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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Ranger’s Apprentice; The Royal Ranger. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan.

November 28, 2018 Comments off

Royal Ranger. Duel at AraluenRanger’s Apprentice; The Royal Ranger. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018

RELEASED 3 DECEMBER

Action writing for Intermediate and Junior Secondary students doesn’t come better than this. Many will have read The Rangers Apprentice series and the Brotherband series and this new series features the characters from both series. As ever it is set in viking like era with sword fights, bowmen and cavalry.

Sir Horace, paramount knight of castle Araluen is trapped with Ranger Gilan in a fort besieged by rebels of the Red Fox Clan, while Cassandra the future queen of Araluen, is trapped in castle Araluen by Dimon, a ruthless rebel who wants to become king. Both groups are safe but need to employ clever tactics to remain safe.

Meanwhile Hal and his crew of the Heron are returning to Araluen after a mission. All three groups will spar with one another in a thrilling finale which has action aplenty.

Much of the talk is about tactics to keep the enemy at bay with Apprentice Ranger Maddie a skillful archer and master of hiding, linking all the groups.

Brilliantly conceived, and written in short chapters that keep the reader in the story. If you know the two series then you will devour this latest addition. The battles are brilliantly described.

Both girls and boys will love it equally. Maddie is astonishing.

Inheritance by Carole Wilkinson.

November 19, 2018 Comments off

inheritanceInheritance by Carole Wilkinson. Pub. black dog books, imprint Walker books, 2018.

Imagine you are able to travel back in time and on one of those journeys you meet your mother who you thought was dead. That fate befalls Nic, a 14 year old girl who goes to stay with her grandfather on the family estate of Yaratgil in the Australian countryside.

Nic is not aware of her family history but senses hostility to her family when she goes to the local school. People hate the Mitchells and Yaratgil but why?

While staying at the great house on Yaratgil, Nic discovers a locked room. While reading an old copy of Pride and Prejudice she finds a letter directing the reader to a dresser inside the locked room in which there is a secret draw. She finds 5 stones which when fitted together and tainted by blood allow the holder to travel back in time. Unbeknown to Nic, generations of women in her family have used the stones to time travel.

Nic is to discover a great tragedy about her family and the local Aborigines. A secret that should be told and which all Australians should be concerned about. Read it and find out what it is. The question that’s asked if given a chance would you or should you try to alter history? I would give it a shot.

Well written by Carole Wilkinson. She handles the time travel very well and prevents confusion with short chapters and hooks that carry the reader on. All high school and young adult readers in Australia in particular should confront themselves with this novel. An enjoyable but harrowing read.

I should mention the cover. It is superb. Read this novel and find out why.

The Rift by Rachael Craw

November 1, 2018 Comments off

riftThe Rift by Rachael Craw, Pub. Walker books, 2018

This action/adventure/fantasy/scifi/ romance/conservation novel, because it is all of these genres, is from an author who is at the top of her game. It is for high school /young adult readers and is one of the most original novels I have read this year.

Black Water Island is a ferry ride off the coast and is controlled by Rangers whose power is hereditary and they protect the Old herd of deer that populate the island. The deer possess a special quality/panacea called Actaeone Bane which is desired by the medical world particularly by a nasty conglomerate called Nutris Pharmaceuticals. Every four years they have a cull and the company sends fortune hunters to organise the cull. It is lead by a sinister dangerous man named Jackson Spear who you will hate from the beginning.

The Island also has a special quality called Electromagnetic Interference which means nothing mechanical or digital will work on the island. Life is hard for the locals but they love it. The island also has a Rift in which dwell Rift Hounds who are powerful creatures who live off the herd. If one of these hounds should attack you and you survive you acquire a quality called Rift Sight although it is not the only way to have Rift Sight. To be a ranger you must possess Rift sight but the current leader Sargent doesn’t have it.

Cal and Meg were attacked by the Rift Hounds when they were 8 years old, now they are going on 18 both possess Rift Sight. Cal who is an outsider has stayed on the island while Meg left the island with her mother Cora and both have returned on the eve of the cull.

There is unfinished business between Cal and Meg and their feelings for each other are a powerful storyline in this novel. You can find out the rest for yourself.

Rachael Craws language is the star of this novel. Her imagery, description and metaphor are powerful weapons that drive the plot and keep the reader in the book. The action is exhilerating, the romance spine tingling and the plot totally believable. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

When Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan.

October 25, 2018 Comments off

dad came homeWhen Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan. Pub. Oratia Books, 2018.

RELEASED 8 NOVEMBER

When the guns fell silent in World war 1 for many the war didn’t end. The noise, the trauma and the inhumanity of war stayed with them in their heads.

Rita and Thomas wait eagerly for their dad to come home. They are apprehensive as they see other dads come home with wounds and scars. They wonder what their dad will be like. Will he laugh and joke and carry them for piggy back rides?

They soon find out. Their dad is shell shocked. Noise upsets him. Rather than tiptoe round him they sing their favourite song when working with him or in his presence. It works and dad is soon recovering.

A heart warming story brilliantly illustrated by Rosie Colligan. She captures the faces of hope, of despair, of pain, of sadness and eventually of joy.

A beautiful story for everyone.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, illus. Chris Riddell

October 23, 2018 Comments off

beedle the bardThe Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, illus. Chris Riddell. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Witches and wizards have been reading these tales since the 15th Century but I have just read them in this illustrated edition that has been created for J.K. Rowling’s charity Lumos. I feel privileged to have received this copy because the tales are told in large hardback with large print and superbly illustrated by Chris Riddell.

The five tales are on the weird side as you would expect and they really are modeled on Muggle cautionary tales. Basically they are what not to do or attempt to do with magic. If you are going to be mean, try to grab power, deceive anyone with magic or bring someone back from the dead, then these tales will deter you I can bet you that.

Each tale is accompanied by notes of historical origins of the tale and comments by Prof Dumbledore on the tales and all brilliantly illustrated. I loved The Warlocks Hairy heart but they are all good.

If you are a big fan of Harry Potter then this is essential to get, even if you are not this is a volume well worth getting. Your kids will love you for it. I am giving it to my granddaughters.

DRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman.

October 14, 2018 Comments off

dryDRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

One of the most readible, action packed and futuristic novels I have read for some time. It is about survival when the water runs dry and human beings have a melt down causing the total disintegration of society.

William Golding in Lord of the Flies wrote about the thin veneer of civilisation that covers mankind and how quickly it erodes under pressure. When the Governor of Arizona cuts the flow of the Colorado river into Southern California and stops the water supply to everybody, all hell breaks loose.

Teenager Alyssa and her younger brother Garrett are as under prepared as everybody. When their parents go missing while looking for water they team up reluctantly with the boy next door, Kelton whose father has prepared for this moment all of his life. Kelton has too and he is one tough customer.

As rioting and looting pervade in every community, it becomes dog eat dog with people doing anything for water. The kids meet up with a street wise hell cat Jacqui and a mercenary capitalist, Henry, who sees opportunity for money in the whole scenario and would sell his grandmother if there was a profit in it. The snappy dialogue between the characters excels when Henry is on board.

The group travel through the wasteland of bone dry, lawless, California as authorities grapple with the catastrophe that is around them. For the group tomorrow has to wait a while and yesterday is irrelevant. Survival is the only game in town.

I couldn’t put it down. Brilliantly written and conceived. Totally believable. Miss this and you will kick yourself. For teenagers and young adults.

Only Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

October 9, 2018 Comments off

only loveOnly Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

I have always liked romance and relationship novels and I liked this one, but it drove me to distraction yet I couldn’t put it down. As Gene Pitney once sang “Only love can break a heart, only love can mend it again”. So it is with this novel.

Among other things it is a novel about control in a relationship and getting over the death of a loved one.

Reiko is a beautiful 17 year old girl with a Japanese father and an American European mother. Everybody notices Reiko wherever she goes but she has  a monkey on her back that she never talks about and needs to get it out.

When Reiko was 12 years old her 14 year old sister Mika died in an accident. Reiko feels guilt and has never grieved properly. Mika appears to Reiko in her room and they talk.  Reiko tells nobody, she should. Everybody skirts around the subject.

Then Seth appears on the scene and a relationship develops that drove me crazy. Reiko is practically perfect and Seth is a lone wolf. They get on well but Reiko keeps him secret and exerts a control over the relationship that upsets Seth. Both of them are using the other for their own purposes and sooner or later the dirt is going to hit the fan.

When it does, major change takes place for the benefit of both.

The strong parts of this novel are the friendships between Reiko and her brother Koji, her parents and her girlfriend Dre. Reiko is lucky to have them but Mika needs to be talked about.

Reiko drove me nuts with her self analysis and her secrecy and control over Seth, but I always felt Seth was out of his league with this beauty. It really enhanced the belief that women are from Venus and men from Mars. This has to change and it does.

I loved it and so will you. High school and young adult.