a better future! I'd thoroughly recommend this book to anyone.

First published at:

Bang, Bang You're Dead by Narinder Dhami

'Bang, Bang, You're Dead!'

Mia’s twin brother, Jamie, has always protected her. Until now. Mia and Jamie seem to be growing apart.  It’s all to do with their mum’s illness; it causes her to have mood swings. There are pills that could help her but their mum stopped taking them after grandpa died. With their mum refusing to see a doctor and Mia terrified of social services splitting her and her twin up and of anyone at school finding out it seems Mia and Jamie are stuck. Mia knows none of this is her mum’s fault, however Jamie has less sympathy. He’s fed up of trying to make things right. Recently he’s been threatening to do something drastic. Something to show their mum how this is affecting them, and he won’t tell Mia what it is……………

When rumours start about a man in school with a gun and Jamie’s no where to be seen Mia knows something bad is going to happen. Then she remembers the gun she and her twin found when they were little. Mia knows she has to stop this. The only problem is the man’s not Jamie, and it seems that Jamie died the day he was born. Soon Mia discovers she is Jamie and all the things she thought Jamie had done, had been her……..

I really enjoyed this book as it was different and unusual. Also, it showed me what life could be like for other people. However, I found it a bit confusing when Jamie turns out not to be real.  It is written in Mia’s point of view and I would recommend it to anyone over the age of ten as it can be quite upsetting.

First published at:

A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird

'A Little Piece of Ground'
Karim Aboudi has a list of the things he wants to do in his life. One of them is to destroy the Israeli tanks that block the street. Karim can no longer play football or see his friends. All he can do is wait until the curfew ends. With his older brother doing anything to annoying him and Karim not be being able to go outside he's is ready to go crazy.

When the curfew ends, Karim is delighted! He and his new friend Hopper find a piece of wasteland to play football on. But the tanks and the guns come back and Karim is trapped in the wasteland…

This book taught me that even in the worst situations, you can survive.

I would recommend this book to any teenager, girl or boy.

First published at:

Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie

'Girl Missing'

Imagine you'd always been told you had been adopted when you were three, that your real mother didn't want you. And when you asked more about your past, no one answered your questions. Until one day, on a missing children's website, you see a little girl who you think may be you. What would you do?

That's exactly the dilemma Lauren is faced with. With the help of her friend Jam she goes to find out to find her biological parents, to discover who she really is and whether the people she had known as her parents all these years were involved. Only to discover that her kidnappers will do anything to keep her silent...

I really enjoyed this book; you feel really involved in the story and can't wait to see what happens next. It taught me that sometimes your family are not always the people who gave birth to you and that things are not always as clear as they seem… I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and is over ten years old.

First Published at: