Archive

Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Fire’s Caress by Lani Wendt Young. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

December 19, 2021 Comments off

A very readable novel for young adults that will have you compelled to read from beginning to end.

Set in Samoa with the backdrop of a post covid world and heavily involved in Samoan myth and legend and the protection of Samoan cultural life.

Billionaire Marc Gold, confident, not used to being denied, womaniser and a total smartarse, comes to Samoa to build a luxury resort for the super wealthy without giving any thought to the cultural and habitat damage he will cause. While walking in the forest where he will build the resort he is contacted by a beautiful woman who is of the Aitu, a Samoan demon who protect the forests and lakes. He goes missing for 3 days without recollection and when he returns he has a disease that causes him to have a hunger and it slowly covers his body.

Into the story comes Teuila a beautiful Samoan woman who has a strong gift of sculpture and has achieved World wide fame. She has a past of abuse and has been brought up in an orphanage on Samoa. She returns to Samoa to auction her works to support the home in which she was protected and brought up in. She meets Marc Gold who is strongly attracted to her, as she eases the effects of the body disease that he has contracted.

Gold wants to own her and while Teuila is attracted to his wealth she is supicious. These suspicions are confirmed by a now rich childhood friend and martial arts expert Keahi who conflicts with Marc Gold. Enter Bree, Teuila’s agent and the long lost mother and things begin to boil as Marc Gold tries to control Teuila and his behaviour becomes psychopathic.

What nobody knows is that Teuila is controlled by the Aitu and that a major battle is to be fought.

Don’t miss this, it is superb storytelling and although part of the Telesa World series it is a stand alone Novel in it’s own right. There is reference to characters from the Telesa world and the origins of the gifts that Teuila and Keahi have are explained by the connection to Telesa and their common past.

You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus. Pub. Penguin Books, 2021.

December 10, 2021 Comments off

This is the fifth Karen McManus novel and is every bit as good as the others which are reviewed elsewhere on this blog. It is a whodunnit in a high school setting and is a page turner. Once you start this you won’t want to put it down.

Ivy, Cal and Mateo have been friend since they were 12 years old. One day they bunked school and they all regarded it as one of the best days of their lives but the three have secrets from each other and 6 years later after some dramatic school events they do the same thing again. This day is one of the worst.

The novel opens with a profile of the lives and families of Ivy Cal and Mateo with each narrating a chapter as they do throughout the novel as the action changes after they decide to bunk school leave Carlton and go downtown to Boston. They stumble across a murder of a known school acquaintance and the rest of the action takes place in one day when secrets will out, and you will be kept guessing as to who is behind the murder and the reasons for it.

Caught in the action is a beautiful young art teacher called Lara, a mystery man called D, and someone called “the weasel who is running the drug business around town. There are other family members of each of the main characters involved and action that will keep you guessing.

A beautifully crafted plot where apart from the opening chapters and the clean up at the end, the action takes place in less than 12 hours and there are plenty of high points.

See if you can work out who the villain is, I thought I had but I was wrong. If you want a change of scenery over the holidays you will not regret reading this.

There is also a quirky ending which ties all the strings together.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Pub. Usborne Publishing 2021.

November 29, 2021 Comments off

A young adult novel that will shock with its women hating violence and racism.

Deka is a 16 year old black girl living in a cold environment and largely scorned by the villagers around her. Her mother was also black but has died and her father raises her with an aloof manner. She does have friends and like her fellow 16 year olds awaits the ceremony, The Ritual of Purity, to see if she has purity. Purity means red blood in her veins not gold and all the girls are cut to reveal their status.

Deka fails and for that she goes through an ordeal in which she is killed and drained of blood 9 times but survives. She has extreme powers which she doesn’t know about.

The society she lives in have a god called Oyomo and their holy book is Infinite Wisdoms by which the people live. It is a book that keeps women down and makes them the playthings of men who lust after gold. Not pleasant but not unlike many religious groups on Earth.

Deka is saved by the Emperor of the land of Otera who wishes to put together an army of demon women to fight the Deathshrieks who are vicious monsters that threaten humans and dispose of them in most horrible fashion.

Deka is taken to the capital city Hemaira to a training site to develop her considerable talents and be groomed to fight the deathshrieks with other girls who are her sisterhood. You wonder while you are reading this novel ” why is Deka and her sisterhood fighting for such and evil society?” Well the answer is in the true nature of Deka and this you will discover as you read the book.

Deka is a good role model and the writing is expansive and catchy.

Read it and check out what happens but expect some gore and very cruel treatment. There will be a sequel in 2022.

Black Spiral trilogy Bk2. Black Wolf by Eileen Merriman. Pub. Penguin, 2021.

October 29, 2021 Comments off

Second part of the series that began with Violet Black which is also reviewed elsewhere on this blog and it will excite you just as much as the first novel.

After the disastrous episode in Germany Violet and her associate Phoenix return to the Foundation complex in central Australia. Phoenix is being experimented on with an LSD substance and it has altered his mental powers so that he can bypass blocks in The Foundation staff and read their minds.

Phoenix age 18years, is not popular with Violet aged 18years and now wants to be known by his real name Johnno. Meanwhile Violet is being experimented on too but is still able to communicate by ESP with Phoenix and other members of VORTEX. She is dissatisfied and wants to escape.

She plots with Phoenix AKA Johnno AKA Black Wolf and the two manage to escape into the centre of the Australian desert and the two have a ball, find they like each other, romance blossoms and some exciting action takes place. The two have now perfected Dream-Flow by which they can escape their bodies ,turn into animals like birds and wolves and fly for miles.

This part two also develops the reasons why and how M Fever came about and returns the major characters to New Zealand where the action started. This sets up part three with the questionable actions of the Foundation now becoming exposed. But who is behind them?

Well written and believable. I can’t wait for the third part hopefully due early next year.

..

The Tomo by Mary-Anne Scott. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

October 5, 2021 Comments off

Set on a farm on the East Coast of the North Island near Wairoa this novel about a dog called Blue with one brown eye and one blue eye will capture your heart and have you gasping for breath in the last actions of this story.

Skip, Phil and Oliver are brothers from oldest to youngest but it is Phil that captures the big moments in this story. When their parents go to Auckland for treatment to their father for cancer the boys are farmed out literally with Phil going to work for Chopper Harris a grim farmer who is not used to having his methods questioned.

Phil is given all the crap jobs to do but he is looking after his fathers heading dog Blue, and that makes life bearable for him. Chopper refuses to let them get involved with mustering because he communicates with his dogs differently to what Blue is used to.

While out tracking down a wild ram a serious accident happens that is to test the resolve of all characters in the novel and it involves a limestone sink hole called a Tomo pronounced tor-mor.

Written in large font and short chapters this novel will have you captivated from beginning to end. Phil and his brothers are great role models as is Maori girl Emara who really knows her own mind.

One of the best of the year. Mary-Anne Scott understands kids.

The Other Sister by Philippa Werry. Pub. Pipi Press, 2021

September 23, 2021 Comments off

This is a sequel to The Telegram a novel also reviewed on this blog. That novel was about Beaty a strong willed girl who became a telegram girl in WW1 a role normally taken by boys. This novel concentrates on Tilly her younger sister who is now 13 years old and has won a scholarship to a prestigious girls school.

It is 1919/1920 in small town New Zealand. The soldiers have returned home many in a damaged condition mentally, others with lost limbs and scarred faces and bodies. Beaty’s friend Caleb is greatly damaged “its as if someone else came back in his place”. It is a time for healing and renewal and Tilly is a big part of it all.

Socially NZ has changed too with women having taken a major role in running society while the men were away now asked to go back to the kitchen and have babies. There are an anti German and anti Chinese sentiments around but loyalty to the British Empire is still solid. The prince of Wales tours the country in this book with Tilly being privileged to meet him.

Tilly the main character is a breath of fresh air. She goes to work in a rehabilitation home for returned soldiers and works in the house of a rich family who lost their only son in the action. Tilly wins a scholarship to Girls High where the wealthy girls go and experiences their snobbery and social aloofness. Fortunately she has two good friends in Molly and Ingrid who have their own crosses to bear. The girls are told at school not place too much importance on getting married as there were not enough men to go round, Gasps all round. Emphasis is on pursuing their careers and fulfilling lives.

An excellent study of life post WW1 in New Zealand with strong female characters and you can be assured of the accuracy of the historical context as the author is the best in the business when comes to history.

Short chapters make it easy to read, each chapter begins with an obituary to a fallen soldier in the war. At the back is the historical context and photographs of the era. You will love Tilly. Superb ending.

Kakapo Keeper by Gay Buckingham. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

September 17, 2021 Comments off

Most birds pong pretty bad. Penguins reek of rotting fish and poo but kakapo have a lovely fusty-warm smell. Not to mention an inviting face and eyes that suggest a sense of cheek and humour.

This is one of the many quotations mentioned in this superb novel based on fact about bird conservation in Fiordland particularly in Dusky Sound where Capt Cook once harboured on his voyage to New Zealand.

The story is of Conservationist Richard Henry who camped in Dusky Sound between 1894-1900, with several assistants, moving kiwi, Kakapo, Roa and other birds from the mainland to the islands in Dusky Sound particularly Resolution Island. He wanted to protect the birds from weasels stoats and ferrets which had decimated the bird population and the kakapo almost to extinction.

This story is told in diary form by Andrew a teenage boy who is a composite of the four assistants that helped Richard Henry. He heads each chapter with Date, Bird tally and injuries. The last is amusing but given the hostility of the Fiordland environment – the rain, the sandflies, the earthquakes the landscape, it was no short miracle that they survived. Sandfly bites headed the injury list and Andrew was covered in bites with the “oozy wetness of Dusky Sound making everything they did miserable”.

Throughout the easy to read large text are diagrams of all the birds, plus maps and drawings of buildings and boats they built and used. Adding to the beauty of the story are their dog companions Lassie and Foxy.

Beautifully told with a sobering episode towards the end of the story that you can find out for yourself. In the back is the true story plus photographs of important events and structures used and built plus bird and animal life particularly of the ferrets, stoats and weasels who slither in for the kill.

One of the best animal conservation stories about people who really cared for the birds that I have ever read. Highly recommended. The cover is delightful.

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell. Pub. Usborne, 2021

September 3, 2021 Comments off

This is one of the most memorable novels I have ever read. I will not forget this in a hurry and nor will you.

It is set in New Ireland, a part of Papua New Guinea that is under going great change as the old culture is infiltrated by the modern World. A small coastal village is headed by the all powerful, Bigman, who wants to set the old ways in the past and embrace the new ways of modern culture. He has a jukebox in his hut.

Siringen is a Shark Caller a respected post that worship the shark which in the past was seen as a mirror of the fortunes of the village. Siringen looks after Blue Wing a young girl whose parents were killed by a shark called Xok. Blue Wing wishes to inherit the title of shark caller but Siringen will not teach her as she is a girl.

Into the village come an American History Professor and his daughter Maple who have lost a wife and mother and are struggling to deal with her death at the expense of their relationship. Maple and Blue Wing become friends and all the things that bother them are going to come to the surface in a most delightful and spiritual way. There will be tears.

The most delightful part of the writing is the inclusion of pidgin in the narrative which is done by Blue Wing. Words like liklik for little, nogut for bad and my favourite, longlong for crazy. As well there are a couple of wise sayings that apply to the story and to life itself. “A smile can mean many different things. Happiness might not be one of them” and very importantly “You cannot look for ghosts because they have not accepted death. If they wish to be seen they will come to you”

It is a wonderful story and the surreal ending will have you thinking but like me you will say that is very reassuring.

Don’t miss it. It is deep yet accessible for young readers. The chapters are short and the font large. One of the novels of the year.

The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

August 30, 2021 Comments off

Reading this book through the lockdown has been inspirational. It has made my days interesting and I have savoured every word. In fact I got too involved and fretted for the characters. I didn’t want to finish but all good things come to an end but fortunately this is not going to be the last. There are other adventures to come and I can’t wait.

It is a dystopian fiction novel written in the future about a Britain that has divided back into seven Kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex where this story is set plus 5 others. There has been a Cataclysm, a Great Dieing and Frontier Wars that have caused humans and animals to evolve in a variety of ways very quickly and reduced Britain to a mentality like that of medieval times. Small gated towns exist with faith Houses who control people. The woods are filled with huge bears and wolves and other animals who will eat people as good as look at them. The sea level has risen drastically and the rivers are full of creatures like man eating otters and sharks. The air is infested with birds who will attack and eat humans. There is no safe place.

To make matters worse some humans have evolved into cannabalistic creatures called the Tainted. They are excluded from civilisation and hunt humans who stray, eating them where they stand.

In the first few chapters we meet Scarlett a girl between 16 and 18 years old who can look after herself big time. She has a big knife, a gun and quick wits, she takes no crap, robs banks and in the first chapter disposes easily of four men who are trying to rob her.

While escaping after robbing a bank she finds an overturned bus and meets a boy of similar age to her called Albert Browne who has mental abilities that are astonishing. He can read minds but his behaviour is dominate by what he calls The Fear. He has escaped a mental hospital controlled by a devilish woman called Dr Calloway who has a crocodilian nose for weakness. She wants Albert back and the novel then becomes a chase with Albert and Scarlett joining forces to outrun their enemies.

It is totally thrilling with Jonathan Stroud’s descriptive prose enthralling the reader with its wit and story telling skill. Once you start this you will not put it down. You daren’t. Written in four parts with each part ending in a blaze of action.

Eoin Colfer describes this novel as “a classic in the making” and Rick Riorden describes Stroud as a genius. They are both right.

The best action adventure I have read for years. If you miss this you will kick yourself

The Rise of the Remarkables Bk2 The Thaumagician’s Revenge by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker books, 2021.

August 26, 2021 Comments off

The thrilling sequel to Brasswitch and Bot a title reviewed elsewhere on this blog and not the end of this saga.

In the first book Wrench discovers her talents as a Brasswitch which allow her to mentally get inside a machine and close it down. Very important if you are at war with machines. She has embraced magic as well and was taught to hone her skills by a boy Plum who has let the side down and become one of the enemy after an enormous battle called the Minster Schism which Wrench helped win.

Set in the beautiful city of York Wrench, her robot sidekick Bot, friend Octavia and new Brasswitch, Vexanna, belong to a group of counter revolutionaries or Regulators called Thirteen. They are to battle Remarkables who came through a Rupture above York made by the old Gods, accidentally, who thought they were opening a gateway to heaven. Through this Rupture came good and bad Remarkables or creatures with alarming body shapes and powers.

Not all Remarkables are bad but the leader of a rival group fighting the Remarkables, Flemington, hates Thirteen and wants to eliminate all Remarkables. The battles are riveting and bring in all sorts of technology with a Victorian era characteristic, hence the title steam punk.

Wrench has problems though. She still wants to get to the bottom of why her parents were killed and she wants to confront Plum whom she was close to but now realises he has “the innocence of a child pulling legs off a crane fly”. They are now enemies.

After a series of battles in the brick works and the museum Femington has procured a Cabal Inquisition, which is to look at all the action to date and pass judgement on Wrench and Bot. The Thirteen are in danger and the bad Remarkables are still a huge threat. .

On top of all this Wrench appears to be losing her powers and has certainly lost her confidence. What has Vexanna got to do with this and can she recover before it is too late? Read this action packed novel and see what happens.