Life of Pi – Yann Martel

life-of-pi-book-coverPiscine Molitor Patel – known as Pi – grows up in Pondicherry, India; both spiritual and philosophical in his approach, he has a deep love of reading and of the animals which surround him in his parents’ zoo. But when he is sixteen, his parents decide they need to escape the political turmoil in India, and so they head for Canada. Boarding the cargo ship, Tsimtsum, they take along some of their animals to a new life in Northern America. But they have barely left when the ship sinks and only Pi survives, alone in a lifeboat – with only some animals for company, including a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. This begins his 227 day trip across the Pacific, where he tries to come to terms with the nature of belief and also the importance of asserting one’s own will.

Pot of thoughts

Fight for Freedom (Gladiator #1) – Simon Scarrow

fight-for-freedomCapturing life in Ancient Rome again, Scarrow has developed another highly engaging and historically accurate drama – this time for teens. Marcus Cornelius Primus is sold into slavery with his mother Livia, when his gladiator father is killed in the wars with Sparta. Only ten years old when the novel begins, we see the challenges Marcus faces in becoming a gladiator himself and, importantly, his inability to forget his past. Determined to seek justice and to find his mother again, Marcus sets out to find Pompeius the Great, his father’s old general – but a dangerous secret threatens to destroy him.

UKYA

Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Beautiful creaturesIt’s impossible to hide a secret forever – as Lena Duchannes finds out when she moves to a new town. Even though she’s trying to hide the curse that has haunted her family forever and also the power she holds, Lena is still unlike anyone else in the Southern town of Gaitlin where she now lives. Ethan Wate also finds life in Gaitlin tough; he can’t wait to escape until he meets the beautiful stranger he’d been dreaming about. Whilst it is overly melodramatic in parts, the characters and setting mean that this is another hugely popular paranormal romance for teens.

A brief history of Montmaray (The Montmaray Journals #1) – Michelle Cooper

A-Brief-History-of-MontmarayWritten as a journal from the perspective of Princess Sophia, one of the few remaining Montmaravian citizens left on their storm battered island kingdom in the Bay of Biscay, this is a highly engaging beginning to a fantastic trilogy. Sophie starts her journal on her sixteenth birthday; it’s 1936 and we start to get hints of the impending war. It’s almost impossible to eke out an existence on their island home but the tone is not as sombre or bleak as you might expect – rather it is often light-hearted and whimsical. Recording their daily life, often in her secret code, Sophie details those around her; including her brother Toby, tomboy sister Henry, their cousin Veronica, and their insane Uncle King John – which makes for an interesting character mix. Personally, I found the second and third books – with their focus on the unravelling of WWII – even better!

Book Smugglers

Homeless Bird – Gloria Whelan

Homeless birdA beautiful and affecting story of redemption and hope: Homeless Bird is a coming of age story with a difference. Thirteen-year-old Koly lives in a poor Indian village and her family doesn’t have enough food to go round. Married off to a sixteen-year-old boy, she faces her future with hope and courage. But things soon go tragically wrong. Her husband is not what she believed he would be and she is soon up against the traditions of her society.

Harper Collins