Hexed by Michelle Krys.

July 23, 2014 Comments off

HexedHexed by Michelle Krys. Pub.  Random House, 2014.

A novel about witches and sorcerors and a very good one.

Indigo is an ordinary American High School student with a mass of frizzy hair and good looks that have matched her with the captain of the school football team. Indigo’s mother has always claimed to be a witch, but she’s not, and Indigo was brought up believing that aliens, witches and vampires exist. They do.

Centuries before a feud started  after a death of a witch,between Witches and Sorcerers. Witches were slaughtered in their 100’s until an ingenious witch cast a powerful spell that meant if a sorcerer killed a witch it lost all of it’s powers. Safety for a while. Then a powerful sorcerer worked out how to bypass the witches spell and he wrote it down in an old Bible. The witches stole the Bible and it has resided with Indigo’s mother for some time.

The sorcerers find out about this  and steal it. Is the slaughter on again?

Indigo is contacted by a boy witch who is a bit of a hunk. Indigo is impressed by what she learns from him but she also finds out that after 200 full moons she to will develop the powers of a witch and become part of the struggle. Wow you just gotta find out more by reading it.

Much  of this novel is American High School life and teenage relationships with frightening action and a trick or two at the end. For High school students but I bet Intermediate girls will want to grab this one.

Brotherband Bk4: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan.

July 22, 2014 Comments off

slaves socorroBrotherband Bk4: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan. Pub. Random House, 2014.

A thrilling action/adventure book from the author of the Rangers Apprentice series. This time Hal and his Heron Brotherband crew take their innovative ship with the triangular sail to protect the seas off the coast of Araluen, the kingdom where the Rangers come from.

Their job is to stop smuggling and piracy but they come across a bigger evil – slavery.

Tursgud has never gotten over Hal beating him in the Brotherband contest with his team of outcasts and a superior ship that Hal had built and conceived himself. This time Tursgud and his bunch of Skandian outlaws raid a village and take hostages to the slave market in Socorro a place akin to the Barbary Coast in North Africa.

Accompanied by a tough but beautiful girl Lydia and one of the Rangers from the King of Araluen Hal and his crew pursue Tursgud to get the slaves back. Hal has with him his mentor Thorn, a massive viking type warrior with a hooked arm, twins Ulf and Wulf who squabble like a couple of turkeys and the gentle giant Ingvar.

To get the slaves out they have to try to sell Ingvar as a slave in Socorro. This leads to thrilling action. You will not be able to stop reading the last 120 pages. One of the strong themes in this book is the emphasis on team work and leadership.

For intermediate and junior high school students. Book 5 is already out for fans.

Where is Rusty by Sieb Posthuma. Translated bill Nagelkerke.

July 18, 2014 Comments off

rustyWhere is Rusty by Sieb Posthuma. Translated bill Nagelkerke.

For me the quality and appeal of a picture book always starts with the front cover. It sets the tone and it is where many people make their judgement contrary to popular advice. This book shows a cheeky dog with a whimsical yet knowing face hanging upside down on an umbrella rack by his tale. You know it is a laugh straight away.

Rusty goes on a trip with his mom and brothers and sisters to a department store something like Bloomingdales or Harrods. They have elevators and moving stairs with a lost dog section on the third floor.

There is heaps to see even a dog biscuit making machine. Rusty is beset with risk and adventure and off he goes. Round all the floors through the ventilation pipes. Mother reports him missing but Rusty is having so much fun he disguises himself  in various guises until he is found.

Well told and skillfully translated by Bill Nagelkerke. The illustrations are full of detail and enhance the character of Rusty and the business of a Department store. Great read aloud and much to ponder over for young children.

Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou.

July 17, 2014 Comments off

homeroom diariesHomeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou.  Pub. Random House, 2014.

I often hear teachers and librarians say much is written for reluctant boy readers what about reluctant girl readers. James patterson writes much for reluctant boys and now he has taken on the girls in liaison with Lisa Papadementriou who enables him to get the female teenage voice right.

Margaret “cuckoo” Clarke is at high school but has a hard row to hoe in life stakes. Her mother is flaky which is ok if you’re a piecrust but not so good if you are responsible for another human being. Her mother had bad taste in men and often left Cuckoo alone at home without support for days on end.

When she disappeared for more than two weeks Cuckoo broke down and was taken to what she calls “crazytown”. She is in a mental institution and presents a very sympathetic picture of what it was like in there.

When she comes out she goes back to school and mixes with kids that she nicknames the “freakshow”. The kids are all brilliant and innovative and Cuckoo is not an unhappy girl in fact she is amazingly upbeat. She comments when a rich boy takes her out and asks why she mixes with her freaky friends. She replies “everybodys’ weird once you get to know them”.

This is what I like about the novel. It is crazy yet perceptive and at times enormously funny.

Every other page  of this novel carries  illustrations that picture the characters and what is going on. They are accompanied with comments that will make you laugh and cry.

Easy to read, with a portrait of American High school life that takes the water. Reluctant girls will love this even boys if they are brave enough. I was.

I am Rebecca by Fleur Beale

July 15, 2014 Comments off

I am rebeccaI am Rebecca by Fleur Beale. Pub. Random House, 2014.

This novel is so good I read it in one day. Fleur Beale’s writing is powerful yet so simple. The sentences are short the chapters are short, the subject is beguiling and the characters stand out like the figures on Mount Rushmore.

It is of course the sequel to the classic 1998 novel I am not Esther.

Rebecca who narrates the story and her twin sister Rachael are 13 years old and they have the essence of saints about them. They are lively, intelligent, caring, hard working and obedient. They live within the religious cult, Children of the Faith, led by the fanatical Elder Stephen and their lives are dictated by The Rule.

The Rule is grim for spirits like Rebecca and Rachael but they do not question and are totally honest in everything they do. The Rule despises “worldliness” and everything is done to keep women in particular under strict control. The girls see their parents marriage as lacking in laughter and intimacy. Their father makes all the decisions and their mother is expected to show example of how to be a good and godly woman.

The girls and the Pilgrim family move to Nelson after being educated in a state school in Whanganui and they are allocated the task of selling free range eggs and chickens at the Saturday morning market. At first they are nervous but learn to enjoy it. As they approach 14 years they are betrothed to boys of  marriageable age. Fortunately both sisters like the boys chosen for them.

But then a series of incidents puts the religious community into turmoil and the girls have cause to rethink their options in life.

Stunning stuff with a stunning ending. A psychological thriller out of the top draw for high school students.

Spark by Rachael Craw.

July 10, 2014 Comments off

sparkSpark by Rachael Craw. Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

This is part one of a new science fiction series about genetic engineering that has got away on the Affinity Project. an organisation that wanted to create the perfect soldier.

Decades before the start of this novel the Affinity Project introduced a synthetic gene into the human food chain. Specimens were carefully selected and monitored with the effects of the gene giving the recipient heightened senses, reflexes, pain threshold and strength.

Like all genes they are passed on to the next generation. The effects were sometimes minimal,  sometimes powerful and sometimes they skipped a generation. Affinity monitored the changes but like everything genetic the synthetic gene mutated. Those that held the original gene became known as Shields and those that mutated became Strays.

Evie is 17 has the gene and is to find out she is a Shield but a third generation. Her mother has just died and she is living with her aunt and her mother’s twin, Miriam. Miriam knows all about Affinity and works for them as a Shield. She can’t help herself just as Evie is not going to be able to.

As the changes start on Evie’s body and mind she is baffled and finds she has a strong protective instinct towards her best friend Kitty. She finds that her job is to protect Kitty from a murderous Stray who is stalking Kitty.

As Evie’s physical and sensual talents grow she also develops Kinetic Memory transference and Harvest. She can access memories by touch and transfer what she sees to others. Powerful stuff. She finds out there are others amongst her acquaintances both good and bad but which is which?

Kitty is her first job as a Shield and she finds out that no Shield has managed to be successful on their first client.

Complicated but fascinating. Action is frequent and romance starts to intrude in Evie’s life. Good start to a new series as this novel sets up the scenario.

For High School and young Adults. If you liked Kathy Reichs’  Virals novels you will love this.

 

Moana’s Song by Trish Shirley

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Moana's songMoana’s Song by Trish Shirley. Pub. Merrybrook Publishing, 2014.

This short novel is raw emotion, powerfully yet simply written and told. A story of resolution and hope that will move you.

Janey is 15 and lives with her mother, step father Steve,who is absolutely brilliant, and her half sister and brother. Janey has never felt right about her position in the family and when her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer she is sent off to meet the father, Mitch, that she hasn’t met for 10 years.

Janey’s mother has not been honest with her and the last thing she remembers about her father is waiting by the phone on her 5th birthday waiting for his call. It never came.

Ten years of resentment had built up inside her and when she meets her father things are cold and tense but not from her father’s side. Everybody has their own story and this is a story of what is not known rather that what is known and it all has to come out.

Mistakes have been made, the hurt runs deep yet Trish Shirley ties it up beautifully. You will laugh and cry. Seldom have I read a self published book that has been so assuredly written. Not a word out of place not a string left untied.

The character of Moana is a unique one. A ship in the backyard of Janey’s fathers property with omnipotent qualities and sensible argument when the chips are really down.

There is a lot more to this novel than what I have told you here, I will leave it to you to find out. An outstanding short novel for teenagers and young adults. An emotional rollercoaster. To purchase contact  . www.trishshirley.com

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