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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James.

August 16, 2017 Comments off

loneliest girlThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

This sci/fi, futurist, adventure romance for high school students and young adults is without doubt one of the books of the year. I was spellbound from beginning to end and you will be too.

Romy is 16 years old and is alone on a space ship called Infinity taking a 50 year journey at a tenth of the speed of light, to colonise a planet in another galaxy called Earth 2.

Romy was born on the space ship against NASA instructions. The Infinity is filled with thousands of frozen embryos and astronauts in a stasis condition until the journey is over. Things have not gone well on the Infinity and Romy now runs the whole ship on her own with communication back to Earth to a person called Molly. Messages take 2 years to reach Earth and back to Infinity.

Then Romy is told that a faster ship called The Eternity captained by J a 22 year old boy with the two ships programmed to dock in a year. They correspond and a relationship develops between them that provides the romance to the story. Then J tells Romy that war on Earth has destroyed NASA and a new government called UPR is in control and that all future communications are to go through him on the Eternity.

Is this all true? Is J who he says he is? has Earth really had a war? Why is Romy all alone?

Things become rivetting as Eternity catches up to Infinity. The ending is stunning and will keep you on the edge of your seat. You will not forget this novel in a hurry.

Beautifully written, totally believable and some of the cleverest plot lines I have ever read. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – The Dark Arts: A Movie Scrapbook.

August 10, 2017 Comments off

dark artsJ.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World – The Dark Arts: A Movie Scrapbook. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This is not a novel rather an expose of Wizarding phenomenon of the Dark Arts as practiced by Voldemort and his disciples in the Harry Potter movies and Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them.

It deals with the spells like the Imperio, the Crucio and the spell that bounced off Harry Potter as a baby and demolished Voldemort but leaving Harry with the z shaped scar on his forehead.

It deals with the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers including my favourite the delicious Bellatrix Lestrange. It tells you about the crucial concept of the Horocrux, the Dementors and those sinister resurrected corpses or Inferi.

It finishes with the Fantastic Beasts as Newt Scamander hunts the Dark Wizard Grindelwald in America.

Excellently illustrated with various objects and information tucked away in envelops throughout the book. Essentially for Harry Potter film fans but can provide a gateway into reading the books or just enjoy on it’s own

The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward

August 1, 2017 Comments off

traitor thiefThe Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

Many words could be used to describe this novel for readers of a wide age range from 12-18 years. Steam punk should be a couple of them but also ingenious, thrilling and enormously clever would be others.

The central character is teenager Sin who was left at an orphanage with a teddy bear, grew up tough and ended up working the streets as a thief for Fixer, a Fagan like character. He learns that rules mean nothing when you have money, power and privilege. The poor have no chance. Some things never change.

He is caught by the mysterious Eldritch Moons and pressured to join a COVERT OPERATIONS GROUP (COG) and train to be a spy. His fellow trainees include the ruthless Velvet, the delicious Zonda and a host of villainous reprobates but his talents as a liar, a cheat and thief are just the talents needed.

COG is headed by a genius inventor named Nimrod whose inventions form the steam punk part of the novel and he has the moral high ground by using his organisation to prevent war. Nimrod makes many enemies and COG has more leaks and conflicts than the West Wing of the White House.

Will Sin survive? and who are his parents? Is there a link between his abandonment at birth and COG? Read it and enjoy this thriller as much as I did. The ending will have you gasping for breath.

The plot bears a close similarity to the military, industrial and political rivalry that precipitated World war 1, and the city of Coxford where the novel is set, is remarkably like London.

Winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award. Splendidly paced and written. Great cover.

Sparrow by Scot Gardner

July 25, 2017 Comments off

sparrowSparrow by Scot Gardner. Pub Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Every day I see people scrambling for life and survival on the streets. Every city in the World has them and we walk on by trying hard not to notice. We never ask where do they sleep? how come they are there? what do they do all day? are they in good health? even when they are children.

This is the story of Sparrow a ten year old boy living on the streets of Darwin and making a good fist of it in spite of a horrible background. Sparrow has lost the power of speech because of the treatment meted out to him by family and others. He has a shock of hair a dashing smile and helps wherever he can for food and company.

Sparrow is looked after by an old man called Sharky who teaches him how to swim, a skill that will save his life. Every day Sparrow avoids the “ghost boys” who haunt the streets, taking drugs and booze and whatever else they can get hold of. One of them is Sparrow’s brother.

Leap forward five years and Sparrow is in Juvie and on a survival trip in shark and croc infested waters. An accident and Sparrow is out in the bush trying to survive in hostile country but at least he is free and he knows it.

The novel is superbly structured as the two strands of Sparrow’s life are told in consecutive chapters,coming together near the end of the book. Scot Gardner’s descriptions of the wilderness with it’s snakes, lizards, insects, crocs, sharks and physical beauty, are stunning. His understanding of the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, the human condition and how to survive, are praiseworthy indeed.

Simple to read it is accessible to the most reluctant of readers of reading ages 14-18 years. The hopeful ending will bring joy to your heart.

Don’t miss this one. A potential award winner. Superb cover because you are always waiting for the croc to show up.

Edgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski.

July 10, 2017 Comments off

edgelandEdgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

It is said that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Make this book the exception because the cover introduces you to this novel in the best way possible. The sea surging through arches into a chasm. The people in this novel call it The Drain and it is 30 miles wide and 100 miles across.

Where is it going and what mysteries surround it? For the population in this novel the drain is at the core of their hopes and dreams particularly at death. Are they being deceived?

Wren is a lower caste urchin with a strong sense of survival and caring for others. Alec is from a rich family who needs to prove himself to his family. He works for a funeral parlour to assist the bodies of the dead and some of the living  over the edge of the Drain to the afterlife.

Alec and Wren are friends but they are going to find out things that they never thought possible. Their journey in the land of the dead is thought provoking and deep. Look out for the links to this pair of authors first title together the very impressive Nightfall also reviewed on this blog.

Drown the serpent of Fear is a mantra that characterises this novel for Intermediate and high school students. A very good read. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

 

Soda Pop by Barbro Lindgren, Illus. Lisen Adbage.

July 7, 2017 Comments off

soda popSoda Pop by Barbro Lindgren, Illus. Lisen Adbage. Pub.Gecko Press, 2017.

You will never read another book like this in all your life unless you read it again. It is a translation of a 1970 Swedish children’s classic and it is just weird. In fact weird does not adequately describe it, but it is classic weirdness and absurdity and it is difficult to see anybody doing it better.

Soda Pop, (I know we have a character in the classic The Outsiders) wears bright orange clothes, a tea cosy on his head, plays loud pop music and cracks walnuts while lying on his back. He has a son Mazarin who has been brought up on sweet buns and love. Dartanyong is the grandfather and he is something different every day, one day a plumber the next a trapeze artist.

Their relatively stress free life is shattered when a group of hot dog eating tigers take up residence in their barn and red and yellow owls that live in the barn start sleeping in an old man’s letterbox causing him some distress.

I am not going to tell you any more except that it is a well loved classic in Sweden the nation that gave us vikings and ABBA. Need I say more.

Lisen Adbage’s illustrations help identify the characters and foster the absurdity.

Difficult to put a definite age group on this one just try it for yourself.

My Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke.

June 26, 2017 Comments off

lovely frankieMy Lovely Frankie by Judith Clarke. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

When 15 year old Tom told his parents he wanted to go to St Finbar’s seminary to train as a priest his father smashed his fist into the wall and his mother sobbed in the kitchen “You will never have a normal life and a family” his father pleaded but Tom said “I have you”.

This stunning opening begins one of the most riveting novels I have read for seniors and young adults, but it will not be everyone’s taste.

Tom tells this 1950’s story looking back as an old man and reflecting with his cousin Miri.  Tom wants to know what happened to Frankie and you will want to know too.

Frankie is of course the star and when Tom meets him after 4 days in St Finbar’s an electric shock surges through his body which he doesn’t understand. Tom is naive about attraction and love and only later discovers how he feels.

This novel is about love in whatever shape or form it takes from parental love to the love of God and the sexual love of another person. Frankie knows where he stands, he loves kindness, caring and of course girls. Frankie is open with Tom about his feelings for girls and treasures their friendship but Tom has deeper feelings and wonders why he resents how Frankie feels towards girls. Will Frankie ever find out?

The novel is littered with some stunning characters like the teachers and the Rector of St Finbar’s  and the head prefect Etta who turn the school into a ministry of fear. When told he must change for God, Frankie ponders why he should change when God created man in his own image already?

One of my best books for this year it is beautifully written and perfectly paced. I dare you to read it. The conclusion is stunning.