Title: The Hatmakers

Author: Tamzin Merchant

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

The first adventure in a spellbinding new magical world.

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why…

The Review

What I really love about middle grade fiction is the scope that the writer has. Younger children are more accepting of the weird, wacky and wonderful and that is exactly what you get in the world of The Hatmakers. It is a story about a young girl called Cordelia who has grown up with the intention of following in the family footsteps of becoming a milliner. However, her life plans begin to unravel when her father goes missing. This is the start of her epic adventure of self discovery.

Alongside this you have the story of rival companies – the glovemakers, the shoemakers etc all who have had a mass falling out. It is up to Cordelia and her friends to try and bring them all back together to save their country and also, maybe, save her father too.

The Hatmakers is a cute story but you do have to suspend your disbelief because some of the elements are fantastical. It is lovely to get immersed into a world and know that it is the first in a series of adventures.

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant is available now.

For more information regarding Tamzin Merchant (@tamzinmerchant) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Love Hurts

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 576 Pages

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK

The Blurb

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

The Review

Love Hurts is an excellent compilation of stories and extracts from some of the most treasured writers of contemporary young adult fiction. What I loved about this collection is that it was broken down into unseen pieces of fiction (short stories) and that the other selection was like a publisher’s sampler which after reading all the extracts I ended up with a list of books that I wanted to find out more about.

I could understand why some people may feel cheated by this – almost like it is a way to make more money but I genuinely found it useful. No point buying every book when I only liked the sample of a few of them.

Love Hurts gets two big thumbs up from me.

Love Hurts by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

For more information regarding Random House Children’s Publishers UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens AgendaTitle: Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Pages: 303 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

The Blurb

Straight people should have to come out too. And the more awkward it is, the better. Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to work out who he is – and what he’s looking for. But when one of his emails to the very distracting Blue falls into the wrong hands, things get all kinds of complicated. Because, for Simon, falling for Blue is a big deal . . . It’s a holy freaking huge awesome deal.

The Review

Ok, ok. I know I am a bit late to the party but OH.MY. DAYS. How awesome is Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?

It was so lovely. I got completely invested in the characters lives. I searched through every character trying to figure out who the mysterious Blue was. I felt every single teen anguish that Simon went through. It was just so very very good.

What was so lovely about Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is that it dealt with the everyday lives of teenagers but added a whole element of being gay. It raised the question of why should it be so difficult in society to be gay. Having to “come out” and deal with the fall out. Heterosexuals don’t have to deal with that. It was just such a beautiful story of young love. It made me want to be a teenager again….and I wasn’t the most comfortable of teenagers so for me that is the biggest compliment that I can give Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

I cannot wait to see the movie.

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is available now.

For more information regarding Becky Albertalli (@beckyalbertalli) please visit www.beckyalbertalli.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK Children’s (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

5 Stars

The Hazel WoodTitle: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

The Review

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is one of the strangest books I have read in a long time. That is not to say that it wasn’t good. It really was but some books I have read in the past have been weird and have left me with the feeling that I haven’t a clue what I had just read and I don’t feel good about it. The Hazel Wood left me wanting to know more about the history of fairy tales.

Melissa Wood’s book is creepy and dark and twisty and completely compelling to read. It makes you feel uncomfortable like you have stepped out of your comfort zone but the story of a child trying to make her way back to her mother is an undeniably effective thread that keeps you turning the pages.

The Hazel Wood will go down as one of the strangest books I have read over the past few years but it will certainly be one I recommend to others.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is available now.

For more information regarding Melissa Albert (@mimi_albert) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK Children’s (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

3 Stars

The Truth and Lies of Ella BlackTitle: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

Author: Emily Barr

Pages: 346 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

The Blurb

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . . Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things. And realises her life has been a lie. Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas. But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .

The Review

Emily Barr has really knocked it out the park with her latest young adult novel. The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is a superb psychological thriller for the young adult audience.

Our eponymous heroine Ella Black has a dark side that she has always tried to keep hidden away but when her parents whisk her off on an impromptu holiday and take her phone away from her, Ella’s bad side starts creeping out.

The holiday to Rio reveals some things about Ella’s past that cause her whole word to crumble an Ella ends up finding her real self by getting lost in the hustle and bustle of one of Rio’s favelas.

Barr has really created a character with depth and emotional layers with Ella Black. She is easy to relate to and you cannot help but feel her desperation. She is brave and fierce and definitely a heroine for generation Z.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr is available now.

For more information regarding Emily Barr (@emily_barr) please visit www.emilybarr.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House Children’s UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

3 Stars