My Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

My Friend the EnemyMy Friend the Enemy by Dan Smith

My Friend the Enemy. Beautifully written this book brought alive the life of a child in rural England during the Second World War. I am instinctively drawn to books written about this war, and this book did not disappoint. Full of life, danger and adventure, I was caught up in the story and for a while actually felt I was actually there.

The author managed, without preaching, to bring across the message of humanity, that soldiers are just ordinary people and that in different circumstances enemies could become friends.

I introduced this book recently to our Grade 6’s (12 year olds) in our school library. I read the first chapter to them and they were captivated. The book went out immediately in the hands of a student whose great-grandfather fought for Germany and a several students added their names to the waiting list. Interestingly, this story lead to a long discussion about the war and I was amazed at how few students knew that South African soldiers fought for the Allies.

4 StarFans of Michael Morpurgo will love this story.

Recommended age 10 +

My Friend the Enemy
Author: Dan Smith

Publication Date: 4 July 2013My Friend the Enemy
Publisher: Chicken House
Source: Purchased

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Summer, 1941. For Peter, the war is a long way away, being fought by a faceless enemy. Until the night a German plane is shot down over woods that his missing dad looked after before he went off to fight.

Peter rushes to the crash site to see if there’s something he can keep, but what he finds instead is an injured young German airman. The enemy. Here.

And helping him seems like the right thing to do… 

– abstract from Goodreads.com

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

Despite the fact I rarely enjoy historical fiction and hate anything to do with political intrigue, I loved this original and beautifully written book which manages to successfully combine fantasy and medieval French history.

Oozing with passion, suspense, romance and espionage, this book portrays murder in a very different light. Packing a punch as an assassin for the elusive god of Death, the strong female character, Ismae, has to find a way to faithfully serve her god and still be true to heart as she navigates the murky waters of intrigue and treason in the court of Duchess Anne of Brittany.4 Star

Recommended age 14+

Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin Book 1
Author:  Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy
Publication Date: 7 June 2012
Publisher: Anderson Press
Source: Purchased


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Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?     – Extract from Goodreads.com

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of Light

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of LightSara and the Chimera crop

I was sceptical when I first heard of this book, it is not my genre of choice (I prefer faerie in my fantasy!), and although my teenage self would have snatched at it, I was not so sure I wanted to drag myself through what looked like an ‘out there’ story. I stalled, querying if this was in fact a young adult book as the protagonists were children, but was assured that they mature with each sequel and the series as a whole would suit a broad audience including YA. To be honest I was a little awed by the fact this was the first book I was asked to review and feeling as though I should at least give it a chance I chose a time when I was going to be stuck for long period of time in waiting rooms where anything is better than the old sporting magazines provided.

The first few chapters were hard to get through, featuring long descriptive passages that didn’t flow easily. I gave up at one stage, putting the book aside, intending to have a break for a day or two. But I was ousted by the characters who had wormed their way into my mind and I found myself repeatedly thinking about them and where the story would take them. I am so glad I persevered; this was an enticing, imaginative, slightly weird story that transported me into another world (or should I say worlds). As I read I began to think how it would translate into film and I think it has the potential to make a brilliant and successful movie.

The beautifully developed characters (FYI – Chimera is pronounced Ky-MARE-uh) were enhanced by Todd Morasch’s detailed illustrations which appear sporadically throughout. I wish that the cover had been better designed; it does not do the story any justice.

While I am not sure that this book will appeal to the majority (unless the movie version comes out), I’d like to thank the authors for taking me outside my comfort zone. A mature child who loves reading would 4 Starenjoy this innovative book.

Recommended age: 10+

Sara and the Chimera: A Prison of Light – Book 1
Series: Sara and the Chimera
Author:  Greg Dent & Todd MoraschSara and the Chimera
Publication Date: 27 July 2010
Publisher: Epidemic Books
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review


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Sara Starbright has the most important gift the universe has ever given, and all manner of creatures from all realms of the imagination want to take it for themselves. What can one small girl do to protect herself from the deadliest and most impressive force creation has ever amassed? Yet in her darkest hour, Sara may have just met the one person in the entire universe capable of being her friend.

Stifled and stunted in the deepest inner chambers of the Fishman’s worldship prison colony, a boy named Jonathan Wheeler lies in a state of suspended animation. Through an unlikely twist of fate, he has found himself in the body of an ever-growing and ever-changing monster, the Chimera. With boundless energy and strength at his command, all he needs is the right bit of knowledge to get himself out of his cell and to freedom.

As they escape from one world to the next, Sara and Jonathan find that together they make a pretty good team. But when you can’t trust anyone, and when the universe turns out to be quite a bit bigger than you could have ever imagined, who can you count on to guide you towards somewhere you actually want to be?    – Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett

You Don’t Know Me crop
A beautifully written story about the bonds of friendship, that also shines a spotlight on the dark world of manipulation which is sometimes the ‘reality’ of Reality Television. Where ‘real’ is edited until it is something else, something that will attract viewers, and where everyone loses something.

You Don’t Know Me exposes the ugly of social media, tabloids and unscrupulous production companies who will do anything to make money. Don’t miss this book.

4 Star

Recommended age 12+

You Don’t Know Me
Author:
 Sophia Bennett
Publication Date: 2 May 2013You Don’t Know Me by Sophia Bennett
Publisher: Chicken House
Source: Purchased


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Sasha, Jodie, Nell and Rose never expected to be famous. They didn’t want to be. In fact, they wanted to keep their band a secret because it’s what they do when they’re being stupid together – dressing up and singing cheesy songs.

But someone has stolen a video they made. It’s online, and it’s been entered into a talent competition. And what’s more … it’s got 24 votes. In only a few hours it’s got 24 votes.

The girls are about to be faced with a big decision that could make them seriously famous.

Just not necessarily the way they hoped …

– Extract from Goodreads.com

The Future of Us by Jay Asher

The Future of Us by Jay AsherThe Future of Us crop

I have read several mediocre books just recently and this is one of them. I was expecting more from Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler whose previous books I have enjoyed.

While I think the idea to use Facebook was quite clever, the whole seeing into the future has been done so many times before and this story did not contain enough originality to give it an edge.

Disappointing character development, where are the characters that we can engage with? I know I was supposed to be rooting for Emma and Jay to get together, but in all honestly I couldn’t care either way.3 Star

Recommended age 12+

The Future of Us
Author:  Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Publication Date: 5 January 2012The Future of Us by Jay Asher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased


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It’s 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on – and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they’ll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.  Extract from Goodreads.com

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