Title: Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library
Author: Chris Grabenstein
Publisher: Yearling (Random House)
About the book: Kyle has never loved libraries, but he has always loved boardgames. When he discovers that the world’s most famous game maker has designed the town’s new library, and the winners of an essay contest will get to stay overnight in the library on opening night, he is determined to win.
During the lock-in, he will need all of his smarts, courage and determination to escape from Mr Lemoncello’s library.
What I thought: This book had me on the edge of my seat, wanting to know what would happen next and how the clues fit together. It’s a mystery and an adventure all wrapped up together. I particularly liked the character of Mr Lemoncello because he reminded me a bit of Willy Wonka.
I also liked the literary references scattered throughout the book. Let’s just say, the book was so interesting that I struggled to put it down and read it very quickly.
I would recommend this book for ages 11+. If you like mystery stories, adventure stories and puzzles, you will love this book.
Buy Escape From Mr Lemoncello’s Library.
Title: The Doctor
Author: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
About the book: Have you ever wondered why alcohol makes you speak louder? Or how to tell which part of a movie the audience is watching – without looking? Well, Dr Karl is your man.
This collection of random science facts and questions, answered in an easy-to-read and understandable format, is sure to amaze you and leave you awestruck!
What I thought: I really loved how approachable this book was. It is not set out like a textbook or a big boring scientific volume. Instead, it is set out in sections, with each describing and explaining one concept.
Dr Karl has brought his signature humour to an otherwise not-very-funny subject, making it entertaining and informative. He is one of my favourite non-fiction authors, alongside Adam Spencer.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ as younger readers may find it hard to follow or be disinterested in the subject matter. If you’re looking to learn something new, or you just love science, you will enjoy this book.
Buy The Doctor.
Title: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown/Hachette
About the book: Newt Scamander is on a trip to America with a case full of magical beasts. When some of the animals from the case escape, it is up to Newt, his non-magical friend Jacob and Tina from the American Ministry of Magic to find them.
This screenplay is about what happens next.
What I thought: I thought that this screenplay flowed very easily, although I didn’t think it would due to its format. J.K. Rowling has brought many of her famous writing elements to this screenplay, making it truly feel like another wonderful Harry Potter story.
I read this before I saw the movie, and it felt like I’d read a Harry Potter book and then watched the movie, not like the whole story had been given away in advance. I think that doing this showed me how much a filmmaker’s imagination develops the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as younger readers may find the story and format a little bit confusing.
Buy Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.
With Christmas fast-approaching, it won’t surprise anyone to know that I’m hoping for books this year. Lots of books.
As I do every year.
These are the six books at the top of my wishlist this year – and, yes, it was hard to narrow it down to just six!
• The Invention Of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I saw the movie Hugo, which is based on this book, and would like to see if the book is as good as the movie. I think The Marvels by the same author also looks great.
• The Fever Code by James Dashner
I read the rest of The Maze Runner series and really enjoyed them, so I would like this prequel.
• Brotherband #6: The Ghostfaces
John Flanagan’s writing style is so engaging and I would like to see where this next book takes Hal and the gang.
• Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling
I read The Cursed Child, a script based on a story by J.K. Rowling, and now would like to read a screenplay actually written by her.
• Adam Spencer’s World Of Numbers
Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers is my favourite non-fiction book, so I would like to add to my collection.
• The Amateurs by Sara Shepherd
I don’t know much about this one, but the description is so intriguing that I cannot pass it up! And it’s book #1 of a new series, which is always good!
Title links will take you to Booktopia (see ‘About This Site’ for details).
Author: Sara Pennypacker
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
About the book: Pax, a fox, and his boy, Peter, are inseparable until one day when Peter’s father goes to war and insists that Pax is left by the side of the road. Much to the heartbreak of both Peter and Pax.
Peter then goes on a journey to find his fox, while Pax goes on a journey of his own to find his missing boy.
What I thought: I thought that this was a beautifully touching book about an amazing bond between human and animal. The language in the book made it feel soft and engaging, even though it has moments that make you gasp. I think this book has the air of a classic, like ‘Call Of The Wild’ by Jack London.
Pax, the fox, reminded me of my own dog and reading companion, Book Dog, as they share many of the same qualities. This made the story feel even more real to me.
I also really loved the cover and other illustrations throughout the book, which added to the old-fashioned beauty of the story.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+, as it feels too old for some younger readers. Anyone who likes animal stories will love this book.
Title: Everything Is Changed
Author: Nova Weetman
About the book: Alex and Jake, both teenagers, do something terrible one night and have to try to conceal it. This book is told in reverse, starting at the end, and leading up towards the climax, which is where the reader finds out exactly what the boys did to lead them to where they are at the start of the book. It’s the mystery of this that keeps you reading.
What I thought: I thought this book was very interesting, as it’s told in reverse, and I like how the language in the book helped the tension. I found the characters relatable because of the way they were described and the book is all told in first person so their voices felt very real, and I liked that. The two boys narrate part of the story, but there are other voices adding to the story as well.
I recommend this book for ages 12+ because it contains mature themes, some coarse language and high tension, and I think that both boys and girls would like it.
Buy Everything Is Changed.
Title: Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers
Author: Adam Spencer
About the book: This book contains all the weird, wonderful and wacky facts about the numbers 1 to 100. It includes quizzes and problems so that you can test your maths skills as you learn.
What I thought: I thought this book was brilliantly surprising and funny. Yes, funny. Maths can be funny. I really thought that the addition of quizzes was helpful as it helps people to learn if they actually do it for themselves. This is the best non-fiction book that I’ve read.
I would recommend this book to everyone, although it would be helpful to be a little bit older (10+) as some of the problems are difficult. If you really like numbers, or you’d like to know more about them, you’ll love this book.
Younger readers may like to start off with Adam Spencer’s Enormous Book Of Numbers, which is aimed at the 7+ age group.
Buy Adam Spencer’s Big Book Of Numbers
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
About the book: Sixteen-year-old Cassie is living through an alien invasion. So far there have been four waves of attacks, killing over four billion people. Now she’s on her own, and facing the fifth wave.
What I thought: This book sucked me in from the first page. It’s a fast-paced thriller that’s also thought-provoking. The plot unfolds cleverly as you read, making you want to read on and on.
I liked the character of Cassie because she likes books, to the point of making room in her survival kit for them. I also liked the first-person narration because it feels very immediate, like you’re experiencing the danger with her.
I recommend this book for ages 14+ because it has adult themes, violence, science fiction elements and it can be scary in places.
Buy The 5th Wave here.
Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Random House
About the book: I thought I would review this book because ‘The Fever Code’, a second prequel to the original series, has just been released.
When Thomas wakes up in a strange maze, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He’s welcomed by other boys into The Glade, a camp in the middle of the terrible maze. Like Thomas, the others do not know where they are, why they are there or how they got there.
What I thought: This was a tense, gripping book, which had me wanting to read more and more, as more questions were answered – opening up new questions. I really loved how this book kept me interested and the quality was the same the whole way through (the pace is kept up from start to finish).
I recommend this book for ages 12+ as it contains confronting scenes and some grown-up themes, and may be thought to be a bit scary in places.
Buy The Maze Runner here.
Buy The Fever Code here.
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books (Random House Australia)
About the book: Jacob Portman is a curious 16-year-old boy. His grandfather has always told him stories about peculiar people on a peculiar island. When his grandfather dies, Jacob is unsure whether to take these stories as true or false, so he goes in search of the magical island. Saying any more here would be spoiling the story as it moves so fast.
What I thought: This story is beautifully written, spooky and absorbing. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down because the story is so enthralling and the eerie photographs in the book just add another level of depth. I found that even though the main character was older than me, he felt so real and I felt like I could connect. I really loved how the story flows on and keeps your attention.
I would recommend this book for ages 12+ because it is scary in places – both the story and the photographs – and because the character is older and younger people may not connect with him.
Buy Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.