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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

The Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward

July 29, 2019 Comments off

clockillThe Clockill and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker books, 2019.

Steam punk action /adventure with an historical bent and a sequel to The traitor and the Thief also reviewed on this blog.

Sin is the Thief and he works for an anti war agency called COG. His father is a slightly bonkers scientist called Nimrod and his mother was also a scientist. In fact Sin is a child born out of the quest for knowledge and now he has blue blood and is in danger of dying unless he gets an anti dote.

Sin and fellow COG Zonda with whom he is getting a bit silly on, are put on a mission to find escaped prisoner Eldritch. Velvet von Darque returns to confuse the issue and play hardball with the other COGs.

The main action surrounds Airships which are the new transport and are being attacked by air pirates. The main enemy are the Clockill who are flesh and blood except that their brians and hearts have been replaced by clockwork. They feel no pain, have no fear, have blue blood and will remove your heart and brain with surgical precision.

Read it and find out what happens.

Gareth Ward has an excellent turn of phrase that will tickle your fancy and his sense of humour is dark and often very funny. This will also be in the running for Literary Awards later in the year. I loved it.

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

May 11, 2019 Comments off

I ClaudiaI, Claudia by Mary McCoy. Pub. carolehoda Lab, 2019. Imprint Walker Books.

Sometimes there comes a novel that you don’t want to ever finish and this political thriller about a student council in a Los Angeles high school is one of them.

I savoured this novel over 10 days and was not disappointed by a thing. Yes I was. I was disappointed that the Head and Board of Governors of the school did not step in earlier in spite of ample evidence to do so, but then that would have ruined the story

The Imperial Day Academy is a prestigious school that is run by a student body titled the Honour Council which is structured somewhat like the Roman Senate with representatives from each class level and a President and vice President. The candidates are elected annually and have as many qualities as everyday American politics – liars, cheats, bullies, power freaks and idealists. . The aim is to destroy your opponents character and intentions and make you seem like the only wise choice. Whether it is true or not.

The novel is told by Claudia McCarthy in the form of a testimony and you the reader will find out why this is when you finish the book. The aim is to work out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and it is not easy. Claudia’s approach is this “I make a habit of identifying the psychopaths in my environment as quickly as possible”. But is she right? Claudia’s character is charismatic. She appears to be a nobody and describes herself as an historian and is ultimately totally brave.

The characters are stunningly conceived from the ruthless, manipulative Livia, to the power crazy Cal and the heroic Claudia. There are deaths, there are inhuman episodes, there is corruption, there is sexual violation and there is love albeit misused.

The tactics used by Nixon during the Watergate scandal are a blueprint for the political drama at Imperial Day school and there is a lot of Trump’s America in there too.

This is a novel of today’s America and if you miss this one you will kick yourself. The ending provides all the answers but leaving some doubt as well. In politics do we ever learn the truth?

For High school students and Young Adults. Just superb. Stunning cover.

Alex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz.

April 27, 2019 Comments off

alex riderAlex Rider 12. Secret weapon by Anthony Horowitz. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

The problem I had with doing this review was how to write something unique that has not already been said of this action adventure series about boy spy 14 year old Alex Rider.

I could have said “it is bloody brilliant so just read it” or I could have waxed lyrical about the plot and the characters of the 7 stories that are told in this collection. But I am not. Instead I am going to tell you what appeals to me about Alex and about the style of writing.

Alex is not pretentious, he is not a braggart or a smart arse. He is skilled at martial arts, he thinks in split seconds but his main weapon is his superb observation skills. He watches people and analyses situations and acts instinctively. He never kills anyone and he does what he has to to win. He is always polite, understates his achievements and if you wanted someone to go into bat for your life then Alex Rider is the boy you would choose.

See how Alex gets on penetrating a crazy man’s castle hideout in Afghanistan, see how he deals with a crazy escaped prisoner who wants to kill Alex in an act of revenge, see how he escapes from a hospital prison over an electric fence using fishing rods and a coat hanger, see how he escapes death while paragliding off a runaway motor boat in the South of France. And more.

Superbly written by master writer Anthony Horowitz in a straight forward action style that keeps you reading long after you want to stop and do something else. The characters are incredible, the action spellbinding. I can’t do better than that.

For intermediate and high school students especially reluctant readers.

A World of Discovery by James Brown & Richard Platt

November 6, 2018 Comments off

world discoveryA World of Discovery by James Brown & Richard Platt. Pub. Walker Studio, 2018.

Boys often prefer non-fiction works to fiction and this book tells you why. It is a big book with each entry 2 pages long containing a lot of bite sized information that is really interesting.

It covers World changing discoveries in chronological order as far as we know, starting with the Wheel, Fire, Time, Money and Paper and finishing with the Internet and Artificial Intelligence. Each two page spread features the invention or discovery on page one and the second page details the mechanics, chemistry etc and how it is made.

Some of the more interesting details are -the wheel was first used as a potters wheel not for transport. The flush toilet which comes in at ten would cost $330Billion to provide all those that still need it with a toilet and that is only one sixth of what we spend on weapons and war. Disgusting!!

To show how much the World has changed dig this – Lifts in the USA were separate for men and women unless they were together. It was considered improper for a woman to be alone in a room with a man she did not know. Who knows with MeToo it may be time to go back to it.

This is for everybody and essential for school libraries.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags: ,

Spy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson

March 1, 2017 Comments off

spy-toysSpy Toys by Mark Powers, illus. Tim Weeson. Pub. Bim UK imprint Allen&Unwin, 2017

I am very impressed with this new series that is designed for reluctant readers both boys and girls of primary/intermediate age.

In a phrase it is like the cartoon network without the cartoons. Bizarre, witty with a tight and sharp dialogue exchange between the highly imaginative characters.

The plot and characters revolve around rejected and defective high tech toys  from the Snaztacular Ultrafun toy factory. Dan is a cuddly bear who is so strong he can crush a tractor with his cuddles, Arabella, a rag doll with an attitude to burn and sympathy for no-one and Flax a highly aggressive rabbit with a down beat wit.

The toys are all discarded because they are defective but escape into the World and are captured then hired by Auntie Roz from the Department of Secret Affairs to bodyguard the Prime Ministers son from Rusty Flumptrunk a very bad half Elephant half human nasty.

Brilliant stuff with Tim Weeson’s animation filling in the gaps.

I was spellbound and read the short book in one sitting with a smile all over my face. It is great.The first chapter about Dan is called If Hugs Could kill and it sets the tone of the book immediately. Big font makes reading easy.

If you want your reluctant readers particularly boys to read, these are a great start.

iBoy by Kevin Brooks

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

iBoy by Kevin Brooks. Pub. Penguin Books, 2010.

This novel is just brilliant and perfect for reluctant boy readers at secondary school level.

Tom Harvey lives in a tower block in South London where crime and gangs rule the world. Nobody’s life is untouched by this criminal world. One afternoon as he is walking home somebody throws an iPhone from the top of the tower block and it hits Tom in the head.

The iPhone was thrown at the same time Tom’s teenage friend Lucy was being beaten and raped by members of a local gang, in her own apartment. Tom is unconscious for 17 days and when he awakes he feels different, like a billion bees buzzing around in his brain.

The surgeon tells Tom that pieces of the iPhone had buried themselves deep in his brain and couldn’t be surgically removed and when these pieces start to react with his brain Tom becomes iBoy.

iBoy can do everything an iPhone can do but inside his brain and he can turn it off and on at will. Powerful stuff. He can tune in to any cell phone message he wants, he can film an event and send it wherever he wants. The scope for corruption is open to him, but Tom wants revenge for those who raped Lucy. He is an avenging angel and boy does he make hay while the sun shines.

I can tell you no more except that you will stay reading this book until the end, it is gripping.

Kevin Brooks is one of my favourite authors. He has great ideas and he writes them well. The ending is stunning. How about this for a line  “if I ever catch you even thinking about killing yourself, i’ll make sure its the last thing you ever do”.

Weep with desire.