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More top picks
Hellbent by Anthony McGowan follows Conor, a young Irish boy who is suddenly run over by an ice cream van in one of the most ignominious deaths ever. He wakes up in Hell, sentenced to an eternity of torment for exceeding the lies quota in life, that is to say, had he lied three less times he would not be in Hell. Conor is assigned a personal tormentor, Clarence, whose job it is to make every second of his time as boring/painful/unbearable as possible. However, when things take a turn, boy and devil, along with a Viking warrior, are pitted together against immeasurable odds as they try to escape all of the demons of Hell. But can Conor trust his friends? It's a new, refreshing and funny read, and would probably appeal best to middling to older readers.  

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The Cry of Icemark follows the struggle of a small northern country and its teenage warrior queen against a mighty invading empire. Thirrin is forced to rule Icemark after her father's death, and has to face the huge threat of the Polypontian empire (a parallel of Ancient Rome) invading from the south. In order to beat them back, she has to travel across the lands looking for allies in her struggle on journeys fraught with danger and icy cold. However the military might of Polypontus has been unstoppable this far, and can the tiny nation of Icemark succeed where countless others have failed? There is lots of action and adventure throughout which makes for a fast-paced and enjoyable read.  

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Hover Car Racer by Matthew Reilly follows young brothers Jason and 'Bug' as they are plunged into the fast and dangerous world of hover car racing, in a futuristic world where almost all vehicles are levitated four feet off the ground. As you might expect, there's loads of action. Jason makes it to a prestigious race school on Tasmania, and begins to learn the art of hover car racing. However, he soon discovers that it is not only skill which counts but that the racing world is rife with corruption, treachery, gambling and sabotage, and a good driver has to avoid these as well. This book will probably best suit readers in the younger to middle end of the cool-reads age range.  

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The Ring of the Slave Prince by Bjarne Reuter is about Tom O'Connor and the huge adventure which he embarks on around the Caribbean and across the oceans. Tom is a half Irish boy living with his mother and Sister Feodora on the island of St Nevis, in the Caribbean. One day he finds the crazed Spaniard Ramon shipwrecked but still in possession of a very valuable black slave. He takes the pair home and is promised a share of the riches. Ramon tricks him, though, and Tom sets off to pursue him across the Caribbean where he does all sorts of things including being a slave overseer, cabin boy and blacksmith. The book has the all the elements of a good swashbuckling adventure and is great fun to read. Probably best for people in the middle to top end of the cool-reads age range.  

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Tiger, Tiger by Lynne Reid Banks is set in Ancient Rome, and follows the fates of a pair of tigers captured from the wild and brought to Rome where they are named Brute and Boots. Other than the tigers, the main character in the book is the Princess Aurelia, daughter of the Emperor. When the two tigers are captured and brought to Rome, one is sent to the arena, while the other is given to the Princess herself as a gift from her father, obviously supervised at all times by a slave, Julius, who makes sure that no injury comes to the princess. The book then follows the very different lives the two tigers lead, until eventually they meet in the arena. The book is also about the growing affection between the princess and the slave. Although the characters are fictional, the book is very historically accurate, and very enjoyable to read. Readers in the middle of the cool-reads age range would probably enjoy it most.  

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Quick Pick
- 11 December 2011 -

Starseeker is a strange book that takes a while to get really stuck into. It is all about Luke, who is one of the most talented piano players there are in the country. His dad, also very talented, died of cancer, and he finds himself wishing he could be with him...

The Wereling: Resur...
The City of Ember
The Cry of Icemark
Freaky Green Eyes
Time Bomb
Hover Car Racer
The Ring of the Sla...
The Eagle of the Ni...
Not the End of the ...
The Golem's Eye
The 7 Professors of...
Tiger, Tiger
Gangsta Rap
Whispering to Witch...
The Saint of Dragon...

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