The Fitzharrys Shadows

Create Group Magazine

Choose Love
Choose Love is a book surrounding the story of refugees and their experiences. I had mixed emotions with this book, as I’m not a big fan of poetry, and the fact that it was as short as it was. My favourite poem in this book was Hope, as it showed that even the angriest of people need hope sometimes and that when they see it, they can become hopeful as well. I think Choose Love was a very well-written book, but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t like poetry, so it didn’t have its full desire for me. Overall, I would give this book a 2/5 just because I don’t like poetry.

Tilly

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah's War is a book that takes place Paris in 1939 and is about a child who lives in a mosque ,which later becomes a refuge for Jews, during WWII. I had mixed feelings about this novel due to the fact that is not the type of book I often read, but I really enjoyed it because it provided insight into what life would be like during World War II and in the years leading up to it. Timothée was my favourite character throughout the novel because of his optimistic attitude towards assisting Safiyyah and her family with their 'business'. Overall I liked this book and would give it a rating of 3/5.

Tilly

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is a book about a boy named Erik and the local teen gangs. This was an extremely engaging book and I found the structure interesting and innovative. However, all books have their flaws and Crossing the Line lacked a satisfying ending. Also I found it to be a very depressing book, similar to When Shadows Fall which was on the shortlist last year. Overall I found this to be a gripping and engaging book and would rate it 8/10.

Simon

The Song Walker
The Song Walker by Zillah Bethell is a unique and plot-focused novel centred around two young girls journeying through the Australian Bush. Moonflower/Magpie/Maestro narrates the story as a bewildered child without any memory of who she is. Gradually throughout the narrative, memories come back to her in occasional flashbacks until all the pieces fall into place. I did enjoy this book although I think the different sections of the plot were laid too far apart, meaning that sometimes it was difficult to engage with or get into. Also, I often found the characters slightly unrelatable or separate from the reader. I would recommend this book to readers aged 9 or above as there’s not really many content issues although the plot is quite complex at points.

Bethan

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze, by Joseph Coelho, is an interesting book about two boys called Theo and Theseus, separated by centuries but both searching of their fathers and on a quest to find their way through manhood. Theo is studying Theseus, an ancient Greek man, for his A levels. I found this book intriguing, as it was written from two different perspectives. It made a change to hear a switch from one person to another telling the story. I found the number of characters quite confusing and when it gave the instruction to turn to a specific page it was a bit annoying as you had to flick through the pages to find the one you wanted. This caused me to lose where I was in the story, however it kept me on my toes. This book is about adventure, determination, and family. I would rate this book a 6.5/10 and for the ages between 11 and 14.

Annabelle

Choose Love
Choose Love is a lovely, illustrated poetry book with 13 poems all about the journey of refugees and how they struggle and how much they lose. Heartwarming at some points but others it makes you feel like you need to make a change. Overall, I think it is an amazing read and who ever reads this will feel challenged to make a change to the way refugees are treated. Stars out of five it would have to be five because of how it shows the experience of refugees in a few poems and how it shows us we need to make a change. I think it is a wonderful book, I really liked how the illustrations went with each poem and the colour palette, I have written a poem about refugees below. Long journeys challenging and dangerous. Over thousands of miles they travel with one thing, hope. Very tired they arrive, but they are not welcomed by some, but they still have their fire burning bright. Eventually they know they will find a permanent safe home where they will be accepted.

Sophia

The Boy Lost in the Maze
Theo and Theseus are 2 boys separated by centuries, parted by myth are looking for their father they never met while trying to navigate through the maze of Manhood… Confusion is a word that I could use to describe this book due to it not just Theo’s story but Theseus too, so on a few occasions it is hard to tell who the book is talking about. I enjoyed the parts where it gave you decisions to make, but that can be a nuisance when you’re trying to turn the pages. Out of 5 stars I would give it 3.5 stars mainly because it was quite hard to understand what was happening and there were a lot of characters. But I really liked the ending, I felt as if I were there.

Sophia

Safiyyah's War
World War II has broken out onto the streets of Paris and Safiyyah's life changes forever. Most people at school have fled and the bombing begins, making her terrified to leave her home, the mosque. She begins to see changes in her family and soon becomes part of the secret resistance work, helping Jews all over the city. Nazi soldiers soon suspect something and Safiyyah has dangerous responsibilities across the city. With more Jews coming to the Mosque every day, Safiyyah is tired and stressed and trying hard each day to hep the Jews. Soon Safiyyah must lead a group of helpless Jews to the docks through dark, underground passages with no-one to help. My favourite character is Safiyyah as she is brave, courageous and curious. She always wants to know what is going on and want to help. She knows what she has to do and is not afraid to stand up to the Nazis to do what is right for the city and the Jews. This book was very exciting however it was also a bit upsetting to hear about how rough the Jews had it and how Safiyyah's family suffered to take care of them. I would recommend this book for ages 9-15 years as it needs an understanding of religion and French. I would rate this book 9/10 as it had a good plot and I enjoyed it.

Flo

Safiyyah's War
The book ‘Safiyyah’s War’ is about a girl called Safiyyah whose life changes drastically for the worse when the Germans invade her home- Paris. She begins to notice strange behaviour in her father and the other leaders of the mosque where she lives. She starts to investigate what is going on and eventually discovers that everyone in the mosque is help the resistance. It is dangerous work but she believes that every life is worth saving. This is a really interesting and exciting book that shows how terrible war can be. Although it does take some time and focus to read, it is really enjoyable and hard to put down. I would recommend it to people who enjoy historical fiction and are 9+.

Hannah

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander is a unique book that explores African traditions and culture. The story is narrated by 11 year old Kofi Offin, who lives in Upper Kwanta, and enjoys being near the waters and swimming. Every year, a festival is held to unite Upper and Lower Kwanta to celebrate festivities in honour of the treaty that was signed to end the war between the two villages many moons ago. When a wrestling contest at the annual festival turns deadly, Kofi is thrown into a life-threatening situation and embarks on a journey that separates him from everything he loves. I thought The Door of No Return was a decent novel. I think this book is unique in that it is centred around African culture, which personally I haven’t found talked about in many other stories, so I think it is good that there is more variety being shown in this novel. Kwame Alexander is an exceptional author, telling the storyline through verse, and I felt that he created tension and allowed the reader to sympathise with the characters. He also demonstrated a powerful message: hope can set you free. I liked the unexpected pivotal moments and twists during the book (they were my favourite parts), but sometimes it felt dull and not gripping enough; I didn’t feel very excited to read on. During conversations, I found it hard to tell who was speaking when or when a piece of dialogue was finished because there were no inverted commas. Also, I thought it was difficult to tell what century this novel was set in, though I assumed it took place in the 1800s. The ending felt rushed and unfinished, leaving me confused, but I hope that the sequels to come in this trilogy will explain it better. To summarise, I think The Door of No Return is a beautifully written novel with a strong message. However, I did find it confusing at times and not interesting throughout. I would recommend this book to avid readers, but over the age of 13 as it contains detailed descriptions about violence and distressing topics.

Lucy

Steady for This
Steady For This, by Nathanael Lessore, is an excellent book about a young teenager called Shaun (MC Growls), who wants to be popular, have lots of money and do Raptology with his best friend Shanks. However, when they were recording a video, live, Shaun’s dirty laundry is exposed. Shanks stops coming to school and Shaun has no clue what has happened to him. One day they were hanging out together and now he has gone with no explanation. Growls feels like there is no one there for him, until he meets Siobhan, a young, intelligent girl, who Growls befriends. My favourite character is Siobhan because she is kind, listened to Growls problems and helped him get through difficult times. She also proved there is more to people than you can see and someone who could be happy on the outside could be hiding a deep secret on the inside. This story kept me guessing as the story progress, and I found it a real page turner as I got further into the book. When I started reading this book, I didn’t really like it but as it continued it got better as the story line built up and I ended up really enjoying this book and not wanting it to finish. I didn’t like the fact it was in slang because I felt the story didn’t flow as well as it could have. I would rate this book an 8.5/10 and for the ages between 10- 13.

Annabelle

Away With Words
Away With Words is a book about an 11-year-old girl named Gala who had to move from Spain to Scotland to live with her dad’s boyfriend (Ryan). In this book, when people talk you can see their words. I liked this book because, even though she had been taken away from everything she had once been used to, Gala still managed to make new friends like Natalie. I personally like the relationship between Natalie and Gala because, while Gala doesn’t really know much English at the start, Natalie has selective mutism, which means that they can communicate with words without feeling left out or alone. Although I quite enjoyed this book, I felt as if the ending was a bit boring, I expected more to happen. I would recommend this book to people aged 8 and older. Overall, I would give away with words a rating of 8/10 or 3/5.

Tilly

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah's War is a historical fiction set in the second world war about a Muslim girl named Safiyyah. This is a well written book but lacks much of a plot near the beginning and only gains one later in the book. I also think that Hiba Noor Khan did not make the most of the characters that she introduced. Despite this, it is a well written book and takes a normally unseen side of the second world war into light. Overall I think this is a well written book with a few flaws that prevented me from fully enjoying the book.

Simon

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is a book based of the character Erik, who’s life starts to take a downfall after his dad dies. Good grades, detentions and following school rules start to feel unimportant as he starts misbehaving which catches the attention of a local gang. As he takes on tasks for the gang, he starts to realise this life isn’t for him which leads him into a lot of trouble. What I like about this book is how it illustrates the behaviour and troubles of being in a local gang which shows us how much danger young people put their lives into just for some quick cash. This book also showed me how tough it is to leave as once your part of a gang, the members have all eyes on you. My favourite character in the book would probably be Ravi as he always by Erik’s side even when he needed help leaving. However, I didn’t really like Erik’s mum at the start of the book as she seemed a bit neglectful once Erick started to fail at school and started wandering out of the house. Overall, I would rate this book a 7.5/10 as there is a cliffhanger at the end when I really wanted to know what happened, I would recommend this book to those 13 + as there is some harsh language and I think people who would like an insight of the life of local gangs would really like this book.

Esi

Steady for This
Steady For This is a book about a young rapper called Shaun (aka MC Growls). Shaun is ready to enter Raptology, which is a local rapping contest with his best friend Shanks. But when they both go live on social media, Shaun’s dirty laundry is exposed and he finally goes viral, just not in a good way. Shaun’s life begins to fall apart as Shanks gets sent to the hospital and an eviction notice makes things even worse. However, he makes a friend called Siobhan who helps him get through his tough times and he realises Raptology has a prize pot of £3000 which could help save his house if he wins. I absolutely loved this book and I liked how it dealt with difficult issues but not in a heavy going way so you were still entertained. I liked all the slang words in it and found all of Shaun’s factual mistakes funny. I would rate this book a 9/10 and I think it’s an enjoyable read!

esme

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah’s War was a compelling, captivating and inspirational book. Revolving around Safiyyah, a Muslim girl who lives in a mosque with her family, it shows the horrendousness of WWII. As the persecution of Jews is increasing Saffiyah finds herself in a dangerous position. Could saving lives potentially ruin Safiyyah’s? I really enjoyed this book. Highlighting the issues of war and the treatment of people that are so called “different” this book helped me delve deeper into the historical perspective of WWII. My favourite character in this book was Setti. A brave, brilliant Grandma she represents the massive part that grandparents can play in your upbringing. Additionally, I found it interesting how this book represents how people in society are treated “differently”. Due to their religion Jews were persecuted. I think this relates back to modern society and how some people can be pressured and persuaded to change their beliefs because people are mean and might think them not “normal”. The only thing I dislike about this book was that you didn’t find out what happened to other characters in the end like Timothee and Madame Odette. I would recommend this to readers aged 10+ and rate it 8/10.

Orla

Steady for This
Growls (aka Shaun) loves dropping bars with his friend, but when a video goes viral by accident his life turns upside down... Reading this book was a pleasure, all the rapping in it makes it engaging for the reader. When his home could be taken away, he must turn to his rapping skills to save his home. Loads of things are amazing in it especially the ending, I was not expecting it, but it made perfect sense. Stars out of five it would get five, all the characters fit in so well and it is such a heartwarming, emotional roller-coaster.

Sophia

The Door of No Return
This book is about a boy called Kofi Offin because when he was born he was carried by the river Offin. He lives in Upper Kwanta, Ghana, where they dislike all people in lower Kwanta. He is a great swimmer but when he is preparing for the swimming contest, he gets taken to lower Kwanta and is stuck in his own memories. After this, he gets taken by the wonderfuls, can he escape? This book is really enjoyable and takes you on a trip to Africa. It describes the horrors of people smuggling and illegal slavery. It leaves you on a very annoying cliffhanger at the end, you have no idea if he’s going to be ok. I would recommend it to people who really enjoy books written in verse and are ages 11 and above. I would give it a 7.5/10.

Hannah

Steady for This
The way the book was written, and the plot of the story made it an interesting read. I just didn’t really like how parts of it was written in verse. Although I did like how the author went into a lot of detail talking about the characters. The author made me feel I was in the book or like I have know the characters for ages. I enjoyed how some parts were relate able to the real world and how you can show more empathy for the characters. The one thing I loved about the book was where it was set because the author didn’t describe loads, but you already have the feeling where the characters were going. This book had so many great things about it, but it just didn’t rock my boat. I would recommend it others wanting to read something more advanced. So, my overall rating would be 6/10.

Carrie

Steady for This
Shaun (aka MC Growls) lives with his Mum and his brother, he and his best friend have entered a rapping competition with lots of obstacles in their way can they win it to save Shaun’s house? An exiting adventure about a boy who loves rapping but is going broke, I really enjoyed reading it due to the emotional roller-coaster and all the cliff hangers. I would give it 5 stars because it was so hard to put down. Also, I found the ending unexpected, but it made sense. To add to that, I would recommend it for readers who like adventure, mystery and a bit of romance.

Sophia

Away With Words
Away With Words, by Sophie Cameron, is a wonderful book about friendship, language, emotions, and words becoming real things. This book is about a young girl named Gala, who moves from Spain to Scotland with her dad, Jordi, to live with her dad’s boyfriend, Ryan. Gala can speak Spanish and Catalan however she cannot speak English but is learning as she goes along. At first, she does not like her new life until she finds Natalie, who has selective mutism. They start collecting words and creating poems out of other people’s speech that they find lying around. They make poems for other people to help them get through situations that worry them, until one day they must stop as someone else has started to misuse them in a way that makes everyone turn against Gala and Natalie. My favourite character is Eilidh O because she was always supportive of Gala and kind to her and believed her when few others did. The characters felt real to me, and I could picture the scenes and events as they unfolded. I thought this book was a page turner and it kept me guessing because I wanted to find out what would happen next. I particularly liked the idea that words became real things. I really enjoyed this book and would rate it for the ages 10- 13. I would rate this book a 9.5/10.

Annabelle

Crossing the Line
Crossing the line A question for you: What did you think ? Think. Like opening the school gates & just walking in, Like not sniffing the air for curses, Checking Page 1 page 2 Page 3 page 4 Cautious as an adult Checking their kids first books. Think Like a map of your story Isn’t riddled with swears Of Gods name in vain No-go choices Where your life’s Not worth living. Think Like saying your last goodbye & not thinking The next time she sees you You may actually need her help. You know. Those kind of thoughts. It’s not been so long Since I’ve read a book like this People making drastic mistakes And wishing life would come to an end I am so… I reckon the last time I felt Really Really Really Comfortable With this book was right at the end. Holland road secondary Was Where all the trouble started. Bullies started interfering. And lunchtimes became town time. Erik’s life had been. Very hard. Since his dad… Had left him as the man of the family. He was constantly missing school. And getting into more and more trouble. And his mum had no idea of it all. his mum met a new man. And she became. Pregnant. Her partner left her alone. When he found out. About the twins. Erik’s life only gets worse after this. He is threatened. The people who love are in danger. And even on the brink of poverty, this game is making his life terrible. Why didn’t somebody warn me? About the source of language in this book. Its very. Nowadays. I think. That it is to honest about. Current life And where Covid. Left a lot of people. I would’ve enjoyed it more. If it had been written. Without more grown-up language. The first morning. That I sunk my teeth into this book. I didn’t understand what it will be about. But further in I understood. Where it was all going. Some things. We’re little bit too “cool“ for my school experience. And I struggled to understand it. I would recommend. This book. For anyone. Who is interested in crime, reality, and how to . Take steps away from that sort of lifestyle. Ages would be. 10 to 17. As the language was a bit grown-up and inappropriate. For younger people. I would rate it. 6 out of 10. As I didn’t like it at some points. But I found the ending really good. And that sort of made up for it.

Flo

Crossing the Line
This book is about a boy who gets dragged into the world of drugs and trap houses. His name is Erik and a few years ago his dad died leaving him to be the man of the house. His mom met a guy but he walked out. Not much later his mom had a pair of twins. Soon all the responsibilities of two new people fall on his shoulders and he is not sure how to cope. With their money quickly dropping he must find a new way to earn some cash. I liked this book because it was written in verse and was a good example of how some teenagers get drowned in the world of illegal dealing. However I didn’t like how it didn’t leave another opinion on the world. I recommend this book for 13+ and would rate it an 8/10.

Eloise

Choose Love
Choose Love is a book written in verse, highlighting the struggles refugees face. Although it is a short read, it’s strong message leaves you feeling empathy. The book is split into three sections, Departure, Arrival and Healing. The poems reflect the danger and misery of people seeking refuge and the challenges in their path. I think the poetry in the last section, Healing, leaves us with the sense of hope. With each poem there is a unique and powerful illustration. I found this an excellent read and would give this book a 9/10.

esme

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze is a creative and eye-opening book that is a fusion of the modern day and the past. It follows two stories: Theseus’s story and Theo’s story. The boys are very alike – they’re both in search of their fathers – but parted by time. This novel explores both of their journeys. Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly enjoy The Boy Lost in the Maze. Personally, I am not a fan of Greek mythology, so from the outset, I found it hard to get into; I didn’t feel very gripped during the story. Also, due to it being written in verse and rhyming, I found it difficult to understand at times. On the other hand, there were many positives to this book: I liked the switch between the point of views every chapter because I found I could really compare the similarities in both journeys. I thought that the sections on the Minotaur that sometimes occurred was a great addition because, although they were small, it portrayed the Minotaur in a new, positive light. Another thing I liked was the immersive and interactive points of the novel where you could choose the path the characters go down as I felt involved – it was an interesting concept. I felt this book taught me a lot too. Although it was sometimes confusing, I liked Joseph Coelho’s use of rhyme and I thought it made sense for the book to be in verse as Theo liked poetry and was doing it for his A-level coursework. The author amazingly managed to carry across sympathy for the characters to the reader through detailed and well-written descriptions. Also, Kate Milner’s stunning artwork that frequently appeared throughout the story was a beautiful addition. My favourite part was the ending because I felt it wrapped up the book really nicely. Overall, I think The Boy Lost in the Maze isn’t really for me: I felt it wasn’t interesting enough. However, I loved the individuality and structure of the novel. I would recommend this book to avid readers who are into Greek mythology aged 13+, due to sensitive language and violence.

Lucy

The Boy Lost in the Maze
Two boys, Lost in a maze of, Finding. “Time Moves in Spirals” Two teenagers, Grafting at the challenges, Life is hurling at them. “I Searched For My Father In The Mirror” Two young adults, Wishing on a shooting star, Holding onto hope. “I Cannot Sleep And The Shadows Fall Over My Eyes” Two men, Finding the path, Leading them home. The Boy Lost in the Maze is a masterpiece of storytelling told from three different perspectives. It casts Theseus’ story in a new light: making it not only more empathetic but also more grounded, helping the reader to engage and sympathise with the journeys of each character. The delicately painted language is paired with stunning illustrations that bring the words to life. I’d recommend this book to readers over the age of 12 as it contains some strong language.

Bethan

Choose Love
I quite like poems, and I like the theme of love and hope. The poems are really beautiful and the artwork is stunning! I can't tell if I can or can't relate to the poems but I can believe a lot of people do really relate to them. What I didn't like though how long or short some poems were. Some I found a bit boring were longer and ones I just wanted to continue were shorter. But overall I give it a 9/10 rating.

Aleksandra

The Song Walker
This book is well written, feeling like a young girl wrote it. It is about 2 girls treading the outback of Australia. The protagonist is a girl which goes by many names (none her actually one) and has a black dress, one black leather shoe and a briefcase. She has no idea who she is or what she’s doing there. She meets a girl called Tarni and they continue their journey together. Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending, but I still enjoyed the book. I think that a lot of people would love this book, especially people who read books by Sophia Anderson, Chris Vick etc. Out of ten, I’d rate this book an 8/10.

Aleksandra

Steady for This
Steady For This is a book about a young rapper called Shaun aka MC Growls. After a catastrophic video of his mum embarrassing him on a live stream goes viral at his school he finally gets the fame he's always wanted but not in a good way. After his best mate Shanks gets sent to hospital following several anxiety attacks Shaun's life begins to slowly fall apart and a recent eviction notice only makes things worse for him, however a new friend called Siobhan will help him to navigate a difficult life. An upcoming rap competition offers him the chance to win £3000. I absolutely loved this book as it was one that I could really get lost in the world of and it was a literal couldn’t put down book. I finished it in a day. The only negative thing that I can say about this book is the amount of slang language in it and how if you don't know it then the book could possibly confuse you. Overall I would give the book 8 out of 10 because of the amount of slang in it.

Seren

Choose Love
I really loved how heart warming this book was. Even though the pages had minimal writing on the writing just had so much detail and depth behind it. The book had so many meanings. This book really made me smile showing how much dedication the author had put into the book. This book definitely kept me guessing all the meanings behind the poem. I adored the way she wrote with such a flow. I also love the topic she wrote this amazing story about. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the book everything was there in the book there wasn’t anything missing. I would definitely recommend reading this book but to older readers, so you get the full understanding in this book. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would rate the book 10/10.

Carrie

Choose Love
Choose Love was an excellent read especially if you enjoy shorter books. Half an hour is all you need to finish the book as it is a poetry book. Of all the poetry I've read it had a greatly educational storyline about refugees and their struggles. Overall it was a read that really made me think and put myself in others shoes. Some people may not find it as interesting due to it being poetry. Everyone though should remember the story behind it as it’s an important message. Like many stories with an important message this is a must read. On the other hand it might be harder for younger children to understand. Very impressed by this book, excellent read, 9/10.

Isla

The Boy Lost in the Maze
This book is about a boy who tries to find his father. His mother has kept this secret from him for his entire life. Theseus, a man from ancient Greece, must also go on a quest to find his father and both must overcome the obstacles of becoming a man, one in myth and one in real life. I enjoyed how this book was set in verse and how it compared two worlds with each other. Parts of this book I didn’t enjoy as much were the choose your own path sections because it interfered with the plot and made the storyline less exciting. I also in some places couldn’t understand which characters were speaking in that moment. I would rate this book a 7/10 and would recommend this book for ages 13+ because of the language in some places.

Eloise

The Song Walker
When a young girl awakens in the middle of the mysterious outback wearing one shoe, a plain black dress and carrying a strange heavy black case and a big marble, she is shocked at the feeling of amnesia. With no recollection of who, what, where, why, when or how, she travels across the desert with Tarni, a girl who knows many survival tips. Together they travel across strange new lands, meet different people - good and bad - and generally try to survive. However, in the middle of all the chaos and arguments, both girls are hiding life changing secrets and trying to work out the truth about what is really in front of them and what could disappear before their very eyes. The plot was exciting and intriguing and it made me want to keep reading. However, about one quarter of the way through I found it a bit slow and wondered what would come next. I thought she would get home quicker. My favourite character was Brindabel because even though she wasn't actually "alive" she was a crucial part of the story and a big part of the backstory as well. She threaded the story together and her notes added suspense and a feeling of "what's she going to do next"? I would recommend this book for 10-16 year olds girls who like travel books and adventure stories. I would compare this book to “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" because they are both about children who don't really know what they are doing travelling to work out what's going on in the world around them. I rate this book 8/10. It was really fun and exciting and of my taste and I enjoyed it a lot.

Flo

The Door of No Return
Kofi Offin's life is about to change forever due to one small thing… I found the choices of names confusing since most of them had a similar ending or beginning. I liked that it was historical fiction and that the author made the start flow nicely and calmly but then tension made it full of turbulence. I was fascinated by the ending; it was a real cliffhanger. If I could rate it out of 5 stars, I would give it 3.5 because of the confusing names.

Sophia

Choose Love
Choose Love, by Nicola Davies, is an extraordinary and powerful book about refuges and loss of home, belongings, family and freedom. I found it very emotional and moving because it helped me understand the dangerous and lonely circumstances that some people go through. My favourite page is Hope because it showed there was hope in the darkest of times. The picture is beautiful because it made me understand how vulnerable the boy was, which caused him to treat the seed afterwards with gentleness and love. It made me realise that is how everyone in this situation need to be treated. The people in the pictures looked ghostly and lost which made me think how people are treating them and how they must feel like no one cares about them. I realised that people can’t see them, and they are unwanted. The book format is effective, the pictures and presentation worked together well and made the book very worthwhile. The way the book was written made it seem real as if happening to me. We all need to Choose Love. I would rate this book a 9/10.

Annabelle

Away With Words
This book is about a girl from Cadaqués, Spain who moves to Scotland with her father to live with his boyfriend Ryan who works at the local school. When she moves there, she is sure she will hate it but as she moves through the next few weeks it gets better in some ways and she learns that she will sometimes have to fix her own problems. This is a lovely book about getting used to new things and how hard it is to move away from all you know and have to learn a new language, make new friends and find new hobbies. I really liked the character of Gala because she is funny, and kind and I liked reading about the bond formed between her and Natalie and the pros and cons of staying in Fortrose going round her head. I loved the idea that you could see all the words people had said and the different fonts/colours depending on the mood they were in. I also liked what they used the words for. On the other hand, I got really confused about the fact that there were two Eilidh’s and found it a bit repetitive at times. Overall, I think this book is lovely to read and is a sort of mystery and investigation in a way. I would recommend it to 6+ and rate it a 7/10.

Holly

Steady for This
This book is about the dangers of social media. It shows that many things can go wrong and that you have to ask for consent. It shows the way comments can have an effect on people and the way to deal with this. I liked the jokes and the funny things that the character did in this book like sit on a cactus and put sugar under his pillow so he would have sweet dreams. I didn't like how the character ditched his other friend who had done nothing but stay by his side just because his other had called him but I felt like he learnt his lesson well knowing that you can have more than one friend. It sometimes took me a long time to figure out what people were saying as I hadn’t heard many of the words they were saying before. I did like the fact that his friends held him up when he was going through some hard times and how he followed his dreams no matter what. Overall I give this book a 5/10 because there are both good and bad bits in it.

Holly

Choose Love
Choose Love is a touching selection of poems that really tell stories of refuge in an interesting way. If you have five minutes to really read through the poem and enjoy it you can begin to see how lucky we are to be safe and not worry just if we are going to be let into a country to claim asylum. To then be rejected and told that you can’t stay and that you have to go back to somewhere where every day your life could be at risk is something that you really can’t comprehend unless you have been in a situation like that. I also thought that the artwork did a really good job of bringing the stories to life. I would say that you should only read this book if you are 13+ because some of the language is really emotive and some of the stories are really quite sad as at the bottom of some of them it has some real life anecdotes however I would give it 5 stars as it was written very well.

Seren

Steady for This
‘Steady For This’ is a novel about a teenage boy, who wants to be a rapper, dealing with many challenges, such as his dirty laundry and getting evicted by Gregory Flynn. Personally, I liked this book as it felt very entertaining to watch Shaun (aka MC Growls) make an effort to become famous, only for all his fortune to be sabotaged by a YouTube video and a pair of dirty pants, in addition to this I found it really humorous to listen to Growls way of thinking. I also really liked how 'Steady For This’ ended, as I feel like it really suited the book, finishing with a heartwarming yet funny ending. I would recommend this book to people over the age of 7 because of its vibe. At first, I didn’t like this book due to it being really weird and awkward, but about halfway through it turned exciting and funny, so I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall I really liked it and would therefore give it a rating of 8/10.

Tilly

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line, by Tia Fisher, is a meaningful book about a boy called Erik who is going through a hard time as his dad dies. They are running out of money and his mum is dating someone else. Suddenly Erik is shocked as his mum is pregnant with twins. He enters a terrifying world of drug dealing, and violence, however he is getting money, which leads him into him being captured and becoming involved in something he had not wished for. The book kept me guessing, as the story progressed, I was intrigued as to what would happen next and if he would survive. My favourite character was Ravi he was kind, clever and helped a friend in a time of need. I didn’t really like how some of the words were upside down or sideways because it slowed the story down and interrupted the story line. I would recommend this book to someone who is struggling with life, and it might give them hope. I would rate the age for this book between 12- 18. I would rate this book an 8/10.

Annabelle

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return, by Kwame Alexander, was an enjoyable book about Kofi Offin living in upper Kwanta. His brother gets into a tournament where Upper goes against Lower Kwanta. My favourite character was Ama as she was always kind to Kofi and believed in him. My favourite part was when we were waiting to hear about the consequences of the death in the tournament. I found The Door of No Return a hard book to read as the characters names were all similar. It is a marvelous book about family, revenge, and death. I would rate this book a 4/5 and for the ages 11 to 14.

Annabelle

The Song Walker
The Song Walker is a cleverly written book. Revolving around a mysterious one-shoed girl and a brave girl named Tarni, it shows their wild journey across the Australian outback. However, as their friendship develops so does their secrets. And one of them is lying. I liked that the end of the first chapter finished with ‘Who am I?’. I think this really sets the scene, as over the course of the book this is what both girls were trying to discover. Additionally, during this book the mystery girl was given many names. I think this represents that your name is not the only part of your identity, it’s who you are as a person. My favourite character was Tarni. She was so loyal, brave and supportive to the unknown dying girl she found. I think this shows how all society should be trusting and kind to each other, even if you have never met this person before. The only thing I disliked about this book was that in the middle, it was quite slow. There were no major plot twists and I wasn’t racing to turn the pages. I would recommend this to readers aged 9+ as it had appropriate themes but complicated morals. I would rate it 6/10.

Orla

The Boy Lost in the Maze
In this book we follow the journey of Theseus in the mythical world and Theo in the modern world. We see the challenges they face in their quests to find their real fathers. We also see the minotaur in a different light. The story is written completely in verse, so at times was difficult to understand, but extremely clever. I liked the fact that you can find many parallels between the situations the boys find themselves in. The language and descriptions reflect this. For example, Sciron man with the monstrous sea turtle and Sciron the lawyer with turtles in his office. Another aspect I liked about the book is that we were often given choices as to which path the boys should follow on their adventure. This involved me as a reader. The illustrations are also amazing! This is not the type of book I would normally choose to read, however I would rate it 6/10.

esme

The Song Walker
Songs will show you the way, they will give you hope. Spirits will guide you and help you on your way. Some will try to stop you; some will need your help but through ups and downs you will find your way. In the middle of the Australian outback Tarni finds a mysterious girl with no memory, only one shoe and a bad temper. As they travel through the red dust the more they learn about each other and the more secrets they start to hide... I liked this book because it was quite interesting to see the change of attitude and personality in the characters. On the other hand, I didn’t understand the ending of the book and got really confused. I rate this book a 6/10 because it was a nice story about friendship and forgiveness, but it was a bit repetitive or confusing at times. I would recommend this book to ages 9+ if you want a heartwarming story (though some parts may be upsetting for younger children). Overall, this was a good and easy book to read and enjoy.

Holly

Crossing the Line
Erik you’ve crossed a line that can’t easily be uncrossed. You’ve started a path, and the start has disappeared. You're losing all you know you need to find the confidence to say NO. 14-year-old Erik has been lured into the world of drug dealing and making money the wrong way. Under all the pressure of school, being bullied because he is ginger, poverty and the loss of his dad (the man of the house) Erik feels like he needs to step up and after some terrible things that happen to his mum, he is needed more than ever. I liked this book because it showed people what life at school can be like for some people and how it comes to this. On the other hand, I thought it was scary to picture that some people may have that happen to them. I also thought I wasn’t able to connect with the characters as the circumstances were so different to what I know. Overall, I would rate this book a 6/10 as I felt it was interesting but not the type of book I wanted to read. I think this book is suitable for ages 13 or 14+ because of the use of violence, drugs and bad language.

Holly

The Song Walker
This book is about a girl who doesn’t know who she is, where she is or why she is there. Just when her life is about to end, a girl called Tarni rescues her. As they venture across the Australian Outback they begin to get closer to eachother and finding the truth. I enjoyed the book as it was about finding yourself and personal truth. I also enjoyed the concept of the first country people and their traditions of protecting the sacred land. My favourite character was Tarni because of how strong willed and brave she was. I would rate this book a 9/10 and would recommend this book for anyone who likes adventures and a bit of mystery.

Eloise

Steady for This
Steady for This is an amusing, modern book that explores the life of Shaun (aka Mc Growls). Shaun is ready to enter Raptology, the local rapping contest, as one half of Mc Squared, a duo with his best friend, Shanks. But, when the two of them go live on social media, all of their hopes come crashing down when things are unwantedly exposed; they become viral, just not in the way Shaun had hoped. He cannot bare the thought of school, especially as Shanks isn’t by his side after falling ill from anxiety. And to top it all off, the council come knocking, threatening eviction, resulting in Growls feeling neglected by his mother. Shaun starts to crack under the pressure of everything, but will he manage to do Raptology and solve all of his problems? I loved Steady for This! This novel has something for everybody with elements of humour and drama. Through a fascinating and gripping storyline, it demonstrates how everyone is perfectly imperfect – I liked how Shaun’s teacher, Mr Rix, used a tree to convey this message to Shaun in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and it maintained my interest throughout – I think the laugh-out-loud moments really brought the book to life and made it even more engaging. During different stages of the book, you feel different emotions from sorrow to hope. The ending surprised me as I didn’t expect it. My favourite characters are Siobhan and Shanks because they truly are Shaun’s biggest supporters; Mr Rix was also one of my favourites as I felt he was a big inspiration to Shaun. I felt the characters were relatable and well-written. I particularly loved the use of first person and that there was a lot of slang language as it represented Shaun’s personality. For his debut novel, I thought Nathanael Lessore’s book was incredible and I hope he continues to write more novels as I would 100% consider reading them. There really was nothing to dislike about this book! To summarise, I think Steady for This is a humorous, innovative and relatable story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone aged 11+ as it is a very enjoyable read and you will not be disappointed.

Lucy

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The labyrinth is a maze, And you're an island in its sea. The labyrinth is a maze, You're a star and it’s a galaxy. The labyrinth is a maze, A path straying from reality. The labyrinth is a maze, Of happiness love and laughter. The labyrinth is a maze, Of joy and happy ever after. The labyrinth is a maze, Of sadness grief and sorrow. The labyrinth is a maze, Of hoping for tomorrow. This is a tale of two boys who both think they are lost because they are fatherless and everything has a cost. But happiness isn't costly, you don’t need a father to be a man; all it takes to find yourself is to realise that you can. A maze has many different paths and one will be your own. Your path will cross with others, some for a few seconds others a lifetime friendship has grown. This book was very interesting as it showed how two very different people’s paths crossed and they realised they are not that different at all. It showed a different side to Greek mythology and I really liked the interactive parts. I think the styles of poetry it was written in really fit the story and I found myself sucked into the minds of these two boys. Overall I rate this book an 8/10 because it was quick to read and it was very interesting to see another author's perspective on Greek mythology.

Holly

The Song Walker
This book is about a girl who is in the middle of the Australian outback but doesn’t know her name or why she’s there. She gets saved from dehydration and a snake by a girl called Tarni. They explore the desert, searching for Tarni’s sister Brindabel and the girl’s name. I really enjoyed this book and I couldn’t put it down. My favourite character was The Mermaid (Debonaire) because she is a really brave and resilient woman. I would recommend it to ages 10+ and would rate it 9/10.

Hannah

Choose Love
Choose Love is a sequence of poems based off real-life experiences of refugees forced to leave their home and suffer. Allowing you to develop a greater understanding of refugees and what they have to go through. What I enjoyed about this book is how it gives you an understanding of a refugees’ life in such simple poems. Little is said but a lot can be understood whilst reading such a short poem. It really gives you an insight of how much suffering refuges go through, from killing a child’s parent to cramping thousands of sick people on a boat. This book allows you to have more awareness of the struggles of refugees and to have compassion for them. Overall, I’d give this book an 8/10 and I would recommend this book to those who would like to develop their understanding of what refugees go through. I would recommend this book to those aged 10+ is the book is not that harsh.

Esi

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The book ‘ The boy lost in the maze ‘ follows the story of a boy called Theo compared to Theseus and the Minotaur. Both Theo and Theseus were searching for their fathers as they had been lied to for their entire lives. It also portrays the Minotaur in an interestingly innocent light compared to other versions that I’ve read. It also contains some ‘choose your own way’ paths. It has a very interesting storyline and is written in verse. Although there were parts that I enjoyed, there are a few things I would change as generally it didn’t appeal to me. I would suggest it to ages 13+ because of language and some adult themes, and would rate it 3/10.

Hannah

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is about a pressured young boy called Erik. Facing poverty and sanctions at school, he is suddenly drawn into a world of abuse and drugs. Making more and more bad decisions can Erik finally make a good one? Written in verse and with a powerful captivating story I really enjoyed this book. In so many ways, it showed me the life changing decisions young people are pressured to make. For me, it highlighted how lucky I am to live in a stable home, with no problems financially. My favourite character in this book was definitely Ravi. A loyal and brave friend, he always believed in Erik, and heavily influenced the way Erik felt and behaved. Additionally, another issue this book conveyed was bullying. Erik, who had ginger hair, is bullied for it and this showed to me that multiple people in the world can get put down by their small differences, yet actually they should be proud of them. I would rate this book 12+ due to strong language and the older topics this book is based around. I would rate it 9.5/10.

Orla

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is an emotional and truly eye-opening read following the story of Erik and his struggle between the line of good and bad after the passing of his father. With his increasing reputation he catches the eye of a local gang and is dragged into an underworld of violence and drugs. While this was a enjoyable read it's not for younger audiences as the writing style may be difficult to understand. Furthermore, it has a few adult themes such as drugs and violence. 7/10

Isla

Away With Words
When Gala moves to Scotland to live with her dad’s boyfriend everything is different. One day at school she makes a friend called Natalie, who has select mutism. Right away I like this book, it is all about friendship and change, I would give it 5 stars! During some parts of the book it made me feel anxious about the characters, but others made me feel full of joy. So, I would definitely recommend this book for people who like heart warming tales or people who are struggling due to change. Also, if you are lacking courage then this book shall inspire you to brave!

Sophia

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return is a book about West Africa in the 19th century. There are two parts to this book, one of which is about a boy living his life, and the second half is about the abduction of people. Personally, I didn’t like ‘The Door of No Return’ because I found it hard to follow and keep track of what was happening. Even though the book is based on things that have happened, it felt as if the characters were off, and you could just guess what was going to happen next. I also didn’t like how it ended because I felt like he could have written more and I wanted to know what happened next, so it left it on a bit of a cliffhanger. One of the things I liked about the book was the format in which it was written. I found it made it appear like a story pasted down by generations or even a song as they often did to pass on stories. I would recommend this book to anyone aged 11 or older because of some of the gore but I think the way that it is written makes it an easier read for younger people because it is almost like poetry. Overall, I would rate this book a 3/5, as I am conflicted about whether I liked it or not.

Tilly

The Song Walker
The Song Walker, by Zillah Bethell, is an excellent book about friendship, mystery, and discovery. It was about two girls that find each other in the Australian outback and learn how to survive in their difficult situation. My favourite character was Tarni because she is kind, thoughtful and wise. She knows a great deal about the outback, as she was taught how to live by her sister. She sung many songs, that her ancestors sung, that guided her through the outback. Tarni is considerate and supports a girl, whom she does not know. The girl has no clue of who she is, where she comes from and why she is there. She only remembers a little from her past. Although, she does know she is carrying a box, however she does not know what lies inside. My favourite part in the book was discovering, in the end, the twist as the story took an amazing turn, as you could not see it coming. It was interesting to see how the girl changed after spending time with Tarni. I would recommend this book to fans of friendships and adventures. I suggest this book for the ages of 10 to 13. My rating would be 4.2 out of 5.

Annabelle

Away With Words
Away With Words is a beautifully written book based around a girl called Gala. Gala, who has just moved from Spain, does not feel like she’s fitting in with her new life in Scotland. However, her new friend Natalie, a girl with selective mutism, changes that perspective entirely. Yet as life in this new country is starting to improve someone threatens to take it away. What can she possibly do? I found this a page turning read. I loved the plot and especially liked all the different fonts that expressed how people were feeling. Additionally, I loved how this book showcased words in our life. I think it showed that they are an essential factor and can hurt, support and inspire the people around you. Adding on, it showed that words are stronger than actions as what people said really influenced the storyline. My favourite character in this book was Ryan, Galas dad’s boyfriend. He was always really supportive of Gala even if she wasn’t the nicest person at times. I think this represented how parents are and should be loving, caring and kind. The only thing I disliked about this book was that some words were replaced with a squiggle. As a result, I found it harder to understand what people were saying. I would rate this book 9/10 and recommend it to readers aged 10+.

Orla

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is a really well-written book that I just couldn’t put down (literally). I read it in under a day and enjoyed every minute of it from the start to the end. I think this book is brilliant for spreading awareness of country lines and the ways people can easily be exploited by gangs and criminals. One of my favourite things about this book is how, even though Erik became closed off with his friend, Ravi still managed to help him in the end by involving others who could help him get out of the situation. I think Tia Fisher has a very unique way of writing her stories, as they are in verse, and especially with her use of her fonts and play on words, because it gave the book a sense of unease as you had to keep turning it this way, which I think made it more exciting and enjoyable. I would recommend this book to older audiences because of the language used and the topic, but I also think that younger people should know about gangs and country lines and how they are a real thing that could happen to them if they are not careful or mix with the wrong people even by accident. I would really like to see a second book about this and more about Erik’s life after everything. And I would rate this as solid. 9/10.

Tilly

The Song Walker
The Song Walker is an uplifting tale that is set in the extensive Australian Outback. One day, a girl wakes up in the desert and she can't recall anything - where is she? How did she end up here? And...who even is she? She encounters Tarni, a girl on a secret mission of her own. Together, they venture on a long and tiring journey through the arid desert in pursuit of answers to both of their quests. I thought The Song Walker was a decent book. Zillah Bethell told the story beautifully through outstanding descriptions - the writing was spectacular. During the book, I felt a mixture of emotions. The parts that surprised me the most was when we find out the lost girl’s identity and when we discover why Tarni is on an adventure across the desert. My favourite character is Tarni because she is confident and a fighter. On the other hand, the main thing that I disliked about this book was the perplexing ending; I had to re-read the last couple of pages a few times to try and get a better understanding of it, but I still have questions about it. Still Life, the last section, added even more confusion to it for me. Additionally, I found it quite slow and dull at times. I didn't feel interested throughout - it wasn't until chapter seventeen that I started feeling intrigued. To conclude, I think The Song Walker is a wonderful and well-written story; however, it was a rather slow storyline and wasn’t engaging throughout. I would possibly recommend this book to keen readers aged 11+.

Lucy

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return is a fantastically written book with a thrilling cliffhanger at the end. In the book the author writes about a boy called Kofi who is part of an African tribe called the Asante. The Asante tribe’s traditions include having a festival every year with a neighbouring tribe where they have a wrestling competition. It is a moving story as it depicts what happens to African tribes and traditions when the ‘Wonderful’ come with new things, languages and weapons. In the book there is a teacher at the school who tries to force the children to speak this foreign language even if they want to continue their traditions. This book has a powerful message which is that certain people will think they are higher than everyone else and can just squish other people's lifestyles. I enjoyed how this book was set up in verse and even though it was set up like this it was still like a story. I also enjoyed how during the book they used the Asante language, Twi. To also help at the end there is a glossary full of the meanings for Twi words. I would recommend this book to people who like reading books in verse and who like reading books about other cultures and traditions. As a whole I would give this book a 8.5/10.

Eloise

Away With Words
This book is about a girl called Gala who moves to Scotland from Spain so her dad can live with his boyfriend. In her world she can see and feel words as well as hearing them. At school she meets a peculiar girl with selective mutism. When they try and cheer up classmates anonymously, someone takes and abuses their idea. I thought it was a perfect example of what foreign people have to experience when they move somewhere new. I enjoyed this book because I loved the way the author created a book of diversity where people from different backgrounds, nationalities, and disabilities. My favourite character was Natalie because of the way she word-searched in order to communicate with the world even with her mutism. I would give this book a 10/10 and would recommend this book to anyone aged 9 or above.

Eloise

Steady for This
This book is about a young rapper and his best friend, together they are "MC Squared". They are ready to win Raptology. Shaun (Growly) and Shanks are confident until they are exposed on a livestream. Dirty laundry is uncovered and Shanks falls ill due to stress. Now Growls can hardly bear the thought of school, especially without Shanks by his side and to make matters worse, they are on the verge of being evicted! Growls feels broken but a few people come along who help him face his fears and step up to the mike. I liked the story because it showed real life situations and what life is like for better and worse. However some of the language and slang/abbreviations were hard to understand as I didn't know what they meant. The raps were also a little intruding to the story. I found it a bit too cool! My favourite character was Siobhan as she was fun, active and hopeful. She was also engaged with the real world and if she had her heart set on something, nothing got in her way! I would recommend this book for older readers and fans of real life scenarios. Also the kids who understand slang/abbreviations, so they understand most of the language used. I'd rate this book 7/10 as I enjoyed it but I got confused by the language.

Flo

Safiyyah's War
This book really has a lot packed into it with lots of unexpected surprises and turns. The book Saffiyah's War (in my opinion) is quite a heartwarming and a book that can really transport you because of the amount of detail that is described by the author. Which leads me to what I liked about the book. As I stated, the author went into a great deal of detail, which led me to believe that the characters were truly alive and speaking to me. The action in Saffiyah's war definitely kept you on the edge of your seat. It is usually the build-up of the story that I find most enjoyable as you truly get a feel for what is happening in the story. The tense scenes were particularly written well diving so deep into the tiniest of moments, with the amount of description made me feel the book was alive whenever I went to read it, I was there for a long time. Even though this book felt perfect with the right amount of happy and tension I wouldn’t pick this book as one I would read. So overall not my favourite. In my opinion I rate this book 3/5.

Carrie

Crossing the Line
Tia Fisher illustrates many difficulties In Crossing the Line; Narrated by Erik Andersen, A boy struggling through his Teenage years, His main goal: Make his late father proud. However, one thing leads To another and soon enough, Erik is wrapped up amongst Drugs and violence, Trying to salvage the boy He once was. This down-to-earth, Harrowing story Shows that every decision counts, And one wrong step could mean Crossing the line forever. A similar tale to “When Shadows Fall”: A shortlisted book in 2023, Crossing the Line shares this Bleak, troubling storyline Appearing popular with Most audiences over Around 12 years old. Although, this fast-paced Book contains small Highlights of hope to Fade out the darker areas.

Bethan

The Song Walker
This book is about a girl who wakes up in a desert not knowing who she is, what is her name and why is she holding a case and missing a shoe? Here she is given a little water from a girl who says she can come with her, but to where? Every part of their journey is not mapped out but sung, can they cross the desert only relying on an ancient song? Soon they discover each girl is hiding some secrets or experiences. Overall, I would give this book out of 10 stars 9.5 because I loved the twist at the end, I wasn’t expecting it. Negatives are hard to find, but one thing I must say is that I think there was a perfect number of characters so you could easily remember who’s who. I would recommend this book to children over 9 who like mystery and adventure.

Sophia

The Song Walker
A girl wakes up in the Australian outback with no memory of anything. All she knows is that she is carrying a heavy metal case. Soon she meets Tarni, a girl who helps her to survive the harsh landscape. I very much enjoyed this book and found the characters easy to relate to. The survival and journey themes make the book very effective and gripping due to us as the reader being clueless on future plot or twists. Overall I would rate this book 10/10.

Simon

Away With Words
In a Scottish town two girls meet, Gala a Spanish immigrant and Natalie, a local with selective mutism. Together they find their own way to communicate in a world that they don't understand and doesn't understand them. This book is very engaging and touching due to the reader seeing everything through Gala's eyes. The well-written storyline keeps the reader on their toes trying to second-guess the book. Overall I think this book was incredible and would give it 9/10.

Simon

Away With Words
This is an uplifting story about a girl named Gala who was forced to move from Cadaques (Spain) to Fortrose (Scotland). The main theme of the story is communication. Gala has limited English and struggles to show her personality. She makes friends with a girl called Natalie, who has selective mutism. Together, they find a way to make themselves heard. I was confused at first, because Gala sees words coming out of people’s mouths and I thought it was just in her imagination. It turned out that it was real, and Gala and Natalie could collect words. I liked the different colours of the words depending on people’s emotions. I think this is a very original idea and it kept me interested. I would rate this book a 7/10 and found it an enjoyable read!

esme

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return, Really helped me learn, The importance of the Offin, From birth to coffin. When snatched from home, A boy must go alone, Away from his family, And ama who he finds lovely. A thought provoking read, With many different leads, A definite favourite, Once you get it. I finished it in one sitting, Yes it was that riveting! 10/10

Isla

Crossing the Line
Crossing the line is a book about a 14 year old boy called Eric who is dealing with the grief and loss of losing his dad. He then gets involved with drug dealing and county lines. First the leader of this scheme called K1 gives him a new phone to make up for one that Eric recently broke, however he says that Eric must give packages containing "weed" to other drug dealers while for Eric this is only one favour however he soon finds it very hard to get out for the fear that these dangerous people could find him and hurt him or worse. Soon this gets very serious as he finds himself spending time in drug dealing houses or trap houses. Soon he finds himself having to go to a totally different part of the country to deliver drugs all while not letting his mum know about his plan. This book was really good and well written however I would only recommend it to 13+ because of the intense situations and the language involved.

Seren

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is a book about a 14 year old boy called Eric who is dealing with the grief and loss of losing his dad. He then gets involved with drug dealing and county lines. First the leader of this scheme called K1 gives him a new phone to make up for one that Eric recently broke, however he says that Eric must give packages containing "weed" to other drug dealers while for Eric this is only one favour however he soon finds it very hard to get out for the fear that these dangerous people could find him and hurt him or worse. Soon this gets very serious as he finds himself spending time in drug dealing houses or trap houses. Soon he finds himself having to go to a totally different part of the country to deliver drugs all while not letting his mum know about his plan.

Seren

Crossing the Line
This book is about a boy called Erik. At the start of the book he is just starting secondary school but by the end he is finishing year 9. His dad died when he was in year 5 and when the book begins his mum is dating another man. Soon after, he has twin sisters and the man abandons them. He starts to have more and more responsibilities as the twins grow up but his family is losing money by the day. He gets a job with his best friend but they get fired soon after. After some time he finds another way- drug dealing. He knows that it’s wrong but his family is struggling so much that he no longer cares. He starts regretting his choices and tries to back out but they don’t let him. He threatens to expose them if they don’t leave him and his family alone. After almost a year, he’s finally starting to think that they’ve gone. But have they? I didn’t really enjoy it but I found the use of verse very interesting. It is definitely a book for older readers who are at least 12 due to foul language and the subjects. It is a fictional story about something that often happens in real life and is roughly based on the life of the ‘real’ Erik. I would rate it a 6.5/10.

Hannah

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze is a captivating story based on the connection between two boys Theo and Thesus both in different centuries, one in Ancient Greek times and one in modern day London both in search for their fathers and both wondering how to become men. However, the search for their fathers’ is very challenging and life threatening. What I really enjoyed about this book is how interactive it is, when a character is in a dilemma, the reader might have the option of picking the next move. I also like how the author has interpreted the story differently to normal Greek Mythology as Thesus acts very dissimilar and is very heartfelt than the actual story. Additionally, I like the connection between the two main characters as Theo has the same story line as Thesus, but it is just modernised. Both must deal with the same antagonists’ but just in different centuries. Overall, I would rate this book a 7.5/10 as Greek mythology is not my type of read. I also would advise that readers should watch out for some foul language which is why I would recommend it to those 13+.

Esi

The Door of No Return
Kwame Alexander, Weaves words like, Threads of gold in his novel, The Door of No Return, Following high-spirited Kofi, Who only dreams of swimming, Ama, And family, Until tragedy unfolds, Interjecting fear among the family, That Kofi holds so close, To his trembling heart, But this child must walk on, Through the hardship, And the distrust, Though the fight, Is never an easy one, He is carried by his people, By his friends, His family, He knows he can step through, Through the formidable, Through the Door of No Return. I'd recommend this book to anyone over eleven years old. It's a masterpiece containing some stunning descriptions and so much underlying empathy. It dwells on how times both have and haven't changed, showing topics like colonialization from an interesting and insightful perspective. I'd definitely describe this book as a must read.

Bethan

Away With Words
Away with Words is such a beautiful book, I really enjoyed it, you should take a look. When Gala moves to Scotland from Spain, She feels like nothing will ever be the same. She befriends a girl with selective mutism, Natalie, And she starts to look on her new life a bit more happily. In their world, a word is treated as a physical object, And Natalie and Gala bond as they create verse and find words to collect. As they go out and do their wordsearching, You can really start to see their connection emerging. They slowly develop their own way to communicate, But when classmates interfere, they begin to hesitate. Away With Words was outstanding and left me speechless, Sometimes emotional, and other times filled me with happiness. I think it is lovely to see Gala grow, From being distraught and at an all time low, And thinking nothing will compare to her beloved home country, To going back to being happy and sunny. It’s a joy to read as Gala comes to terms with her new home, And writes poetry with Natalie, instead of feeling alone. Even though it took me a while to come around, I became gripped and couldn’t put it down. The end of the novel left me completely surprised, When they discovered who stole their idea and was anonymized. My favourite characters are Iaia and Eilidh O, Because they always supported Gala through highs and lows. I liked how the colours of the words matched the speaker’s feelings, As it felt like behind all of the words were several meanings. In summary, I thought it was a wonderful and innovative book, It was beautifully written and had me captivated and hooked. It demonstrates that everybody is unique and different, Through a heart-warming and uplifting tale that is magnificent. I strongly recommend that you read this book, You won't be disappointed so go have a look!

Lucy

Steady for This
Steady For This is a book about Shaun aka Growls who wants to win Raptology with his best friend Shanks. However, as they livestream Growls dirty laundry is exposed to thousands of people including students making him the laughing stock at school. On top of that the council come banging with an eviction notice on his door. What I like about this book is how Shaun’s relationship with his family ends. In the start of the book they all seem like they all have their own struggles and they don’t communicate with each other however during the end of the book they start connecting like a family again. What I also like about the book is how it’s very modern and new day. This book uses a lot of modern slang which might interest those who don’t read as something to start with. Nevertheless, this language might confuse readers as not everyone knows what some of these words are. However, there is one thing I don’t like, which might be different for everyone, are the raps at the start of the book. Sometimes I feel like Shaun is using random words that don’t even fit with the rap which is quite random. Other than that, there’s nothing else I don’t like about this book. I would rate this book a 8/10 and recommend it to those who know their slang as some of it may be confusing.

Esi

Away With Words
When Gala and her dad move from Spain to Scotland, Gala feels homesick and lost. Soon, she meets a girl named Natalie with selective mutism and befriends her and her world is flipped from awful to OK. Gala and Natalie began using words to lift people up and make people better. However, someone clearly enjoys their work so much that they decide to copy it but use it to bring people down and Gala and Natalie get the blame. Will they able to prove their innocence or will Gala once again feel lost? My favourite character was Natalie as even though she couldn’t communicate through speaking, she gave out her love to others through poems and even gave them to people who said horrible things about her. This book made me want to keep reading as it was very interesting and I wanted to find out what was going to happen. However, at the start I was a bit confused about the words physically falling out of people’s mouths in different fonts and colours but when I got the swing of it, it was quite interesting about how it was different to just sounds coming out of out of our mouths. I would recommended this book for ten to thirteen year olds who are fans of different things in the world. I would rate this book seven out of ten because I enjoyed it but I found some things a little hard to understand.

Flo

The Boy Lost in the Maze
This is a story about two boys, One from the past, one from the present, Both trapped inside their stories, And determined to find their way in the world. Both with the same story, But split by the plot lines, Both entering the trap of manhood, But trying to be a boy. Minotaur and heroes, Enemies and friends, Trust and betrayal, Fear that never ends. Hope rising and falling, Into the pits of their despair, An undiscovered world around them, A world that doesn’t seem fair. They’re both searching for a figure, That had left them long before, And if they find them will they be accepted, They really are not sure. There are several different paths to choose, Which one will they take, A king, a bull, a princess, Will decide their fate. I really liked the story, Of twists and turns and tricks, The boys are always getting, Stuck in some sort of fix. The stories weaved together, The same paths but different roads, A boy, a prince, a minotaur, All searching for the codes. For normal family living, One thing they all may need, All abandoned and all alone, Is love not just a seed. It had different stories, All interlinked together, This was a bit confusing, And seemed to go on forever. Most of it was good, But it started off slow, It mentioned some grown up things, And sometimes it didn’t flow. This book would be suited, For ages twelve-fifteen, And for fans of adventure, And Greek mythology. I would rate this book, Six out of ten, I was confused at first, But I liked it at the end.

Flo

The Song Walker
The Song Walker is a book about two young girls that are lost in the Australian outback. One of the girls, Tarni is a part of the first country Australians appears to be searching for something or someone while the other girl ,who goes by many names, is wandering aimlessly through the Australian outback with only a metal case, a single black shoe and a black dress. She can’t remember why/how she got there or who she is. Personally I really liked this book because the characters feel real and use accurate knowledge to survive the harsh environment that they are in. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was the ending/ last few chapters as I felt as if it was rushed and just came out of nowhere it also didn’t quite make sense with the rest of the story. Overall, The Song Walker was a pleasure to read and I recommend it to people who have read books by Sophie Anderson e.g. The Girl Who Speaks Bear, The House with Chicken Legs and The Thief Who Sang Storms just to name a few. I would give The Song Walker a rating of 4/5.

Tilly

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is about a boy called Erik whose dad died due to covid. His life is turning upside down when his mum gets a new boyfriend who dumps her when she is pregnant. Ravi is Erik's only friend at secondary school until he goes to a playground outside of school and meets Ben and Travis who earn a lot of money. Over the course of the book Erik finds himself in sticky situations he must try and work his way out of. Since his dad died, he and his mum are poor and cannot afford the things they used to. School is a large challenge Erik must face with a brave face because since his dad died, he doesn’t care about grades just earing money. I liked that the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger and that as the book progresses tension builds up. Never did I think I would like to read a book written in verse. Giving that it had a bit of violence and a lot about drugs I enjoyed it. This book is a great book for people who like gripping books that you cannot put down. Here Erik is really good at making bad decisions. Like a race it is impossible to not want to finish it. I would give a rating out of five it would be 4. Negatives about the book are hard to find but if I had to do one thing, I would say is that I personally think it may have had a lot of characters that make it hard to remember who is who. Evidently, in some parts of the book you may feel like crying but others like jumping for joy.

Sophia

Choose Love
This book is about the life of a refugee and how they suffer. It follows the story of how a child’s home is in danger and eventually bombed before they are forced to leave. It tells you about how they are crammed onto a boat filled to a number way over the maximum capacity, and have to share all they own. When they eventually arrive at their destination, they are expecting safety. What they find instead is a hostile environment where strangers decide if they have suffered enough to stay. It flicks between different perspectives and at the end the refugee has a daughter and a life. It was an amazing book that used poetry to tell a story. It contained very important and powerful messages. It’s a beautiful book and is easy to enjoy. People of all ages should read it and understand just how much people suffer. It is unfair and not enough people realise that they are real people and not just a story or a ‘crisis’. I would rate it 9.5/10.

Hannah

Choose Love
The book Choose Love is about how people from areas around the world where there is war struggle and suffer on their journeys to safety. When they eventually reach "safety" somebody else must decide if their reasons for coming are valid and they are rigorously tested and challenged. What I enjoyed about this book was how it highlighted the problems and suffering people have to experience as well as the fact that when they arrive to safety they are still in danger. It shocked me to read about what real people go through and how they feel. What many people of this world have to go through is messed up and they shouldn’t have to do it alone. The author of this book is really trying to convey the message of a refugee's life. This book has powerful messages and people of all ages should read it. I would give this book a 9/10.

Eloise

The Boy Lost in the Maze
The Boy Lost in the Maze is an interesting combination of reality and myth. Theo and Theseus are both searching for a father that could make their life complete. However, they start to realise that it is more complicated than they ever thought. I enjoyed that throughout the book each chapter changed between Theo and Theseus. I think this shows that stories of the past can really link and guide you through reality. Additionally, I enjoyed that at certain points you were allowed to choose how Theo would continue to find his father. As a result, I think this helped me engage in the story better. The only thing I disliked about this book was that it was written in verse. I think this made it more difficult for me to engage and concentrate on the plot and storyline. Overall, this book should be recommended to readers aged 12+ who enjoy myths and history.

Orla

Choose Love
Choose Love is written by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Petr Horacek. This is a really thought provoking and emotional book written through a series of powerful poems. The poems highlight how refugees are forced to leave their homes, their communities and even people they love behind. The illustrations are really beautiful, they match the poems and help the words come to life. The poems made me feel sad, families should not be faced with war and have to move countries away from all they know. The people in these poems had normal lives and now their lives are scary and unknown. I wish the world was a kinder place and I hope that people will welcome others and treat them with love and respect.

Aimee

The Song Walker
This book is about a girl who is lost in the Australian Outback and can't remember anything about her past life. She is found by a girl named Tarni who is a first country person exploring the outback with her pet bird called candelabra. This book was in my opinion a great book. All of the story was very interesting and I liked how it was sectioned up into parts and then chapters. I also liked the fact that the author used words used in Australia and how some of the dialogue was written in a way that told you that Tarni has a strong Australian accent. The only downside was that the ending of the book was a little confusing and I had to read it more than once to understand what was going on. I would recommend this book to people who are funny and enjoy a little bit of suspense that can also be comical at times and I would also say that it should be read by children age 11 up because of some of the topics that it deals with. Overall I would give this book 8/10, the only thing that let it down was the ending.

Seren

Choose Love
Choose love book review In this Moment, choose love not hate, you’re all in this together. Be loving, have patience and things will get better. Bring all your great memories so you can be stronger then get on a boat and hope it will help you stay longer. Here in your home in your ten last minutes, what will you do? What will fit in it? As you depart in your boat and land slips away you must hope you must pray. That life as you know it has just disappeared but soon if unbroken it shall reappear. Hold on to what you have and you will come through and help everyone that you can then they will help you. So choose love because it saves lives and gives second chances. So choose love first not on second glances. So choose love not because people helped you but because you know what they’re going through.This book was emotional and brought tears to eyes, tales of stormy nights and cloudy skies. That if someone has your back and you have theirs you will always know there is someone who cares. Choosing love is not always saving lives which is why I give this book a 4 ½ out of 5, Choosing Love isn’t ever for you or yourself but because you can for someone else. I liked this book even though it was short, there were many things from it that I have been taught but mostly… This book gave one message: be kind and be brave but mostly Choose Love because you’ll need it someday.

Holly

Safiyyah's War
This book is about Safiyyah, an 11 year old Muslim girl living in Paris at the local mosque. She loves to explore and look at maps in the library, but this all changes when the Nazis arrive. As the danger draws closer more and more people leave to get to safety, but Safiyyah is stuck in the city hoping she can keep her secrets while the Nazis sit right on her doorstep... In this book about the suffering endured in WWII, tiny specks of hope are added making it a wonderful and amazing to read. I felt like I connected with the main character Safiyyah’s thoughts and feelings throughout the book, as parts would send my heart racing while in others, I felt her pain or her joy. This book really showed me what it was like in WWII, the pain the Nazis inflicted on the Jews and other families with their new rules like curfew at 8pm or the amount of fabric you were allowed to use in clothing. It showed the oppression faced and the resistance efforts against the uninvited new authority. It was interesting to see the home and school life of someone around my age in a different culture and how they coped with the dark clouds hanging above their heads. Overall, this book was such an inspiring piece of writing that showed me there is always a light in the darkness and some things will get worse before they get better.

Holly

Away With Words
Away with words ---------- was a truly eye-opening ---- read to the struggles people -------------moving to the UK face. When Gala moves from her home in Spain ----- she struggles to understand ------------- the native tongue and customs. She is heartbroken ---- and wants to go home. ----- Until she meets Natalie a girl with selective mutism and the pair become ---------- inseparable. This heartwarming read ------- really made me aware of struggle I often hadn't considered ---------. I found it a unique and original plot that really highlighted differences I previously ------------- had little knowledge about. Although -------------- I'm not like the characters I found them easy to identify ------- with and extremely--- likable. Finally ----------- it was an amazing read that captivated me definitely one of the best books I have read. 10/10

Isla

Steady for This
Steady For This is a new and refreshing type of writing that engages the reader with modern slang. The story is about a young MC and his friend trying to start their career but after a disastrous live performance everything is turned upside-down. The author’s style of writing is an innovative way to unearth the world of rap and modern day life for teens. Personally rap had never interested me but I couldn't put the book down and found it an engaging read. 8/10

Isla

Steady for This
The book Steady for This takes place in the east end of London and is about a boy whose life is turned upside down. But when his best friend stopped turning up to school, can he find new ones? Can he do the local rapping competition by himself? He must find a way to prevent his family from losing their home. The part in this book I really enjoyed was how the storyline was laid out and how the protagonist (Shaun AKA Growls) really progressed as a character and grew to appreciate the art of rapping. An aspect of this book I didn't like was the language. Although it set the scene of his personality and style of speaking, I couldn't really understand what the author was trying to say, through Shaun. This book has an interesting insight on what life is like in east London. I would recommend this book to 12 - 14 year olds and would give it a 4/10 as it’s not a genre I particularly enjoy.

Eloise

Choose Love
Choose Love is a captivating, heartfelt and moving sequence of poems. Highlighting the issues of refugee immigration this book is truly heartbreaking. Divided into three sections departure, arrival and healing, each poem reflects the journey of a refugee. Additionally, it also shows that even when refugees finally arrive in a safe country, they are still feeling the terror that it might happen again. As well as the beautifully written poems, there are also incredible illustrations, each one carefully shaded, toned and representing the message of the poem exactly. My favourite poem in Choose Love is definitely “Artins voyage”. It was so sad that I cried! This poem definitely revealed how anybody, you or me, could end up in this same situation. I think the age to read this book is 12+ so you can fully understand and interpret these poems. I would rate this book 10/10 as it was wonderfully written and fantastically backed up by illustrations.

Orla

Choose Love
Choose Love is a moving tale that raises awareness for humanitarian aid. Through a collection of eloquent poems, it tells of a refugee’s journey to asylum. The poems are separated into different phases of the journey – Departure, Arrival and Healing. I think it is important to note that the idea of this book is to promote help for people who have been forced to leave their country and to make the reader feel empathy and compassion for others in dire need. The title of this book is named after a charity, who do incredible work for these people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly fond of Choose Love. The cover and the blurb of this book didn’t appeal to me, and it didn’t really tell me much about its contents. It felt way too short, and I was able to read it in less than 10 minutes, which I didn’t like because it feels like something I would just read and then completely forget about. Because of the length, I didn’t feel there was enough time to get hooked on it so when I finished it, I felt slightly disappointed. I would much rather a lengthier story to read. One thing I would’ve also preferred is that the book had characters. This way, you can form connections with the people in the story and I think you can feel even more sympathy if you were told it from someone’s point of view. On the other hand, I think Nicola Davies did a splendid job with the poems; they were beautifully written with stunning descriptions. Astoundingly, she managed to encapsulate the story into 12 poems. Also, the wonderful and evocative abstract paintings illustrated by Petr Horáček are a lovely addition to each poem. My favourite poems were Five Minutes and Mathematics because I loved the rhyme and repetition used in them. Also, I loved the purpose and meaning behind this book: love and hope. In conclusion, I think Choose Love wasn’t an amazing book but it was not entirely disappointing – there were some lovely elements to it such as the touching and heartfelt message. I wouldn’t strongly recommend this book, or describe it as a ‘must read’, but I would say that if you are interested in poetry, then this might be worth a read.

Lucy

Choose Love
Choose Love This moment Escaping With as much as you could carry To a foreign country Only to be rejected once more So choose love now while you still can. War and pain and suffering watching loved ones die before your eyes, only to be told you’re a liar. seeing hope fade and love cling to see rage exploded And people crying out in desperation. So choose love now while you still can. Souls burn, people break, and children give up, things change, never to be the same again. So choose love now while you still can. Before we left This book brought tears to the eyes of those who fell upon its pages, like rain battering the roof. “It’s so sad ” “it’s so painful “ “it’s so deep “ “it’s so meaningful “ “it’s so real “ So choose love now while you still can. Different people Of different places Gave different opinions. Ones of anger Ones of desperation Ones of fear ones of love So choose love now while you still can. Ten minutes Ten minutes to try and understand The lives of those at deaths hand Ten minutes to suffer all their pain But don’t let it wash away like rain ten minutes to try and count the cost of all things they’ve ever lost ten minutes to think when it all began So choose love now while you still can. These things will lie deep inside my heart Until I am ready to take my part In helping people like in this book So I want you all to take a look. Inside the world where they torture men So I rate this book a nine out of ten. I think its important to try help every man, So choose love now while you still can.

Flo

The Door of No Return
The door of no return book review This is a story about 11 year old Kofi who lives Upper Kwanta Africa and loves water Although, in the day the water is fun and playful at night demons whisper from down below. This remains a mystery to Kofi throughout the book. After the civil war between Upper and Lower Kwanta, they only meet once a year for a festival where young men and women are chosen to fight against one another to signify power over the other. When someone close to Kofi is chosen the family expect this will bring riches and reward. However, this is not the case and brings a river of bad luck over Kofi and his loved ones. Reasons why I liked this book: I liked this book because it was very interesting to read about another culture, their celebrations and everyday life. It was exciting to find out what happened next as I didn’t know what to expect. Reasons why I didn’t like this book: I found I couldn’t really connect with the characters in this book as there was only one point of view. This made it difficult to imagine how the other characters felt about the situations. It was also a bit difficult to focus on the story as it was written in verse and some information couldn’t be inferred. Also, some of the content in this book, I found, was a bit gory at times and wasn’t, in my opinion, the things I wanted to read about. Overall, I feel like this book pushed me out of my comfort zone, as it was an entirely different genre and if there was more of the story, I may of been able to get into it, but I don’t think this was the book for me. I rate this book 4/10.

Holly

The Door of No Return
The Door Of No Return is an excellent book written by Kwame Alexander. I enjoyed reading this story, it has opened my eyes to some awful things that have happened in the world. The book is based in West Africa, it is set in 1860. The story focuses on slavery, there are some really dark parts that made me think about people in Africa and how their lives may have been. Kofi Offin is the main character in the story, he is an 11 year old boy who has dreams and likes to take risks and enjoys adventures.His character is followed throughout the entire story, the author made me feel like I needed to know what was happening and wondering if Kofi was safe. The story is written in a verse poem style which are like short chapters, you get through them very quickly. I don’t find it easy to read large texts, this book definitely kept me interested and I was proud to reach the end of book 1, there are going to be 3 stories about Kofi. I hope he survives throughout the series. The author uses powerful descriptive language that gave me a really clear picture inside my head and made me feel like I was there alongside Kofi. The end of the book was a little confusing for me, so I had to reread the section a couple of times, however once I reread and understood what was happening everything came together. I hope to find out what happens for Kofi next. The entire book fascinating and at times upsetting. It made me really think about how lucky we are to live in a safe place. This is a book I would definitely read again and a story I will recommend to others, it has lots of cliffhangers that will make you want to read on!

Aimee

Choose Love
Choose Love is a collection of poems about the hardships that refugees face when taking the long journey out of their country. I found the poems in the book hauntingly beutiful. The poems are separated into parts based on the phases of the journey a refugee takes. The book envokes sympathy into the reader. This is the sort of book that I think everyone should read. I would rate it 10/10.

Simon

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return is a book about a boy living in the Astante Kingdom named Kofi Offin. It begins as a book about normal childhood things: rivalries, competitions and lots of swimming, when a person dies at a festival and Kofi finds himself in a fight for his life. The unfortunate thing that I have found in this book is the verse writing. I found this the case because I feel that it seemed a little pointless. Aside from this one problem I found it to be a beautifully written book that tells an important story from a perspective that we don't normally see. Overall I would give this book 9/10.

Simon

Steady for This
Steady for This is a book about a teenage boy named Shaun (aka MC Growls) who aspires to become a rapper. He becomes aware of a competition called rapatology. He is all ready to win when a series of events leaves him unable to enter. This book unfortunately begins in a plotless way but it soon develops into an engaging and gripping story. In the middle you begin to feel for Shaun in a way that only the best authors can do (especially because I found him irritating to begin). Overall I would rate this book at a 7/10. It only lost marks for the beginning.

Simon

Steady for This
Steady for this is a rapping book, Shaun (Mc Growls) gets a bad livestream look. Alone, with no friends he can’t show his face, But Siobhan makes him feel like he’s winning a race. Yet poverty is knocking and the eviction clock is tick tocking, So can he find a way to solve his case? I really enjoyed this amazing novel, Not at once did it feel like a big struggle. With a relation to the real world, I felt this story unfurl. My favourite character was Mr Rix, He always helped Shaun when he was in a fix. Influential and great advice, He was always extremely nice. Scenes talking to Shaun after the livestream were certainly mysterious, However, this did make the book fun yet serious. Although I didn’t enjoy this book at first, It filled me with a reading thirst. With great punch lines and comedy, This could be described as a reading anomaly. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, To people with humour so give it a look!

Orla

The Door of No Return
The story There was even a time in Upper Kwanta, a young boy named Kofi lived a happy life. He had friends, he had family he had annoying teachers, who made him speak English. He was told to stay away from the woods at night which he did, until he went with his brother but found himself alone, brutally forced past, the door of no return. In the book The story was gripping with an intriguing plot, it explored real past events, but without too much detail. It helped me understand more of a different culture and language and the past. I wanted to keep reading, and though there were tense and sad scenes, it was very enjoyable, however, I found the start was slow, and I was confused about who was who. It was not clear that there was a glossary so at the start, I didn’t know what a lot of the words meant. Reviewed I would recommend this book to fans of suspense and foreign, past cultures. Ages for this book would be 11-16 yr. olds I would compare this book with ‘Journey to the river sea’ by Eva Ibbotson because they both have an element of rivers and boats and dreaming. I would rate this book Eight out of ten I didn’t like it at first, but I enjoyed it thoroughly by the end.

Flo

Away With Words
Away With Words is a beautiful book that is about a girl named Gala who moves from Spain to a small town is Scotland. She’s a word-searcher, she looks for already spoken words in the world around her. Even surrounded by people, she’s never felt more alone. She has friends, she has her dad but nothing can compare to Spain- right? Until she meets Natalie who has selective mutism. They make poems in an attempt to cheer up their classmates until someone copies their idea with the opposite intention. This book is one of those books that you just can’t put down. It made me cry and laugh and everything in between. The only thing I would change would be to make it longer. It ended too quickly! It is a fantasy based roughly on reality. I think it is perfect for ages 9+ but any age could read and enjoy it. I would rate it 10/10.

Hannah

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is a powerful and compelling story that explores peer pressure and other hot topics. Erik is bereaved after his father’s death and feels lost. His mum meets a new partner and unexpectedly has twins, sending their lives into crisis. Suddenly, Erik is thrown into a world of terror – drug dealing, trap houses, violence – when he accepts an offer by a local gang. At first, it seems easy, and he is earning a good sum of money for his family, but he comes to realise that this was more than he bargained for and, just like he says, he may be ‘crossing the line’ again… I quite enjoyed Crossing the Line! I think it demonstrated a really strong and important message that there is help out there: it separates itself from other books by the fact that is very different and unlike anything I have ever read before. I thought there were points in the novel that were more captivating than others, but I did feel hooked from the beginning as the author was alluding to something big and terrible happening; generally, I thought it was an interesting read. The single thing that I think stood out and surprised me the most, was how easily things can get out of control. The story, particularly the ending, made me feel quite emotional. My favourite character is Ravi because I think he is the perfect example of a loyal friend who is always there for you through thick and thin. One thing that I really didn’t like about this book was the structure. Although I thought the style was a creative and original concept, I just found it very annoying to read around and I felt it was unnecessary that it was written in verse because it had no relation to the actual story. It was particularly frustrating on page 55 when the writing curved around into a circle and at the beginning of the chapter, Boxes. Overall, I think Crossing the Line is a pretty good story that is powerful, unique and gripping. I would recommend this book to readers aged 13+, as it goes in depth about some sensitive topics.

Lucy

Away With Words
Away With Words is a captivating story about a girl named Gala who had moved to Scotland from Spain with her dad Jordi to live with his boyfriend Ryan. During her time in Scotland, she befriends Natalie, a girl with selective mutism. As they find ways to communicate an anonymous student has decided to defame Gala’s reputation. What I really like about the books is how the words come in different forms depending on how you say something. Like if you were mad the word might come out a bright bold red or if you were surprised it might come out a shiny yellow. I also really like the fact that Natalie and Gala always find a way to communicate no matter where they are. Despite one having issues with English and one having issues with talking depending on where they are, which is realistic and tells you no matter the persons struggle you can always find a way to communicate. There wasn’t anything I disliked about the book however the ending seemed a bit rushed and quick but other than that the book was really inspiring, and I would recommend to young readers who like poetry. I would rate this book an 8.5/10.

Esi

Choose Love
Choose Love by Nicola Davies and Petr Horacek is a beautiful and insightful collection of captivating poems which tell of migrants (whether refugees or not) relocating and being forced to settle. The collection is divided into three sections: Departure, Arrival and Healing. There are so many words that could describe this book, but I don’t think any could do it more justice than “breathtaking”. Each poem is paired with an alluring abstract painting to act as a background for its melodic words. This book contains poems not only based on loss and sadness, but also on sparks of joy and hope. It’s these highlights that bring a sensitivity to the work: a humanity. Overall, Choose Love is a book I would highly recommend as it transports the reader far from their surroundings, whether to a small boat in the middle of the ocean or a desperate interview for asylum. I think readers of 12+ years would be able to properly embrace and enjoy this book as there’s a lot to take in and infer. “I had to turn away to hide the tears, As a tiny shoot of hope stirred inside me too”

Bethan

The Door of No Return
The Door of No Return is a wonderful and captivating story. Kofi Offin, a young boy who lives in Upper Kwanta, West Africa is surrounded by family friends and cultural traditions. He enjoys swimming, stories and festivals that happen yearly. Suddenly, a dark twist in the story changes Kofi’s life for ever. Can he fight his way back to what used to be his life? I really enjoyed this book, normally I do not like books in verse but this has inspired me to read more! My favourite character in this book was Kwasi, the brother of Kofi. Throughout the book Kwasi was a brave loyal sibling and I really admired this about him. As a result, I think this showed me what all siblings are and should be. Additionally, I think this book highlights the importance of cultural identity and how other people shouldn’t try and change it and shape you into what they want you to be. Overall, I think this is a beautiful, enchanting story and has made me want to read more books in different styles. I would say anybody from 8+ could read this book, but may not understand the morals of some of the stories. I would rate this book 9/10.

Orla

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah’s War is a book set in Paris France when the Nazis were at large. It is about a Muslim girl called Safiyyah who lives in a Mosque with her Dad, Mum, little sister, and grandmother. As the war goes on she starts making discoveries… I really enjoyed reading this book because each chapter ended on a cliffhanger so I couldn’t but it down. Also, I like that the author included a historical note about what she found when she was researching about World War II in Paris France, so it includes some real facts. My favorite character would probably be Safiyyah because she was determined to help people, so she is a great example of kindness. Also, she really likes maps and books and is knowledgeable about the city she lives in, Paris. What I disliked about the book was that it was a bit confusing because the characters all had rather similar names and were a bit hard to pronounce. But that on the contrary is also a positive because it means you must be paying attention to understand, that is the only negative thing I can say. I would read this book if you like adventurous books with lots of cliff hangers and dangerous decisions but, older children over 9 because it may be a bit disturbing for younger kids. To add to that, I would recommend it for people who do not only like adventurous books but people who like fictional but with a bit of history. If I could rate it out of five it would have to be five because how it shows how hard it was for people in Nazi France but how there was still happiness just not as much, but also how there was a struggle for survival.

Sophia

Safiyyah's War
Safiyyah’s War is a beautifully written story based on real life events. It is set during World War II and follows the life Safiyyah, who lives with her family in a mosque in the centre of Paris. When the Germans invade France, Safiyyah is suddenly thrown into a world of terror. She discovers her father has been helping the Jews flee with his secret Resistance work and when he is arrested by the Nazis, it is Safiyyah’s job to run errands for her father. But with several Jews coming to the mosque to seek safety, will Safiyyah be able to help the Jews escape when it is all down to her? I thought Safiyyah’s War was an incredible book: I really enjoyed it! I thought it was very interesting that this novel explores a side of history that isn’t often talked about, or, in my opinion, you don’t typically find in many other books. This story maintained my interest throughout – there was constantly things happening and I never felt like it became boring or repetitive. I think the part that surprised me the most was the pivotal moment where Safiyyah finds out about her father’s work. During the book, you feel sympathy for Safiyyah as you learn about the constant fear and worry she had to deal with every day. My favourite character is Safiyyah because she is resilient and bold – I feel like she does not give up. Also, I really loved the fact the author added a small section at the end that showed a glimpse into Safiyyah’s future, 10 years later. The only thing that I would have wished is that the second half of the book explored Timothee more. Personally, I felt like he was a character that kind of disappeared and he wasn’t really talked about much towards the end and I thought there was a bit of a mystery over what happened to him or his father. To summarise, I think that Safiyyah’s War is a wonderful novel that is unique, original and extraordinary. I would strongly recommend this book to avid readers aged 10+ and potentially people who are interested in history.

Lucy

Steady for This
This book is about a boy called Shaun who loves to rap. He has a great personality but when his best friend stops coming into school- and even leaving the house- he makes friends with someone new. The story was based on the author’s own life and appeared to be a real story. My favourite character was Siobhan because she’s a very strong and independent character despite struggles at home. It’s a hilarious story and incredibly hard to stop reading. It was just a little hard to follow because of the style. Nathanael Lessore made the choice to misspell certain words to imply that Shaun doesn’t speak the same as everyone else. I really liked this book and couldn’t stop reading it. I would recommend it for ages 11-14 and would rate it 8/10.

Hannah

Away With Words
Away With Words by Sophie Cameron is a down to earth, quick read with believable characters and a storyline that is easy to navigate. The book is centred around Gala, a teenage girl who has recently moved from her beloved Spanish home to a town in Scotland so her Dad, Jordi, can be with his boyfriend Ryan. As Gala begins to reluctantly settle into her new home, she meets Natalie, a beautifully written character with selective mutism. The two quickly become firm friends and embark on several personal journeys together. I found this book very believable and realistic in many ways although sometimes a little difficult to get into. I think the author did especially well at seeing inside Gala’s mind and the reader is able to witness her change in mindset as she adapts to her new life in the UK. I particularly liked the moments of realisation as Gala sympathises with various characters, however I think the book could’ve benefited from a more complex narrative to keep the reader fully engaged. Overall, I did enjoy reading this book as it contains some stunning descriptions, and characters so perfectly imperfect that they feel as real as anyone else. I believe this book can be read at any age although I think it would be more enjoyable from around 10+ years old.

Bethan