Archive

Archive for the ‘Intermediate Fiction’ Category

Rain Fall by Ella West.

January 15, 2018 Comments off

rain fallRain Fall by Ella West. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2018.

When a teenage boy who “wouldn’t hurt a fly” empties a shotgun into the local police station and  blows his house up with plastic explosive while surrounded by the Armed Offenders squad, then disappears into the bush, you know something is dreadfully wrong.

Add to that a suspected murder and missing body and you have a mystery on your hands.

Fifteen year old Annie lives in Westport, just out of town and down the road from Pete the boy suspected of murder who used the shotgun and blew up his house. Annie loves horses and while exercising her horse Blue along the West Coast beach she meets a boy Jack, who is a rodeo star, a little older than her, and whose father is a detective sent from over the hill to investigate the crimes mentioned above.

Jack kisses Annie, her first kiss, and romance blossoms but around them the community is falling apart. What is going on? Read it and find out.

The rain soaked West Coast becomes another character in this novel that chronicles the effects that mine closures and job losses have on a community. Set near the Stockton mine, Annie’s father drives the coal train from Stockton to Otira and becomes victim of the mine closures. The whole community is stressed.

Up to date account of a real situation. The descriptions of the rain and the Coast environment are superb and the tensions created by the murder make great reading.

A worthy follow up to Ella West’s hit novel Night Vision which is reviewed on this blog and has the most hits of any novel on it. Intermediate and high school readers will enjoy this.

Arc of the Scythe Book 1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman.

January 8, 2018 Comments off

shalt killArc of the Scythe Book 1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker books, 2018

This first novel in a new series for readers who enjoyed the Hunger Games will mesmerise you. You will have to keep reading long after your eyes are telling you to go to sleep.

The Age of Mortality is over. Humankind has defeated death, all economic inequalities have been levelled and government is by an entity known as Thunderhead. The population still expands by the usual process and so the level needs to be controlled by putting people at random to death. The process is called Gleaning.

The selection process and the gleaning is done by specially selected humans called Scythes whose first commandment is Thou Shalt kill. The Scythes are both feared and revered in society and a visit from one means usually someone in your family has to die. To resist or to hurt a Scythe is punishable by death to your whole family. While Thunderhead controls and sees everything, Scythes are outside this control

People accept that this must be the way and between chapters of the book are excerpts from the Gleaning Journal by H.S. Curie and other Scythes who make comments about the process and philosophical arguments, for and against, are made throughout the novel.

The action revolves around a decent man Scythe Faraday, who takes no pleasure in the selection and gleaning of people. As a result of two gleanings Scythe Faraday selects two 16 year olds to be his apprentices, Citra and Rowan. The two like each other but such relationships are banned.

At the end of a years apprenticeship only one of them is to become a scythe. Which one? But there are rumblings and growing corruption within the Scythes. A decision at the first Conclave of Scythes is to increase the tensions between Scythe Faraday’s two apprentices.

Brilliantly conceived idea from Neal Shusterman and superbly written in short chapters with the background to the Scythe and their roles between chapters. I believe the film rights have already been picked up so get in early before the film ruins the books.

Compulsive reading.

The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz.

December 22, 2017 Comments off

the rainsThe Rains by Gregg Hurwitz. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

I like zombie novels but this is one that differs from other zombie novels because it appears the zombies are controlled by something else. You will have to read the novel to find out what.

The novel is written in diary entries by 15 year old Chance Rain. He warns the reader to take notice as “your life depends on it”.

On a clear night an asteroid slams into the Creeks’s Cause valley and a week later stalks grow to maturity and spout pollen into the air in a process Chance calls the Dusting. The spores attack the frontal brain lobe of everybody over the age of 18 years, lasering their eyes out so that membrane covered clear holes appear in their heads. These former humans then attack and capture all kids and put them in cages.

The male zombies are the lumbering kind with immense strength, while the females  are rapid moving cat like creatures that lunge like lions and tigers. Both types are called Hosts as it appears they are the host of a zombie spore. The action involving the zombies is thrilling.

Chance Rain, his older brother Patrick and his girlfriend Alex escape the zombie hordes and shack up in the locked school complex. Meanwhile the zombies rove the towns and appear to have a mission about them. What is it? Is the valley the only victim of this spore attack? Patrick is only a week away from turning the magic age of 18 years. Will he turn into a zombie?

Then the surviving group find out some stunning information. Read it and find out what.

A stunning ending that will leave the reader with questions but have no fear a sequel titled Last chance is published at the same time. Watch this space.

Viola Vincent reporting…Underdog by Anna Kenna

December 13, 2017 Comments off

UnderdogViola Vincent reporting…Underdog by Anna Kenna. Pub. Tiromoana Publishing, 2017.

If you are an animal lover this novel is heart rending stuff but even if you are not the treatment of dogs in puppy rearing farms will stir your stomach. It is a world wide problem and is alive and well in New Zealand too.

A string of sausages around a boy’s neck for a wearable arts school competition leads to an attack by a gentle labrador seeking food and brings 13 year old Caitlin alias Viola Vincent in contact with the puppy rearing industry.

With the help of a journalist friend Megan, Caitlin first helps with the labrador and then discovers the horror of the puppy farm in her area.

The plight of Sissy, a young dog who is held captive in appalling conditions with the sole purpose of producing puppies for sale, comes to Caitlin’s notice and she goes on the prowl to expose the ratbags who are mistreating dogs so badly.

Easy to read with alternate chapters in the puppy factory showing the horror of it all. Fortunately there is a happy ending.

For primary and intermediate readers. A worthwhile read from a former 20/20 TV journalist.

Lucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman.

December 4, 2017 Comments off

lucky buttonLucky Button by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman. pub. walker books, 2017.

There is always something gentle yet powerful about a Michael Morpurgo novel and so it is with this one. Similarly he often uses a story within a story to link a past event with a present day situation and he does it again in this novel.

Jonah looks after his mother who is house bound and has stopped playing music that Jonah loved so much. Jonah gives up much of his school life to look after his mother and is bullied at school.

After an attack he retreats to the school chapel where he finds a brass button that brought the original owner a lot of luck. The owner called Nathaniel Hogarth was a foundling at an orphanage with connections to the composer Handel.  Nathaniel appears before Jonah as a ghost and tells him an amazing story about becoming friends with Mozart and his sister.

Will the lucky button give some badly needed luck to Jonah and his mum? Read it and find out. It is fascinating and based on true events although this is not a true story.

Superbly illustrated by Michael Foreman’s colour illustrations as always.

Primary and middle school readers will devour it.

Bad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross

December 2, 2017 Comments off

bad dadBad Dad by David Walliams. Illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

You don’t need to advertise these novels kids all know about them as soon as they are out.

The usual smattering of silliness which you wish was true, with goodies taking on baddies and winning. This time we have a bad dad who isn’t bad, a vicar without a congregation, a mini called Queenie, an aunt who can’t write poetry and three villains-Mr Big, Fingers and Thumbs who are just classic and right out of a Jimmy Cagney movie.

The down trodden are 11 year old Frank and his stockcar driving father Gilbert who losses a leg, a wife and his self respect but not the love of his son.

The minor characters are a treat especially the local copper Sergeant Scoff and perennial newsagent and all round good guy if a little mingy, Raj.

Great for anyone with a silly sense of humour and especially for reluctant readers. As usual Tony Ross’s illustrations are superb.

I loved it. But wait there’s more. We have a gay relationship to ponder and it will make you happy.

Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

November 24, 2017 Comments off

here we areHere We Are by Oliver Jeffers Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

If you had to explain what planet earth was and what went on here to a newcomer, how would you do it?

Well Oliver Jeffers has a new son and in the most simplest of terms tells his son all about Earth, how it looks, where it is in relation to the Universe, what life there is on Earth and what we do here.

That is a massive effort and in doing so he gets us, the reader, to assess or reassess what we are doing here. “there are lots of us here so be kind.There is enough for everyone”

He describes the land, the sea and the sky, what a human looks like, how different we all are but how similar we are too. All the animals that are here their diversity and where everybody lives including the city and country. Mr Jeffers comes from Brooklyn so the bridge gets in there.

His advice to his son is to be kind and when he is not around to answer questions you can always ask someone else.

A beautiful message. And there’s more. The illustrations are spectacular. If you don’t read this book you have missed one of the choices of the year.

For everybody.