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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Locked Down by Jesse O. Illus. Toby Morris. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2021.

February 5, 2021 Comments off

This is a remarkable story because it was first written in 2011 when Bird flu was around and the author prophetically extrapolated what might happen if things got worse. Well things did get worse and it was called Covid 19 and the nation was in lockdown.

The title has been changed from Staying Home to Locked Down to reflect the modern situation. The interesting thing of course is to compare how the author saw things going in 2011 compared what actually happened in New Zealand under lockdown.

The story concentrates on the Flint family who live in the town of Hansen which is somewhere in the South Island. A virus XB276 has struck the North Island down and people have been told to stay home. The South Island has been relatively untouched but is radically effected by the situation in the North.

There are major differences and solutions to the problems created by lockdown and i will let you find out by reading the book. There is a complete shutdown of shops and supermarkets and there is a shutdown of power sources too which create different problems than in the current situation.

The strongest messages relate to families under stress and trying to survive. It hasn’t got that bad in todays crisis, see how the children and their neighbours get on in this crisis..

Toby Morris’s illustrations enhance the story and provide images to hang your thought s on. Well worth a read.

The King’s Nightingale by Sherryl Jordan. Pub. Scholastic 2021.

January 31, 2021 Comments off

This is one of the best adventure novels about slavery that you will read this year. Based in Europe and North Africa although those two regions are not mentioned in the novel. Instead it is the Penhallow Isles where the main character Elowen was born and raised, and Rabakesh where she is enslaved to king Shaistakhan.

Elowen is a 16 year old girl brought up in a christian religion called Followers of the Shepherd. It’s faults and credibility are revealed to her early in the novel over a illegitimate baby is denied death rights because of her illegitimacy. As this is happening pirates from the south sack Elown’s village and carry off those they can catch to be sold as slaves. Many do not make the journey alive after brutal treatment from the pirates.

Elowen survives along with her brother Fisher but they are sold separately. Elowen is bought for the king because of her beautiful singing voice and is treated very well indeed, in fact in luxury but she has a fatal flaw which is going to ruin this for her.

She is warned not to question the decisions of men or to speak ill of the king who belong to the Izarin religion much like Islam. Elowen is outspoken and makes it clear she wants to escape to find her brother fisher.

Her abilities as a singer earns her the name Shalimar or Kings nightingale and she evokes jealousy amongst the king’s harem. This results in Elowen being resold into desperately different conditions that she had with the King. She regrets this and when she learns of a war machine that is to attack The King she takes very dangerous actions. Read the rest and find out it is brilliant.

Beautifully told and described by Sherryl Jordan who is surely at the top of her game. It follows a similar book titled The Freedom Merchants also reviewed earlier on this blog. However the descriptions of the desert landscape of Rabakesh and the palace lifestyle of King Shaistakhan are delicious, as are the comparisons of the two religions and cultures.

Elowen is a good role model, loyal, brave, compassionate and generous but her outspokenness gets her into trouble. She learns the language and religion of her captives in order to quietly achieve her goals.

A novel in four parts. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

White Moko. stories from my life by Tim Tipene. Pub. OneTree House, 2020.

November 15, 2020 Comments off

This memoir of childhood in an abusive family is one that all New Zealanders should take heed of particularly those whose lives have been damaged by their upbringing.

Tim Tipene has a Maori name but he is white skinned, hair haired with blue eyes. His father was rightly jailed and his mother married a Maori man who had wonderful whanau but he himself was a brute.

Tim was brutalised all through his childhood. Both parents took great delight out of being sadistic towards him. His mother told him he had ruined her life and that she wished he had never been born.

All this reflected on his performance at school where he was labelled a bad boy and not worth the effort. He had a couple of good teachers but when he was kicked out of college he couldn’t recite the alphabet. Didn’t know his times table and couldn’t tell the time on an analogue clock.

The stories he tells of his early life are harrowing but he never lost hope and loved both his parents and was fortunate that he had his Maori whanau to get him through. He was a white Maori and proud of it.

As he grew to adulthood he got involve in martial arts which led him to Japan and a karate master. He attended an anger management class for men who were abused as children and found he was not alone.

His school and early adult life and recovery is covered up to his formation of Kora Toa Warrior school and his work with underprivileged and abused children.

He is a wonderful successful man and it is essential that his story be utilised as a source of hope for those who have suffered similar treatment. His message is you are not alone and can be helped.

The most powerful book I have read for some time.

Children of the furnace Pt3. Heartsblood by Brin Murray. Pub. C.P. Books, 2020.

October 14, 2020 Comments off

Finishing a trilogy as good as this one was always going to be hard. Set in a brutal world of Sekkerland, which is Greenland without it’s icecap, the country is ruled by a ruthless regime called The Revelayshun.

They rule with a brutal hand of a religious fanaticism and the country has been so brutalised that most of the remaining inhabitants are children, mostly males. The regime is led by High Patriarch Sachs, a disgraceful human being who has brainwashed society through fear, to believe that A Great Atrocity was committed by an amorphis group called the Heaters.

The Heaters came from the Southerm Land to the south which has been badly affected by a global catastrophe caused by climate change. Now Sachs and his Revelayshun are going to invade the Southerm land and main characters Wil, his twin sister Mari, a humanist nurse Leah, a survivor of brutality Jace and a tech expert Harper, are going to take on the Revelayshun while it is away. Can they succeed or is it all a trap?

Tensely written with brutality of human against human a major theme. The country of Sekkerland is a character in it’s own right and the action is intense. The final battles make exciting reading which is not for the faint hearted. Be warned not everybody the reader wants to survive will survive but the ending gives hope for the future.

Told in 51 short chapters by two narrators Wil and Leah the language is often written as the words sound but this adds to the reality of the -plot and situation.

One of the best of the year Dystopian fiction that will make you think about the human condition. Are we capable of going this far. Books 1 & 2 are also reviewed on this blog.

Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz.

March 10, 2020 Comments off

alex rider (2)Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. Walker books, 2020.

Released 2 April

This is book number 13 in the Alex Rider series and this time it is serious. Alex is a little out of his depth as he tackles a secret organisation called Nightshade which uses children who have been kidnapped at age 4 or 5 years.

These children have been brainwashed into forgetting their past and trained to be ruthless and efficient killers. One of their number known to MI6 as Freddy is captured while assassinating an agent in Brazil but shuts down and cannot be broken. MI6 know that there is a secret plan to destroy London and that Nightshade are the culprits.

Freddy who is a heartless killer is locked away in a secret high security prison on Gibraltar and Alex is given the identity of another villain from the past called Julius Grief with the job of befriending Freddy in order to find out when and how the destruction of London is to be achieved.

How Alex attempts this is astonishing and beggars the question is he finally out of his depth. To make things personal Mrs Jones, Alex’s master at MI6, had her two children kidnapped at ages 5 &6. Could they now be members of Nightshade? Alex also has his doubters in MI6.

Brilliantly conceived story, action packed and thrilling to read. I can tell you no more but if you are a fan you will relish this novel and if you are discovering Alex for the first time live long and prosper.

The best action novel you will read this year.

 

 

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

January 31, 2020 Comments off

orphansOrphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. Pub. Puffin, 2020.

RELEASED 18 FEB. 2020

Always nice to read a children’s novel by a new author who has a great imagination.

Struan Murray creates a totally believable world that has been through the Drowning. The sea has risen enormously and the only known city left is built on a mountain and is called the City. The City is a character in it’s own right in this novel.

The plot is mysterious and action packed and it is about survival in this watery world. It begins when a whale is washed up on the roof of a house close to the waterfront. Ellie the main character knows that whales start decomposing in the stomach which produces gas and needs to be opened up before it explodes.

The opening starts a panic in the town. Ellie slices the whale open and a boy is extracted from the intestines. Ellie names him Seth and wants to protect him from the townsfolk who have judged him to be a Vessel for the main foe of the people who they call the Enemy.

The Inquisitors in the City have the job of hunting the Vessel down and killing it. Seth is the first Vessel in 23 years, but Ellie, her friend Annie and mysterious character Finn have other ideas.

Between chapters there is the story of the previous Vessel who has left the Diary of Claude Hestermeyer. Does it hold the secret to what is going on?

Ellie is a superb character. Her mother was an inventor and she herself has many skills and a respected role in the town. But she has a deadly secret which you can find out about by reading this novel. The last 50 pages are gripping.

Highly descriptive  novel for intermediate and junior high school students that will make you think. There is a map in the front to guide you. A great start to my reading year.

 

The End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth.

October 22, 2019 Comments off

end beginningsThe End and Other Beginnings. Stories from the future by Veronica Roth. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

There are 6 stories in this collection, all are set in the future, all are about survival in which the characters come to a crisis or turning point in their lives akin to death, then have a renewed assurance and confidence about continuing their lives.

In all stories which are set on an Earth like setting there are alien cultures living in with the native population and the characters have a skill or a talent that can help them in their plight.

They are not simple stories. All have strong development of plot and character from which further stories can be made from the reader thus they are very useful at encouraging writing.

INERTIA has a dying teenage boy linking mentally by medical science with a girl with whom he had a past relationship. They share memories of the earlier relationship of which the other was not fully aware as a way of saying goodbye before death. With a twist.

THE SPINNERS. Has a bounty hunter chasing the killer of her mother. The killer is an alien symbiotic leech that attaches itself to the neck of a human and takes over their mind and body. Stunning ending with a twist.

HEARKEN. A girl with a strong musical talent is to become a Hearker who is able to read the life and death songs of humans based on String Theory. Everybody is living and dying at the same time. A lovely twist to this story too.

VIM AND VIGOR. Is a story of girls who are mad about super heroes. read it to find out what happens.

ARMOURED ONES. is a story of a boy who is considered week by his peers and choses to take on an Armoured beast that is feared by all in order to prove his worth.

THE TRANSFORMATIONIST. looks at religious belief and refusal to defend oneself in an alien culture.

Check these superior stories out, the human problems are so real yet so different. Senior secondary and young adult in appeal.

 

 

 

Prince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg

October 5, 2019 Comments off

prince of poniesPrince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This latest novel from Stacy Gregg for intermediate and junior secondary readers, is breathtaking.

If I had to summarise it in one sentence it would go “two girls, two horses, two dogs, two Germanys, two historical periods, two connections”.

Zofia is a 9 year old polish girl when the Nazis conquered her country in 1939. She survived WW2 on a horse stud  taken over by the Germans and developed a close relationship with a grey/white Arabian horse called Prince. He was a superior horse, proud muscular and awe inspiring. Her dog Olaf hated Nazis.

Mira is from Syria and now resides in Germany in 2019. She is bullied at school, loves horses and walks a dog called Rolf. She and Rolf follow a horse who has got loose through the forest to a stud where she meets Zofia as an old lady. The horse is also white/grey, is named Emir and has the same arrogance and other qualities as Prince.

Both horse are powerful expressive stallions. There is much quality horse and show jumping talk.

In return for writing Zofia’s story Mira gets horse riding lessons from Zofia who tells her after her first attempt at riding Emir “it takes a hundred falls to make a true rider”. Zofia’s story in Berlin and the last days of Hitler are mind blowing as is Mira’s progress in the show jumping circuit. The ending is very emotional.

Find out the rest for yourself and you will love it. Zofia’s story is stunning and Mira has much to deal with too. One of the best of the year so far.

Louisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo

May 29, 2019 Comments off

louisianaLouisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Oh to be able to write as well as this!

Twelve year old Louisiana believes that her parents were part of a circus acrobatic team named Elefante who were killed in an accident and that the family is cursed because of an incident in Elf Ear Missouri. She believes that her Granny taught her everything she knows and has looked after her for the whole of her life.

All these beliefs are going to come under question in this superb novel of growing up and the amazing resilience of Louisiana. She is truly a character to be admired.

At 3.00am one morning Granny gets Louisiana out of bed to pack her suitcase and announces that the day of reckoning had arrived. The pair drive north out of Florida across that imaginary Georgia State line. They run out of gas and Granny becomes bedridden with tooth ache.

Louisiana has to drive the car off the motorway to a small town and seek dental treatment for her Granny. This will lead to all secrets being told and for Louisiana to show her incredible character when faced with a crisis that would floor most people.

Beautifully told with great wisdom, common sense and perception. You are with Louisiana all the way and once you start the novel the most difficult part will be putting it down.

Total class writing for intermediate and secondary school students. For me the best junior fiction title of the year.

A Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale.

May 1, 2019 Comments off

stone & DarknessA Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousdale. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

 

At last a fantasy novel with some depth. Deep not because it is set almost totally underground but because it has a lot of significant observations about the Human condition, and it is a very good tale.

Thousands of years ago Humans hounded the Strigg people out of the forests and into underground caves where their culture survived and thrived out of Human knowledge. The Striggs are a bird like creature that has lost it’s ability to fly as their wings have evolved into arm like structures with claws.

Striggworld is now under threat from polluted water from the earth above and from lack of drinking water as wells dry up. Their food supply which is a mushroom like product, morra, has also begun to be scarce and the Elders of the Striggs are contemplating a move North. They would love to go back to the surface but it is too dangerous.

On the eve of a spangletime ceremony which celebrates the move from childhood to adulthood, a young Strigg, Ellee, discovers a human boy called Blue who has fallen down a well into the underground. She saves him and with the help of her academic brother, Sidfred, brings him back to home.

When Blue is discovered by the Strigg Elders panic hits the small community. Some including Kass a fierce warrior type want to kill him to avoid other Humans finding a way underground but the Elders view is that is not our way and never will be our way.

They decide to return Blue to to Uptop or the surface, where all the Toppas live. The action begins and it will have you spellbound. Read it and find out what happens.

If there is a catchphrase that describes this novel it is “It is amazing what eventually ends up underground”. We should take heed of that. It says a lot about the Human condition of treating the Planet and every other creature on it as if it is ours alone to use. The Striggs know all about us and our destructive ways.

Excellent story, descriptively written and with a message for all Humankind.

Chris Mousdale creates an imaginative World that is totally believable, the Striggs are believable The Strigg way contrasts with that of Humans and puts us to shame. And his illustrations are superb. One of the best of the year.

Suitable for Intermediate and High school readers.