Action aplenty amidst the sewers of Victorian London

CITY OF ORPHANS BK 1TITLE = CITY OF ORPHANS (book 1) : A VERY UNUSUAL PURSUIT 

AUTHOR = CATHERINE JINKS

GENRE = HORROR, ADVENTURE, FANTASY 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

If you like action, adventure and ghosts… with a backdrop of historic London then you will love this book. Young Birdie lives in the dark and threatening streets of London at a time when being a child wasn’t always easy. But Birdie is happy with her lot because she lives and works with Alfred Bunce, the local bogler who kills child eating monsters. Alfred may speak little, but he certainly looks after and cares for young Birdie ..even if his job does require him to use her as bait for the monsters he kills!

Birdie loves her job, despite the danger; she feels certain that she and Alfred are a match for any bogle out there. But have Alfred and Birdie bitten off more than they can chew … will they survive a run-in with the crook Sarah Pickles and the mysterious doctor?

If you enjoyed Jonathan Stroud’s “The Screaming Staircase” (reviewed here) you will also love this book … fast-paced, a cleverly twisting and  turning plot and an historic London that is brought magically to life … you can almost smell the rats and the sewers!!

Look out for the second (A Very Peculiar Plague) and third (A Very Singular Guild) books in the series … soon  to be on the shelves.

 This book was shortlisted in the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year awards and then announced as THE WINNER!! CONGRATULATIONS TO CATHERINE JINKS.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

 

Fast-paced from start to finish

machine warsTITLE = MACHINE WARS

AUTHOR = MICHAEL PRYOR

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION, FUTURE, ACTION, ADVENTURE 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This novel is a fast-paced adventure from the very first line.

Bram’s mum (the genius behind many Artificial Intelligence (AI) inventions) has always been aware of the potential problems inherent in AI so when one of her creations (Ahriman) starts to act strangely, she has prepared her family with a well-researched “Scatter-and-Hide” safety plan.

But for 14 year old Bram, practising a safety plan and the reality of a safety plan are 2 very different things. Bram finds it exhausting, nerve-wracking and down-right dangerous being on the run from robotic-internet driven AI controlled bugs. IT is just as well he has 2 companions: a friend from school (Stella) who distinguishes herself with her intelligence, and Bob the duck (Bram’s favourite toy when he was a toddler but since turned into an AI protector by Bram’s mum).

Can Bram, Stella and Bob the Duck outwit the power hungry Ahriman long enough for Bram’s mum to come up with a counter-attack?? With clever robots on their tails, the machine wars are very, very real and could end very, very badly for Bram, Stella and Bob.

Great pace, great action and clever plotting make this story an enjoyable romp from start to finish. There are plenty of punches and punchlines andjust  a touch of romance, so it is wonderful  entertainment for younger readers.

Recommended (dma) ****

Parkour and poetry provide a powerful mix

runTITLE = RUN

AUTHOR = TIM SINCLAIR

GENRE = PARKOUR, POETRY, VERSE NOVEL, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

Ever since his friend Trench introduced him to parkour, Dee has fallen in love with it: running, jumping, moving through his suburb and city with athleticism and daring: seeing his environs in ways others can’t and using this skill to move … to run, to free himself from all around. It gives him a buzz, it makes him feel alive. But when a photographer offers him a chance to be filmed, Dee finds himself running from trouble. With the help of his new best friend, Jess, and her hacking skills, Dee just might be able to get out of trouble … or he might be heading deeper into danger. And just what did happen to his old friend Trench – is there a warning there for Dee?

Dee tells his story using free verse. The flow of his voice is natural and easy to follow, with the occasional clever image or metaphor. At times the author, Tim Sinclair, uses shape poetry to good effect: to catch the image of waves or a wire-fence in words. On pages describing Dee’s parkour antics, there are also bruised rubbings splashed across the page, perhaps mirroring Dee’s own light touch and flashes of movement.   Arrows which break up chapter sections also emphasise the sense of movement which is so important to Dee’s story.An unusual format, which is both visually engaging and also tells an intriguing story.             

It is clear why this book was selected as a 2014 Notable Book (Older Readers) by the CBCA Judges.  

Recommended(dma) ****

Plenty of adventure and fantasy

ruins of gorlan newTITLE = RANGER’S APPRENTICE Book 1 : The Ruins of Gorlan

AUTHOR = JOHN FLANAGAN

GENRE = ACTION/ADVENTURE, FANTASY,

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

Will has always dreamed of being a knight, despite his small size. So when he is denied this chance and instead sent to become an apprentice to a ranger he is disappointed, to say the least. It doesn’t help matters that the ranger himself (Halt) is a man of few words and quite a hard task master.

However, under Halt’s tutelage, Will learns that being a ranger is not as easy as he had at first thought: there are many new and unexpected skills for him to learn and several weapons to master. This newly gained knowledge may come in handy when the kingdom faces a dire threat. Is Will up to the challenge? Will he have the courage and the cleverness required to save the day?

This is a fast paced adventure, the first in a series. Will is a likeable hero and has a lot to learn about himself and his friends. It is easy to see why this book has been so popular with so many students: it is a great read.

Find out about later books in the series here: Halt’s Peril and The Kings of Clonmel

Find out more about the series on the great website dedicated to The Rangers Apprentice

And if you like this book, you may also like John Flanagan’s Brotherband series: reviewed here (Book 1 and Book 2)

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

An unusual and amusing tale of adventure, myth and mayhem

houndedTITLE = THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES #1: Hounded

AUTHOR = KEVIN HEARNE

GENRE = FANTASY, HUMOUR, MYTHS & LEGENDS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 – 12

 Atticus O’Sullivan is the last of the Druids. He runs an occult bookshop in Arizona and is happily minding his own business when life is turned upside down for him. Atticus has in his possession a famous sword (Fragarach – the Answerer) but the Celtic god who previously owned this sword wants it back and will use any means to achieve this end. Atticus has always been careful (some would say he is paranoid about safety) but it seems even harder than usual for him to know who to trust – are the local witches on his side? Will his werewolf friends help out? Will the local cops believe him … and what of that pesky neighbour??

Perhaps the only one he can truly trust is his beloved wolfhound, Oberon with whom he communicates in thought ..

Life is certainly never boring for Atticus and readers will be cheering him on as he faces one danger after another. Action packed and very,  very funny – a most entertaining read with a new take on magic and the supernatural. Thankfully this is not a stand alone novel but the first in an engaging new series.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** For more mature readers

A satisfying conclusion to an exciting series

TITLE = THE PHOENIX FILES Book 6: DOOMSDAY

AUTHOR =  CHRIS MORPHEW

GENRE = ACTION, ADVENTURE, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

After 5 action-packed books, we finally come to the conclusion of this engaging series. The clock continues to tick for Luke and Jordan and this time they take it in turns to tell the story,  which only serves to increase the sense of drama.

Once more the odds are set against them: not only are they trying to prevent Luke’s murder but they also have broader concerns: harnessing the potential power of baby Tobias, who remains their last chance of saving the world from the outbreak of Tabitha. All the while, they are trying to avoid being captured by Shackleton and his army.

Yet help suddenly appears from unexpected quarters … or does it? Realistically, neiter the characters nor the reader knows quite who to trust apart for much of the story which only adds to the tension that Morphew has created.

Some might quibble that there are one too many character about-faces to be truly credible but the fact that we are never certain about their motivation ensures most readers will be carried along with the story.

Readers looking for fast paced action and nailbiting tension will be satisfied with this final instalment in what has been an exciting series.

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) *****

Loyalty and horses in a time of war

TITLE = THE HORSES DIDN’T COME HOME

AUTHOR = PAMELA RUSHBY

GENRE = ACTION, ADVENTURE, BOY STUFF, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, FRIENDSHIP, GROWING UP, IDENTITY, HISTORICAL FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

This is a beautiful coming of age story, of 16-year old Harry’s growth to manhood during World War I, and of his 12-year old sister Laura back home in Queensland.  It is the story full of loyalty and courage, of the incredible bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses which culminated in the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917, the last great cavalry charge and a striking contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli and the Western Front.  The story begins when Harry and his friend Jack, underage and just home from boarding school in Brisbane, sign up for the Light Horse regiment which has bought almost all their horses for the war.  Harry’s sister Laura makes a huge sacrifice and offers her beloved horse and best friend ‘Bunty’ to Harry for him to ride to war.  The story is told through both Harry and Laura’s eyes, in a combination of letters, first persona and third person narrative which works well to capture the emotions and voices of Harry, Laura, Jack and their families and friends in a dramatic yet very human way.  Harry, who appreciates the great sacrifice Laura has made for him by giving him her precious ‘Bunty’, writes letters from ‘Bunty’ to Laura, which give an alternate perspective to Harry’s ‘official’ letters to his parents and help to strengthen his friendship with his younger sister.  The book’s title, while appearing to give away the story’s ending, in fact gives very little away.  It is up to us as readers to take the journey with Harry, Jack, Bunty and Laura to truly understand this unique period in history and the very real changes that it wrought upon the Australian people. This is a 2013 CBCA Notable Book for Younger Readers.

Highly recommended (mrsk) *****

Why not check out the book trailer below:

Images either sourced from the Animoto website or photos taken by mrsk.  Music “All or nothing” by Derby (sourced from the Animoto website).

An action packed sequel to keep you guessing

TITLE = INSURGENT

AUTHOR = VERONICA ROTH

GENRE = WAR, ACTION, ADVENTURE, FAMILY, ROMANCE, POLITICAL INTRIGUE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9, 10

As expected, this sequel picks up where the action left off at the end of the first exciting book: Tris & Tobias have escaped from the fighting with her brother, Caleb and Tobias’ hated father, Marcuc. They have taken refuge in the Amity faction whilst they determine their approach for the future. Tris is racked with guilt over the deathy of Will and feels unable to share this with Tobias, which only deepens her sense of gulit and grief.

However, when they are forced to flee from the Amity and take refuge with candour, they find that they are both on the Wanted List for commiting crimes against humanity, in their supposed role in the Dauntless rebellion. Will they survive the truth serum that is a necessary part of their trial?? And if so, what lies ahead??

As they try to unravel the politics and lies of the differing faction leaders – does their best chance lie with the factionless? Or should they follow Marcus … despite Tobias’ feelings for him?? And should Tris follow her instincts even if this means lying to the one person she truly loves?

The stakes are even higher for Tris in this exciting sequel – she is battling against powerful forces once again but this time she is also battling against herself. How do you trust others when you no longer trust yourself? Is revenge more important than truth?

THis novel is action packed right till the last page … a great read!

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

Action packed new series is sure to be a hit

TITLE = THE DEBT: Catch the Zolt

AUTHOR = PHILLIP GWYNNE

GENRE = ACTION, ADVENTURE, THRILLER

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 10

 

 This is a fast-paced action series in 6 instalments. Credible adventure and nail-biting situations galore.

If you enjoyed “Conspiracy 365”, you will love this series – another race against time – and the stakes are very high for our hero, Dom.

Check out the book trailer below:

 

 

 

 

All images and music sourced from the Animoto site. Music: “Bass my brain” (Christopher Skinner; Emmanuel Kallis)