It has all your favourite things! Adventure, maps… and a sad ending.

The-Girl-of-Ink-and-Stars-by-Kiran-Millwood-HargraveTitle: The Girl of Ink and Stars
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Interest Level: Year 7 +

They say the day the Governor arrived, so did the ravens. And the songbirds, in their despair, flew backwards into the sea. That’s why there are no songbirds on Joya.

Isabella loves stories and her father, an explorer and renowned cartographer, is a master storyteller. But since the Governor arrived on their island, there has been no need for map making – exploration is forbidden and no one is allowed to leave the island.

When her best friend Lupe, the Governor’s daughter, goes missing – Isabella is determined to help find her. Armed with only ink, parchment, her knowledge of the stars and the stories of her father, Isabella joins the search party to navigate the island’s forgotten territories. But the monsters in her father’s stories are more real than she could have imagined, Isabella must face her fears to find her friend. The vivid descriptions and stunning rendering of the book itself will draw you into this beautiful tale of courage and wonder. The debut novel of Kiran Millwood Hargrave showcases her flair for poetry and love of short stories, embedded within this fantasy tale.

Highly recommended: **** (ofr)

 

 

Action packed adventure with links to Percy Jackson

heroes-of-olympus-the-lost-heroTITLE = HEROES OF OLYMPUS: The Lost Hero (Book 1)

AUTHOR = RICK RIORDAN

GENRE = ADVENTURE, FAMILY, ANCIENT ROME, ANCIENT GREECE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Another great adventure with ties to Ancient Myths and Legends, from the very popular author of the “Percy Jackson” series. This is the first book in what could be considered a spin-off from the original series. AT the beginning we meet 3 new characters (Jason, Piper and Leo) who are suddenly propelled into a battle with mythic beings from which they barely escape with their lives before finding refuge at Camp Half-Blood. Jason discovers that all his memories have been stolen by a god, as a lure to sending him on a dangerous quest. And so the 3 teens set off together to try and save a goddess and maybe the world. Whilst Jason is struggling with his lack of memory Leo and Piper are tsruddling weith memories thaht they would prefer to forget. Each of them is harbouring a secret, afraid that if they reveal the truth it could spell the end of their friendship.

With death hovering at the edge of every adventure, this is a compelling and fast-paced story, as could be expected from Rick Riordan. Fans of the original series are sure to enjoy this excursion into territory which is both familiar yet slightly different. Rather than being focussed on the Greek gods (as happened in the Percy Jackson series) this book looks at the comparison between the Greek and Roman myths.  

You don’t need to have read a Percy Jackson story to enjoy this new series … and don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with Ancient Roman mythology, Rick Riordan will take you on an exciting and whirlwind introduction to some very famous myths and characters. These being may now be residing in Canada and the USA but with clever (and often humorous) echoes with their Ancient past. A truly entertaining read which is sure to be enjoyed by boys and girls alike.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A new look at the Galahad story

TITLE = PUREHEART

AUTHOR = CASSANDRA GOLDS

GENRE = MYTHS & LEGENDS, ARTHURIAN LEGEND, ROMANCE, GRIEF, REVENGE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9-11

This is a very sad and often heart-breaking spin on the Galahad legend. The first half of the story in particular seems to be filled with tales of woe: dreadful bullying at school for Deirdre, more subtle bullying at home from her Grandmother – and the one shining light in the gloom is forbidden – her friendship with Gal. And overlying this central story is a constant sense of dread and doom: we know that something bad has happened in the past between Deirdre and Gal, so bad that neither can properly remember what happened … we are desperate to learn the truth behind this mystery but also fearful of what that truth may actually be.

Surely young Gal is as pure of heart as in the legend (and the title of the story) … isn’t he?

By novels’ end, all will be revealed and the awful tale of revenge and grief will have been unravelled. Our hero and heroine must learn some painful life lessons which may make them purer of heart … but not necessarily happy little vegemites!

Fans of Cassandra Golds award winning “The Three Loves of Persimmon” will be intrigued by the author’s further foray into the world of love and understanding but the beauty and joy of that earlier novel is replaced by resigned forbearance in her newer book and the writing seems less magical.

There are some clever references to the original legend (in the naming of the block of flats where Deirdre lives, in the parentage of Gal) but the overall mood and feel of the book may be unexpected for those familiar with the story of the perfect knight, Sir Galahad, retriever of the Holy Grail, although the ending captures the essence of that tale’s conclusion and may make us look at that tale with fresh eyes.

This book gained a Notables listing in the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers)

Read more about this author who will be appearing at MWF in 2013.

Read a post about her earlier book here.

Recommended (dma) ***