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) ***

When Mythic beasts visit modern day Perth .. mayhem ensues

TITLE = FIRE IN THE SEA

AUTHOR = MYKE BARTLETT

GENRE = MYTHS & LEGENDS, ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, GRIEF

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-10

What happens when Ancient myths and legends come alive in modern day Perth? Thrilling action and plenty of mystery and adventure, that’s what happens!

For 16 yo Sadie Miller, the summer holidays are rolling along as usual – until she stops an attack on an old man at the beach, an attack from strange creatures that return to the sea. First the old man leaves her his home, then it seems like he has taken on the body of someone else.. someone who may be a killer .. but a very handsome one.  Is she letting her heart rule her head?

The more Sadie tries to remove herself from his influence, the more deeply she seems to become involved in this strange tale of betrayal and revenge, involving Gods and curses, and most deadly of all…a Minotaur! All the while the clock is steadily ticking down – will history repeat itself and another city be lost to the sea – this time, Sadie’s hometown of Perth?

Join in the fast paced action, the mystery and the romance of Myke Bartlett’s “Fire in the Sea” to find out how this exciting tale will end.

And why not check out the author’s blog where he has posted photos of some of the locations that are used in the novel.

Longlisted for the Golden Inky (2011)

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Falling in love can take you out of your comfort zone…

TITLE = LIFE IN OUTER SPACE

AUTHOR = MELISSA KEIL

GENRE = FRIENDSHIP, ROMANCE, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

Sam is a self-confessed geek – perfectly at home with computers, WOW and obsessed with horror films. But girls are another matter altogether. He has a well-established core of friends including fellow geeks Mike, Adrian and Allison (who is clearly a friend rather than a girl!). So when the beautiful and popular Camilla comes to his (boring) school, in the most (boring) of suburbs, Sam is not prepared for her to become his friend. This does not fit into his ordered world at all – the popular kids mix with the jocks not the nerds. So what is a boy supposed to do?? Especially when other parts of his life appear to be spinning out of control: are his parents splitting up? Why aren’t he and Mike able to talk anymore and why does he punch his friend in the face?? It truly does seem like Sam has wondered out of his comfort zone and into some alien landscape.

An engaging and credible story in which Sam has to learn a few home truths – including the fact that school smarts don’t always translate into people smarts …. But the latter can be learned .. if given enough time. Humorous and touching with a cast of engaging teens – sure to be a hit with girls but boys should enjoy it too.

No wonder this book was Shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers)

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

The final stunning chapter in a heartfelt series

TITLE = PARVANA’S PROMISE

AUTHOR = DEBORAH ELLIS

GENRE = REFUGEES, WAR, POLITICS, CHILDHOOD, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

The opening of this book may well surprise readers of the Parvana series: for it is set in a US Army base in Afghanistan and it appears that the young girl who is being questioned as a suspected terrorist is, in fact, Parvana! Readers will be on the edge of their seats wondering how this has come about and what lies ahead for Parvana.

And so the story unfolds in dual paths: part of the story recounts the interrogation process and Parvana’s imprisonment whilst alternating chapters take us back to see how events unfolded to bring Parvana to this point. We see Parvana working with her mother and sisters in setting up a school, trying to help her fellow refugees against great odds. For this education project is not welcomed by local villagers especially some very traditional men who see it as inappropriate for girls to be wasting their time on an education. The hatred that the school inspires may seem inexplicable to modern Aussie teens, but it is credibly portrayed and provides a threatening backdrop to the book.

Yet balanced against this is the more immediate threat of the Army officers who see Parvana as a potential source of danger. Will she survive against the emotional drain of interrogations or will she gain her freedom?? And why is she staying so silent anyway??

This novel cleverly brings the reader up to date with Parvana’s story whilst also introducing readers to the idea that foreign troops may be trying to bring peace to this region but they may in fact bring further torment for the surviving people of this war-ravaged land. A thought-provoking novel, in keeping with the rest of this wonderful series (“Parvana“, “Parvana’s Journey“, “Shauzia” are the previous titles in the series) .

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A curious adventure from a curious dictionary

TITLE = WORD HUNTERS: Book 1 (The Curious Dictionary)

AUTHOR = NICK EARLS

ILLUSTRATIONS = TERRY WHIDBORNE

GENRE = ADVENTURE, TIMETRAVEL, FANTASY 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is a clever and unusual story: a timeslip adventure that all starts with words and their histories … and a very curious dictionary. The aptly named Al and Lexi Hunter discover that they are in fact word hunters: able to travel back in time to learn the heritage of certain words and certain names… just where will their adventures take them next? And can they always be certain to get home safely??

An entertaining story with delightful illustrations that add to the appeal. ou may also like to check out the Word Hunters website here.

Recommended (dma) ****

Why not check out the book trailer below:

Images either sourced from the Animoto website or photos taken by dma. Music “Born This Way” by Ian Cotterill (sourced from the Animoto website).

An enticing sequel

TITLE = QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

AUTHOR = LEANNE HALL

GENRE = FANTASY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

A sequel to the engrossing “This is Shyness”, this novel is every bit as enthralling and intriguing. We pick up the story 6 months after the conclusion of “This is Shyness” only to find that Wolfboy and Wildgirl haven’t been in touch since then. Both are getting on with their lives in positive ways: Wildgirl (now better known as Nia) has moved schools and has a new part-time job, which she loves. Wolfboy has a caring and close relationship with his niece and her mother. Yet each still can’t help thinking of the other with an element of regret.

When a friend is in trouble, Wolfboy instinctively turns to Nia for help. But is it too late for them to start again? And is it too late to hep Paul? Is there even more danger looming in the depths of Shyness?

An engrossing sequel which leaves room for further adventures to come.

Read about the first book in this series here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****   

 

A strange night …in a strange world

this is shynessTITLE = THIS IS SHYNESS

AUTHOR =LEANNE HALL

GENRE =WEREWOLVES, SUPERNATURAL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 11

Wildgirl is out for a bit of fun and something to distract her from a really bad day at school. But when she meets Wolfboy at a club in Shyness … will she get more than she bargained for?? This is an enticing story about 2 young people who spend a night seeking adventure … and find out more about themselves than perhaps they were expecting. The story may have a slightly supernatural feel about it but this is less in the vein of the Twilight series and more like an allegory. Does Wolfboy howl because he has werewolf leanings or because he is a young man who doesn’t know how to deal with the grief of losing a loved one? Readers will be engrossed in the story and come to feel great empathy for the 2 lead characters. A great novel by a first time author.  Check out her website.

A worthy winner of  The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, 2009

Highly Recommended (dma) *****