Book of the Week 2018-19


Book of the Week Recommendations

Girl Missing by Sophie McKenzie

Girl missingGirl Missing is a mysterious, thrilling and realistic novel about Lauren, a teenage girl who was adopted when she was little. Her foster parents are very uptight about the adoption process and the details about her biological parents, which makes Lauren curious about the situation. As she gets older she feels she has a right to know all the details and back stories about it. She finds a source of research from her foster mother’s diary. This gives her enough knowledge to start her journey of finding her biological parents and reassuring her that her whole life is not a scam. This takes her on a whirlwind of a journey through America with her best friend Jam which takes her into more and more danger as the trip proceeds. After running away from her family, Lauren and Jam get presented with a force field of obstacles, including coming into contact with Lauren’s original abductor who is prepared to do anything to keep her silent, and her adopting agency, which she finds herself breaking into, going against her “good girl” status. Will she ever find her adoptive parents? Will she survive her journey?

This book out of the Girl Missing trilogy, is a personal favourite due to the fact that it takes the reader on a journey with Lauren, and makes the reader feel all of Lauren’s emotions. In addition, the plot and the different issues that Lauren runs into make you not want to put the book down because you want to find out what happens next! Moreover, I found that I built up strong feelings about the characters which gives the book a lifelike feel. Furthermore, I admire the way in which Sophie writes with clever implicit clues within the text, which all become clear when you reach the end of the book. Overall, in my opinion, it is a brilliant read which I would mainly recommend to my age group because, although it is an easy read, it has clever clues interwoven into the text, which makes it more advanced. 

Ellie Lewis

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fault in our stars book coverThe Fault in Our Stars is a book about a young teenage girl who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is told that she only has a certain amount of time that she will live for.

Hazel Grace is sixteen and is reluctant to go to a child support group for children with cancer. However, here she meets her future two best friends: Isaac, who has a form of eye cancer, and Augustus Waters who has had Osteosarcoma, which is a rare form of bone cancer.

She soon realises that Augustus is charming, witty, loves metaphors and means more to her than just a friend. Hazel and Augustus embark on a roller coaster ride of emotions, including love, sadness and romance.

They learn that they both like very similar things. One of these being a book, called An Imperial Affliction.  Augustus emails Peter Van Houten (the author of Hazel’s favourite book ever!) and after much time debating, arguing and emailing, Hazel and Augustus fly out to Amsterdam to meet the author in person.

Towards the end of the book Augustus and Hazel declare their love for each other but… plot twist! In a way they switch places, as Hazel gets a little bit better Augustus gets worse and worse…

If you enjoy young adult books, full of witty humour and heartbreaking events, this book is perfect for you. Expect to laugh, cry and smile throughout this masterpiece. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

By Charlotte Gisborne

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Paper butterflies book of the weekThis book is about a black girl, June, whose mum has died, and she now lives with her dad, step-mum and step-sister. The step mum abuses June but little does her dad know as he isn’t around much, so he doesn’t realise what is going on behind his back; she tries to tell her dad but he doesn’t believe her or listen. But one day June goes into the forest and meets a boy named Blister, who ends up being more than just a friend; with this June finds a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe she could fly away from all the misery, but little does she know…

Personally, this one of the best books that I have ever read; it is relatable to almost everyone who is suffering with a problem. My favourite part was at the end as it proves that you can always forgive someone no matter what. During the course of the book there is a massive plot twist, which nobody expects. This book will leave you heartbroken, in tears and feeling very sorry for the characters which you build up a bond with; you end up feeling like you actually know the people in the book.

Heathfield lays the story out in a way which is very clever; throughout there are moments where it skips to the future, and June is talking to a councillor about something that she regrets, but we don’t find out why or what until the very end, (this keeps us reading to make us want to know what happened), when you have the moment of realisation and think, “how did I not realise?”

I really recommend this book as it teaches you a life lesson, as well as it just being a very good book to read. I’d say it is for ages 13+ as it can be quite graphic, and would suit people who like romance, drama and sadness.

Tabby Beaumont

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Time Travelers Wife Book coverIf you haven’t read the captivating romance, The Time Traveler’s Wife, you must get reading now! Audrey Niffenegger passionately guides us through the magical events of this couple’s meant-to-be relationship, despite Henry constantly vanishing into thin air and travelling, unwillingly, through different points in time. The intensity of this love story, I guarantee, will hook you from the very first chapter.  

The shocking and outrageous time travelling feature of the character Henry definitely questions and tests the very limits of true love. However, their enduring love for one another is not defeated by this never-ending flaw.

The author writes like a tornado whizzing through events at a mega pace – almost literally, as Henry seems to travel back and forth thirty years in minutes during this book. Although I couldn’t put the book down, falling into a jar of treacle would occasionally bring me more pleasure and stability than experiencing some of the agonising, heart-wrenching moments this couple face throughout the book. I mean, how would you react to being left, on your own, on, not just any day, but your own wedding day? I can assure you, this is a book of lifetime but do be prepared for the heartbreaking moments. 

Honestly, if you only read one book this year – make sure it’s this exhilarating, eventful love story. I plead for you to immerse yourself in this story because I think this book is definitely worth a five star review.

The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie

Seven dials mystery book coverThe exhilarating crime novel that gets glued to your fingers!

The Seven Dials Mystery is an irresistible crime novel, written by the one and only Agatha Christie who was also known as “The Queen of Crime” due to her many great detective stories.

In this book, the author brought back the characters from one of her previously written novels called, “The Secret of Chimneys”. One of these characters was the protagonist, Lady Eileen Brent, “Bundle” who played a significant role in solving the case. Bundle was my favourite character in this book because she was not only daring, determined and courageous but also had a very funny personality and was a perfect role model for women. She was also used to bring contrast to the more intense parts of the story.

This novel started with a light prank on a friend that ended very badly and from there, it became increasingly difficult to put down the book as more suspicious and surprising events toppled in to the book. Of course, Christie’s ending to this book was an utterly unexpected plot twist and the whole book was a hair-raising experience from start to end.

I would really recommend this book for anyone aged at least 13+, interested in crime novels or someone who wanted an exhilarating book suggestion as the book was quite complex and difficult to understand in parts.

I think this was one of my favourite books by Agatha Christie because it was very fast paced and she used a lot more humour which meant it was not as heavy with crime and created more tension when new clues were introduced. I also really loved the ending which was even more of a surprise than in her usual books.

Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie

Girl Missing book coverWho Am I? It seems like an easy question that most of us have had to ask ourselves at some point. But it's a question that is harder to answer for Lauren Matthews, who was adopted when she was 3 years old. She has no idea that a simple piece of homework will impact the rest of her life…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and the cliff-hangers make you keep wanting to turn the page. The main character, Lauren, really draws you in. I really liked her and I found that she was very single minded in her quest to find out about her biological parents and where she really came from. She did come across as selfish at points but I could completely understand her motivation and desire to know the truth. Her determination to reach the truth was very strong, only making me love her more. I really like how well the suspense is laid out and how there are multiple mysteries that need to be solved. The book kept me guessing until the very end.

The book was very good. However, I found it quite far-fetched: what are the chances that Lauren searches her name on this specific website and somehow knows it’s her? It is also quite unbelievable when Lauren convinces her parents to take her to America and how Jam (Lauren’s best friend) is able to come with only one day’s notice. The descriptions of some of the places like the boats and Lauren’s new/old room were not as descriptive as they could have been. I feel like if they had been more descriptive, it would have been easier to imagine. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery novels and is around the age of 13 to 16.

Overall, it was a fantastic read.

         Maya Patel

Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

CharismaCharisma was written by Jeanne Ryan and is set in modern day America, and the book is centred around a girl called Aislyn. Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness, social anxiety and struggles with daily tasks such as public speaking. When she is offered the chance to partake in a trial for a gene therapy drug called ‘Charisma’, she jumps at the chance. Everyone notices the effects of ‘Charisma’ straight away, and Aislyn soon becomes a popular, bubbly personality that everyone likes. However, she soon realises that some of her friends are also developing the same characteristics, and later on, side effects. It rapidly comes to everyone’s attention that the doctor that had developed the drug itself has gone missing, so Aislyn and the other people involved have to figure what to do for themselves.

The book is written from the perspective of Aislyn and this gives the reader a true insight on how her brain changes throughout the story and how her mind and body work after receiving the drug. Once realising that there is little hope for her, Aislyn, with help from her new companion Shane, tries to work out what she needs to do to help cure ‘Charisma’. However just like any thriller novel Aislyn faces many challenges, the most important one being to survive.           

The book is very intense, which keeps the reader in suspense from the first chapter. I would recommend this to all teenagers, both boys and girls, especially those who enjoy books that cover all subjects from romance to mystery. In my personal experience reading Charisma, I can say that I found it impossible to put down, and consequently managed to read it in a few days. But once I finished it, I wished I hadn’t read it so quickly!

By Katie Worrall

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 minutesSarah Pinborough is an award-winning thriller, fantasy and cross-genre novelist and screenwriter. She has published more than 20 novels and has written for the BBC and is currently working with several television companies on original projects. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story also, the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel.

This book is a murder mystery.  A popular teenage girl (Natasha) is found in an icy lake, defibrillated by paramedics, and taken to the hospital. There she lies, but when the police ask her how she ended up in the lake, she cannot remember.  An old Friend (Becca) talked to her in the hospital whilst she lay unconscious. Natasha then awoke, and her friends Hailey and Jenney went to visit. When the time comes for Natasha to go back to school, she is more popular than ever. But her amnesia doesn’t get better. As the police broaden their search, Becca and Natasha reunite and become friends again and they decide to take matters into their own hands.

Becca’s only other friend Hannah is pushed to the sidelines as their investigation takes place, but one day in a drama rehearsal, things go from bad to worse and someone is fatally injured and the sound ricochets through out the hall. This mind-blowing plot twist leaves the other characters in despair, anger, shock and a desire for revenge. Together Becca and Natasha try to find the culprit; using clues and logic, they gather evidence to give to the police. Finally, the culprit is locked up, but there’s another plot twist. It is now solely up to Becca to fix her mistake…

This book encapsulates modern day society and a murder investigation. The plot twists and narrative turns, create tension and captivate the reader. In this book the writer uses many techniques in order to make the book interesting and keep the reader engrossed. The plot twists in the latter part of the book signify the complex lives of teenagers today. The protagonist (Becca), who embarks on the quest to help find the ‘killer’, is a typical teenage girl. She was once best friends with the now popular girls, but has since been ‘replaced’ by another girl. This feud between them is set aside as the narrative reveals itself and the two girls reconnect over the accident. It is up to Natasha and Becca to figure out the culprit and save her friends…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This physiological thriller highlights fears, manipulation and the power of the truth. This book included many plot twists which kept me thinking, and although I guessed part of the ending, the other plot twist I did not see coming. 13 Minutes, captures what life is like for teenagers. With social media being a major theme in the book, it is a modern representation of high school and the turbulent friendships within. I highly recommend this book and I could not put it down.

By Ellen Dromard

12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

12 Days of Dash and Lily - 4 Stars

12 Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan was, overall in my opinion, a very good read. It was a slow start with some details included wh12 days of dash and lilyich I think weren’t entirely necessary to the whole story. However, it was a very festive read as it is set around the Christmas period, although it is not the kind of light hearted easy read in comparison to a book like The Grinch. You have to stick with it in order to really get into it and enjoy the story line.

The way the author decides to set it out can be quite confusing as it jumps around a lot. One chapter is written from the point of view of Dash, and the next in the view of Lilly. It can make the book hard to follow at times. However, I quite enjoyed that element as you always know what characters’ opinions and outlook on the situation are and their thoughts.

This is definitely a good book for any teenager who likes a story that makes you think a lot and tugs at the heart strings. I would say it is more of a book for girls, but that doesn’t mean a boy wouldn’t enjoy it equally. I think this is because it is a bit of a soppy, romantic book that a boy might not want to bother reading.

I haven’t read the other book by these authors, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, however I am sure it will be just as good and that Dash and Lily will go on many more emotional rollercoasters and adventures together.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even with its unnecessary details. However, you do have to break the back of it before you can fully get into it.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

The Short Read to Confusion - 2/5 stars           

This autobiography of Nelson Mandela’s journey was a book that shook mLong walk to freedomy beliefs about what freedom should be based on and also caused me to appreciate the dedication to their goal that ANC men like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu had even during the hardships they faced such as their imprisonment on Robben Island. This was meant to be a book on resilience with the strong message of continuing to hope despite overwhelming odds, as Nelson Mandela became the first black South African president.

However, there was one major element that, for me, completely ruined this emotive narrative. That was the confusion you get due to being introduced to characters that are not central or sometimes even remotely necessary to the story. This led to me quickly forgetting who was who, their jobs and their views on certain topics that are later referred to. In addition to this, there was a large number of acronyms used to represent political parties, their sub-divisions and other organisations. Constantly having to go back to chapters through the index to remember what an acronym stood for ruined the flow of the narrative and thus my entire experience of reading this autobiography.

Despite this, I enjoyed reading about this inspirational person but unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend this book to others as it is such a difficult and time-consuming book to read.  

Elizabeth Gliznutsa                                                                                                           

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and prejudiceJane Austen’s humour still lives on in the witty tale of Elizabeth Bennett, as she ventures through her quest to survive the dramas of high society.  The novel reflects and battles many of the stereotypes about women in society, while still having enough comicality to fall into the category of a ‘light read’.  The book turns its own pages, introducing you to the world of the Bennetts and the high-and-mighty characters that surround them and enthral the reader. 

The story tells of a mother’s wishes to marry off her five daughters before her husband’s death, due to the belief held by Englishmen at the time that daughters should not inherit any of their father’s wealth.  Thus, Mrs Bennett wants to ensure her daughters are held in financially stable positions.

The 2005 British-American romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright and screen written by Deborah Moggach, closely follows the novel while still changing certain elements of the film in order to make it more appropriate for a twentieth-century audience.  The film’s similarity to the book finally offered the pictorial view that all Pride and Prejudice fans had been craving.  The mind-blowing cast took on the roles of the main characters with gusto, with the film wracking up a total of $121 million and 4 nominations at the 78th Academy Awards.  Keira Knightly, who portrayed Elizabeth or to those better acquainted, Lizzy, received a Best Actress nomination for her accurate depiction of the protagonist. 

I highly recommend that you either pick up this humorous book or watch the romantic film if you are over the age of 12, because if there really is an ageless book, this is it.  Although the novel obviously has a great storyline, what is more fascinating is to see the book published in 1813 finally get the recognition it deserves.  This is one of the most incredible books I have ever read and I only wish Jane Austen was alive to write a sequel to this fantastic novel.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on orient express cover“Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.”

Murder on the Orient Express is a classic whodunit story and captivates the reader from the word go. As a passionate Christie fan, I could explore her novels all day long, but there’s also a strong element of magic to her brilliance that defies analysis. How are her books able to be, simultaneously, simple enough that 12-year-olds can love them, yet complex enough to pose an impossible challenge to a bright adult mind? They’re light and jolly and fun to read, but also constantly aware of the dangerous lure of evil. She creates fabulous plot twists that authors envy and is known to many as the “Queen of Crime”.

There are four films based on Agatha Christie’s book - in 1974, 2001, 2012, and the most recent coming out on November 22nd 2017, starring Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. In the 1970s, the film was a smash hit and hugely popular for all age groups. Unfortunately the two later films were an appalling representation of the book with many claiming they were an insult to the original film.

The only fault in this seemingly perfect story is the lack of character development. There are thirteen passengers on the train which is a few too many, especially for people who have an awful short term memory, like myself. You have to keep rereading parts of the book to remind yourself which character has done what. This creates a stop start motion, which obviously affects the flow of the book.

However, the well-loved Agatha Christie does not disappoint and Murder on the Orient Express is a killer read! There are so many twists and turns that you get lost in the maze of murder but everything becomes clear once you reach the end. Her brilliant imagination and knack for detective stories creates a fantastic crime and even after searching the four corners of the book there seems no possible answer. Yet Agatha Christie says it herself “The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

Clara Hall

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My life next doorMy life next door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is a romance set in the modern day American world.

This book is about a perfect girl who meets a kind and caring boy. One night the girl, Samantha is sitting on her window ledge and the boy from next door, Jase, comes to sit with her. However, she shouldn't be with him because her mum never liked that family because they are loud, numerous and messy. So they fall in love and this story is all about how Sam and Jase get through life even though they have completely different backgrounds. Bad things happen and setbacks are in their way, but they overcome them and live happily together.

My favourite character is Samantha because she is very down to earth and you can create a real bond with her character because the author makes her really relatable and funny. The other characters in the book are all so different, ranging from a mum running to be a government official to a boy who has been expelled from school multiple times and has trouble keeping jobs. All of these characters make the book more enjoyable to read and keep it interesting. Another thing the author does is he has a lot of story lines making the book unexpected. For example, at the end of the book there is an unpredictable plot twist which puts you on edge because you wouldn't expect it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book because it was exciting and was just a nice and relaxing read; with this book you just wanted to keep reading because it flowed really well. I would recommend this book to people aged 13 and above because there are some hard topics, but overall I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to all of my friends.

The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama & Howard Cutler

If You’re Sad, this Book is for You!

The Art of Happiness; A The art of happinessHandbook for Living is a philosophical guide, aimed at a western audience, combining the Dalai Lama’s eastern spiritual opinions, with Doctor Howard Cutler’s personal and scientific reflections on them.

In this unique book, one of the world’s great spiritual leaders offers his wisdom and advice on how we can overcome everyday human suffering, and achieve lasting happiness. He displays his thoughts, using his religious upbringing to express how one can find balance and complete spiritual and mental freedom. However, the Dalai Lama’s strong Tibetan Buddhist beliefs are counter balanced by the scientific, more western perspective of Doctor Cutler.

In The Art of Happiness, it is proposed that we train our minds to eliminate the things that would destroy happiness (hatred jealousy, anger) and pursue the things which promote happiness (kindness, warmth, compassion).

Upon reading this book, I felt almost frustrated by its pretentious ideas concerning being rid of any negative states of mind, as when you are stressed or angry or upset, it can be very difficult to find happiness at that moment. However, (after reading the book) when I found myself in a situation like this, I remembered some of the words of the Dalai Lama and I was surprised by the help they provided.

Although the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist monk, it isn’t always clear in the book which part of what he is saying is taken from the religion directly and which parts are his thoughts alone, which provides an unbiased account to the story, making it a book open to any person, even people who have other religious beliefs. However, I believe it is much better suited to people with not very strong religious beliefs, as there are parts of the book which clearly are directly linked to Buddhist ideas (such as reincarnation.)

On the whole, I found Dr Howard Cutler’s added information to be only superficially interesting. In many circumstances, after the Dalai Lama had introduced a new idea into the book, Dr Cutler would scour his sources of modern western literature to find something relevant to it. In every case that I recall, he would find material which supported what the Dalai Lama was saying, and this became so frequent that I was left with the impression that Dr Cutler was simply trying to find information that supported what the Dalai Lama was saying, as opposed to thinking deeply about the material himself, and adding value with a conflicting opinion.

I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars, because the book was full of interesting thoughts, anecdotes and imagery from the Dalai Lama. However, I would’ve liked it even more if these thoughts were balanced with opposing opinions from Dr Howard Cutler.


Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Harry potter book image3Cover your ears, it’s the nitty gritty of the wizarding world…

Yet again the admirable J.K.Rowling concludes another gripping but eerie novel in which Harry escapes from his dreaded Uncle’s house, fights the deadly dementors, and wins the quidditch world cup, plus a whole lot more magic... J.K.Rowling marries together all these different aspects of this spell-binding book with her never ending inventiveness and her unique characters. ‘It may well be known as the book that made children read!’ says Jaqueline Wilson.

During the course of this fiction book the tight knit group that is Harry, Ron and Hermione is reunited in Diagon Alley but later on at Hogwarts has many upsets due to the troublesome cat Crookshanks and Ron’s ‘rat’ Scabbers. This changes not only the friendship of the group but the warmth of the book, down to the lack of love and happiness.

Hermione has a rough time in the duration of this novel, managing tons of work, lessons and exams, and dealing with the mess that Crookshanks leaves behind. Her well-known, warm and loving character returns towards the end of the book.

Ron is just well… Ron. The confused ginger boy has a different attitude in this novel, and is more stubborn but as hilarious as usual. J.K.Rowling also eliminates his fear in some scary scenes, which allows him to seem braver. Nevertheless it’s still the same undermined Ron!

This book, with all my praise, has been topped by The Philosopher’s Stone as it swept me off my feet from the first chapter. Saying this, I know not one 10 year old child (apart from me, the child too scared to read Harry Potter in fear of sleepless nights) that hasn’t been captured by this magical world.

All I can do is praise; there is never any criticism when it comes to  Harry Potter.

Anya Wilson

The Abduction by John Grisham

The abductionTheodore Boone is a very intelligent 13-year-old whose parents are both lawyers. This means that Theo is always in the court room as he is very interested in the law and is also a natural lawyer. His best friend April has gone missing in the middle of the night. April's family situation is not good. Her parents, while still technically married, don't actually live together. April's dad struggles to make a living, and chooses to play in his band, so April never sees her dad. Her mom is usually out at bars as well.  This therefore means that April is often left alone in the house. On the night she disappeared she was alone and no one knows where she went.

April has a distant cousin called Jack Leeper, who has escaped from prison and is seen in the area around where April lives. Jack and April are pen pals. The police zero in on Leeper and find him. But Leeper won't give up any information on the girl. Theo gets a group together of people who have their hearts set on finding April so after school each day they go round to people’s houses asking for any information of what is likely to have happened.

Theo then realises that she might be with her dad on tour. He finds out when her dad’s next gig will be and finds out that it is at a frat house at a university in which he actually does find April. The case then goes to court as everyone believes that it is best that April’s mother be given custody of April in which Theo Boone either leads the case or is left in the stands watching (I can’t remember).

I found this book very easy to read as it is a very fast paced thriller and as I am quite interested in law. This is also one of the first books I was able to finish. I liked how the book was structured and always kept my ideas about what was going to happen on edge. I really did enjoy it.

Jamie Brooks

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger book coverThis book is a time-travelling romance between Etta and Nicholas. He is supposed to take Etta to the dangerous Ironwood family, because they believe that she can reclaim the astrolabe (an object that creates passages between different times) that they are searching for. The astrolabe has been hidden in an unknown location, so that Cyrus Ironwood can’t find it. He is obsessed with saving his wife, but changing time so dramatically could have disastrous effects. Their journey is often perilous as it crosses many times and places. Ultimately, because they changed the timeline, Etta has most likely been trapped in a wrinkle, and Nicholas must find her.

I really enjoyed this book because I liked the characters. I thought each one was very interesting and they were all important in the story. I loved the relationship between Etta and Nicholas, as they were both very well-written characters. I felt that the author made all the characters very easy to relate to, and you could always see their point of view. I could even relate to Cyrus Ironwood even though he was the villain. I understood what he was doing, even if I didn’t agree with it. I empathised with him.  

Catherine Jackson

Leading by Michael Moritz

Leading book coverSir Alex Ferguson was the manager of Manchester United between 1986 and 2013, providing 38 trophies, including the club world cup, two Champions Leagues, 13 Premier Leagues and five FA cups. With 49 trophies he is the most successful British manager of all time.

Leading is a biography written by Michael Moritz about Sir Alex Ferguson. Moritz takes us through Ferguson’s managerial career and the whole book is structured around the key skills that Sir Alex Ferguson values so highly. It includes subjects that people immediately associate with his football teams such as discipline, control, teamwork and motivation. However, it also addresses subjects that are less obvious and have not been revealed as information to the public before. Examples are delegation, data analysis and dealing with failure; less obvious subjects but in his opinion just as important.

The writer, Sir Michael Moritz is the chairman of Sequoia Capital, the original backers of brands such as Apple, YouTube and Whatsapp. He has also served on the board of major companies such as Google and PayPal. He is a former journalist with Time magazine and was brought up in Wales. He now lives in San Francisco where many of the meetings between him and his long time friend, Sir Alex, took place during the composition of Leading.

I think that Leading is full of humour, honesty, insight and knowledge. The individual stories of Ferguson’s life may relate to football and the phenomenal success that came with it but I think this book can inspire anyone in whatever they are doing. I really enjoyed this book and think that others would benefit from reading it even if they do not have an interest in football.

Matthew Honeyman

Shelter by Harlan Coben

SShelter cover 2helter is the story of a teenager, Mickey, who had big problems to deal with. In his own words, “my dad was dead, my mum in rehab, my girlfriend missing.” Mickey lives at his uncle’s house and enrols in a new high school where they are having an induction day. Here he meets three other characters important in the story:

  • Ashley, his girlfriend who disappears;
  • Ema, an outsider because of her size and Goth looks but becomes a reliable friend. Her origins and background are untold.
  • Spoon, nicknamed after he “barely used” the spoon he handed to Mickey, the son of the school janitor who is a good detective. He brings a bit of humour and normality to the story.

Mickey seems to live two different lives in parallel, each being rather intense.

The first story is about his personal life dealing with his father’s disappearance after he resigned from his work, his mother: a promising tennis player who gave up a career to have Mickey and lost herself into drugs after her husband’s accident and the Bat Lady known as the scary lady in town who seems to know more about Mickey’s dad than he does himself.

The other story is about Mickey looking for Ashley after her disappearance in mysterious circumstances. For this he has to go on an adventure of his own.

Mickey is a credible character; he is a talented sportsman who can think through desperate situations. Even in intense situations he will calm himself and rely on his father’s teachings. I could relate to Mickey’s passion for sport; he is a basketball athlete and describes how practising is an escape where he can “figure out angles, rebound, positioning myself, willing the ball.”

I liked the fact that it was easy to read and the suspense from the beginning of the book kept me reading and interested. You also quickly realise how everything links together in one big plot. The link to WWII was interesting but I thought that it was not realistic enough.

My favourite moment in the book is when all the leads connect when Ashley’s disappearance is explained. However, the most dramatic moment is at the very end. You think you have understood all the links in the story and in the last two lines you are left on a cliff-hanger which leaves you wanting more answers.

To round it up, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something to read because it isn’t boring and it makes you want to read on. It is also quite an easy read which doesn’t require that much thinking, so you can read it whenever.

By Gregoire Imber

Inheritance By Christopher Paolini

InheritanceInheritance is the last novel of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. The books in the inheritance cycle are: Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance. It was first published on the 8th of November 2011 and is based in a fantasy land called Alagaësia. In Alagaësia a man called Galbatorix is the king and he is evil. There are men, dwarves, elves, urgals, werecats, dragons and of course riders. The main characters in this book are:

Eragon – a rider

Saphira – Eragon’s dragon

Arya – an elf princess (who Eragon is in love with)

Glaedr – a dragon who dies along with his rider, but Eragon has his Eldunarí, which means Eragon can still talk to him once he has died.

Roran – Eragon’s cousin


Murtagh – half-brother of Eragon and a rider, being forced to work for Galbatorix along with Thorn.

Thorn – Murtagh’s dragon

Galbatorix – the king and a rider

Shruikan – Galbatorix’s second dragon but Galbatorix made Shruikan hatch for him using dark and ancient magic out of grief for his own dead dragon Jarnunvösk.

Varden - a group of rebels which hides in the dwarves’ cities

Solembum – a werecat

I am a massive fan of the Inheritance Cycle, and so my judgement is going to be massively biased. However, the plot: it starts off with the Varden attacking Belatona – a city of the empire. Saphira, is nearly killed by a Dauthdaert - a spear from the Dragon Wars intended to destroy magical wards and kill dragons. Belatona is soon captured by the Varden, and an alliance is later formed between the Varden and the werecats.

Eragon's cousin Roran is sent on a mission to capture Aroughs, which proves to be a difficult task. He comes up with a risky plan and Aroughs is taken, although Roran's men suffer many injuries.

The Varden next try to capture a city called Dras-Leona however Murtagh and Thorn are stopping them. The Varden find a secret way in. Eragon leads a small group into the city to open the gates for the Varden. Eragon and Arya are captured. Eragon and Arya struggle and injure themselves while they escape. Eragon is then able to open the city gates and defeat Murtagh and Thorn, allowing the Varden to take control of the city.

In the middle of the night, Murtagh and Thorn attack the Varden’s camp and capture Nasuada. In her absence, Eragon is appointed as the leader of the Varden as they march on to Urû'baen in hope of overtaking the city.

Eragon remembers Solembum's advice (from the first book Eragon) telling him about the Vault of Souls and the Rock of Kuthian. When they talk, Solembum loses himself as a new voice talks to Eragon before abruptly ending, bringing Solembum back from a trance he cannot remember.

Eragon eventually discovers that the Vault is on Vroengard Island. Eragon then talks with Glaedr about the Vault of Souls but Glaedr is unable to remember the conversation. Eragon realises that very powerful magic is causing everyone in Alagaesia —except for Saphira and himself— to forget about the Vault of Souls and the Rock of Kuthian after they hear of it. After Eragon finds a way (by special words) to remind and let Glaedr understand him, Glaedr believes that Eragon is telling the truth and advises him and Saphira to immediately find the source of and reason for the powerful magic, as it could help them in the fight against Galbatorix. Eragon and Saphira take Glaedr's Eldunarí as a guide.

After a while on the island, Eragon and Saphira learn that they must speak their true names in order for the Rock of Kuthian to allow them to enter. After days, they find their true names and the rock opens. Inside, the three of them find lots of Eldunarí and dragon eggs that were hidden away before Galbatorix destroyed the Riders.

The Eldunarí, says that the time has come for them to reveal themselves and to help Eragon and the Varden to overthrow Galbatorix. Eragon and the others leave Vroengard with all the Eldunarí save five, who volunteer to stay and guard the eggs, and as they pass through the rock back onto the surface to open land, their knowledge of the existence of the stored dragon eggs is removed from their minds. They make their way to Urû'baen, where the combined forces of the Varden, the elves (led by Queen Islanzadí), the werecats (led by Grimmr Halfpaw), the Urgals (led by Nar Garzhvog) and the dwarves (led by King Orik) are preparing to attack Urû'baen.

If you want to know what happens next you’ll have to read the book, I’m afraid. However, I can tell you that it is very good. Some people say that Paolini copied the Lord Of The Rings, and yes I do agree that some aspects are too similar to not have been copied but so what; it is still an amazing book, and apparently other people think so as well as the whole series has sold 33.5 million copies worldwide. For me, I can relate to plot and to the emotions of the characters. The book is just an all-round amazing thriller-action-adventure book.

The one problem with this book is the number of pages; this book alone has 860 pages and the other books are not much shorter. So, this book is not for people who will get fazed with how thick it is. Also, I should warn readers that there is a huge amount of war/violence and a few torture scenes so if you have a delicate disposition I would not suggest it.

Overall, I would rate this 9.8/10 because it is gripping has an amazing story line. I have now been waiting four years for the next one to be published!

By Samuel Solway

The Door that Led to Where by Sally Gardner

The door that led to WhereThe novel is written by Sally Gardner who in this book combines the ideas of crime, mystery and fantasy all in one story. As the story begins, we find a young man who has failed all but one of his GCSEs, and the future is not looking too bright. However, his life seems to have taken a turn for the better when he is offered a job as a junior clerk in a major bank in London. At his newly found job Aiden Jobey find a key with his name on it and so starts on the path to finding out what lies beneath all the secrets and lies behind the truth of his father and his father before that.

The door is a family heirloom which has been passed down through the generations because the key only belongs to a Jobey. AJ must decide whether he fits in the modern day society where he is at the bottom of the pile or in the 1830s where he could be the richest and most powerful man in the country. On his journey he will make new friendships and perhaps lose a few others. For his close friends, this new time portal could be an escape from lives that are crime-infested. Over the adventure the portal allows AJ and his friends to find out where they really belong.

Personally, I found the book fun and interesting to read and for those interested in history there is a slight connection even if it is very slight. I would suggest the book to an audience around the age of 12-16 as it is written in an easily understood way yet still tackles some serious matters in either a comical or unrealistic ways. In three words I would describe the book as funny, page-turning and interesting. In my opinion, I found that the characters were very easy to relate to as they were dealing with very real issues of the modern age. I was disappointed when I finished the book because I didn’t want to leave the characters and I wanted to know their next adventures. What I mean to say is, if Sally Gardner writes a second book following on from this story I would definitely read it.

By Jordan Homann

Bodyguard Ambush by Chris Bradford

Bodyguard ambush by chris bradfordAs a first observation about Bodyguard Ambush, I was always somewhat intrigued to read it. This is due to the way “Connor Reeves”, the main character, is presented on the cover. His back is turned towards the reader and is blackened by a shadow cast over him. This personally makes me want to know more about this character, such as whom he works for, what sort of personality does he convey, and why we cannot know his true identity. These are all questions that urge me to read on through this book so they can be answered. However, two previous books published before, Hostage and Ransom (Trilogy) do reveal some of the star qualities in Connor Reeves that may not appear in the third, Ambush.

I find that Bodyguard Ambush has a good Plot. Although some of the events that occur may be presented as slightly far-fetched, it is still a thriller seeking, action packed adventure. The book from start to finish is gripping, with plot twists round every corner, the story is so un-predictable. I found that the second half of the book was much easier to read than the first half of the book, mainly because once the “black Mamba” ambush commenced during Connor’s and the French Ambassador family’s Safari lodge tour,  excitement, survival, and tension was on ever turn of the page. When I was reading, it came across my mind as to why the ambush even happened, but it was when I thought back to the start I realised that the book highlighted a man called “Mr. Grey” working in Africa to dig for diamonds illegally for money. I believe that maybe the author could relate back to this point a few more times, for the benefit of the short term memory readers like me.                                  

During Connor’s miraculous escape from the ambush with the Ambassadors two French children, Amber and Henri, it then dawns upon him that they were abandoned in the middle of central Africa, being hunted down like the prey of a pride of lions. With only Connor’s Go-Bag and his limited survival training, he has to battle his way through predators which are just as dangerous as a dozen targeting AK47s. I really enjoyed the suspension throughout this part of the book because it left me on the edge of my seat every time I put this book down. The anxiety I felt to read on just would not stop purely due to the engaging plot, however I do believe that “Bradford” could have brought an element of realism to the book to allow the reader to relate to the lifestyle of the characters more. I feel that this would succeed greatly in the next book.

There were loads of aspects to the novel that made it great. “Survival” the key theme to the book was explained remarkably. I felt that I never had to watch any more “Bear Grylls” programmes as reading this felt like an instruction manual to survive in the wild, with an exciting twist of course. Romance also features all the way through this novel between Connor and one of his principles. This got me intrigued and I’m sure other readers would feel the same.

The characters introduced into this book were not what I expected at all. As this was set in Africa, there were many African enemies that occasionally had a line or two in the book which to me did not really make much sense, but I tended just to make a sensible guess as to what the words mean. Adding to this, as the safari lodge was invested in by the French Ambassador; his family has come over to see the progress of the development that his money helped with. This therefore results in French characters narrating in their spoken language in the book as well. This wasn’t much of a problem as a lot of the time the lines were later translated into English, however it did test my French language ability. J  Other than the foreign lines, the book was fairly easy to read at a reliable pace.

Even though the characters were French, I really connected with all of them, especially Connor, Amber and Henri, due to possibly the similar age between the four of us. I felt that I was with them at all times having the same adventure. And when anything bad happened to one of them such as when Henri, aged 8 was chased off by a pack of cackling Hyenas, my heart dropped as you think of the worst possible outcome. At the exact time, my whole body shuddered when on the other end,  Amber was in a horrifying position, careful not to scream out in case of being heard by the soldiers, and not to make one sudden movement as a spindly Black Widow edged its way across her arm, over her face and through her hair….

Overall, I absolutely love the bodyguard series and I can’t wait until the next one is published in May 2016, Bodyguard Target. This is because this book left an unfinished story about how a girl in a wheelchair, who Connor likes, is in the position she is today…

By Max Tankard