I’m not quite sure where the first two months of this year have gone, time seems to have absolutely flown by. The books I read in January and February are sitting on my desk looking at me accusingly and wondering why I bothered to read them if I wasn’t going to share them on my blog. I’ve apologised for my terrible lack of manners and have forced myself to clear a space on my desk for my laptop and write the reviews. Anyway that’s enough about me, time to share with you some marvellous middle grade books that I have enjoyed amidst all the madness of the last two months.
A new book by Lisa Thompson is always something to look forward to. Lisa has a talent for creating stories that are wonderfully warm and wise and, ‘The Boy Who Fooled the World,’ is no exception. Cole stands out in school for all the wrong reasons, his trainers are tatty, he doesn’t have the latest phone and inevitably becomes the target for the mean kids at school. Until one day when a painting he created is talent-spotted by a famous artist and it changes his and his family’s life overnight. But there’s one small problem. Cole is hiding a secret and if anyone finds out the truth, the fame and fortune he has come to love could all disappear. This is such a brilliant and clever story, Lisa has excelled herself by weaving this incredible tale of a supposed boy genius and showed how easy it for small white lies to get completely out of control. The struggle that Cole’s family if facing is written thoughtfully and sensitively, so that we become completely caught up in their change of fortune. A truly stellar read, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
It was with much anticipation that I read the fourth and final book in the Cogheart adventures. ‘Shadowsea,’ having loved all of the other books in this series I was sad at the though of saying goodbye to Lily and Robert. But fear not for their finale hurrah, Peter has pulled all of the stops out of the bag in this thrilling and incredibly dramatic story that will hold you in it’s grip to the very last page. A trip to New York leads to a chance encounter with a strange boy who is locked in his hotel room by his very strange Aunt, whose behaviour is causing alarm bells to ring. Determined to help this boy, Lily and Robert break into his room and discover a dark and terrible secret that he has buried within the depths of his mind. And once again they find themselves drawn into a dangerous world, can they risk everything to uncover the truth? Their is a high level of excitement and peril that runs through Peter’s stories so marvellously and it makes it impossible to put his books down. He never fails to surprise me with his unexpected twists and turns and for me this is another triumph in storytelling.
‘The Highland Falcon Thief,’ is the first book in an intriguing new mysteries series that I’m sure will be hugely successful. Harrison Beck is massively unimpressed when his parents pack him off with his travel writer Uncle Nat aboard the royal steam train, he can’t imagine anything more boring. However the journey takes an unexpected turn when precious jewels start to go missing. The suspect has to onboard the train and Harrison is determined to turn detective and uncover the identity of this sophisticated criminal. For me this book ticks all my boxes, it’s a classic who dunnit mystery which clues cleverly concealed along the way. I adored the setting it is just glorious, the attention to detail and lavish description conjures up the Highland Falcon so vividly in my mind that I felt I was truly onboard the train. I absolutely delighted in the scene involving fried eggs on the footplate, it’s wonderfully evocative and made me desperate to be there. Elisa’s delightful illustrations capture the excitement and drama of this tale perfectly. A truly cracking and smart read, that will be completely irresistible to mystery fans.
I would love to see more science-fiction in middle grade so I was delighted when, ‘Orion Lost,’ landed in my review pile. Orion is on a mission to set up a new civilisation on a distant planet and Beth is nervous but excited to start her new life. Four months out of earth, when they are a millions of miles from home, disaster strikes leaving them stranded in space. With all the adults trapped in Sleep, Beth and her friends find themselves in charge of a heavily damaged ship with no idea how to make contact with earth and get them all home. Survival seems impossible with a mysterious alien species and space pirates tracking them whilst Ship their AI guide seems to be hiding things from them. Can Beth uncover the truth and save their colony from destruction. This is such a compelling and dramatic adventure, it is packed full of twists and turns which managed to catch me unawares every time. Cleverly constructed with remarkable world-building, this will be hugely appealing to fans of fast-paced and action-packed adventures.
Thank you to Macmillan, Nosy Crow, Scholastic and Usborne for sending me gifted copies of these books. You can get your hands on these books online (click on the links in the title) or from you favourite local bookshop.