Close to the Wind by Jon Walter

Malik is on the run in a country that has been torn apart. Together with his grandfather he has left his home and mother. The only way out of his desperate situation is by a boat on which tickets are few and far between. Malik’s grandfather has been able to get the two of them tickets. Malik is one of the lucky ones. But his ticket came at a huge cost.

The setting of this book was unique and original. The name of the country is not mentioned and few details are given about it. The names of the characters do not give many clues as to where the book is set, however, this adds an aura of mystery. Also, the book begins in the midst of a crisis, although it is not stated whether this crisis is a war, revolt or invasion. Another aspect of the book that was so original was the absoloute desperation of the people to get on that boat. It is not mentioned where the boat is taking them or why tickets are so coveted. This makes you keep on reading out of desire to know more details and is very cleverly done. These sort of omission techniques are not used very often but they are a skilful way to keep readers intrigued. However, my one criticism is that the book ended very abruptly and the resolution and ending did not seem to fit in with the plot and was not spent enough time upon. I would still highly recommend this to any eight year old and up.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Close to the Wind by Jon Walter

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis


 Hanna Michelson considers herself only a half-jew. Her father was not Jewish – but her mother is. And so, in the eyes of the Nazis that are storming Latvia – Hanna is Jewish. But how can this make so much difference? For all her life Hanna has mixed with people not of her religion. Her boyfriend, her friends at dance school. But, even though she protests that she is half Jewish, Hanna will have to watch everything slip away as she enters the concentration camp of Latvia.

A story of betrayal and trust, a story of death and disappearance.

The Earth is Singing provided the first detailed description of a concentration camp that I have ever read. The daily routine, food and work was described. I was thrust into a harsh world as I turned the pages. In most books about concentration camps, the protagonist  states that he/she is proud to be Jewish. However, in this story, Hanna proclaims that she does not want to be Jewish. In addition to the fact that Hanna was only half-Jewish, this provided an entirely new aspect to the story. The Earth is Singing is a book that tore through my heart, and although there is no inappropriate content, due to the sad and terrible subject matter, I would recommend this to any ten-year-old and up.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

The Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd


Ted has a mind that operates differently from everyone he knows. He has a syndrome that makes his brain work unusually. But it was his mind that solved the mystery. The mystery of the disppearance of Salim, his cousin. Salim had gone onto the London Eye alone. The glass pod he had been in had gone up with him in it- and gone down without him in it.

How is it possible for Ted and his sister, Kat, to solve a mystery that defies the most basic law of life – the law of gravity?

The London Eye Mystery is almost just a mystery. Without Ted’s syndrome, the book would have been a very interesting mystery –  but nothing else. However, the plot line accompanied by the aspect of Ted’s different thinking, completely changes the book. The story is told in first person narrative, from Ted’s point of view. This allows the reader to have an insight into his unusual mind and to solve the mystery following the logical steps that Ted’s brain took. This idea was both intriguing and inspired. The London Eye Mystery is a book that would appeal to anyone who enjoys solving complex problems that you just have to keep reading to find the answer to. There is nothing inappropriate and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the story.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Heaven Eyes by David Almond

Erin, January and Mouse all live in a home for ‘damaged’ children, whose parents cannot care for them. They are always trying to escape – and always being brought back. But this time, January manages to build a raft out of three old doors. Now the children have found a new way to escape – down the river. Yet now they must encounter the treacherous Black Middens, with its thick heavy mud that pulls you under the surface. But the children are lucky. They manage to drag themselves onto land. There, they take refuge in an old printing press – where they meet the two mysterious inhabitants of the building, Grampa and Heaven Eyes. And now they must all prepare to learn lessons they won’t forget, to find out the truth about themselves, and for the most abnormal experiences of their lives.

Heaven Eyes is a magical book – but it could not be called a fantasy. And this is the triumph of the writing. For the thing that thrilled me most was that whatever paranormal happenings occured, there was still a large element of real life. This made the reader feel that the story could have happened, that it might have been true. Another thing that I loved about ‘Heaven Eyes’ is the strangeness of the entire plot. A printing press next to a river that is filled with mud that can drown you. A girl named Heaven Eyes with webbed fingers that was supposedly found floating in the Black Middens. The story is original, creative but yet it does not seem that the happenings in the book were randomly chosen to give an air of strangeness and magic. I could not criticise anything, and I would highly recommend this story to anyone who is interested.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Heaven Eyes by David Almond

Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird


Tara leads a luxurious life in her large home in Iraq. She is a Kurd, and, although she is aware that there is some fighting going on, she does not realize the true enormity of the matter until she witnesses a shooting on her way home from school. Many members of Tara’s family are pesh murgas, Kurdish fighters. And now they are all in danger. They must flee across the border to Iran, leaving behind their home to live in grimy refuge camps. Now Tara truly appreciates her former life – but she will never get it back.

Kiss the Dust is an incredible story of a family forced to become refugees. One aspect of the book that I found particularly interesting was that the story began in a setting in which the family are living in comfort, wealth and luxury – and then they are rapidly catapulted into a completely different world. This allows the reader to appreciate more what the change must have been like for the characters. Also, it allows the reader to understand and connect more with the people in the book, only for the reason that they have a TV. My only criticism would be that more time could have been spent on describing the hard journey across the border to Iran, as I don’t think it is emphasised enough what an exhausting and terrible trip it would have been. However, other than this, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in its plot.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis


Parvana is in the midst of a Taliban ruled Aghanistan. Being a girl, she is confined to the strict rules of the Talib men. And so, when her father is taken away and imprisoned – Parvana must begin being a boy.

With no-one else to earn food and money, she is forced to disguise herself as a male to produce the bread that Parvana and her family will survive on.

The Breadwinner is an entirely new story of Taliban ruled life. The idea of a girl being turned into a boy to escape the Taliban restrictions is unused and adds originality and excitement to the book. As well as this, it emphasises the difference in the way boys and girls are treated and allows the reader to see it from a new perspective.

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Testament by Guy Staight


Tom Bomford is gripped by guilt. Wherever he goes he cannot escape. For it was he who killed his sister Jane. They said it was an accident, that it wasn’t his fault, but Tom does not believe them. When war breaks out, Tom joins the army in a desperate attempt to escape the clutches of his conscience. Before he leaves, he is given a Bible by his parents. Venturing into the blistering sun of the Middle East, Tom holds on to the Bible as he tries to hold on to his home. He will realise that the war will bring him only more regrets.

Although I have come across a wide range of books about war, Testament is unique in the fact that it is set in the Middle East. This provided a whole new side to the story. Also, the book begins in Tom’s home before moving on to the war. This created an intriguing background for the whole story.  This also diverted the plot from endlessly being about the war, which can be slightly monotonous in some circumstances. Testament is a very original tale of the war, with all the elements completely different to many other war stories. Although there was some swearing, characteristic to the young soldiers, the book had a very high level of vocabulary and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the plot.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Testament by Guy Staight