Posts Tagged ‘war’

The Other Sister by Philippa Werry. Pub. Pipi Press, 2021

September 23, 2021 Comments off

This is a sequel to The Telegram a novel also reviewed on this blog. That novel was about Beaty a strong willed girl who became a telegram girl in WW1 a role normally taken by boys. This novel concentrates on Tilly her younger sister who is now 13 years old and has won a scholarship to a prestigious girls school.

It is 1919/1920 in small town New Zealand. The soldiers have returned home many in a damaged condition mentally, others with lost limbs and scarred faces and bodies. Beaty’s friend Caleb is greatly damaged “its as if someone else came back in his place”. It is a time for healing and renewal and Tilly is a big part of it all.

Socially NZ has changed too with women having taken a major role in running society while the men were away now asked to go back to the kitchen and have babies. There are an anti German and anti Chinese sentiments around but loyalty to the British Empire is still solid. The prince of Wales tours the country in this book with Tilly being privileged to meet him.

Tilly the main character is a breath of fresh air. She goes to work in a rehabilitation home for returned soldiers and works in the house of a rich family who lost their only son in the action. Tilly wins a scholarship to Girls High where the wealthy girls go and experiences their snobbery and social aloofness. Fortunately she has two good friends in Molly and Ingrid who have their own crosses to bear. The girls are told at school not place too much importance on getting married as there were not enough men to go round, Gasps all round. Emphasis is on pursuing their careers and fulfilling lives.

An excellent study of life post WW1 in New Zealand with strong female characters and you can be assured of the accuracy of the historical context as the author is the best in the business when comes to history.

Short chapters make it easy to read, each chapter begins with an obituary to a fallen soldier in the war. At the back is the historical context and photographs of the era. You will love Tilly. Superb ending.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins.

June 4, 2020 Comments off

songbirdsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins. Pub Scholastic, 2020.

When I talked about the Hunger Games trilogy in schools when it first came out, the kids were riveted but their teachers were appalled that it involved children killing children. This sequel  addresses that concern and the rest of the inhumane treatment  that is meted out to the children and inhabitants of the 12 Districts by the rulers of Panem in the Capitol.

The civil war that resulted from the Hunger Games is over and the rebels from the Districts were defeated but not eliminated. Cassus Snow the Capitol leader is killed and there is a new guard, but Capitol has inflicted severe and more inhuman control over the Districts. The  10th Hunger Games are to take place and one of the most vile and sadistic characters I have read in children’s literature, a woman named Dr Gaul, is in charge of presenting the games. She is a Dr Mengle type who experiments on animals and humans.

A boy and girl from each of the 12 Districts are to take part in the games they are called tributes, but this time they each have a Mentor from Capitol to guide them. Coriolanus Snow son of Cassus Snow is to mentor Lucy Gray Baird from District 12 where Katniss came from. The relationship between Coriolanus and Lucy is at the heart of this novel but it is not the only one of importance.

The relationship between Sejanus Plinth, the son of a wealthy family and Coriolanus is of equal importance as Sejanus is also a mentor of a competitor in the Hunger games. It is Sejanus that heads the argument against the inhumane and barbaric treatment of the Districts and in particular the tributes in the games supported by Coriolanus in his relationship with Lucy. Can they change the way Capitol regards the District people?

As the games start inside an arena, not in an outdoor environment as with the first series, and the killing starts, all hell breaks loose.

If you are a new reader of this series do not worry you will not be all at sea, but if you have read the first series you will be totally absorbed in the new circumstances and at the more severe inhumane and barbaric treatment of the tributes in the Games

No characters from the earlier Trilogy are in this novel.

Stunningly written but not for the faint hearted. From Intermediate to YA in appeal. Over 500 pages long.

Spirit Animals: Tales of the Great Beasts by Brandon Mull and Others.

November 28, 2014 Comments off

Tales Great BeastsSpirit Animals: Tales of the Great Beasts by Brandon Mull and Others.Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

This is the best and possibly last book in this series of fantasy adventure novels for primary and intermediate children and even higher age groups. I loved it.

It is five interlinked stories by five different authors. of the Great Beasts who fought the great battle to defeat Feliander, boy king of Stetriol who became known as the Devourer.

Set in Erdas an Earth like place with five continents and a sub continent it is a place where certain individuals of a young age are bonded in a natural way with a spirit animal for the common good. Now the balance has been change with the invention of Bile, a substance that can allow individuals to artificially bond with animals in a way that is destructive to the lands of Erdas.

Boy king Feliander is the first to take bile and bond with a crocodile. He changes from popular king to a vengeful tyrant hell bent on conquering the whole of Erdas.

The Great Beasts who are part of the natural order of things and keep the world in balance are drawn reluctantly into battle.

It is brilliant story telling that will enthrall the reader. Simply told, five different stories of Feliander and the four Great Beasts – the panda, the leopard. the wolf and the falcon. Outstanding.

The last chapter on the merits of war and the role of humans on this planet are prophetic indeed.

Go on get it and read it.

Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran

April 16, 2012 Comments off

Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran. Pub. HarperCollins, 2012.

Excellent war story of the communist insurgency in Malaya after World War 2 in 1948 in which NZ soldiers took part. It is very much a forgotten war and Ken Catran has breathed new life into it’s memory.

Written for high school students and young adults it tells the story of two boys, Ng and Peter, starting at the time of the Japanese occupation of Malaya in 1941/42.

Ng is indoctrinated into the communists who are supplied by the British to fight the Japanese. Peter is a NZ boy who enlists in the NZ army after the war and volunteers for the Malayan campaign. He wishes he didn’t.

Ng is Earth Dragon in Chinese Astrology and Peter is Fire Hare. Earth Dragon Follows Fire Hare and the two boys lives are going to become entwined.

A three part novel superbly linked by Ken Catran. His war stories are second to none, his research impeccable and his story telling par excellence.

Read this one if you liked the Moran quartet or want to know about the Malaya Campaign. It’s good! and beware of a sting in the tail.

Black ops. Jungle kill by Jim Eldridge

Jungle Kill by Jim Eldridge. Pub. Egmont, 2010.

War action at its best in language that is easy to handle and in large print with short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters. Ideal for the reluctant reader with plenty of hooks to keep them reading.

Mitch is a young Brit. with experience in the SAS. he is forced to resign after an operation in Iraq goes wrong and he had a violent disagreement with his platoon leader. Now he has to gain the trust and bond with five other professionals as these elite soldiers battle their way in Nigeria.

The  special  Black ops unit has to free a politician with plans to end the oil wars in Nigeria. The war in Africa is a dirty war and this novel highlights all the serious wrongs of these wars and the devastating effects that it has on the ordinary people.

Total action all the way and a positive ending. For reluctant readers from Intermediate through to junior secondary.

Boys in particular will love this series.

Monsters of Men

Chaos Walking book 3: Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books Ltd, 2010.

“It’s war that makes us men in the first place. Until there’s war, we are only children” So sayeth the Mayor of New Prentissville, the scoundrel that Todd considered he had beaten at the end of the Ask and The Answer. This novel addresses that proposition.

To summarise the first two books. This Series is set on a planet that has been colonised by, for want of a better word, humans. Men have been separated from women, and they suffer from a disease that forces them to have no secret thoughts as they can be heard by any other man. This is called noise and the men are controlled by it. The noise is printed as different script.

The native inhabitants of this planet Spackle have been defeated in battle and enslaved by the Ask led by Mayor Prentiss and his hoodlums. Opposition to the Ask is led by Mistress Coyle who leads the women and sympathisers or the Answer.

Todd and Viola are teenagers who are together and are on neither side although they oppose the Mayor and the Ask and loosely support the Answer. They want a peaceful future.

At the end of  book 2 the Ask, the Answer and the Spackle had all formed armies and a huge confrontation loomed. To add to the mix, new colonists, led by Viola’s friends Simone and Bradley, land in the middle of the war.What influence will they have?

It is a Battle Royal but is “war the only path to Peace”? A very relevant question in today’s world.

Patrick Ness introduces a third voice aside from Todd and Viola, and this voice represents the Spackle, the voice of an Indigenous people that have been trampled asunder by a colonising power. I am sure many will understand this point of view.

What we have is an ebb and flow of battle and philosophy, in which all the things the reader wanted to know from the first two novels is answered. I cannot say more.

This is the end of the story and it is brilliant. Truely cutting edge writing. Get it and read it. If you haven’t read the other two books then you need to read them in order. A stunning concept well told.