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Loki. A Bad God’s Guide to being Good by Louie Stowell. Pub. Walker Books, 2022

June 4, 2022 Comments off

Satire and irony are clever tools in comedy and this easy to read short novel about Loki the Norse god of mischief is a great example of these two techniques in action.

Loki is sent by Odin to Earth from Asgard, down the Rainbow Bridge because of his bad behaviour. He is accompanied by his nemesis Thor and two make believe parents Hyrrokkin, a giant woman and Heimdall an ogre like man. The reason is to learn how to behave, show empathy, remorse and kindness. If he fails he will be sent to hell with snakes.

Loki must keep a diary of what happens and the diary can monitor his behaviour and dock points off his starting point of minus 3000 for bad behaviour on Earth. he hasn’t got a chance because he can’t change the habits of a life time or can he? Read it and find out.

Thor is a perfect speciman, popular with the girls while Loki is a puny nerd looking boy who can’t compete, except by behaving badly which he is very good at. When the points differential reaches a million to the power of infinity he is in bad shape but can he come back?

Human behaviour is savaged. Stowell takes the water out of schools, family life, shopping, eating takeaways etc. Very funny and will attract reluctant readers particularly boys.

Skulduggery Pleasant. Until the End by Derek Landy. Pub. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2022.

May 30, 2022 Comments off

The 15th book in this very impressive series and I am astonished that it hasn’t been picked up by the film industry. I have read them all and they are complicated with a myriad of characters, worlds, time zones and scenarios and I just take it a chapter at a time.

For those who don’t know Skulduggery is a skeleton man who wears a flash suit and hat, sun glasses and is a silver tongued flatterer of the highest degree. He has powers that he uses to protect the innocent and fight the nasties in his role as Arbiter for a World dominated by The faceless Ones. They are sort of Gods and are worshiped by a large portion of the World’s population but not all. Supreme mages direct this sort of religion but there are many outbursts of opposition that result in vicious murders which Skuduggery Pleasant investigates along with his former enemy Valkyrie Valkyries was responsible for bringing back the Faceless Ones and she is titled the Mother and Child of them.

The World is a very dangerous place and doomsday is always round the corner but always seems to be averted at the last moment after all seems hopeless. So it is with this novel so it would be pointless of me to outline a plot, it is so complex, you will have to read it yourself.

I dig the names of some of the characters such as Crepuscular Vies, Obsidian, the Darkly Brothers, Darquesse and others.

Told in 133 short chapters with over 600 pages, each chapter deals with a different set of characters with plot and character development that leads to the customary crisis at the end.

There will be other novels I am sure so just enjoy the action and characters. I did.

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A. F. Steadman. Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2022.

April 19, 2022 Comments off

The first of a new series that has taken the publishing world of children’s books by storm and has already had the film rights acquired by Sony Pictures. It is being seen as the next big thing in children’s literature and compared to Harry Potter, His dark materials and Percy Jackson. Need I write anymore?

This first book establishes the scenario and the characters and if a phrase can describe the theme of the novel it is this “Two souls destined for each other can never truly be parted

This is a story about unicorns but not the dreamy docile fantasy creatures you read about elsewhere. These unicorns have a horn that is razor sharp and they are creatures that are fundamentally bloodthirsty with a preference for violence and destruction. They have a shriek that is somewhere between a horses whinny, an eagles cry and a human scream and each is destined to be bonded to a human just as the human is destined to be bonded to the unicorn.

Each unicorn has an element-earth, air, fire or water, that they thrive in and their destined partners have that element too and the beginning of this novel has the human and the unicorn matched so that the human and unicorn are bonded from the birth of the unicorn from an egg.

Skandar Smith is bonded to Scoundrel’s Luck but they are different from the rest because both are from a secret and banned “spirit element”. Both have a destiny that neither knows about.

The novel opens with a race of unicorns and riders called the Chaos Cup a sort of Melbourne Cup or Grand National. It is gatecrashed by an evil being called the Weaver and the winner stolen. We learn that the Weaver is stealing other Unicorns, bonding them illegally with humans and has formed a powerful army to threaten the balance on the island of Unicorns which is out at sea by a pebble beach, surrounded by the Mirror Cliffs. If you want to know more you will have to read it yourself and you will not be disappointed.

Well written, excellent characters that you can relate to, Skandar is a good role model. An incredible world is created and of course those nasty unicorns. There are casualties along the way, an inevitable battle with the Weaver and big surprises. You will keep reading long after you want to put it down and watch out for the Silver Unicorn.

Fire’s Caress by Lani Wendt Young. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

December 19, 2021 Comments off

A very readable novel for young adults that will have you compelled to read from beginning to end.

Set in Samoa with the backdrop of a post covid world and heavily involved in Samoan myth and legend and the protection of Samoan cultural life.

Billionaire Marc Gold, confident, not used to being denied, womaniser and a total smartarse, comes to Samoa to build a luxury resort for the super wealthy without giving any thought to the cultural and habitat damage he will cause. While walking in the forest where he will build the resort he is contacted by a beautiful woman who is of the Aitu, a Samoan demon who protect the forests and lakes. He goes missing for 3 days without recollection and when he returns he has a disease that causes him to have a hunger and it slowly covers his body.

Into the story comes Teuila a beautiful Samoan woman who has a strong gift of sculpture and has achieved World wide fame. She has a past of abuse and has been brought up in an orphanage on Samoa. She returns to Samoa to auction her works to support the home in which she was protected and brought up in. She meets Marc Gold who is strongly attracted to her, as she eases the effects of the body disease that he has contracted.

Gold wants to own her and while Teuila is attracted to his wealth she is supicious. These suspicions are confirmed by a now rich childhood friend and martial arts expert Keahi who conflicts with Marc Gold. Enter Bree, Teuila’s agent and the long lost mother and things begin to boil as Marc Gold tries to control Teuila and his behaviour becomes psychopathic.

What nobody knows is that Teuila is controlled by the Aitu and that a major battle is to be fought.

Don’t miss this, it is superb storytelling and although part of the Telesa World series it is a stand alone Novel in it’s own right. There is reference to characters from the Telesa world and the origins of the gifts that Teuila and Keahi have are explained by the connection to Telesa and their common past.

When Fishes flew. The Story of Elena’s War by Michael Morpurgo. Pub. HarperCollins, 2021

November 4, 2021 Comments off

Nandi loves her Auntie Ellie and all things Greek. She is born of Greek parents and loves the Greek myths and legends particularly about Proteus, the son of Poseidon the god of the sea. This link between Aunt Ellie Nandi and the god Proteus is to become the crux of this novel and some may view it as wishy washy but not me.

Ellie lives on the island of Ithaca legendary kingdom of Odysseus and the home of Homer who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. She visits Nandi in Australia every other year but suddenly the visits stop as Auntie Ellie gets older. For five years Ellie does not see Nandi and at age 17 Nandi packs her bags and goes to Ithaca but Ellie isn’t there. Where is she? and will she see her again?

While on Ithaca Nandi stays with a friend of Ellie and learns that Ellie is highly regarded and has a legendary reputation among the islanders.

Before she went to Greece Nandi saw a flying fish in the sea off Melbourne and it seemed to be telling her to go to Greece. While on Ithaca she sees the flying fish again and it tells her that it is Proteus in fish form. This is not an uncommon tactic by the Greek gods when they meddled in the human world which they often did. Sometimes the gods shine upon you sometimes they don’t. Proteus and Nandi are kindred spirits.

The flying fish in a series of visits tells Nandi a story of Ellie’s war escapades and her love relationship with a partisan Alexis in the fight against Nazi occupation. It will melt your heart.

Easy to read and beautifully illustrated as Nandi tells Ellie’s story in diary form while living on Ithaca. Michael Morpurgo never fails in his story telling.

Excellent reading for junior and intermediate readers with a very modern day human problem.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, Illus. Sophie Blackall. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

November 1, 2021 Comments off

This is story telling at it’s very best and if it were a fine wine it would be described as nectar of the Gods.

It is the story of a prophecy written in the Chronicles of Sorrowing that states “there will come a girl child who will unseat a king and bring about great change”. The prophecy has been ignored by the current king who rules his kingdom unwisely but he is aware of the prophecy and conducts a search of his kingdom to find the said girl.

When Beatryce is found by Brother Edik in the company of a goat called Answelica, he realises that this girl is the subject of the prophecy but she doesn’t know it. Her memory has gone but she does know her name is Beatryce

Brother Edik takes Beatryce, against the advice of the Abbot, into the monastary for protection and finds out she can read and write against the expressed wishes of the king. He cuts Beatryce’s hair off, dresses her as a monk, and urges her not to tell anyone of her literary skills and pretend to be mute.

A 12 year old boy Jack Cory, whose parents have been killed by a robber in the Dark Forest, comes into the story and befriends Beatryce when the Abbot slings her out of the monastary because he is scared of what the king will do.

A showdown with the king is inevitable but there is much adventure to go through first. You will have to read it to find out what happens.

Beautifully written in simple text and short chapters comprising six books within the story. All are beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall who capture all the characters perfectly especially the goat.

There is a strong message of knowing who we are and being true to yourself. Easily the best children’s novel for primary and Intermediate children, this year. Answelica the goat is a sensation.

Black Spiral trilogy Bk2. Black Wolf by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin, 2021.

October 29, 2021 Comments off

Second part of the series that began with Violet Black which is also reviewed elsewhere on this blog and it will excite you just as much as the first novel.

After the disastrous episode in Germany Violet and her associate Phoenix return to the Foundation complex in central Australia. Phoenix is being experimented on with an LSD substance and it has altered his mental powers so that he can bypass blocks in The Foundation staff and read their minds.

Phoenix age 18years, is not popular with Violet aged 18years and now wants to be known by his real name Johnno. Meanwhile Violet is being experimented on too but is still able to communicate by ESP with Phoenix and other members of VORTEX. She is dissatisfied and wants to escape.

She plots with Phoenix AKA Johnno AKA Black Wolf and the two manage to escape into the centre of the Australian desert and the two have a ball, find they like each other, romance blossoms and some exciting action takes place. The two have now perfected Dream-Flow by which they can escape their bodies ,turn into animals like birds and wolves and fly for miles.

This part two also develops the reasons why and how M Fever came about and returns the major characters to New Zealand where the action started. This sets up part three with the questionable actions of the Foundation now becoming exposed. But who is behind them?

Well written and believable. I can’t wait for the third part hopefully due early next year.

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Wishyouwas. The Tiny Guardian of lost Letters by Alexandra Page. Pub Bloomsbury, 2021

October 11, 2021 Comments off

Wishyouwas is a small furry animal with a rat like tail who is often mistaken for a rat but delivers an essential service in an underground world.

He has many friends underground in a structured world that is threatened only by humans and rats. Some of his friends are named after post office and mail terms like Withlove, Stampduty, Dearmadam, Posthaste etc etc. There job is to find and trace letters that have damaged addresses that no-one can read.

Set in London in the year 1952 when a massive peasouper fog that lasted weeks has disabled london. It is a time when communication between people was mainly through letter writing and mail. Under the streets of london there is a world of mail trains and letter sorting.

Into this world comes a young girl called Penny Black who is staying with her uncle Frank who runs the Post Office. he mother is an airline pilot and is away a lot of the time. Will she return?

Penny finds Wishyouwas trapped in a mouse trap by his tail and through him enters the underground world. Great stuff.

There is also a creepy villain Stanley Scrawl who is a rat catcher. Is he responsible for the sudden population explosion of rats in the underworld. Check out this excellent story, written in large font, with lovable characters

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021

September 29, 2021 Comments off

The kingdom of Raven is split into rival factions with each faction trying to take the throne of Raven. Civil war has reigned, the countryside has been ravaged, armies wander the land and people are living in fear and misery.

But there is hope as it is known that the heirs to the throne are hiding out and that finding the true heir will mend the split crown and return the kingdom to peace. Who is the true heir that is the question?

Triplets Giles, Cordelia and Rosalind have lived in the shelter of their mothers magic in a house in the enchanted forest. They all have magical powers which have been undeveloped as their mothers magic was all powering. When an army discovers their hiding place and takes the triplets mother hostage along with their elder brother the triplets in their ignorance are left to fend for themselves.

Cordelia, with her ability to change into any creature she wants leads the way and together they find out secrets and history that their mother should have told them. One of them is the true heir but which one?

It becomes a mission to find the broken crown on Mount Corve but danger lurks everywhere. Check it and see.

Short chapters big font and writing that invites you in and keeps you guessing plus in Cordelia a character that you fully relate to. very good fantasy for primary and intermediate readers

The Rise of the Remarkables Bk2 The Thaumagician’s Revenge by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker books, 2021.

August 26, 2021 Comments off

The thrilling sequel to Brasswitch and Bot a title reviewed elsewhere on this blog and not the end of this saga.

In the first book Wrench discovers her talents as a Brasswitch which allow her to mentally get inside a machine and close it down. Very important if you are at war with machines. She has embraced magic as well and was taught to hone her skills by a boy Plum who has let the side down and become one of the enemy after an enormous battle called the Minster Schism which Wrench helped win.

Set in the beautiful city of York Wrench, her robot sidekick Bot, friend Octavia and new Brasswitch, Vexanna, belong to a group of counter revolutionaries or Regulators called Thirteen. They are to battle Remarkables who came through a Rupture above York made by the old Gods, accidentally, who thought they were opening a gateway to heaven. Through this Rupture came good and bad Remarkables or creatures with alarming body shapes and powers.

Not all Remarkables are bad but the leader of a rival group fighting the Remarkables, Flemington, hates Thirteen and wants to eliminate all Remarkables. The battles are riveting and bring in all sorts of technology with a Victorian era characteristic, hence the title steam punk.

Wrench has problems though. She still wants to get to the bottom of why her parents were killed and she wants to confront Plum whom she was close to but now realises he has “the innocence of a child pulling legs off a crane fly”. They are now enemies.

After a series of battles in the brick works and the museum Femington has procured a Cabal Inquisition, which is to look at all the action to date and pass judgement on Wrench and Bot. The Thirteen are in danger and the bad Remarkables are still a huge threat. .

On top of all this Wrench appears to be losing her powers and has certainly lost her confidence. What has Vexanna got to do with this and can she recover before it is too late? Read this action packed novel and see what happens.