Recon Team Angel Bk4: Vengeance by Brian Falkner

October 31, 2014 Comments off

vengeanceRecon Team Angel Bk4: Vengeance by Brian Falkner. Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

If you are going to write action science fiction novels make sure the science is believable and the action is necessary and exciting. Well Brian Falkner does all this in the final segment to the recon team Angel series. Not only does he do all that but he does it with a style and wit that will have you applauding his genius.

This is the best action writing that I have read since Joihn Marsden’s  Tomorrow when the war began series.

Structured in three parts, each part builds on the other and leads to a hopeful and satisfactory ending.

To recap on the plot. The short, green skinned, forked tongued and sloped headed Bzadians have conquored Australian and much of the World except America and New Zealand. The All Blacks are hard to beat even in the future..

Wars have been fought and the Bzadians held off because of their loathing for cold and water. Now Humans have developed an aircraft (the scream jet) that can fly at mack 7 speed and this threatens to turn the tide of the war. The Recon Angels led by NZ lass Trianne Price accompanied by the Tsar, barnard former turncoat Brogan and insider spy Chisnall are sent on an important mission in an operation that hopefully will turn the war.

The action is brilliant with the dialogue and relationship stuff outstanding. Falkner has a great sense of the absurd and the obvious in dealing with action talk. It made me laugh. his metaphor can be illuminating as when he describes something as “standing out like skid marks on a wedding dress.” Is that good or what?

The best part for me is that the Bzadians are not bad aliens. They have a crime free society. They have a spiritual leader- Azoh and they are neat and tidy. They have their faults and they have developed a bomb -the positronium bomb – that makes nuclear weapons look like firecrackers. The point is will they use it if the chips are really down. More importantly would humans use it in the same position.

An excellent novel for a wide range of age groups from intermediate to young adult. Its depth and its’ humour set this novel aside from most action books. I am sorry to see the end of the series.

The Lost Girl by Ambelin Kwaymullina, Illus. Leanne Tobin.

October 28, 2014 Comments off

lost girlThe Lost Girl by Ambelin Kwaymullina, Illus. Leanne Tobin.Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

A beautiful picture book that is ideally placed above Nona & Me, reviewed below. It reveals the affinity that Aborigines have with the land and while the young girl is apparantly lost she is always comfortable with mother Earth and knows it is a matter of time before she is back with her community.

The girl has wandered away from the mothers, the aunties, the fathers and the uncles. She does not panic she finds water, bush food, finds shelter and follows a crow back home. She is welcomed by her family and given a place by the fire after being growled at for her foolishness.

Leanne Tobin’s illustrations capture the nature of the land, the trees, the animals, the vastness and the beautiful expressive aboriginal faces when the girl arrives home.

The little girl, bare footed with a blue dress, carrying a stick and with a shock of black curly hair is easy to relate to and of course hones into a childhood fear of being lost.

There is an award winning quality about this picture book. It’s cultural significance is powerful. a book for everyone.

Nona & Me by Clare Atkins.

October 27, 2014 Comments off

nona & MeNona & Me by Clare Atkins.  Pub.Black Inc. Books, 2014.

After I finished this novel of relationships between Aborigines and Europeans in the Northern Territory, I said to myself “I am really glad a read this book”. It taught me things I never really knew about and it is uplifting.

Rosie is a15 year old European girl who is brought up in Aboriginal communities by her mother. They live in a community town called Yirrkala and are adopted by the aboriginal community. Rosie is particularly close to Nona who she regards as a yapa or sister. The feeling is mutual. Their story of growing up is told from 1995 – 2001 in every consecutive chapter of this novel looking back.

The novel is set in 2007-2008 at a time when the Howard Government  introduced a policy known as Intervention which looked into what they conceived as a serious problem of abuse in Aboriginal Communities.

Intervention is not the main issue of this novel but it did have the effect of polarising racial points of view particularly where Aboriginal communities were alongside mining communities, the source of all Australia,s economic boom.

Rosie and Nona separated when Rosie went to the school in the mining community and Nona went to live with family elsewhere but Rosie and her mother remained living in the Aboriginal community with Nona’s family.

When Nona returns and wants to go to the mining school with her yapa Rosie, things have changed. Rosie has friends who are racist in their actions which are not shown until Nona shows up. Rosie becomes the girlfriend of Nick a wealthy mine worker. Relationships are strained. Nona feels that Rosie has denied family and she moves away. Meanwhile the relationship with Nick starts going wrong for Rosie.

It is outstanding writing without getting maudling and emotional or slagging off one side against the other. It is told like it is as a clash between a community culture and a culture of the nuclear family and economic unit that is European. Will we ever understand each other?

Reminded me a Phillip Gwynne’s novels Deadly, Unna! and Nukkin Ya. Lots of good relationship stuff for high school students and young adults.


The Farmer in the Dell sung by Topp Twins Illus Jenny Cooper.

October 23, 2014 Comments off

farmer in the dellThe Farmer in the Dell sung by Topp Twins Illus Jenny Cooper. Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

This is the fourth collaboration between the Topp Twins and Jenny Cooper and the combination works just fine. The CD in the back of this picture book has the song and an instrumental with some interesting call outs.

Children can read the book or have it read out or sung along with the Topp Twins. Good stuff.

Jeeny Copers illustrations are just outstanding. The hound dog is just magnificent. Elvis would have been moved. The farmer and his wife who are presumably in the dell are great – bare knees for the man, gumboots for the woman, dancing with a collie. The nurse and the cow are just bizaare.

It is worth it just for the illustrations, the music just tops it off, if you will excuse the pun.

Plenty: A place to call Home by Ananda Braxton-Smith.

October 22, 2014 Comments off

plentyPlenty: A place to call Home by Ananda Braxton-Smith. Pub. black dog books, 2014.

Set in Australia this novel is for primary/intermediate students and has some depth. It is about home, homesickness, homelessness and moving and the effects they have on peoples lives but told from a child’s perspective.

The World is full of people on the move. Some by choice and some because they have to. Maddy feels like she has to because her parents have decided it is what is best for them and Maddy too.

Maddy is happy in the city with her best friend Sophie-Rose. They are 10 years old and enjoying the routine of life where they are. Maddy is angry when she is told they are shifting to a town in the country called Plenty. She is determined to hate it and to stay mad at her parents until they go back. This is not going to happen.

At Plenty Maddy meets her grand mother who is showing signs of dementia, a reason why her parents chose to move. When Maddy goes to the small school of 7 girls and 5 boys she  befriends Grace Wek a tall black girl from Southern Sudan who was forced from her homeland by war. her memories of the journey to Australia are grim and her memories of home vague.

Maddy’s interaction with grandmother and Grace is to change her attitude and point of view.

A very sensitive story of a world wide situation.

Timmy Failure: We Meet Again by Stephan Pastis.

October 20, 2014 Comments off

timmy failureTimmy Failure: We Meet Again by Stephan Pastis. Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

This book is totally weird but full of home spun wisdom and a load of laughs.

Timmy Failure has an unfortunate name but he is saved from failure by an incredible imagination. He has the gift of the gab and a sense of the absurd that gets him out of uncool situations. Underneath he is unsure, he is scared, he is facing the world without a father and he is a reluctant student.

He lives with his very understanding mother who goes along with his quirky behaviour including being suspended from school, and goes along with his make believe friend and business partner Total the polar bear.

Timmy is a detective and is on the trail of a Science Report that he wants to use in an assignment instead of doing it himself. Unfortunately he is paired with his arch rival, a girl he calls the beast and runs by the name of Corrina Corrina. Timmy is find out that the two of them are more alike than either cares to admit.

School Camp is a hoot. This book is for reluctant boy readers at primary and intermediate school and those with a sense of the bizaare. Those that liked the Wimpy Kid and Big Nate will love this book.

The cartoon characters have their own style and add to the humour of the novel.

Adults will love the musicality of some of the chapter headings and of course Timmy’s arch rival-” Corrina Corrina i love you so”…

The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner.

October 10, 2014 Comments off

rule thoughtsThe Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner. Pub. Random House, 2014. 

Michael is a very confused person. he was a Tangent- a completely programmed entity within a virtual reality game. He had a family background and friends that he thought were his and his alone. Wrong. Somehow his intelligence was downloaded into the brain of a boy called Jackson Porter by  a character he knows as Kaine.

Michael finds himself in Jackson Porter’s flat and has to adjust to being a real person. Two men bust down the door of his flat and tell him they are taking him to Kaine. Michael mistrusts everything and escapes.

He decides to look up two friends who are human gamers who play the games he is an entity in. Sarah and Bryson. When he finds them after creating an alternative identity for himself, the threesome venture back into the virtual reality world to find out what is going on.

Who or what is Kaine and why is he converting virtual characters into real life humans. As the title says  “the takeover has begun”

One of the great what ifs in this world is whether computers with Artificial Intelligence will ever take control and what will happen if they do.  Well this is one of those stories and it is brilliant. Michael,  Sarah and Bryson discover a dastardly plot to populate Earthg with human bodies harbouring Tangent minds.

This is for the reader that likes hi-tech novels that are full of action and cleverness. I couldn’t put it down but understand it has a nitch that isn’t everybody. The film Maze Runner currently on the circuit is also James Dashner’s creation.

High school and young adults


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