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The Burglars Ball by Julia Golding

Fun And Light-Hearted

The Burglars Ball by Julia Golding is a marvellous historical YA novel that will entertain you whatever your age. It is suitable for ten years and above. It is the second book in the Jane Austen Investigates series but can be read as a stand-alone.

As a huge Jane Austen fan, I love this series focusing on the teen Jane Austen. With knowledge of Jane Austen’s novels, I can see parallels within the stories and the style of writing is reminiscent of Jane Austen. There are elements within The Burglars Ball that remind me of both Emma and also Pride And Prejudice (my favourite all-time novel).

The character of Jane Austen is lively and likable. She believes in equality for all and is willing to stand for those without a voice. She has an innate sense of justice and dislikes prejudice in all its forms. She is quite the young tom-boy too.

We witness racial prejudice and injustice as a character is judged by the colour of his skin and not the content of his character. Jane Austen sets out to prove his innocence.

There is a wonderful cosmopolitan feel to the novel as we meet up again with characters from book one who now own a bakery making and selling Indian pastries. We also meet an elephant called Betty and a colourful parrot called Don Pedro.

The Burglars Ball is a fun, light-hearted novel where we follow the tenacious Jane Austen determined to investigate the crime.

Jane Austen Investigates is a really fun series, just perfect to introduce young readers to Jane Austen, and also wonderful for die-hard Jane Austen fans such as myself.

I received a free copy via Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.

JULIA WILSON

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The Stars In April by Peggy Wirgau

Powerful

The Stars In April by Peggy Wirgau is a powerful YA novel surrounding the maiden voyage of the Titanic. The story is grounded in fact being set around twelve year old Ruth Becker and her family. It is a novel that needs to be read as we witness the love, bravery and courage of many.

The action is set from March 1912 to early April 1912 as the Becker family (minus Ruth’s father) journey from India to America in search of medical help for two year old Richard.

The story is seen through the eyes of Ruth. We ‘hear’ the events in the first person as we ‘journey’ on a train to the coast, a ship to Southampton and the ill-fated Titanic. We become intimately acquainted with the lively per-teen. We empathise with her feelings as she leaves her beloved India behind.

As with all journeys, Ruth encounters some characters along the way from acrobats to young women to a big-hearted Irish family. Huge personalities encourage Ruth to try new things. Her sense of joi de vivre and adventure is infectious.

Ruth loves deeply and therefore hurts deeply. Her bad mood against her father for deciding to leave India is keenly ‘felt’ by the reader. Even in her anger, Ruth keeps her link with her father alive as she studies the stars alone. “He’d [Papa] told me we would see the same stars even though I was far from home.” The stars unite even though apart.

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After The Rain by Natalia Gomes

Still Me

After The Rain by Natalia Gomes is a powerful, contemporary YA novel that will sink deep into your heart and soul.

The book follows two teens who are caught up in a terrorist bombing leaving both with deep-seated traumas. Sometimes the injury is to our physical body and sometimes it is a mental injury – invisible to others but very real.

PTSD is a major theme. Natalia Gomes has sensitively portrayed characters in deep emotional pain. We witness triggers that paralyze a character. Support groups, therapists, love and care are needed to heal. Those who were there offer huge support as they can empathise.

Fear has infected lives as characters no longer feel safe. “Where it’s safe… But nowhere’s safe. Not here and not in my mother’s arms. Not anymore.”  The after effects of the terror attack have far reaching arms.

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Charlie’s Christmas Adventure by J.E. Solinski

Just Enough

Charlie’s Christmas Adventure by J.E. Solinski is a delightful contemporary Christian YA novel that will warm your heart whatever your age. It follows on from Meet Charlie and is perfect for ages ten years and over.

In this book we learn the true meaning of Advent and Charlie learns what it means to be a true friend.

The reader witnesses Charlie’s heart growing as she looks out for others. Where Charlie sees a need she tries to meet it. Just as Jesus tells us, Charlie gives gifts anonymously not looking for any glory.

Christmas is a time for giving gifts. Charlie realizes that the value of a gift is not in monetary terms, sometimes it is giving a gift of time.

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