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Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

Amundsen’s Way. The Race to the South Pole by Joanna Grochowicz.

April 21, 2019 Comments off

AmundsenAmundsen’s Way. The Race to the South Pole by Joanna Grochowicz. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2019.

This is historical writing at it’s very best. It is the other side of the coin about the great race to the South pole in 1912 between Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott. Scott’s tale is told in Joanna’s earlier book Into the White reviewed earlier on this blog.

It is not only the story of Amundsen and his men and their journey to the pole but also the story of the dogs who took them there. The dogs’ story is equally dramatic and mirrors the drama of Amundsen and his crew.

Amundsen deceived the King of Norway, his people and the famous explorer Nansen, into believing he was headed for the Northwest Passage around Cape Horn and up the Pacific. Captain Scott had no knowledge of Amundsen’s intentions either. When the ship the Fram berthed at the port of Madiera, Amundsen’s brother was dispatched with a letter to both the King and Nansen. He was heading South to the Pole.

Doing this he unwittingly drew Scott into a race he didn’t want and he put his reputation on the line. He must succeed. This preyed on his mind for the whole escapade and affected his decision making and his relationships with his men. But Amundsen had planned meticulously and was convinced of his ability to be successful. The contrast with Scott is one of the great exploration stories.

Having reached the Antarctic they hunkered down in a small hut  with 9 men, surrounded by dogs, leading to power struggles amongst both men and dogs. There was significant drama and conflict in both species.

Amundsen was haunted by the knowledge that Scott had motorised sleds, little did he know that these were a white elephant but it caused him to panic and move before his men were ready and the conditions were suitable.

Read it and see how the journey went and the fate that befell the dogs. Totally absorbing. This book is for everybody. They don’t make men like this these days.

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James.

March 18, 2019 Comments off

quiet worldThe Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Is it possible that the human race could become extinct? This is a major theme of this new sci-fi novel from Lauren James and her next after The Loneliest Girl in the Universe also reviewed on this blog.

Shen and Lowrie are 16 & 17 and are the only humans left on the planet. A virus years before rendered humans infertile and once the storehouse of eggs and sperm was used up no more humans were born. Shen and Lowrie are the last and they are yet to discover the truth.

They live in London which has a population of only three hundred and spend their lives in a hi-tech world run by androids and robots with their parents. Their parents have not told them everything and as the book evolves the whole truth comes out and it is mind-blowing.

While exploring an old Tube station Lowrie discovers a wallet belonging to someone called Maya who lived through the period when humans became infertile. They read her Posts on a social web site as some old sites are still available, and find out what happened and how humans reacted.

Humans became lonely without children so created their own robotic children in a programme called Babygrow. For a while living humans and Babygrow children existed together and how they related makes for interesting reading.

Then a helicopter accident sparks off a series of events that reveals the astonishing truth. Read the novel and find out what.

Excellent science fiction that feels like normal life. But is it? Well structured with old facebook and Twitter like comments from Maya and friends feeding the historical information. Great environmental message for the future

Senior and young adult fiction. Confident intermediates could handle it too.

Invisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman

March 13, 2019 Comments off

breathing invisibleInvisibly Breathing by Eileen Merriman. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2019.

When 16 year old Felix Catalan was in year 7 he realised he was different and he was going to be lonely for the rest of his life like a solitary moon orbiting a distant planet he’d never be able to call home. He probably has Asperger’s Syndrome although this is never stated, loves Green Day and lives with his mother and brother after his parents split up.

Then he meets Bailey.

Bailey is questioning his feelings too after a failed relationship with a girl. He has 3 siblings, an abusive father, he is good at judo and he has just moved to Wellington from Auckland. His first encounter with Felix is at school and they later attend a school party together and sparks fly.

Both boys feel it. When Bailey touches Felix’s arm it feels like all his atoms are spinning away from each other. They both feel like they never have before and they can’t get enough of each other. But it is a perilous world out there. Homophobia is rife and pretty soon life at school and at home becomes upsetting as the relationship between the two boys blossoms.

Conflict is inevitable and invisibly breathing becomes impossible.

Then Lucy comes along. Read it and find out what happens.

Eileen Merriman is at the top of her game as a writer. Her descriptive prose is a delight and the dialogue between the characters is totally believable. She deals with a sensitive subject with aplomb and knowledge. I couldn’t put it down and nor will you.

Definitely senior fiction but anybody out there agonising over their sexuality be assured this is the book for you.

The Wonderful Whippet of Winifred Weatherwax by Philippa Stasiuk.

February 22, 2019 Comments off

whippetThe Wonderful Whippet of Winifred Weatherwax by Philippa Stasiuk. Pub. Tivoli Press, 2018.

I laughed all the way through this sumptuously written story about Kennel Clubs, best in Show dog competitions and the dog owners. I think Philippa Stasiuk is taking the water and she does it superbly well.

Heroine is Freddy, a 15 year old girl, real name Winifred Weatherwax. Freddy’s mother buys a whippet called Shumba. It has something unusual about it which Freddy recognises immediately even though she has no knowledge of dog breeding.

It turns out Shumba is of mysterious pedigree which the breeder is hiding from the rest of the dog world. Freddy brings the best out in the dog and it wins it’s first show in unprecedented fashion. Suddenly the best in Show world looks up determined to solve the mystery of this familiar first time winner.

Then champion dogs start to go missing and Shumba’s fortunes rise. Who is behind the missing dogs and will Shumba be next? Freddy and her friend Eli investigate.

Wonderful satire of the dog world and of New York social whirl. Freddy utters at one stage “I watched a woman spoon-feed her dog an organic, grass-fed lamb smoothie” and of New York society she describes Upper East Side tenants of having two things – a doorman and a therapist.

The writing is lofty, tightly written and hugely funny.

Savour this one.

For capable intermediate  and High school students. Adults will get a laugh out of it too.

Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois & Delphine Renon

February 18, 2019 Comments off

emmettEmmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois & Delphine Renon. Pub. Book Island, 2018.

This feel good picture book about two friends going through a year together is a delight to read.

Emmett has a small green house and next door is Caleb’s house with blue shutters. Emmett is a get up and go sort of person but knows how to relax and Caleb is a lie in bed person and you accept him for what he is.

It starts in spring when all good stories start and eases into summer. Then the friends fall out a bit and both successfully patch it up. Autumn arrives with a gust of wind and winter beckons with a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.

The illustrations are perfect, pen and ink drawings with water colours. The detail in the illustrations will make you wonder and smile. Aah if only life were this simple and easy.

A story for everybody.

Children of the Furnace Bk2 Crosstrees by Brin Murray.

January 29, 2019 Comments off

crosstreesChildren of the Furnace Bk2 Crosstrees by Brin Murray. Pub. Lighthouse Press, 2019.

Sequel to Children of the Furnace it is just as thrilling and brutal as the first book which is also reviewed on this blog.

The action is centered on three main characters- Wil  is a Heater with a tattoo between his eyes under which is a chip that holds evidence of the truth about what has happened to Sekkerland and the Revelayshun that has turned the Sekkerlanders into slaves.

Leah is from the Southem a country that has been through a holocaust like situation that the Revalayshun has blamed on the Heaters. Leah is on the run from the Revouts who lead the Revelayshun and leads a group of children and medical staff away from the interment camp of Ferule where most of the first book was set.

Jace is a former henchman of the Revelayshun who has seen  the light after inflicting much cruel punishment on the Sekkerlanders but now has joined their fight against the Revouts. He is traveling with Leah.

Wil is searching for the Midwife who lives in the eastern part of Sekkerland known as Terra Nullius. The Midwife knows of the existence of Wil’s sister who also has a chip inside her facial tattoo and the two parts have proof of who is responsible for the atrocitiy that has changed the World.

Can Wil find the Midwife and his sister and join with leah to overthrow the revelayshun? read it and find out.

Great action writing in this Dystopian fiction classic but be warned the cruelty is agonisingly painful. The positive side is that the underdog is going to get through and the treat of it all is the description  of Sekkerland. It is stunning like a warmed up Greenland.

I loved it. It is like understanding what ISIS are doing in the Middle East. The tactics of the Revouts are identical to ISIS.

For senior students and Young adults. You won’t put this down once you start. Part 3 Heartsblood is due later this year

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M McManus.

January 22, 2019 Comments off

9780141375656Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M McManus. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2019.

This is a murder mystery for teens par excellence.

It is set in a small East coast American town called Echo Ridge, a town that is obsessed with it’s tragic past. Twenty odd years ago Sadie and her twin sister Sarah went to the Homecoming Ball at Echo Ridge High where Sadie was homecoming Queen. Shortly after Sarah disappeared and has never been found. Why?

Now Sadie’s twin daughter Ellery and brother Ezra have returned to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother and go to Echo Ridge high school as Sadie has gone into rehab for drug addiction. Five years earlier another homecoming Queen, Lacey who was Sadie’s favourite babysitter, was murdered in a horror theme park called Fright Farm. Her murderer has not been found

On their return to Echo Ridge on a rainy night, Ellery and Ezra find a teacher dead on the road and lots of ominous things are happening around the town. It is the eve of another homecoming Queen Ball at Echo Ridge High and startling as it seems Ellery has been named as one of the finalists for Homecoming Queen. She suspects a fit up and her investigative nature causes her to look into the deeds of the past.

Then one of the other candidates for homecoming Queen goes missing in the company of Malcolm the brother of Declan who has top candidate for the murder of Lacey. What the heavens is going on? Read it and find out, it is outstanding drama.

Brilliantly written in short chapters with lots of things going on. There are mean girls, football players who think they are wonderful, gay boys and girls and the whole American high school scene. The ending is thrilling. You won’t put this down once you start.