A sparkling sequel in an original and magical series

Cracks in the Kingdom CVR.pdTITLE = THE COLOURS OF MADELEINE Book 2: THE CRACKS IN THE KINGDOM

AUTHOR = JACLYN MORIARTY

GENRE = FANTASY, FAMILIES, RELATIONSHIPS, ROMANCE, GRIEF, FATHERS, FRIENDSHIP, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+

Jaclyn Moriarty has crafted a wonderful sequel in a clever and thoughtful series. Filled with a delicious blend of magic, science, adventure and romance…with credible characters who will draw readers into their stories. Again the book follows the stories of Elliott (in Cello) and Madeleine (in Cambridge, the World) but there is an added strand to the story in the sequel: the story of Princess Ko’s attempts to retrieve her royal family members who have been sent into the World by Hostiles (where they have forgotten their identities and ties to Cello). So there is an added political intrigue behind their new adventures, especially as Elliott is part of the team who have been nominated to help find the royal family … even though this means working with Madeleine to open up the crack between their worlds, despite the risk of death if he is discovered.

This book is about mirrors and cracks: in the world, in families and in individuals: he depths we will go to in order to find and/or protect our loved ones … the grief we will feel at their loss. It is also about politics and looking beneath the surface of people: spies pop up at every turn, allies and friends may have hidden depths of despair … no-one is quite as they seem.

Moriarty balances each strand of the story cleverly, with plenty of new twists and turns in the plot and in the characterisations.  As in the first novel (A Corner of White, read a review here), Jaclyn Moriarty’s writing simply sparkles: it is an absolute joy to read each line. Readers will be left asking for more, and impatiently awaiting the last volume in the series.

Read an interview with Jaclyn Moriarty about writing this series, here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An enticing opening to a fascinating fantasy series

TITLE = THE COLOURS OF MADELEINE: Book 1 – A CORNER OF WHITE

AUTHOR = JACLYN MORIARTY

GENRE = FANTASY, FATHERS, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 – 12

This is a truly enchanting book by Jaclyn Moriarty who writes in an evocative and original manner. It may take some readers a while to truly get into the book as it really contains two stories in one: the story of Madeleine and her Cambridge friends, set in the world we know as ours and the story of Elliott and his friends, in the Kingdom of Cello. But when a letter moves through a crack between these 2 worlds, the stories begin to merge and Elliott and Madeleine begin to tell each other about themselves and their worlds.

Both Madeleine and Elliott are living alone with their mothers and have missing fathers. But whereas Madeleine left her father by choice, for Elliott, there is a deep mystery surrounding his father’s disappearance. Over the course of the novel both teens must face the reality about their fathers, face the fact that these men who they loved dearly may in fact have been quite flawed. Both teens worry about their own failings and how much they may have followed in their father’s footsteps.

There is much to enjoy in this book. The letter writing and gradual friendship between Elliott and Madeleine does not run smoothly as she is initially quite dismissive of him, refusing to believe that he really exists. But they both help each other thorough some difficult times and by novel’s end may in fact need each other to survive the future. Certainly, Elliott’s friendship with Madeleine is daring: for in his world contact with the Other World is shunned, punishable by death…but surely, when you are a popular heroic boy like Elliott, your life couldn’t be at risk??

There are some very clever twists in the plot of this story that will keep the reader intrigued till the last page and eagerly awaiting the next instalment in this fantasy series. The author has said that she likes making her readers think and she has certainly achieved this with this amazing new book.

This novel is a worthy Notable Book for the 2013 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers).

Highly 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) *****

 

A magical Steampunk war – 1

Moment of Truth (Quark 7):Layout 1TITLE = MOMENT OF TRUTH (The Laws of Magic. Bk 5)

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = FANTASY, MAGIC, STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP

There may be new covers, but the adventure of “The Laws of Magic” series continues unabated in this breathtaking new episode. When war is finally declared, Aubrey and George decide to enlist and find themselevs being trained as spies. Before long, the old trio is back in business when Caroline joins the team and they set off on their first mission. But as we have come to expect from Aubrey and his friends, what was meant to be a relatively straightforward mission soon becomes excitingly dangerous and wonderfully inventive. Old foes will be met and new battles will be fought. But what will Aubrey do if he is forced to choose between the girl of his dreams and treason against his beloved country?? Will any of them survive their latest adventures?? And what about affairs of the heart for both our intrepid hero and his stalwart friend, George??

This wonderful new episode lives up to past volumes in the series and will leave the reader impatiently awaiting the sixth and final volume. For Aubrey may be setting out on his most dangerous journey yet …. will he survive without the support of his two most loyal friends. And if he does, what reception will await him if he manages to make it home??

Another glorious steampunk adventure from Michael Pryor filled with cracking action, lots of magic and wry humour… not to be missed.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

To learn abo0ut some of the earlier books in the series, why not check out earler posts on “Blaze of Glory” (Book 1) or  “Heart of Gold” (Book 2). Or read more about the birth of the series from Michael himself – all the new covers are on display here, too. (Took me a while to warm to the new cover but en masse they look great!)

For the science buffs

George’s Secret Key to the Universe
by Lucy & Stephen Hawking (HAW)
Genre: Science, Science fiction, Adventure
Interest level: Years 7/8

The co-author of this book, Stephen Hawking, has one of the best physics brains in the world. Lucy is his daughter. Together they have created a entertaining blend of scientific fact & fast paced adventure. The storyline is clever: a curious young boy (George) from a family who distrust technology & refuse to use it (eg no TV, no computer) meets a scientist who loves astronomy & science. Together they learn about the joys and pain of science & technology. The main characters are believable but the adventure story on its on (becoming lost in space) probably targeted at a Year 5/6 level; what lifts it above this, is the science that is explored in the process. The presentation is outstanding; facts are provided clearly, in a language that non-scientists can understand, and they are accompanied by amazing astronomical photos from NASA and other sources. Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable and would be especially enjoyed by those who enjoy a mix of fact and fiction.

Highly recommended (dma). *****