ReadPlus is a collection of selected books and films arranged under themes. This web site provides lists, reviews and resources for librarians, teachers and parents about books for young people aged 5 to 18.
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Latest Review

Mar 26 2019

Master of Sorrows by Justin Call

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Gollancz, 2019. ISBN: 9781473222878. 577 pages, paperback.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Contains violent scenes and depictions of death. High fantasy. The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries. Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous, something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another. Of the Academy's many students, only the most skilled can become Avatars - warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults - and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic. More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to be one of them.
Master of sorrows is a strongly written dark fantasy novel, similar in tone and feel to the likes of We are blood and thunder by Kesia Lupo. Call does not hesitate to highlight the dark side of humanity, with the themes of lies, deception, discrimination, wars, and death featuring prominently in the novel. His worldbuilding is astounding and makes the story's setting feel grounded and real. He crafts a deeply flawed, young protagonist who bears too much at too young an age, making you feel empathy for Annev, rejoicing at his triumph and despairing as he falls while he fights for his chance in the sun. While Master of sorrows follows a trend of stories with academy-trained warriors, thieves and assassins, it stands out from the rest due to the protagonist's desire to rise above the brutality and act with mercy and compassion, which are often lost in similar stories. We see this empathy was developed through his bond with his mentor and as Annev experiences discrimination due to physical deformities, which in the novel, mark him as a vile agent of evil. Call speaks against this cruel and misinformed idea as he presents Annev as a flawed but deeply caring individual.
While this novel's themes are evident, the events seem jumbled and plot points were touched upon then never raised again in a way that felt unfinished or not explored to its full potential. There are also extremely disturbing descriptions not suitable for a younger audience. Despite this, this was a strong high fantasy novel full of both gritty realism and the buoyant kindness of the protagonist. I would recommend to people who enjoy stories such as Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and We are blood and thunder by Kesia Lupo.
Stephanie Lam(Student)



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Mar 25 2019

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

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His fair assassin, Counting darkness duology, book 1. Anderson Press, 2019. ISBN: 9781783448265.
(Age: 16+) Highly recommended. Themes: Historical fantasy, France - History, Brittany, Assassins. After devouring the three books in the award winning His fair assassin series,...
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Mar 25 2019

Little Badman and the invasion of the killer aunties by Humza Arshad and Henry White

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Illus. by Aleksei Bitskoff. Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780241340608.
(Ages: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Family relationships, Pakistanis in Great Britain, Rap music, Friendship, Missing persons, Good and evil. Humza Khan is a typical 11-year-old who is prone to making up stories...
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Mar 22 2019

The Curses by Laure Eve

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Faber and Faber 2019. ISBN: 9780571328048.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. The Curses, sequel to The Graces, follows The Grace children and their recently resurrected friend, Wolf. Wolf is the first person who has ever been resurrected but something's off with Wolf, is it just that...
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Mar 21 2019

Queen of air and darkness by Cassandra Clare

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Dark Artifices book 3. Simon and Schuster; 2018. ISBN: 9781471116704. 880p; p/b.
In this third instalment in the Dark Artifices series of Shadowhunter novels, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn must deal with the loss of Julian's sister and the Inquisitor, as well as...
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Mar 20 2019

Enchantee by Gita Trelease

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Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781509895977.
(Age: Young adult) Recommended. 8.5/10. Themes: Young Adult - Fantasy, Romance, France and Paris 1789. An exciting fantasy tale where the illustriously rich King Louis XVI, Marie Antoniette and the image conscious aristocrats living in their palaces...
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Mar 20 2019

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

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The Witchlands book 3. Tor, 2019. ISBN: 9781447288855.
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Witches and warlocks, Battles. Fans of the first two books in the Witchlands series,...
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Mar 20 2019

Hop little bunnies by Martha Mumford

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Illus. by Laura Hughes. Bloomsbury, 2019. ISBN: 9781408892930.
(Ages: 0-3) Recommended. Themes; Bunnies, Lift the Flaps, Rhyming Story. This comes after the similar title We're Going on an Egg Hunt and is based on the popular Hop Little Bunnies song. UK illustrator Laura...
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Mar 20 2019

Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip

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Fantasy Masterworks series. Gollanz, 2014. ISBN: 9781473205741.
(Age: 15+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy, Sorcerers, Princes and princesses. World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2003), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (2003). This award winning novel is a feast...
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Mar 19 2019

The Dyasters by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

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Pan Macmillian, 2019. ISBN: 9781760554163. paperback, 308 pg.
(Age: 11 - Young adults) Teenagers who can control the elements (air, water, fire and earth) are being hunted down by a mad scientist that genetically engineered them to do this while in their mother's womb. What is there not...
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Mar 19 2019

Bright young dead by Jessica Fellowes

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Mitford murders series. Hachette, 2018. ISBN: 9780751567205.
(Age: Older adolescent - Adult) This is undoubtedly a book set firmly in the era of The Wealthy and The Rest of the World. The children of The Wealthy are educated, erudite and spoiled, yet they also expect that they...
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Mar 18 2019

The great Shelby Holmes and the coldest case by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Illus. by Matt Robertson. The Great Shelby Holmes series, Book 3. Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018. ISBN: 9781408871515.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Themes: Friendship, New York, Family Issues, Separated parents, Mystery, Detectives, Problem Solving, Figure Skating Champions,...
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Mar 15 2019

Superman : Dawnbreaker by Matt De La Pena

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Random House, 2019. ISBN: 9780141386867.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Science fiction, Superheroes, Good and evil. Having grown up with superman movies and comics set in the 50s, I found this version very refreshing as it is set in current times. Mobile phones and laptops are common...
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Mar 15 2019

The Genius Experiment by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

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Max Einstein book 1. Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9781784759827.
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans, Gifted children, Inventions, Heroes and villains, Problem solving, Albert Einstein. James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein's The genius Experiment introduces...
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Mar 15 2019

Muhammad Ali by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

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Ill. by Brosmind. Little People, Big Dreams series. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781786037336.
(Ages: 5-9) Recommended. Themes: Determination, Persistence. This is just one title in a huge collection of the Little People, Big Dreams series (including...
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Mar 14 2019

Circle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

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Shapes trilogy, book 3. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781406384222.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: STEM, Circles, Friendship, Humour. Inventors of the quirky books, Square and Triangle, this Californian duo have collaborated on another book, Circle. As...
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