WARP. The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer.

June 29, 2015 Comments off

forever manWARP. The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer. Pub. Puffin, 2015.

This is part 3 in this bizarre series by Eoin Colfer. The crux of the novel is a wormhole invented by quantum physicist Professor Charles Smart and used by the FBI to transport witnesses of big trials into the past to protect them. The wormhole has evolved in a sinister way.

Psychopathic killer Albert Garrick and his apprentice Riley are accidentally transported from Victorian England into the present and separate. Riley meets teenage FBI agent Chevie Savano and the two try to keep out of the way of Garrick and the prowling monsters that the wormhole carries.

This novel is set mainly in the small English village of Mandrake in the year 1647 when the Puritans ruled and witch hunting was the national sport. The wormhole has become a real danger to the continued existence of planet Earth with most who have traveled in the wormhole  becoming mutated in some way but none more so than the evil Albert Garrick. He has become the forever man and cannot be destroyed and in 1647 he is the witchfinder and still seeks Riley and Chevie to reap his revenge in the most horrifying of ways.

Garrick relishes his power and seeks to destroy the wormhole and Riley and Chevie at the same time. Only Colfer can get away with changing an FBI Agent into a talking dog and having Garrick fight a giant squid in the middle of an English bog. And that is not the half of it.

Colfer tells the story with some relish. His imagery and language are the real star of the show. He combines images in a way that captivates the reader. He merges the world of quantum physics and dark material with a wild imagination and adventure to create a believable story that is funny, witty, tense, sinister and adventurous.

Fans of Artemis Fowl and adventure/ fantasy readers from intermediate to high school will love this novel.

The Rest of us just live Here by Patrick Ness.

June 22, 2015 Comments off

rest live hereThe Rest of us just live Here by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2015.

Since his Chaos Walking series, every book by Patrick Ness has been a major event in the world of Young Adult literature. Indeed it is a major literary event for all literature. So it is with this novel.

It took me three days to read this novel because I wanted it to. In the words of Winston Churchill it is a “mystery inside an enigma’ and I am not sure I fully understand it yet but over the next few months I will probably get there.

Patrick Ness  supplies a message with the book that probably provides the answer when he says  “this book is for all the Unchosen Ones” but of course he has to provide a Chosen One so we can distinguish between the two. I will let you the reader work out who the Chosen One is and why the rest of us just live here.

The novel is centred in a small American town, in a typical American family or is it? – a typical family?

Mike is approaching Graduation and the end of year Prom at the local high school. His sister Mel is to graduate too, she had a year off due to a problem with anorexia. Mike suffers from OCD and has two friends, a girl called Henna who he is infatuated with and a big boy with healing powers named Jared. Mike’s father is an alcoholic with a past, his mother is a politician and his younger sister Meredith loves a 1D type boy band called Bolt of Fire. The plot is about all the interaction between this group and it is simply written and compulsive reading.

I thought Ness may be taking the water out of the American way of life, maybe yes maybe no, you decide. I will say “is there a nation on earth that puts therapy on a pedestal the way Americans do?”

The structure of the novel is unique as there are two stories going on that are linked and touch each other and bring a science fiction feel to the novel. Before each chapter begins there are a couple of paragraphs about the Immortals breaking through to create havoc and the impact they have on “indie kids”, life’s people that no-one wants to see. The link between the two is the Chosen One. Fascinating.

A very entertaining and thought provoking novel. I loved it. I will leave you with a quote from the novel “why does everything have to mean something”. Brilliant!


Middle School: Save Rafe by James Patterson Illus. Chris Tebbetts.

June 17, 2015 Comments off

save rafeMiddle School: Save Rafe by James Patterson Illus. Chris Tebbetts. Pub.Random House, 2014.

This is the 6th book in this very good series for reluctant readers particularly boys but not exclusively so. The main character in this novel is Rafe Khatchadorian who lives with his artist mother and younger sister.

Rafe has an attitude problem because he likes to break rules and gets into heaps of trouble. He finds it difficult to talk to girls but is a gifted cartoonist writing a series of comic books about Loozer the loser which is really about himself. The cartoons are spaced throughout the book reflecting the action that has or is to take place.

Rafe was expelled from his last school and before his new school will accept him he has to pass a two week outward bound type school with 7 other kids including 3 girls. It is not easy but they will learn how to conquer their fears, work together and learn to trust themselves. Not everybody will pass.

At the end they have to write a letter to themselves saying where they would like to be in a years time.

Good values and a lively plot as the 8 kids make their own raft to sail down a river, climb a cliff and survive by not hurting the environment.

Easy to read with frequent cartoon breaks that advance or comment on what has occurred.

Valuable for ages 9 through to 13 years.

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine.

June 16, 2015 Comments off

fire colour oneFire Colour One by Jenny Valentine. Pub. HarperCollins, 2015.

This Guardian Prize winner 2015 for Young Adults is outstanding. It is a novel about art. Literally.

Iris is 14 years old and she has never consciously met her father who is now dieing of cancer. His name is Ernest and he has made a fortune dealing in art of all the great painters. Now on his death bed Ernest invites Iris, her mother Hannah and her partner Howell, to his estate for the last days.

There is a lot of time to make up and a lot of surprises.

The outstanding feature of the novel is the characterisations. Iris is very bright but she doesn’t look in the mirror and see somebody she doesn’t like. She is tomboyish and has a best friend in 17 year old Thurston. He has the imagination and character to be great he just doesn’t seem to want to be. He adores Iris.

The mother Hannah is a case. She has a fashion models body, dresses in tight clothes and high stilettos with a cigarette in one hand and clinking vodka and ice in the other. She is constantly dodging creditors with her maxed out credit cards. He partner Howell is a beauty. Film star looks with one eye in the mirror as he watches himself go by. He is on the fringes of Hollywood waiting for his big break but with Hannah behind him it will never come.

Iris is caught in the middle of it all and it is no surprise that she is a bit disturbed. She loves fires. Meeting her father and their conversations before he dies are sensational.

The language of the novel contains bitter sweet observations that will have you smiling with admiration. Howell for instance has toilet bowl white teeth.

The ending will have you on your feet applauding. The best book I have read this year.

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart.

June 13, 2015 Comments off

honest truthThe Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart. Pub Chicken House, 2015.

This book was referred to me by a student at Cromwell College who told me I had to read it after I had talked to her class about The Book Of Hat by Harriet Rowland. So I did. She was not wrong, this is an outstanding piece of writing about a boy called Mark who has a mission to accomplish before he dies of cancer.

Mark’s  mission is to climb Mt Rainier because he told his dieing granddad that he would do it, but it rapidly becomes a mission that he himself must accomplish. He cleverly leaves his home town with his dog Beau inside a duffle bag. He takes supplies to climb the mountain but does he plan to return? Beau is a magnificent character that all children will relate to.

On their journey to Mt Rainier, in dreadful winter conditions, they encounter the best and the worst of human behaviour, and learn that there is more than one kind of truth. But nothing will stop our intrepid hero and his dog.

Structured in 13 short chapters narrated by Mark and 13 half chapters narrated by Jessie, best friend of Mark. She is carrying a massive secret and through Jessie we learn of the progress of Mark’s cancer.

A tear jerker for sure but an honest one. I read it in one sitting and I was angry, happy, sad and terribly apprehensive throughout the book. A must read for Intermediate and secondary school readers.

Confessions. The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.

June 12, 2015 Comments off

confessions paris mysteriesConfessions. The Paris Mysteries by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. Pub. Random House, 2014.

Sometimes it is good to read a book that you don’t have to think too deeply about and just go with the flow. This is such a novel.

Tandy Angel is an attractive 16 year old who has plenty of drama on her plate. The novel opens with a joyous time for her in Paris with the boy she loves, staying in an old hotel with love all around. It doesn’t last long, in the morning he is gone without a by your leave. Swine!

Tandy’s head is still swimming when she finds her  twin brother Harry(named after George Harrison), younger brother Hugo and older brother Matty have inherited a fortune from their grandmother. But the fortune is tainted.

The siblings parents once owned a Pharmaceutical company that went tail up, the parents are brutally murdered and older sister Katherine is killed in an accident in South Africa. They discover that their uncle Peter is a crook and is possibly out to kill the remaining members of the family and worst of all they discover they have been fed drugs  disguised as vitamins by their parents that are supposed to increase all round intellect and physical capabilities. OMG!

You don’t need to know more just go ahead and get involved. The chapters are short, the dialogue cheesy, the plot has more twists and turns than a politicians speech and it is in the exciting settings of Paris and later New York.

Young Adult stuff with nothing serious except the fantasy of being filthy rich.

Ruby Redfort 4: Feel the Fear by Lauren Child.

June 8, 2015 Comments off

fearRuby Redfort 4: Feel the Fear by Lauren Child. Pub. HarperCollins childrens, 2014.

Just got around to reviewing this novel because of work pressures but I wished I had read it earlier. It deals with fear and risk taking, something parents worry themselves sick over.

Ruby is 13 years old and an agent for a secret organisation called SPECTRUM 8 who solve crimes that are out of the ordinary. Ruby has become an agent because of her superior ability to solve puzzles and see things that others don’t notice.

In the 3 previous books she has taken risks that have endangered her life and survived. She begins to think she is indestructable and has conquered her fears. The head of SPECTRUM 8 and her mentor and butler, Hitch, think so too.

A series of crimes committed on high rise buildings has SPECTRUM bemused. A skywalker who climbs the outside of buildings is stealing memorabilia like items connected with the old theatre in town and the legendary actress Margo Bardem. Can Ruby solve it?

High rise terror and lots of fear. Ruby must learn to control fear and to rationalise the risks she is taking.

Good crime writing with puzzles and codes to be broken that are linked to Braille. Some of the snappiest and witty dialogue between Ruby and the other characters that I have read in a children’s book and of course Ruby’s sweatshirts are divine. What are you looking at duhbrain? is the best this time.

For early teens and those that like mysteries. I think it is the best yet. Very clever writing.


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