An exciting new crime series

travis delaney 1TITLE = TRAVIS DELANEY INVESTIGATES: #1 – THE ULTIMATE TRUTH

AUTHOR = KEVIN BROOKS

GENRE = DETECIVE, MYSTERY, CRIME, FAMILY, GRIEF

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Travis Delaney is heart-broken at the sudden death of his parents in a car accident. But was it an accident? The Delaney’s ran a private investigator’s agency and there are several questions hanging over their last case. Partly to take his mind off his own personal grief, Travis decides to do some investigating himself … but is he in over his head??

This is a fast-paced action adventure novel, the first instalment in what looks like being an exciting series. Travis is a credible and likeable kid: his grief is raw and he has a good heart. But his opponents are realistically portrayed too, so the danger he faces is all too real.

Sure to be a hit with both girls and boys. Check out the book trailer below:

Music (“Polonium 210”  by Alan Gould & Roger Roger) sourced from the Animoto site, as were the images for this book trailer.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

When courage and resilience are needed

TITLE = ZAC & MIA 

AUTHOR = A J BETTS

GENRE = ILLNESS, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS, DEATH & DYING

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 12

Zac and Mia are both suffering from cancer. Zac is an old hand at this, given that his leukaemia was diagnosed some time ago. He has been through several unsuccessful bouts of chemo and now he is back in hospital having a bone marrow transplant, which means he is in isolation: only doctors, nurses and his mum can visit him whilst his body recovers. Zac seems tolerant and practical about his condition and where it has left him (currently playing endless games of scrabble with his mum!) but he has also done his research and knows the cancer stats. He knows his odds of survival have been reduced by the failure of the initial treatment.

He also knows that the odds for Mia are much better. Mia is the newbie on the ward and the 2 teens hook up via FaceBook where Zac tells her she is lucky (because her type of cancer is treatable and survivable). However, Mia doesn’t see herself as lucky. In fact she seems determined to fight the doctors, her mum and the facts about her illness. There is no mention of her cancer or treatment on her FaceBook page so her friends are clueless about what she is going through. And she seems to know little about her condition too – freaking out when she starts to lose her hair. Can Zac help Mia through her treatment … or does Mia have lessons in store for Zac??

This story is told by the 2 teens themselves. The first third is in Zac’s calm voice but then Mia takes over  5 months later and we see from her point of view, what life has been like for her and how Zac and his family are coping. Can she really run away from her cancer and will Zac want to follow her?

A moving and compelling book about a difficult topic (almost as good as John Green’s amazing “The Fault in our Stars” – why not read this if you haven’t already – a review can be found here)

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky award.

Deb Marshall  (Highly recommended) *****

A novel about footy, fans, grief and life

TITLE = THE WHOLE OF MY WORLD

AUTHOR = NICOLE HAYES

GENRE = FOOTBALL, MYSTERY, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIPS, GRIEF  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9-11

Shelley Brown is hoping for a fresh start: a new school, new friends, new interests – a new life. Since the loss of her mother, Shelley and her dad are drawing a line between the past and the present, so Shelley jumps at the chance to attend footy training with her new friend, Tara. After all, football has always been Shelley’s passion especially her beloved Glenthorn Football Club. Attending Thursday night training also gives Shelley a chance to befriend the new player, Mick Edwards.

Shelley and Tara are obsessed by their footy team and this novel is cleverly structured to reflect this passion: every chapter and section references the game, from “The Draft” to the “Pre-Season” to “The end-of-season Trip”. And the plot unfolds cleverly too: whilst most readers will accept Shelley’s lingering grief at losing her mother, midway through the novel the full story behind Shelley’s loss is revealed so we understand more fully the deep pain behind her journey of rebirth.

In a sports mad country like Australia it is intriguing to shine a light on that obsession:  the euphoria of the fans when their team wins, the despair when they lose and the relationship they have with the players themselves. However, this is more than just a football yarn; set against the football background is a bigger story about grief and loss, about family ties and family breakdown, of burgeoning love and the resilience needed not only to face another football season but also to face life’s many ups and downs.

Even those who don’t love football will find a lot to enjoy in Shelley Brown’s world.

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky Award. 

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting and moving tale of the aftermath of war

TITLE = THE GIRL FROM SNOWY RIVER  

AUTHOR = JACKIE FRENCH

GENRE = WAR, FAMILY, RELATIONSHIPS, FRIENDSHIP, ROMANCE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is a most engaging novel. It picks up a few years after the conclusion of “Waltzing Matilda” and is set in a similar area (indeed, Matilda makes a brief appearance). The story focuses on Flinty, a resourceful 16 year old who finds herself running the family farm, as both her parents have died and her older brother has gone droving. Yet in many ways , this book is about the impact of WW1 on families and friends, for Flinty’s life has been irrevocably changed by this war – as have the lives of most of the folk who live in her valley. Hardly a family remains untouched – either by loss of a son in battle or by the mental scars carried by the returning soldiers – be they sons, brothers or sweethearts.

We watch as Flinty struggles to cope both emotionally and physically and we see the importance of not only family but also the broader community. There is a lot to enjoy in this novel and the mysterious ghost that Flinty meets only adds to the anticipation felt by the reader as the story unfolds.

Sure to be a big hit with teen readers especially those who enjoy stories with links to Australian history. Whilst Jackie French believes that this book is number 3 in her sweeping “Matilda” saga, each of the 3 books she has written so far are also capable of standing alone. So the reader does not need to have read “Waltzing Matilda” or “A Rose for the Anzac boys” to enjoy this novel.

(However, you may like to check out a review on this blog for A Rose for the Anzac boys)

No wonder this book was longlisted for the 2012 CBCA Book of the Year Awards.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A compelling story about families

TITLE = PAN’S WHISPER

AUTHOR = SUE LAWSON

GENRE = FAMILY, RELATIONSHIPS, MENTAL HEALTH

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

When we first meet Pan she is an angry young girl who is being delivered into a foster home, clearly against her own wishes. So the reader is instantly intrigued: why has a judge ordered Pan into foster care? Where is her own family? And why does she shudder every time the name Morgan is mentioned? We follow Pan as she struggles to settle in with her new family, attending a new school and making new enemies (and one friend, Hunter). Gradually we learn more about Pan: including the fact that she has some physical injuries. How did these happen? Why doesn’t she trust Hunter?

Pan’s foster mother suggests that writing to her sister (Morgan) might bode well with the judge’s decision about Pan’s future. And so the structure of the book changes: interspersed between the story of her current life are Pan’s letters to Morgan which describe her new life and recall pleasant memories of their life as young children.

And after each of these letters is a chapter from this past but told from Morgan’s point of view. So gradually we learn that Morgan’s view of their childhood is very different from Pan’s, for Morgan spent much of her time shielding Pan from the truth of their family situation.  Gradually these story strands come crashing together as Pan faces the reality of her childhood and the consequences this brings for her current life. This is a compelling and moving novel from Sue Lawson, an absolute page turner for older readers.

This novel was shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary award.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An intriguing story

TITLE = SHIFT

AUTHOR = EM BAILEY

GENRE = FANTASY, PEER PRESSURE, MENTAL ILLNESS, MYSTERY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

Olive isn’t the happiest of girls. She used to be part of the popular crew with her best friend, Kate. But life has taken a dramatic turn around. Her father has left home and she clearly blames herself for his departure. She has spent time in hospital after “the incident” and no longer speaks to Kate. Indeed, her only friend now is Ami, with whom she sneers at those around her. So when new boy, Lachlan, smiles at her, Olive is suspicious.

Then a new girl arrives at school: the quiet, waif-like Miranda. Soon Olive notices that Miranda is following Kate around like a shadow and before long it appears that as Miranda grows, Kate shrinks … dangerously so. Could Miranda really be a shifter … a parasite who feeds off others? And if so, what will happen when she has fed off Kate … will Olive become her next victim?

This is a compelling novel. Olive is both credible and engaging. Readers will be keen to know more about her past (including “the incident”) and on the edge of their seats as the battle with Miranda plays out. Of equal import, of course, is her burgeoning relationship with Lachlan.

It is no surprise that this novel is the GOLD INKY winner for 2012!!

Highly Recommended (dma) ****    

 

Struggling with grief

TITLE = MAX

AUTHOR = MICHAEL HYDE

GENRE = GRIEF, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

When his best friend takes his own life, Max doesn’t know how to cope. At first it seems like he is intent on risking his own life: daring the cops to catch him when he goes out to tag walls on his own, running headlong at trains, kayacking accidents in the river, getting into trouble at school. His friends and family are uncertain how to help and even Max can’t explain his own actions let alone his feelings.

Michael Hyde has written a compelling story about the pain and grief of losing a friend and the confusion that is felt by those left behind. Read more about the author on his website.

Given the themes and language in the book, this novel is probably more appropriate for older readers.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

A new student booktrailer on a popular book

TITLE =SKULDUGERRY PLEASANT

AUTHOR = DEREK LANDY

GENRE =FANTASY, MYSTERY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

 

 

 

Highly Recommended by claire & lauren – check out their book trailer below:

Music (“Bandroid ” by Cracknation) sourced from the Animoto site as are the images. Text created by claire & lauren.

And if you like the sound of this book why not check out the booktrailer on Book 2 in the series here.

Monsters of Men

Monsters Of Men

TITLE= MONSTERS OF MEN

AUTHOR=PATRICK NESS

GENRE=WAR

INTREST LEVEL=YOUNG ADULT

The awesome conclusion to the most heartbreaking series.

Todd and Viola have survived everything the planet can throw at them for six months. This is the end. But what end? Overwhelmed by an alien force tens of thousands strong. The battles being fought by the Answer, led by the fierce and harsh Mistress Coyle, and New Prentisstown, ruled by President Prentiss, deadly and mysterious lord of the planet, are swept away. The two merciless warlords must band together to defeat the threat. But when a settler scout lands, bringing a spaceship’s awesome firepower into the mix, only one side will win, and Todd and Viola are on opposite sides. The Spackle are unstoppable, President Prentiss is cunning, Todd is lying, Viola is dying and the world is ending.

The joy of life in the midst of death

TITLE = THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

AUTHOR = JOHN GREEN

GENRE = DEATH & DYING, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, LOSS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 – 12

A brilliant, brilliant book from a master story teller. The three main characters in this novel are all teenagers and all have cancer: one has lost an eye (and looks set to lose his other eye), one has lost part of a leg (after a “touch” of osteosarcoma) and one has to wheel an oxygen tank with her wherever she goes. They share not only an insider’s knowledge of cancer and its treatment but also a sardonic response to their situation. Their conversations about life, death and dying are sprinkled with witty, humorous asides and observations.

And here lies the brilliance of the novel: the finely tuned balance between light and shade, between the humorous dialogue and the pain it hides, between the hope and the honesty with which these teens live their lives. For whilst the novel is about dying and how we face death, it is also very much about life and how one can live with joy despite the looming shadow of death. Augustus fears oblivion; he wants to leave his mark on the world. On the other hand, Hazel is more worried about the impact of her death on those loved ones she will leave behind. Neither of them plan to complicate their lives by falling in love and neither of them quite expect what is to follow.

Whilst Green does not shy away from the awful realities of treatment and the pain involved in a terminal illness, he nevertheless manages to imbue the story with a sense of warmth. Readers may occasionally need to reach for the tissues but this is just as likely to be so they can wipe away tears of joy as tears of sadness.

A book that will open readers’ eyes and hearts and provide a new regard for both the power and the pain of loving, of living and of dying.

Check our John Green’s website to learn more about this book. There is an interesting thread from teens and others about battling cancer on his Nerdfighter’s ning here.

You might also want to watch some of John Green’s vlogs on this book – here is one to sample (look for others on his website):

 

It is no surprise that this novel is the SILVER INKY winner for 2012!!

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

If you enjoyed this novel, you might also like to read “The Shiny Guys” by Doug MacLeod (reviewed here) or one of John Greens earlier novels: “Will Grayson WillGrayson” reviewed here, “Paper Towns” reviewed here, and Looking for Alaska reviewed here.