This page is for recommendations for titles for those in secondary school and may contain controversial subject matter, language, sex or violence. Please indicate the age range that you think to be most appropriate and/or indicate if it is likely to be controversial and why.

Recommended by ...
A pocketful of eyes
Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin
Bee Ross is surprised when her mentor is found dead at the Museum of Natural History. Using skills she picked up through her fictional heroes (Miss Marple, Nancy Drew) Bee is determined to get to the bottom of his death.
Highly recommended for students 12+. No controversial issues at all.
Review here:
Alice Tottle
Pat Pledger
The Shadow Girl
John Larkin
Woolshed, 2011
Juliette's parents disappear after a violent argument. Her aunt and uncle take her in, but the house is a dangerous place for her as her uncle is a predator. She flees one night and starts living on the streets. This novel is written as a series of interviews between her and an author she has met at school. A deeply affecting story, drawn from a real life encounter with a girl John Larkin met during a school visit.
Recommended for 13 +. Full of controversial issues, but all handled very sensitively. One of my top 5 YA reads for the year.
Sue Osborne
A Waltz for Matilda
Jackie French
Harper Collins, 2010
This story of a young girl who takes on the world of rural Australia in the 1890s in the lead-up to Federation kept me engaged until I finished it. Circumstances take Matilda in search of her farmer-father, a leading light in the burgeoning Union movement as the shearers' strikes of the early 90s and Australia's worst, prolonged drought grip the country. But tragedy strikes and she makes the decision to continue running the farm herself, with the help and guidance of some 'natives' - unheard of and unacceptable to the social mores of the time - and in opposition to the powerful, squatter-landowner and his arrogant sons on the neighbouring property.
As is usual with French's work, the story is thoroughly researched, based on a solid foundation of fact and events and is brilliant for providing an insight into a time and place that is critical to Australia's history but not always explored.
IMO, an essential addition to the collection to support the history curriculum, but a great read for Yr 5+ regardless.
Teaching notes are available
Barbara Braxton
Scott Westerfield
Simon Pulse
Tally Youngblood is an Ugly ... a girl between 12 and sixteen who lives in a future city, Uglyville, in a civilisation which has survived an apocalypse. Soon she will become a Pretty whether she likes it or not, she will be remade/remodelled into a perfect specimen and embark on a "bubbly" life. But then she meets Shay who doesn't want to be a Pretty and who knows the way to the Smoke...and Tally's life changes forever.
Some good year 6 students, years 7-10.
Lyndy Cracknell
Born Wicked
Jessica Spotswood
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Magical, witchy-ly entertaining. Book One of The Cahill Witch Chronicles. Grades 7-up. Some kissing. One girl kisses another but not sexual.
Read the fabulous review hereYoung Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
Bad Taste in Boys
Carrie Harris
Delacourte Press
Funniest zombie novel ever! Carrie Harris's zombie spoof is spot-on! Science geeks are now cool! Grade 7-up.
Read the full review here Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
Unraveling Isobel
Eileen Cook
Simon Pulse
Great gothic ghost story and romance. Recommended grades 9-up. Some language, some kissing. Girls who love ghost stories, romance and Gothic reads will love this one.
Read the review here Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
Every Other Day
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Non-stop paranormal action thriller with a monster-hunting teen Kali D'Angelo. This girl can kick some butt! Grades 7-up
Read the full review here Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater
Scholastic Press
Fantasy, romance and non-stop action make this a don't miss title. Fierce wild horses climb from the surf onto the beach every autumn and men try to race them for a huge prize. Puck (Kate) Connelly is going to give them a run for their money. Grades 7-up. some language.
Read the full review here Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
Trail of Deceit
Ken Enderby and Greg Rickards
Distant Realms Publishing
A quest for a magical artefact is dogged by bad luck and strange coincidence. Gradually a web of betrayal is unwound. Memorable characters and tantalizing hints of a graver danger still to be revealed.
For students in Years 7 and up. Set in a fantasy world, where magic is harnessed and controlled. Contains some violence.
Martin Bain.
Gone series
Michael Grant
Egmont, 2009
In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone.
Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to figure out what's happened. And no way to get help.Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world.
I've not yet read this but some of our year 7s are very excited by them. Came as a recommendation from a new staff member.
Jo Schenkel
Series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
Set in San Francisco and introducing the twins who have come to fulfill the prophecy, this is a romp to defeat evil with the "Immortals" including the likes of Billy the Kid to characters from mythology.
Quite sophisticated and complicated but very engrossing titles.
Jo Schenkel
Spy School
Stuart Gibbs
Somon & Schuster
Clever, comedic, cute, charming, witty, punny, and sensational, Spy School is seriously entertaining and delivers chortling, mad fun. Readers will laugh out loud by the incompetence of the nation's most skilled special agents and roll around the floor aching with side-splitting laughter as a twelve year old boy is able to take down the entire elite team of agents and hide out from surveillance and capture.
Ben Ripley is a "normal" 12-year old middle school boy--he's trying to survive his geeky phase and stay alive another day. On a normal, mundane day, he arrives home to find a CIA spy in his living room. James Bond sauve and debonair look-alike Alexander Hale explains that the CIA wants to hire Ben--they have been watching him for some time. Ben can't believe his luck! How did they find him? --Agent Hale explains that due to his 728 searches of the CIA website, Ben has caught their attention. Hale offers to send Ben to Spy School--all very hush-hush and top secret, of course. Ben's parents think he's off to attend Science Camp.
The moment Ben steps foot onto the grounds of the Academy, bullets start whizzing through the air. Someone's trying to kill him! Then, he's attacked in his dorm room by an armed assassin, but Ben fights him off in the pitch darkness using only his wits and a well-aimed tennis racquet.
see my full review at Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Nowgrades 5-8 and older readers who love funny spy stories
Pamela Thompson
Michael Grant
BZRKby Michael GrantEgmont2012386 pages
<a href="http://gobzrk.com">visit BZRK's webpage</a>Disturbing, distressing, gritty, grimy, and grim, BZRK is like no other book. This creepy page-turner will shock even the most jaded reader. The author says, "This is my promise: You have never read anything like BZRK" (letter included with the book mailing). He's right--this book is an amazing and compelling thrill-ride that will grab you up and not let go!
Not for the squeamish! Grades 9-up. Violence, terrorism
See my full review Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
Life Eternal (book 2, Dead Beautiful series)
Yvonne Woon
Hyperion, 2012, 416 pages
Hauntingly beautiful, beguilingly romantic, and creepily compelling, Life Eternal is the second book in the Dead Beautiful series and continues the story of Renee and Dante, two young people who are destined to love eternally.
Read the full review on my blog Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now
Pamela Thompson
The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda, book 3)
Tom Angleberger
Amulet, 2012
190 pages
Hilarious, goofy and churlish, downright disrespectful, and insanely entertaining, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee picks up as the kids continue another school year at McQuarrie Middle School without their beloved Dwight. Dwight was suspended last year and is now attending Tippett Academy and word is out that he’s BEHAVING. Dwight…behaving??? The kids all miss Origami Yoda and wish Dwight was back at school.
The origami kids are making a new case file and meet daily in the library. Principal Rabbski thinks origami is a big waste of time and “a major disruption of the learning environment.” Harvey disagrees and Mrs. Calhoun—the world’s greatest librarian---backs him. The librarian gets major props from the entire group of origami Star Wars fans. The students each comment in the new case file and then they sometimes comment on everyone else’s comments. It is truly hysterical. Tom Angleberger must be channeling his inner 7th grade nerd because whatever he’s doing, it’s clearly working.
Mike whines about having to attend church and dress up every time. His mother says it’s disrespectful to wear jeans in the “Lord’s house.” Tom says, “Personally, I think it’s disrespectful to be itchy in the Lord’s House.” Later, he says WTS? for What the spaghetti? at the church’s spaghetti dinner.
Sara makes a cootie catcher (her new origami puppet) that she swears tells fortunes and students begin to ask the Fortune Wookiee for answers. Another student, Murky, has invented his own vocabulary but is so hard to understand that the other boys write a Murkish Dictionary with words like “plastic dinosaurs,” “bolt,” and “Jell-o” --all Murky’s adjectives for when something is awesome. Harvey comments that all Murky says is awesome, but the other boys disagree—he doesn’t even use the word awesome—he has invented a whole new language for awesome.
Tommy visits Dwight and tries to persuade him to come back to McQuarrie. He asks him to take Yoda down from the wall. Dwight realizes that maybe he misses Origami Yoda after all.
Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves Star Wars and origami. Fans of the series will have to read this one. This will be a big hit for middle grades and up. Grades 4-up.
See all my reviews and enter contests at Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now

Colin Fischer
Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
Penguin 2012
229 p
Colin Fischer is a new student who, despite his aversion to touch, the colour blue and loud noises (to name a few) he finds a place amongst students who are initially reluctant (loathe) to accept his differences. Along the lines of Curious Incident, written by a couple of screen writers this is a very entertaining and thought provoking read. Book 2 to come. Year 7+ (I loved it! 40+ :))