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Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett.

October 16, 2018 Comments off

restless girlsThe Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018.

From the people that brought you Harry Potter comes this superb hardback novel that is old yet new at the same time.

It is old because it is about a king with 12 daughters who believes girls are not as important as boys and shouldn’t have license to explore their talents and imagination. It is new because the girls will not be subjected to the king’s decisions and use imagination to change things.

After their bright and breezy mother, Queen Laurelia is killed in a car accident while driving around the beautiful kingdom of Kalia, the King, Alberto, goes into grieving and takes away all the rights and privileges from his 12 daughters. The Palace becomes like a morgue and the girls are unhappy.

Led by eldest and very intelligent and creative daughter Princess Frida, the Princesses use imagination to visit a wondrous land where they party and dance till dawn. Unfortunately the dancing wears their shoes out and poses a mystery that the king needs to solve.

When the girls refuse to tell him how their shoes became worn he banishes Frida from the kingdom and offers one of his daughters and the crown of Kalia to any man who can solve the problem. Find out what happens, it is brilliant.

The illustrations are superb and leave room for your own imagination. Easy to read for primary and intermediate students. Adults will love it too.

The Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins.

October 2, 2018 Comments off

world on fireThe Quest Series Pt1. How to set the World on Fire by T.K. Riggins. Pub. Franchise Publishing Vancouver, 2017.

After reading literally hundreds of fantasy novels it is refreshing to read a really good one. For fantasy to be successful with me it must have  a number of things -firstly mythical dragon like creature or a unicorn. This novel has both. A half lion half dragon beast called a langara which is the guardian of the Forest of Morais and two unicorns one white one black.

Secondly it must have magic. There must be magicians who can do wonderous things, and thirdly there has to be bad things and bad people that need to be overcome to return a troubled land or society to peace and harmony.

This novel has them all, and there is the sage mirror. Find out what it is.

Kase wants to be a warrior and him and his elder sister Cali, who is a scholar, go to a school called the Academy. The Academy caters for warriors, scholars and wizards but never the twain shall meet until now.

Every year the Academy has the Quest for older students before they leave school and teams of all scholars, all warriors, all wizards are the norm. This year is different. Kase Cali, Lena and Talen are not in their final year, not all from one class and they form a team called Liberati to contest the Q. Their first task is to bring hot lava back in it’s natural condition without it solidifying. Tough stuff.

How will they do against older teams? What about school bad boy Niveous? What about the unicorns and the langara? I am not going to tell you any more, you will have to read it yourself. And it is very good.

Great introduction to fantasy for kids from 8-15 years. Good values too. Friendship, families, teamwork, leadership and selflessness are themes. Lots of science and problem solving.

The second book in the series Money Jane is already out.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay

August 23, 2018 Comments off

illustrated potterHarry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone illustrated by Jim Kay. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

What a way to start off a new generation of Harry Potter readers with the first novel illustrated as superbly as this volume.

It is a larger volume than the original books so that each illustration can have a whole page for the young reader to indulge over.

The Dursleys with their obnoxious son Dudly are first up along with Hagrid and Hedwig the owl. Later there are portraits of Snape in front of his potions, Malfoy with his intentness, the trolls, a beautiful unicorn, the three headed dog Cerebus and the scarily wicked man with two faces.

Of course there is a happy portrait of Harry, Hermione, Ron and co plus Diagon Alley and a host of others. A poster in the back shows the Norwegan Ridgeback Dragon that adds to a very positive reading experience.

Miniwings. Firestorm’s Musical Muck-up by Sally Sutton, Illus. Kirsten Richards

May 19, 2018 Comments off

miniwingsMiniwings. Firestorm’s Musical Muck-up by Sally Sutton, Illus. Kirsten Richards. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

This is the first of a new series mainly for girls who are getting more confident with reading.

It is about two sisters who play a flute and a violin and see six miniature horses that originally where given by their grandmother but come alive when adults are out of the room. Each horse has it’s own personality and this story is about Firestorm who lives up to his name.

The girls are doing a concert with their class for their parents and friends and organised by their teacher Miss Rose, who doesn’t have a boyfriend. Things start to go wrong when Firestorm pushes the fire alarm but will it get Miss Rose a boyfriend.

A good mix of fantasy and everyday hassles and problems. Written with gusto and plenty of humour and well illustrated by Kirsten Richards who captures all the moments and gives character to the Miniwings.

Categories: Fantasy, Junior Fiction Tags: ,

Restoration Day by Deborah Makarios.

March 28, 2018 Comments off

restoration dayRestoration Day by Deborah Makarios. Pub. deborah.makarios.nz , 2018

Princess Lily of Arcelia is about to turn eighteen and due to inherit the throne of Arcelia so she can perform the rites of Restoration Day which renews the life of the land.

The trouble is her kingdom has been ruled by her wicked uncle Phelan who has abolished the monarchy and rules as Magister. After a civil war in which Lily’s parents were killed, Lily has been living in a castle that is protected by magic and kept hidden from the outside world by a great hedge.

Lily has been brought up by her aunt Hortensia who believes young ladies ought not to be enthusiastic and should never argue. Lily thus has an innocent jolly hockey sticks sort of manner and believes she is going to become queen as of right. She is about to change because she has to.

She escapes from her aunt, through the hedge and is soon picked up by her uncles Wolves and imprisoned with a dwarf named Malin. In a McGyver like episode Lily and Malin escape and search for the 3 Requisites needed to enact Restoration Day, renew the polluted land, and hopefully restore Lily to the throne of Arcelia. Sounds a little close to home.

Riveting stuff told with rich language and plenty of action and good values.The banter  between Lily and the dwarf Malin is a highlight of the novel. A big surprise at the end.

Ideal for fantasy readers of intermediate and high school age. Contact the author direct to purchase copies.

Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz

February 14, 2018 Comments off

last chanceLast Chance by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This sequel to The Rains reviewed earlier on this blog is thrilling action writing at its best from an author who has written for Marvel and DC comics and the Orphan X novels amongst others.

After every adult over 18 years was infected by pollen from seeds spread about the Earth by asteroids, they turned into zombie like creatures called Hosts whose function was to capture all the children and to map the Earth for the alien invaders. Now these Hosts are rotting away and been replaced by a more daunting enemy the Hatchlings.

The children were collected to have eggs implanted inside them and give rise to the alien invaders who have been bred to survive in Earth’s conditions. They are flesh eating and are designed to finish humans off and prepare the planet for what? Read it and find out’

Once again the novel is narrated in diary form by 15 year old Chance Rains who with his 18 year old brother Patrick and Alex a 17 year old girl who provides the romantic conflict in this novel, basically fight the enemy single handedly.

These three have a special status within the young survivors of the Dusting and are going to find out that they have a bigger role than they could ever have conceived. They meet with one of the aliens who tells them a story that will blow their minds. .

Meanwhile the action continues as they fight tthe Hosts and Hatchlings to protect their commune set up inside a fenced off high school which has internal power struggles of it’s own. Can the enemy be defeated and the World saved? It’s the stuff of heroes. To tell you any more would ruin the novel for you.

The science is mind boggling and the ending may owe something to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids.

Compulsive reading for lovers of zombie books and of science fiction. Not unlike the 5th Wave novels also reviewed on this blog. Check it out, your mad if you don’t.

The 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford.

February 4, 2018 Comments off

1000 year boyThe 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is storytelling of the highest order. It is the sort of story that keeps me reading children and young adult literature. To be able to write like this is a gift to behold.

Alfie is more than a 1000 years old and he was 11 years old when the Vikings attacked northern England. In fleeing them his father is killed.  His father had acquired magical pills called life-pearls which had the power to stop the aging process but not to stop death by accident or by killing.

Alfie and his mother mix the life-pearl oil with their own blood in the traditional way of slashing two stripes across the upper arm and rubbing the oil in. They are now Neverdeads. For more than a 1000 years they  wander Britain, never aging and keeping to themselves. It is a stressful life and not wise to be discovered.

The only way to stop the aging process is to use another life-pearl and administer it the same way, then the aging process will start again with the finality of death. There is only one life-pearl left which they hide in the event that one of them is killed. They don’t want to leave the other alone.

A tragic fire leaves Alfie alone and taken into care by the authorities, but before he is taken away he sees a bearded man who has the same two scars that he has.  The man yells at Alfie in old Norse “keep your mouth shut”. The tension builds.

Alfie wants to find the remaining Life-pearl so he can age and live a normal life and you guessed it, so does the bearded man, but to find it Alfie is going to need a boat.

Superbly written in 105 short chapters with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you keen. Alfie is a marvelous character who doesn’t want to live for ever. Who does?

Good readers at primary level, intermediate school readers, and junior high school readers will devour this highly imaginative and thought provoking novel. What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford is also reviewed on this blog.