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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Nobody Real by Steve Camden.

April 11, 2018 Comments off

nobody real.jpgNobody Real by Steve Camden. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

It took me three days to read this astonishing novel. I sat down poured a whiskey and said Wow. A mixture of realism and fantasy that is strangely satisfying.

To paraphrase a theme from the book “the real us lives in dark corners”. If you don’t want to go there don’t start this book.

Marcie or Mars is about to turn 18 and has just finished her final exams. Everybody says your whole life is in front of you, but first she must settle with the past.

When she was a toddler her artistic mum left and she grew up with her artistic father who is an agonised writer. He has had a novel published that critics called brilliant. Marcie copes with life by creating an invisible friend who is like a boy polar bear she calls Thor. He has been with her for 10 years and it is time to go. She has to be weened off Thor and it is up to Thor to do it.

What Marcie doesn’t know is that Thor has his own unreal world which parallels the real world of Marcie and when his work with Marcie is done he will face the Fade. What is the Fade? You will have to read the novel to find out.

Marcie needs to be herself, she has to make her own mistakes and she has to settle with the breakup of her parents. Her  road to reconcile with the past and her current friends and family is going to be bumpy.

Fascinating style of writing. Written in different fonts for the real and the unreal often poetic, always interesting, often confusing but totally compelling. One of the best young adult novels I have read for a long time.

Watch Me! by Jenni Francis.

April 7, 2018 Comments off

watch meWatch Me! by Jenni Francis. Pub. jennifrancis.com  2018

The most recent short novel for intermediate and junior secondary girls from the Keri series about Keri and her friend Mereana who are now 13 years old.

The girls go to visit cousin Claire on a farm that runs horse trekking holidays as well as stocking sheep and cattle. Someone is stealing horses sheep and cattle from Claire’s farm and from surrounding farms and the girls are going to become involved.

It is not the only drama in the book as Claire has found lumps under her arm and has bad sweats in bed at night but this is not going to hold her back.

As usual this short novel is tightly written with realistic dialogue between the girls and other characters. It has great family values and is written at a pace that keeps you in the book.

Who would have thought that Morse Code would be still useful in these days of cell phones. Read it and find out why. Lots of horse talk.

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.

Lyla by Fleur Beale

March 20, 2018 Comments off

LylaLyla by Fleur Beale. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2018.

I read this novel about the Christchurch earthquake in one sitting and at the end I was grinding my teeth like I did during the real event waiting for the next aftershock, because this is the way it was.

Lyla is a thirteen year old Avonside Girls high student who was with her friends in Cashel Mall when the big one struck. She describes the horror and pandemonium of the event, loses touch with her friends and parents and walks through the wreckage and carnage of a destroyed city to her home in Dallington.

Her home is a wreck, her elderly and young neighbours are dazed and confused but she organises food and bedding for them and her home becomes a refuge in the liquifaction horror all around her.

She has to contend with young children and a boy her age who has proved difficult in the past. She toils through it all as the 14,000 or so aftershocks rip the heart out of the morale of the citizens of Christchurch.

You will not read a better book about the earthquake than this.

For everybody.

Kiwis at War: 1918, Broken Poppies by Des Hunt.

March 18, 2018 Comments off

broken poppiesKiwis at War: 1918, Broken Poppies by Des Hunt. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

The final part of the Kiwis at War series is as good as all the others with an emphasis on the final battles of the war including Passchendaele, the German push after the deal with the Russians and the Armistice.

Des Hunt has focused on some of the more humane aspects of the conflict that were so easily overshadowed by the horrors of battle, the incompetent decision making and lack of compassion shown by the masters and officers who directed the war. The ordinary soldier was treated like truck loads of sheep going to the slaughter house.

There is war horror in this novel too, the rain, the mud, the trench rot, the fear, the shell shock, the noise, the bombs, the mangled bodies and minds and the killing.

It is the fate of a little fox terrier named Poppy who was lost by a little French girl called Zoe as she and her family were retreating from a German advance that is at the crux of the novel. Found by Henry Hunt a relative of the author, Poppy’s adventures will send chills up your backbone and bring you to tears of happiness.

Narrated in chronological countdown till the end of the war from August 1917 to November 1918, there is also a few photographs in the back plus a timeline and glossary.

Don’t miss this one and read the whole series also reviewed on this blog. For readers from intermediate age through to young adults. Des hunt knows how to tell a story.

Cold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis

March 9, 2018 Comments off

cold as iceCold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis. Pub. Jenni Francis, 2016.

This is the fourth novel about Keri who is now in High school and dealing with a host of problems resulting from a new relationship between her mother and a man called Rob.

Rob has a daughter Keri’s age and a younger son who are having difficulties with the split of their parents and with the new relationship. Sara is having a lot of problems with anorexia and is taking it out on Keri using her brother Thomas as a foil.

The parents try as hard as they can to blend their two families but the troubles run deep and it ain’t going to be easy. Things come to a head on a skiing trip and it is a gripping ending.

Jenni Francis is a no nonsense writer. The story is told in a clipped but detailed fashion. I could have learned to ski from the detail prescribed in this novel. The dialogue is strong and the perceptions on marriage breakups and new relationships show some experience.

Essentially aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls but by no means exclusively. Boys could learn a lot from this. Short chapters and only 120 odd pages this is a fascinating read about a girl who tackles life full on and is very likeable.

Check out the other Keri books on this blog and at http://www.jennifrancis.com

The Old man by Sarah V & Claude K. Dubois

March 6, 2018 Comments off

old manThe Old man by Sarah V & Claude K. Dubois. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

Do not pass by this book like adults who pass by the old man living on the street who has forgotten his own name. We pretend we do not notice, but we do, it’s just too uncomfortable.

Children notice as does the little girl in this story. She gets out of a warm bed, has breakfast, gets ready for school and there he is sleeping on the footpath after a cold night.

We now follow him around as he hunts for food and any form of companionship and warmth and it is not a pleasant experience. But they are there and there are more of them everyday.

The little girl notices him on the way back, gives him her sandwich. It is the highlight of his day. She says he looks like a teddy. The next time the old man is down at the shelter he says his name is Teddy.

The sadness and reality of homelessness is powerfully brought home in this classy picture book. The illustrations in watercolour and pencil drawings are superb. They create the hopefulness of children and the hopelessness of the old man, in winter, in the city.

When will we take notice?