Title: Monsters in the Mirror – 1: Beyond the Mirror

Author: AJ Hartley

Pages: 424 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors in to different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world…and only he can save it. The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out…


The Review

I read Monsters in the Mirror a couple of months ago and even as I write this review I remember how impressive it was as a middle grade fiction.

Monsters in the Mirror is the story of Darwin Arkwright. He has just moved from a small city in England to America to live with his aunt. He is dealing with the loss of his parents, living in an unusual place, having to go to a new school and make new friends. Oh and he has a mirror that leads to another world filled with monsters.

Sounds a bit random but for a middle grade fantasy this is pretty good stuff. Darwen soon realises that he has a mission within this other world and with a small circle of close friends he manages to start out on his epic adventure.

There were some aspects of this book that were truly terrifying. Some of the monsters are so creepy that I, a fully grown adult, was creeped out by. AJ Hartley has managed to make the monsters sinister but also very original. I often think that monster stories can be overdone but Hartley sets the correct tone and allows the imagination of the reader to soar.

This is a really good middle grade novel. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Monsters in the Mirror by AJ Hartley is available now.

For more information regarding AJ Hartley (@authorajhartley) please visit www.ajhartley.net.

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit www.uclanpublishing.com.

Title: The House with Chicken Legs

Author: Sophie Anderson

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Usborne Publishing

The Blurb

Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning.

For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas…


The Review

Oh dear.

I bought into the hype of The House with Chicken Legs. Everyone was raving about it. Twitter went nuts. Teachers were singing its praises.

For me, I felt a little confused.

Ok so the story is of a young girl who has a destiny to become the next guardian. The one who helps the dead cross over to the other side. I don’t understand why the house had to have legs like a chicken.

Also, as one of my students who attends book group said to me, “this book could have ended half way through it.” Sadly, I have to agree.

It was not for me.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson is available now.

For more information regarding Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace) please visit www.sophieandersonauthor.com.

For more information regarding Usborne Publishing (@Usborne) please visit www.usborne.com.

Title: Tilly and the Book Wanderers

Author: Anna James

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Book

The Blurb

Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses.

Tilly’s new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page…


The Review

Every once in a while a book will come along that makes you reminds you just why you fell in love with reading. Tilly and the Book Wanderers is that book for me.

It is the story of Tilly, a young girl who lives with her grandparents. Her mother disappeared when she was a small child and she never met her father but growing up with in her grandparents care and indeed in their book shop has been a pretty wonderful experience.

However, when a strange visitor comes to the shop a whole new world opened up to Tilly. One that is almost unbelievable but by golly it is fabulous.

Anna James truly brings new meaning to the term getting lost in a book. The adventures that Tilly goes on have made me jealous. Had I encountered this sort of magic when I was a young girl I would have been even more enchanted than I am as a 35 year old.

Tilly and the Book Wanderers is such a special book that I am keeping my copy for when my niece is a bit older. I want her to feel the magic of such special story telling.

Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James is available now.

For more information regarding Anna James (@acaseforbooks) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins Children’s Books (@HarperCollinsCh) please visit www.books.harpercollins.co.uk/children/.

Title: Posted

Author: John David Anderson

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Walden Pond Press

The Blurb

In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes–though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.

In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.


The Review

What would happen if a school banned all mobile phones? As someone who works in a high school I relished the idea that is presented in John David Anderson’s middle grade novel – Posted. Mobile phones are a bloody pain in the bum. The time it takes to tell the child to put it away, the subsequent argument, then the removal of the phone from the student and then the subsequent argument, then the phone call to the parent and what do you know, the subsequent argument. Yes, I feel that phones should be banned in schools.

What John David Anderson points out is that young adults are savvy, and they will find a way and in a sort of devolution the students of Branton Middle School resort to post it notes. Essentially, life goes on but in the tradition of school – kids are mean and the arrival of new girl Rose shows us jjust how mean people can be. Is the fight to get access to phones really worth it when people get hurt along the way.

I really enjoyed Posted. It shows how quickly and easily people can fall into a life of bullying and how you really need your people around you to make sure that you get through high school unscathed.

Posted by John David Anderson is available now.

For more information regarding John David Anderson (@anderson_author) please visit www.johndavidanderson.org.

For more information regarding Walden Pond Press (@WaldenPondPress) please visit www.facebook.com/waldenpondpress.

Kasey and IvyTitle: Kasey and Ivy

Author: Alison Hughes

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

The Blurb

Through twenty-six letters to her friend Nina, twelve-year-old Kasey chronicles the often humorous observations and impressions of her unexpected, month-long stay in a geriatric ward for the treatment of a rare but treatable bone disease (“osteo-something-something-itis”). Kasey tries to make her life less dull by wearing her own nightgowns, surrounding herself with her favourite stuffies and developing an unusual exercise routine. Hospital food, insomnia and the germy communal bath are enduring sources of dread, but some new (and unexpected) friends make her life bearable.

The Review

What a gorgeous story.

Kasey and Ivy by Alison Hughes is the gorgeous tale of a young girl who has to spend a prolonged period in hospital. Her thoughts are tracked in her almost daily letters to her friend at home. Through them we learn of the comings and goings of the hospital and the inertia that Kasey feels and her desperation to be able to go home along with her acceptance and curiosity about the other patients.

As someone who has spent a lot of time in hospital I found Hughes’ descriptions as painfully accurate. Even down to the less than tasty food.

Kasey and Ivy is such a good story that is completely heart-warming and is definitely best read in one sitting.

Kasey and Ivy by Alison Hughes is available now.

For more information regarding Orca Book Publishers (@orcabook) please visit www.orcabook.com.

4 Stars