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The Billionaire Trilogy Book 1: The Billionaire’s Curse by Richard Newsome

September 5, 2010 Leave a comment

The Billionaire’s Curse by Richard Newsomw. Pub. Text Publishing Coy, 2009.

This was the winner of the Esther Glen Award in 2010 by a new Zealand born writer now living in Australia. I say this because this book came from nowhere to win from a writer I’ve not heard of. Now I have.

Why did it win? Quite simply because it is a ripping good yarn, very well told.

The book opens with the theft of a the Noor Jehan diamond from the reading room of the British Museum which leaves a policeman on the floor with two rose stem sticking out his bottom. Well I say! this is definitely not British, or perhaps it is.

The story then shifts to every kids dream. Gerald is an ordinary 13 year old lad until he discovers that his great aunt Geraldine has gone and snuffed it and left him more than a billion pounds. Did she snuff it or was she killed? if she was killed who was it and why?

Gerald has to fight off greedy relatives, a mysterious thin man, a one eyed Major and a host of eccentric British characters who staff the stately homes of England, and members of that fine old British institution the Private Gentleman’s Club.

Fortunately Gerald has help from Sam and Ruby who have a bit of the Famous Five about them. The adventures they have solving the whereabouts of the diamond have a bit of Indiana Jones about them.

It was refreshing to read an old fashioned story like this and to read Richard newsome taking the water out of the British. Great fun.

Middle school in appeal and remember this is just book one.

Banquo’s Son by Tania Kelly Roxborogh

Banquo’s Son by T.K. Roxborogh. Pub. Penguin, 2009.

Picking up on Banquo’s last words to his son from that Scottish play “O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly fly fly. Thou may’st revenge”. Tania Roxborogh has written an historical fantasy novel that holds true to Shakespeare’s version of history. On top of that it is a love story and a bloody good yarn.

Fleance has been brought up by Magness and Miri in England out of sight of enemies in Scotland. They meet a family with a lovely daughter Rosie and both Rosie and Fleance are smitten with each other. Fleance however has to revenge his father’s death and must away to Scotland. Rosie is not happy with this and pursues him into Scotland. Will they meet?

Meanwhile Fleance through fate and fortune manages to meet the nephew of the current king of Scotland and the lauded MacDuff who done the loathed MacBeth to death. Duncan, the king’s nephew and Fleance together seek the truth of Banquo’s death.

But as always there is treachery afoot, and romance  to appease, plus the  question this novel addresses –  “how do you choose between love and honour?” and is it worth it?

Tania Roxborogh paints a cold and misty picture of 11th century Scotland but also pays tribute to the hospitality and openness of the Scots. Unfortunately the bloodthirstiness and inhumanity of those seeking power pervades the atmosphere, as it did in Shakespeare’s play. Roxborogh has been faithful to the play; the witches, the prophecies, the dreams and the ghosts are all part of this story.

A very readible novel for High School students. I enjoyed it and so will you. And what’s more the sequel Blood Lines is due out later this year.

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer. Pub. Scholastic Press, 2010.

In the opening line of this mystery novel Abby Goodwin reveals “I have always been the one to protect my sister”. And she does, to lengths that very few people would go to, but why?

While out walking her dog Abby discovers the body of Jefferson Andrews at the bottom of a ravine with a large gash across his head, and her sister Maya’s cell phone a few meters away from the body.

Maya has been a difficult child to her parents and a bad sister to Abby. She is destructive socially, has behavioural problems with school and authority, is a compulsive liar,  disappears for days on end and is a known drug taker. She also had Jefferson Andrews as a tutor and was clearly obsessed with him.

It doesn’t look good for Maya but with a sister like Abby on her side, anything is likely.

Abby narrates this story over a one week period, as she chronicles the death, reactions to it and she investigates the circumstances to try and clear her sister.

It throws up a lot of what American High school culture is about particularly of troubled children and those that prey on them but essentially it is about sisterhood and all that that subject brings to the table.

One of the things that shocked someone like me was that as soon as Jefferson’s death was announced his social web site was inundated with messages as if he was still alive. Modern technology can be so instant and heartless at the same time.

I enjoyed this mystery, the ending is brilliant, and for those followers of the CSI type shows on TV, this is what not to do or maybe it is what you should do?

High school students will enjoy this book. I did and I am going to read Eliot Schrefer’s other books. You will want to too.