Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

Island of a Thousand Mirrors

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Set in Sri Lanka during the civil war. A story of love and loss. A story of culture and difference.
In the South two families of different backgrounds living in the same house. War separates them with one family immigrating to USA. Later their paths cross again in Sri Lanka when the sisters come back to work with refuge children. A lost love is found.
In the North one family living in hardship and fear of the day their children are taken for soldiers. At 13 you are old enough to serve. The parents can’t protect their children from the army or the enemy. One daughter is damaged and then taken by the Tamil Tigers for training. The ultimate soldier becomes a martyr.
A peek inside another world. A world of tragedy and tradition, of love and prejudice.  The story ends with hope and thoughts of the future in a country no longer at war with itself.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

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You are dying at 16 and you hear about cryogenics freezing your head until they have the technology to attach it to another body sometime in the future. You have been sick for ages and there is no hope. You convince your parents that it would be a good idea to freeze your head. You expect not to come back to life but if you do it would be at least 100 years in the future. You say goodbye to your family, friends and your girlfriend.
Fast forward 5 years, you wake up. It seems to you that no time has passed. Once you adjust to your new body, which is much better than your old one and not sick, you expect to pick up where you left off. But your parents got rid of your stuff, your best friend is in Uni while you have to finish high school AND your girlfriend is engaged to a really nice guy and doesn’t want to see you.
Rather than a returning hero you have a whole new set of problems. You never liked high school and now you are a celebrity, only 2 of the 100 cryogenic recoveries has worked so you are a miracle. You don’t feel like a miracle or a celebrity, you feel sad. You miss your old life.
You go back to school and make a friend. You work towards taking your old life back. Along the road you make some sacrifices, learn some surprising things and find that you can have a new life with remnants of the old and that really is a miracle.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

This is a pretty intense book, once I started I couldn’t stop, I had to know what had happened.
Carey is living in a caravan deep in the woods caring for her little sister while her mother is away. Her mother, a meth addict with mental health issues, goes away often and this is the longest time she has been away. They are running out of food and have very little else other than books. Two strangers arrive to take them away but Carey is reluctant to go.
Carey doesn’t feel she deserves this new life and fears if the truth were told she could lose all she has gained. As the story unfolds and Carey learns to trust, you realise that Carey is a survivor in more ways than one, a young girl who has been abused.
Highly recommended to readers over 15.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness

A thoughtful book, on a dark subject. As the story opens Seth is drowning. Then he wakes up in a strange but a familiar place. His old family home that they moved from years ago, covered in dust and containing things that moved with them and things left behind.
What is the silver tape on his body and why is there no one else around?
As Seth seeks to make sense of this world, surprising things happen.
I am a big fan of Patrick Ness and loved The Chaos Walking series, one of the darkest and bleak series every written. The villain in this story is different because Seth doesn’t know what it is or what part of reality is real.
A must read for fans and dystopia readers should enjoy.
Recommend for readers 14+ but able younger readers may enjoy.

meant to be confusing to relate the characters confusion.

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

Speed Freak by Fleur Beale

New Zealand Author Alert!

Fifteen year old Archie is into kart racing, every weekend he and his Dad are either racing or working on the kart. Archie is one of the best racers and this year’s competition is the most important of his career because the winner will compete in Europe.
Craig is also a good racer, he has all the advantages money can buy. He has a professional mechanic for the season and is competing with Archie not just on the track but for sponsorship as well. Silver, a girl racer who didn’t compete last year, is back and is making things interesting on the course.
Archie is lucky to have great support not only from his Dad but his Grandparents as well. His Granddad has been in the game for a long time. His Mum doesn’t live with them, and Archie would like to understand why, he blames himself but hasn’t had the courage to ask the tough questions. Dad’s new girlfriend Erica is moving in with her young son, Archie isn’t sure what this arrangement will mean for his racing.
Lots of detail to give the reader an understanding of kart racing, a bit too much for me. It took a while for the story to get interesting, about a third of the way it drew me in. A strong moral 15 year old boy is the centre of the story, maybe a bit too thoughtful but pretty convincing.
Good blended family story with caring extended family.
Recommend to readers 12+ especially if they enjoy motor sports.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Sheppard

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Pretty Little Liars

by Sara Sheppard

I was reluctant to purchase this series because it looked so frivolous.  As a school library we are constantly trying to lift the type of “literature” our students read. But I succumbed to some reluctant readers who really wanted to read the series.

I’m very glad that I did and admit that I was wrong about the depth of the books, still not literature, but definitely much more complex and thought provoking than I imagined.

So, the story goes a bit like ‘I know what you did last summer’.  The four friends have something to hide and somebody knows about it.  Add to this the fact that their friend Ali, the leader of the group and a not-so-nice bully goes missing.

As the story progresses somebody seems to know more and more about the girls and their secrets.  And all teenagers have secrets whether it is who they like, what they said to who or how things are going at home, in the crippling world of peer pressure some secrets are more damaging than others.

So starts this series of twelve books to date which became a popular TV series. Interestingly the TV show doesn’t mimic the books, characters that died in the books stay alive in the series, things that happened in one don’t necessarily happen in the other.  So you can’t pretend you read the books by watching TV, as a librarian I think that is excellent news!

Recommended age 13+

Reach by Hugh Brown

Reach

by Hugh Brown

A first novel by an up and coming New Zealand author.  It took me a while to settle in to this story, but once I did I wanted to know how it was going to work out.  I think about a third of the way into the book it found it’s stride.

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Will is a typical teenager, with all the worries and insecurities that come with the territory. He is not popular and finds refuge in the books he reads.  He is in training for his first full-contact taekwondo fight.  He lives with his paternal grandparents, his Mum left years ago and his Dad  wasn’t coping with being a solo Dad.   The grandparents are sympathetically and realistically written and their voice is caring and consistent.

He has some friends at school, who he has been reluctant to invite into his personal life, but when Conway the girl of his dreams, starts spending time with him and his friends, things start to change.

His Mum returns from Australia, but hasn’t been to visit him.  His Grandfather ends up in hospital.  He thinks Conway is dating the school bully who has taken a liking to picking on Will.  This time escaping into a good book might not be a way out.

Set in New Zealand this story will appeal to students age 12+ and I would recommend to fans of Des Hunt.