A new fantasy author brings a fresh approach to the Quest story

book of daysTITLE = THE BOOK OF DAYS

AUTHOR = K.A. BARKER

GENRE = FANTASY, FRIENDSHIP, ADVENTURE  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

An unusual world is presented in this fantasy story by a brand new author. A world where half the country believes in magic and the Days (the gods of their magical world) while the other half deplore this reliance on magic and will do all they can to eradicate it from daily life.

All 16 year old Tuesday  wants to know, though, is who she really is and why she was sent to sleep in “the Unreality House” , the place where people go to be forgotten. Equally important is why has she been awakened NOW by Quintalian and can he be trusted?? He has promised to take her wherever she wishes to go, even on the perilous journey to find the Book of Days and learn the truth about her background.

Along the way Tuesday is ably supported by the skilled warrior woman , Hester and  a blind Librarian’s assistant (Riley) and she really does need all the help she can muster when she comes up against the cruel and brutal, Sterling who is relentless in his desire to end Tuesday’s life.

Will she survive to finish her quest? Will her friends stay true when put to the test? And most importantly, can she find the Book of Days or has it gone forever?

Fans of fantasy are sure to enjoy exploring this new world.

Recommended (dma) ****  

An interesting blend of humour, grief and reality TV

loathing lolaTITLE = LOATHING LOLA

AUTHOR = WILLIAM KOSTAKIS

GENRE = FAMILIES, RELATIONSHIPS, GROWING UP 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

15 year old Courtney  Marrow has lost her boyfriend in a car accident and is struggling with her grief. She lives with her Mum and younger brother and has a poor relationship with her father (who recently remarried the dreadful Lola, without warning his children first). On the plus side, Courtney has a great best friend: Tim (they talk together, support each other and he is very loyal towards her). His twin sister (Katie) is another story altogether; having recently decided she will be Courtney’s second best friend …. Is she really on Courtney’s side (or only looking out for herself?)

Courtney has been selected to be the star of a reality TV show based on “a real teen” – however, she is unaware of the plotting going on behind the scenes: by supposed friend and others. Can Courtney survive the reality experience with her reputation and sanity intact??? And what about those burgeoning feelings for a new boy in her life … is it too soon after the death of her previous boyfriend?

Clearly there is a lot on Courtney’s plate and readers will enjoy watching her trying to untangle the complications in her life and her heart.

The authors second novel (The First Third) was announced as an Honour Book (OR) in the CBCA Book of The Year awards. This is his first book and it reveals the same desire to blend laughter and sadness. Although it is perhaps not quite so well handled here, there is still a lot to like about this book.

Recommended (dma) ***  

In a dark future how do you survive?

the sky so heavyTITLE = THE SKY SO HEAVY

AUTHOR = CLAIRE ZORN

GENRE = FUTURE, VIOLENCE, SURVIVAL, FRIENDSHIP 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

This is an exciting story of survival which also gives the reader plenty to think about. The opening line takes us straight into a dramatic situation and awakens a strong sense of peril and fear. And then we go back to find out what brought the narrator, Fin to this urgent situation.

And it all began on what seems like a typical day in the life of teenaged Fin: catching the bus to school, trying to chat with his crush (Lucy), listening to his teachers waffle about the world outside their own Blue Mts. At home, his brother clashes with his father and step-mum, so the boys are left on their own … and that’s when the horrifying adventure really begins.

In an apocalyptic future, Fin and his brother Max must face the danger alone. The power goes almost instantly so any chance of communication with the outside world is immediately restricted. It becomes a daily battle to keep warm and feed themselves, let alone entertain themselves… as they wait for dad to come home …or to be rescued.

Fin is a decent and responsible lad but even he can be pushed to extremes when faced with the mammoth job of keeping his brother alive and safe. Suddenly Fin decides to take action in a morally questionable way … this leads the way for a clever and thought-provoking strand to develop in this novel. For the story gradually raises questions about actions and consequences: does the end always justify the means? Does the fight for survival give one the right to hurt others? How far is too far?

Fin joins forces with Lucy and another boy from their school whose religious leanings provoke some of the moral questioning. Fin is a credibly flawed character who faces great odds and readers will be truly engaged in his story.

Shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers), this book was announced as AN HONOUR BOOK!! CONGRATULATIONS TO CLAIRE ZORN.

Recommended (dma) ****

An exciting foray into the gearpunk world

TITLE = THE RITHMATIST

AUTHOR = BRANDON SANDERSON

GENRE = GEARPUNK, ADVENTURE, MAGIC, FANTASY,SERIES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

Journey into the “Gearpunk” world of “the Rithmatist” for fun, fantasy and adventure. Young Joel is the son of a chalk maker and an enthusiastic devotee of Rithmatists, those who use chalk drawings to wield magic. Using complex mathematical formulae and symbols, Rithmatists can create in chalk elaborate defences and mount attacks against enemies. They can also create chalklings to further extend their powers. But what if these abilities are used against the Rithmatists themselves?? Who can stave off such attacks??

Joel is keen to help: he has an amazing knowledge of the Rithmatist’s lore and would dearly love to be able to wield power as they do; but he missed his opportunity as a youngster. Can he join forces with the professor and the remedial Rithmatist student, Melody, to save the day?? Or will he simply make enemies of those with great power? This is an exciting foray into a new fantasy series – one with engines powered by unusual gears and cogs, one with an odd mix of mathematics and magic, one where courage is needed to face great odds.

An exciting mystery and fantasy set in a gearpunk world created by a famed fantasy writer: Brandon Sanderson. Check out his website and blog here.

Check out the book trailer below, too:

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Miracles and mystery

TITLE = THE RELUCTANT HALLELUJAH

AUTHOR = GABRIELLE WILLIAMS

GENRE = FANTASY, RELIGION,

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

This is a very unusual and intriguing story. Just days before her year 12 exams Dodie’s parents go missing and she discovers they have been hiding something in their basement. Something totally unexpected and something that requires her to take totally unexpected action. Before she knows it, Dodie and her sister Coco are on the road with the secret from the basement, and 3 boys whom they barely know. Together they are setting off for Sydney, with Dodie driving, even though she doesn’t yet have her license.

What could possibly be worth this risk? And who is out to stop them? Along the way they witness miracles and learn alittle more about each other and themselves. But as Sydney gets closer reality sinks in … can they achieve their aim or will further sacrifices be required?

Recommended (dma) ****    

 

A story about dragons and storytelling and so much more …

TITLE = THE LAST DRAGON CHRONICLES SERIES

AUTHOR = CHRIS D’LACEY

GENRE = FANTASY, ADVENTURE, INTRIGUE, MYSTERY

INTEREST LEVEL =  YRS 7 -12

Watch the booktrailer below, read the review … then dip into the books for a great reading experience:

Music (“Believe” by Windsor Drive) sourced from the Animoto site. Many images from Animoto too but clay dragons and bears were homegrown. Text from booklover.

 

 

 

 

 

This is quite an unusual series. The first book reads a little like a story for young children, with its focus on saving squirrels and clay dragons that come alive. But each book after that takes the reader into new territory, both literally and imaginatively. We visit the Arctic zone to find a link between the last dragon, Gawain and polar bears. We follow our hero as he battles against beings from this world and evil beings from beyond. We are asked to ponder questions about how the Earth came into being and about the future of the planet … all amidst a central story of the battle between Good and Evil, a battle that plays out across different dimensions  and takes many guises. Even our hero, David takes many forms. Each book offers the readers something more to ponder as the plot, quite literally thickens. A series that will touch your heart and leave you with plenty to think about. The sort of series that can be read many times.

Check out Chris D’Lacey’s terrific website to find out more about the author, interviews, his other books and his inspiration.

Or go to the series website for more info.

A Highly Recommended series (dma) *****

 

Swashbuckling sword play galore

TITLE = THE WITCH HUNTER CHRONICLES 1: The Scourge of Jericho

AUTHOR =STUART DALY

GENRE = FANTASY, ACTION, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION, SUPERNATURAL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

The first in a new series of action packed adventures. Set in 1666 and focussed on a group of highly trained soldiers who must rid the nation of witches.  Lots of fast paced action, plenty of battle scenes, complete with swordplay, guns and the occasional bit of magic. Young Jakob is a new recruit in an elite team of soldiers …. But will he survive his first mission, when the stakes turn out to be even higher than first imagined? He may not have the skill of the rapier like his compatriots but bravery and quick thinking may just save the day…. But are their more enemies than they counted on?? Are they to be caught in a deadly trap … who can they trust and who may betray them??

Fast paced and set in an interesting time period – young readers are already showing their enthusiasm for this book… and they are sure to learn a lot about the period along the way!

Recommended (dma) ***

A religious satire

there is no dogTITLE = THERE IS NO DOG

AUTHOR = MEG ROSOFF

GENRE = SATIRE, RELIGION, GODS, HUMOUR

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 AND UP

An amusing and intriguing ride awaits the reader of this novel, the latest by Meg Rosoff. She has created a world where God is a teenage boy – so is it any wonder the world seems to have gone crazy! Every time this lad falls in love, earth suffers the consequences. So whilst he is absorbed by his latest love/lust interest, the world suffers storms and floods which mirror his emotional state.

This teenaged god (otherwise known as Bob) seems to be part God (from traditional religion) and part capricious gods (from Greek mythology) which may cause some confusion for teen readers – or may simply provide food for thought. There is plenty to enjoy in this novel – provided you are open minded about religion and religious belief. Some readers might be offended by some of the ideas and characters in this book as Rosoff postulates that God may be a teenage boy, who takes a “whatever” approach to the world he has created. Some may simply be puzzled, as not all of Rosoff’s threads are fully explored or fully explained.

There is frequent humour in the portrayal of the gods and their servants. There are also touching moments based around some of the humans in the story, as they try and deal with both their physical trials (induced by Bob’s weather and emotional life) and their own emotional lives. Ultimately there is a suggestion that love will win out for the human race, despite Bob or the gods … so the ending is gently satisfying and optimistic.

Recommended (dma) ****