Posts Tagged ‘Identity’

They Call me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan

December 16, 2015 Comments off

alexandra StoneThey Call me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan. Pub. Full Fathom Five Digital, 2015.

Milena ws born in the country of Olissa on the borders of Soviet Union, Turkey and Iran. When she was 7 years old she was taken from her family for a purpose and put under the wing of the cruel and ruthless Mistress at a spy organisation known as Perun.

At age 11 she underwent cosmetic surgery to look like Alexandra Gastone  the person whose life she was going to assume, after years of training to become her. She made friends with Varos a boy 7 years older than her and who was to become her Handler in America.

At age 18 years and a high school student in America with a boy friend who she keeps “close yet far”, living with an adoring grandfather, Albert, who loves her dearly, she is called to do the sleeper role she was assigned to do for Olissa  and the Perun.

This is an excellent spy book that would make a great movie. T.A. Maclagan keeps the intrigue going till the last page with more twists and turns than a politician’s speech. Superbly constructed story in a high stakes game.

The heart of the story is based around the theme of being who you are. Milena cannot be herself and she cannot be Alexandra either. Her aspirations and manners are always fake. Detection is unthinkable. But does she really know what is going on and who can she trust? Who knows what is really going on? Is she a spy? A granddaughter? A girlfriend? A liar? A traitor? Read it and find out. There is a bit of romance in there as well and it is hot stuff.

In 25 years of reading Y.A. novels I have never read a spy novel. This is as good as Le Carre. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

Muddle & Mo by Nikki Slade Robinson.

March 9, 2015 Comments off

muddle & MoMuddle & Mo by Nikki Slade Robinson.. Pub. Duck Creek Press, 2015.

Muddle thinks that Mo is a funny looking duck and Muddle is right because Mo is a goat. Goats do not look anything like ducks, well not in my experience at least but who knows what sort of slant Picasso could put on it.

Muddle decides that Mo is a funny colour for a duck, his beak is too hairy, he doesn’t eat worms among other things but worst of all his poos are too hard. It doesn’t look good for Mo.

Then Muddle sees a Goat Farm and realises Mo is not a duck but a goat. Mo of course already knows this but is Muddle a goat? Read it and find out. Very good ending.

Delightful picture book with a very expressive duck and a goat. Written text is minimal and right on the nail. Has great child appeal especially with the” hard poos”. My granddaughters wanted to have it read again and they are hard taskmasters.

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Scrap book 1 Tale of a Blond Puppy and Book 2 Oh my Dog by Vince Ford

March 16, 2013 Comments off

blond puppyScrap Book 1 Tale of a Blond Puppy by Vince Ford. Pub by Scholastic 2013.

Absolutely brilliant novel for young and reluctant readers who like stories about animals on the farm.

Scrap is born blond on a sheep farm. Sheep apparantly are not scared of a blond dog because they think it is a sheep. So Scrap is for the scrap heap. Fortunately he is found by Lionel and learns lifes first lessons from Bill the dog the first of which is finding out who and what he is.

The first chapter titled Genius is one to remember as Scrap learns that he is not human and not a chicken but a dog.

Scrap has many lessons to learn and Vince Ford crams a laugh into every incident. But there is a serious side particularly the fact that Scrap was saved from death from a farmer who decided he was no good.

Primary and Intermediate students will love these. Destined to be a NZ classic.


scan0002Scrap Book 2 Oh My Dog by Vince Ford. Pub Scholastic, 2013.

At the end of book one Scrap is bound for another sheep farm where he is to learn the ropes as a sheep dog.

Scrap has a lot of talent as an “eye dog” but he has rivals and friends amongst the other farm dogs. Competition to be top dog is fierce.

Plus Scrap has a desire to meet his mother and maybe his father.

Brilliantly told by Vince Ford. This and Book one are essential purchases for any home that loves reading and for school libraries.


Geek Girl by Holly Smale

March 16, 2013 Comments off

geek girlGeek Girl by Holly Smale. Pub.HarperCollins, 2013.

This book is a real laugh but holds a very important message that came from Shakespeare “to thine ownself be true”.

Harriet manners considers herself a geek. Her school mates consider her a geek and while she is very bright she doesn’t look further than that.

Then it all happens. On a school trip to a clothes fashion show with her aspiring super model girlfriend Nat, Harriet is discovered by Wilbur who works for ultra chic fashion designer Yuka Ito. Harriet becomes the new face of fashion and blows this avant garde world away with her intelligence and her honesty.

The novel is full of memorable characters like her lawyer stepmother Annabel, bewidered father and serial geek stalker Toby.

The best quote from the novel is “modelling can be fun as long as you don’t take it personally”. In the dressing room fife can be bitchy.

A first novel by Holly Smale who knows what she is writing about as she was “discovered” as a model at the age of 15years, the same as Harriet.

Intermediate and high school in appeal and jolly good fun.

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

January 10, 2013 Comments off

Alex as wellAlex As Well by Alyssa Brugman. Pub. Text Publishing, 2013.

It is not often I read a truely inspiring novel for young adults, but this is one of them.

Alex is  14 years old and is changing more than most of us ever will. She has known all her life that she is a girl yet she has been brought up as a boy. The voice of the boy Alex is still in her head but she is a girl.

When she was born the doctors told her parents she /he was  “sexually ambiguous”. Alex has a penis which is very small and is referred to in the novel as a noodle. Alex’s parents decided they have a son and refuse to let this go. They put Alex on medication consisting of male testosteron so that he will develop into a boy.

They never told Alex. As puberty  spuds in Alex takes herself off medication and starts to dress as a girl. She feels like a girl and the moment is uplifting for her. She  enrols in a new school as a girl and changes her whole life.

Her deficient parents react badly. Father leaves the house, mother goes hysterical, pours her heart out on-line and receives some conflicting feedback. Alex fronts up to her mother and father and the conflict is spellbinding.

Alex herself has some positive feedback from the world around her namely from school, her new friends and  the fashion world and this gives the reader hope for her future.

The parents have kept a huge secret from her, a secret that will blow Alex apart.

Brilliantly told by Alyssa Brugman, I have read two of her novels before Finding Grace and Being Bindy, both excellent, but this is the icing on the cake. Brutally honest and  at times, sad, happy, funny, perceptive, human and compulsive.

You will not forget this novel in a hurry.


The Messenger by Markus Zusak

The Messenger by Markus Zusak. Pub. Picador 2009.

Ed Kennedy is a 19 year old kid living in a small Australian town who drives a taxi and is underachieving big time. He is intelligent, sensitive, a reader but really doesn’t know where his life is going.

His two male friends Marv and Ritchie are dead from the neck up, and his love interest, Audrey is not interested in him. His father is dead and his mother who is a real livewire, smokes, drinks, swears and wears Ug Boots. When he tells her that his life is going nowhere she says “why don’t you have a wee cry about it Ed?” Her voice is like the diff whine of an FJ Holden.

In the opening chapter Ed becomes a reluctant hero when he and his mates are caught up in an hilarious bank robbery. Ed makes the TV News, the Front page of the paper and everybody knows him.

Some days later Ed receives the Ace of Diamonds in the mail with three addresses and a time beside each one. He visits them over the first chapter at the time specified and contacts three interesting and apparently unrelated people and circumstances.

This forms the basis of a remarkable,  inspiring and uplifting read. I wish I could read it again.

I loved the maleness of the book, it was so refreshing.

Zusak is fast becoming an essential writer to read, his command of plot, character and language is superb. The novel is structured in five parts each beginning with an Ace and the final chapter being the Joker. Within each chapter the divisions are from Ace to King. The ingenuity of the man is astonishing.

Suitable for Secondary school readers and young adults. Read it, it’s just brilliant. Only criticism, terrible cover.