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Archive for the ‘Intermediate Fiction’ Category

Arc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman.

December 9, 2019 Comments off

The TollArc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

The third and final book in this trilogy and the big question is “what will become of the world of Scythes, Tonists and Thunderhead after the sinking of the Scythe Headquarters Endura”?

In a nutshell it is knackered. Chaos reigns. Everything is changing.

Firstly Scythedom is divided and Robert Goddard is now self declared Highblade of the Scythes and is determined to unite Scythes and increase their power over both the Thunderhead and the Tonists. Gleaning or killing is increased to alarming proportions and the fairness and equity of the gleaning is now targeted racism. Highblade Goddard blames Rowan or Scythe Lucifer for the destruction of Endura although Rowan and Citra or Scythe Anastasia died together in the sinking of Endura. In this World in which mortality has been conquered does anybody really die permanently?

Secondly Thunderhead, that AI entity that can process 2 billion actions per second, has withdrawn from the World. Everybody is declared “unsavory” and no longer has direct contact with Thunderhead. Day to day operations are still handled by Thunderhead but personal access has ended. The question is does Thunderhead have a plan for humanity or is it going to be left to destroy itself?

Thirdly the Tonists that wacko group of religious followers of the Tone have a living leader, The Toll who is a character you know from the previous two books and he is the only person that Thunderhead will talk directly to. Some Tonists have turned radical or Sibilant and Anarchy reigns as the Tonists search for their identity in this new World.

Fourthly, Scythe Faraday and his assistant in the last book detected a blind spot for Thunderhead in the South Pacific and they go searching, crash land on an island to make some interesting discoveries.

The action is non stop as each of the player groups reacts to the actions of the other. Has Thunderhead given up on humanity? Will the Scythes under Goddard glean humans out of existence? Do the Tonists have the answers? What of Anastasia, Lucifer and Faraday? Is the South Pacific the answer to their problems?

Stunning writing from Shusterman with an ending that will have you gasping. The best series since Hunger Games and will appeal to a similar audience. An interesting angle is added to this series with the character of Jericho and the personalisation of Thunderhead in human form. Can a machine ever understand humans?

Wonderful stuff, I am still buzzing over it.

 

Maudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley.

December 2, 2019 Comments off

attack meteorMaudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Maudlin Towers School is for not particularly bright sons of the not especially wealthy. Two of these are friends Mildew and Sponge, a couple of nerdy boys who get into some wonderful adventures involving time travel.

When a meteor crashes into Pugs Peak above Maudlin Towers, followed by a herd of girls joining the boys at school chaos is about to reign supreme. To Sponge and Mildew girls are a fathomless mystery so they consult the librarian Miss Foxing about books on girls. She shows the boys and they are bewildered, nobody had ever looked at these books.

The boys trek up Pugs Peak and are confronted by Zigg and Tarduz and the Spiders from Marzz (don’t make me explain). They are aliens who threaten the World with vaporising unless the boys turn over the escaped criminals. Who are the escaped criminals? Why has old teacher who is supposed to be dead Mr Particle suddenly shown up in his time machine.

Lots of fun and lunacy in this third book about maudlin Towers. Will greatly appeal to reluctant boy readers and me of course

Help! I’m Moving to Mars by Lula Green.

November 18, 2019 Comments off

moving to MarsHelp! I’m Moving to Mars by Lula Green. Little And Lula Publishing, 2019.

Moving house  is always a traumatic experience for children and adults whether it be from one city to another, one country to another or in this case one Planet to another.

So it is with 10 year old Malia and her large family. Malia doesn’t want to go she will miss her friends, the things she does and places on Earth that she visits daily. Too bad she and her family are off.

The journey will take a couple of months and while there are no details of what awaits them at the other end it is adjustment to the change that is important in this short, large print, easy to read novel for primary and intermediate readers.

How would you like to be confined in a space ship with a snake and a tarantula? Fortunately for Malia she has a Z screen link with Tabitha who is the same age as Malia, and Tabitha would love to be in Malia’s position.

Drama is built up nicely as the landing on Mars is approaching but you will have to read that for yourself.

A self published work. Contact https://www.facebook.com/lulagreenbooks

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James.

November 14, 2019 Comments off

pagesPages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

A brilliantly conceived novel for primary and intermediate readers about fairy tales.

Tilly and Oskar are friends who belong to the British UnderLibrary which caters for those who have the power of bookwandering. It is a skill that allows children and adults to enter books and relate to the characters in them. I would love that.

Bookwandering is controlled by librarians and like all librarians I have associated with professionally they are ridden with ego and patch protection foibles. There is a power struggle going on in the underlibrary world, a new head, Melville Underwood, has been elected in dubious circumstances and he has put curbs on bookwandering.

A rebel bookwanderer named Enoch Chalk has created havoc in the fairy tale world with some fairy tales missing and others irrevocably altered. Chalk is hiding somewhere in fairy tale world and is a hunted man.

Tilly and Oskar go to Paris to visit Oskar’s mum and she has access to bookwandering through an uncontrolled book shop. Oskar and Tilly go wandering in fairy tale world and encounter strange goings on. Is it Enoch Chalk or are other factors at play?

Tilly and Oskar find that all the fairy tale characters know each other. They wander first with Little Red Riding hood who knows Jack, of Beanstalk fame, and he knows of Rapunzel and the Three Bears. Rapunzel doesn’t have long hair nor is she trapped in a tower by a witch. She in fact has a sharp bob with an angular fringe, is 17 years old and doesn’t want anything to do with a prince. She wants her own life. Goldilocks is a blonde of course who knows what she wants, preys on the three bears and gazes at her immaculately painted finger nails.

I could tell you more but find out for yourself. Superb intelligent fun. Older readers will have fun with it too. The questions are, will Tilly and Oskar meet Enoch Chalk?  what is Melville up to? and who are the Archivists?

 

 

Dreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie.

November 10, 2019 Comments off

awaDreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. Pub.Te Ra Aroha Press, 2019.

After reading this fantasy with a realism twist for primary and intermediate school readers, I played the Gary Wright song Dreamweaver. Do this yourself and see why.

Awa is of oriental descent, she is sensitive, her parents have just split up, she has moved to a small Wellington flat with her mother and she has started at another school.

At night she has dreams that seem real and one evening she sees a light that turns out to be a Dreamcharmer named Veila. Veila teaches Awa to enter the Dreamrealm where unbeknown to her she has an important role to play as a Dreamweaver.

At school Awa is bullied by Felicity but meets a friend Ella who is also bullied by Felicity. The divorce of the parents, the bullying and the racism, provide the realism twist to the dream world fantasy that Awa enters but somehow there is a connection.

This first part of a trilogy has Awa learn to understand the power the powers she has and the enemies she faces in the Dreamrealm in the personna of The Politician and Judgement. I feel the best is yet to come.

Easy to read, short chapters and much to appeal to pre-teens. The fantasy is drawn from the Greek legend Narcissus and from Maori mythology especially the nature of dreams.

The Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman.

October 27, 2019 Comments off

DustThe Book of Dust. vol 2. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

This is a superb novel for lovers of fantasy, of philosophy, of mystery, of adventure and those interested in the meaning and origin of life.

It has been ten years since Lyra returned from the land of the dead in The Subtle Knife from the His Dark Materials series. She is 20 and is in a melancholic disposition because she and her daemon Pan have fallen out and there is no trust between them. They are capable of traveling apart from each other and do so regularly. This was once thought impossible but their parting is an essential ingredient in this story. Read it and find out why.

Lyra still uses that mysterious instrument, the alethiometer, to find out information and has started to use a new and radical way of manipulating it. The bankruptcy of her friend’s father who is in the rose trade is a warning of major trouble and the murder of a botanist Rodderick Hassall has the world in an uproar.

Hassall has just returned from the desert of Karamakan in Central Asia where a certain rose can only be grown whose oil has been contaminated with that magical particle Dust from which all life emanates. How? The origin of this rose oil is a building in the middle of the desert that can be entered only by those who can separate from their daemons.

Where has Pan gone? Can he really believe that someone has stolen Lyra’s imagination?

I will leave it at that. Find out for yourself in this novel of nearly 700 pages that is totally compelling. I read it over 6 days reading and savouring about 150 pages per day. It is outstanding and even the deepest philosophical points are made easy to read.

The real skill of the author is to organise the plot so that the connections between the host of characters is made apparent, otherwise it could be confusing.

If you miss this you will kick yourself. Lyra Silvertongue is not only growing up and learns much about herself, she is on the run again in the land of fairies and ghosts, the secret commonwealth.

 

Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo.

October 24, 2019 Comments off

BeverlyBeverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Beverly Tapinski is beautiful, she is 14 years old, her dog Buddy has just died, her mother is an alcoholic and her daddy left home when she was very young. She lives in the steamy state of Florida and was friends with Raymie Nightingale and Louisiana Elefante, the main characters in two other books by Kate DiCamillo that are reviewed on this blog.

Beverly feels bereft after the death of Buddy, the disappearance of Louisiana and the move away by Raymie, so she decides home has nothing for her, and hitchhikes out of town and goes to Tamaray.

What happens from then on is heart warming with some of the best and worst behaviour, (but mostly best) that humans exhibit. Beverly meets an old lady who lives in a caravan called Iola who takes Beverly in. She gets a job clearing tables at a sea food restaurant, meets a boy called Elmer and has some of the best experiences she has ever had in her life.

The rest you can find out for yourself, except to say this is a book of wisdom. Reading it will gladden your heart.

For primary, intermediate and junior secondary readers. A work of genius. Terrific cover.