New Reviews

The latest reviews for Books for Boys


Sci – fi

Alex Scarrow’s The Time Riders series, which features three time-travelling teenagers, is well worth checking out. The four books in the series so far – Time Riders, Day of the Predator, The Doomsday Code and The Eternal War – consider all the major time travel dilemmas such as how much of a difference can one changed decision, or the death of one person make to the future? What if the change in the past actually results in a better future?

You also get to go back to the time of the dinosaurs,  join in the search for the Holy Grail, meet Hitler, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, and a young, and annoying, Abraham Lincoln. In The Eternal War, the issue of genetic engineering is explored in some detail.

This is action-packed and thought-provoking science-fiction.



Monster Republic: The Judas Code is the second novel in The Monster Republic series by Ben Horton. The ‘monsters’ are a group of children who are the result of genetic experiments by Dr Fry.

Cameron is learning to use some of his ‘modifications’ but he is racked with guilt over his part in the death of his best friend’s mother.

In order to survive, the members of the Monster Republic have to keep their hideout a secret. That is becoming more and more difficult especially as more and more ‘normals’, fuelled by false media reports, consider them a terrorist threat.

Cameron believes they need to set the record straight and he thinks he knows the man for the job. If he is wrong, he could be responsible for killing them all, or worse, putting them back into the hands of Dr Fry. 


 The Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane

The series continues with Red Leech which sees Sherlock travelling to America to rescue Matty who has been kidnapped. Once again he gets himself into (and out of) lots of dangerous situations.

Sherlock has his first violin lesson in this novel and begins to develop some of the detective skills for which he is so famous in later years.

In Black Ice, Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, is in trouble. The classic locked room murder puzzle is no match for the deductive powers of the Holmes brothers but will they ever be able to prove it?

The trail leads to Moscow but how do all the pieces of the puzzle fit together and, with so many secrets and lies, who can Sherlock trust?


Who needs sparkly vampires?

If you’re looking for a vampire series that doesn’t take itself too seriously then check out the Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins.

Nigel Mullet is almost 100 years old but he has been 15 for the past 85 years. Imagine having to go to high school for ever. Add to that spots, an inability to get a girlfriend and none of the ‘perks’ of being a vampire such as super-strength and inhuman good-looks and you’ll understand why Nigel thinks his ‘life’ sucks.

In the second book in the series, Prince of Dorkness, Nigel loses his girlfriend to the new kid in school. When he sets out to win her back, he uncovers a number of shocking secrets.

Part of the fun of these books is that we figure out what is going on long before Nigel does. (You might like to ask your parents about Adrian Mole and the diary he wrote when he was 13 and 3/4. )


The Chronicles of Vladimir Todd by Heather Brewer tells the story of teenage vampire, Vladimir Todd.

The Chronicles begin with Eighth Grade Bites. As if being in high school isn’t bad enough, imagine having to hide the fact that your father was a vampire and that you eat your meat raw and have bags of blood in your fridge.

Then you find out there’s a vampire hunter on your trail.


Department 19 by Will Hill is full of action. Department 19 is the government department that deals with vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures that threaten the safety and security of the people of Britain.

Alex Rider thought he had it tough!

As if witnessing his father’s death wasn’t traumatic enough, Jamie Carpenter then discovers that his father was a traitor to his country.

Two years later, Jamie’s mother is kidnapped by one of the oldest vampires and he finds himself taken to Department 19, the most secret of the governments agencies.

This is not a tale for the faint-hearted. These vampires do not go to high school or sparkle in the sun. The oldest vampires were created by Dracula himself and, apparently, Bram Stoker took some liberties with the truth in his novel, Dracula. This book sets the record straight.


Books for Older Readers

John Green

Both Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines are told from the point of view of a teenage boy.

In An Abundance of Katherines, Colin  Singleton, a child prodigy, has just been dumped by Katherine number 19. He and his friend go on a road trip – mostly to cheer him up. It takes a number of adventures, including a life-threatening encounter with a wild hog, and a girl who is not called Katherine, and lots of failed attempts to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability before Colin learns important truths about relationships and friendship and love. 

Looking for Alaska is also about friendship, and relationships and growing up.

In his new boarding school, far from the influence – and safety – of his parents, Miles has his first taste of freedom.

In making new friends and taking risks, Miles learns about himself and his place in the world.

Miles falls in love with gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy Alaska but she has her demons too.


Mal Peet


Mal Peet’s Keeper is my favourite football novel. This summer I at last read Exposure which has been sitting on my bookshelf for ages (well, to be honest, on one of my bookshelves) waiting patiently to be read.

A modern take on Shakespeare’s Othello (please don’t let the idea of Shakespeare put you off), it is set once more in South America and in the world of football and celebrity. Shakespeare’s themes of prejudice and jealousy and motiveless malice are all here against a backdrop of poverty and corrupt politicians and the media’s insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip.

If you have read Othello then you know it won’t end well for the central characters, Otello and Desmerelda, but the story unfolds cleverly and will certainly make you think.



Life: An Exploded DiagramLife: An Exploded Diagram came as a bit of a departure for me after reading so much fantasy and sci-fi. The story covers three generations of the one family but centres on Clem’s relationship with Frankie who is way out of his league not least because she is the daughter of a wealthy farmer.

It is full of historical detail which I found fascinating and there are at least a couple of ‘explosions’ which take the plot in totally unexpected directions.




The Magnificent 12 - The Magnificent 12: THE CALLThe Magnificent 12: The Call is about David MacAvoy – Mack to his friends. Twelve-year-old Mack is an unlikely hero. For a start he is scared of spiders, dentists, fire, puppets, oceans, sharks and cramped spaces and finds new things to be scared of on a regular basis. However, he notices things other people might miss and is really good at escaping from bullies.

Three thousand years ago, when Grimluk was only twelve, he already had a job, a wife, a child and two cows. His life changed for ever when Sporda the fleer brought news of the Pale Queen – the greatest evil the world had ever seen.

Grimluk, now an old man, sets Mack off on a quest which will take him around the globe. Mack must track down the other eleven members of the Magnifica ( the Magnificent Twelve) or the Pale Queen will rise again.

This book is funny and quirky and clever. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.


Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip and Grass by Cathy MacPhail are both on the shorlist for the Royal Mail Award 2010 for the age group 12 – 16.

Grass by Cathy MacPhail

 Grass  is about a boy called Leo who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As a witness to a murder, he finds himself having to make a series of very difficult decisions  in order to keep himself, his family and his best friend, Sean, safe from the gangs that run the town.

Before long, Leo finds himself drawn into a world he is ill-equipped to handle.

Has he put his trust in the wrong people?

Can he find a way to make things right?

(Cathy MacPhail was born and still lives in Greenock.)


Crossing the Line is another novel about gangs and violence.

Suitable for a slightly older age group than Grass (there is some swearing in the book), it is also about gangs and violence.

The story is told by Nick Geddes whose life is coming apart at the seams.

The story moves back and forward from the present (NOW) to the past (THEN) to tell us how and why his sister’s boyfriend was killed in a school stabbing.

Nick’s sister Allie refuses to accept her boyfriend’s death and talks to him all the time.

Meanwhile, Nick is in love with Orla, the dead boy’s sister. Can she ever forgive him for the part he played in her brother’s death? Was it really his fault?

(Gillian Philip was born in Glasgow.) 

iBoyIn Kevin Brook’s iBoy, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey is on his way to talk to Lucy when he hears his name being called from above.  He looks up at the thirtieth floor of the block of flats where he lives and sees a small black object hurtling towards him.

After seventeen days in a coma, he wakes up to find that nothing will ever be the same again.

Just like Spiderman, the fictional superhero he admires so much, Tom has to deal with the ‘great responsibilities’ that come with his new powers.

How can he make a difference to the estate where he lives and help Lucy come to terms with the terrible things she suffered at the hands of the gang members without losing himself in the process?


The Knife That Killed Me (Definitions)


The first chapter of The Knife that Killed Me by Anthony McGowan will have you hooked.

This is a book about teen angst and bullies and knife crime in school that will keep you gripped throughout.

The main character, Paul, is once again out of his depth as events take a dangerous and ultimately tragic turn.




As an antidote for the gritty stories above, you could try The Dead by David Gatward. Suitable for slightly older readers (again there is some strong language),  this is the first book in a new horror series.

Lazarus Stone and his friend, Craig are about to face their worst nightmare.

Lazarus who is almost sixteen, is used to his father’s work taking him away from home for long periods of time. What he can’t understand is what’s so interesting about being a locksmith and security consultant? What he doesn’t know is that his father is a Keeper and without him the world Lazarus knows is in grave danger.

If there is no Keeper to send back the Dead, this world is doomed.

Hell is coming!

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