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) *****

Sleeping beauty wakes up in 2128

when we wake coverTITLE = WHEN WE WAKE

AUTHOR = KAREN HEALEY

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9

Tegan Oglietti is having the best day of her life, in Melbourne, in 2027, a few years in our future. But the next thing she knows, she wakes up in a hospital – in 2128, having been asleep for over 100 years. She is the first patient who has ever woken up from stasis, and immediately becomes a celebrity, followed at the supermarket and at school. She manages to make some friends (and introduce her music class to the Beatles) but as she discovers more about the world she has woken in, she finds out that not all the changes between the Melbourne she grew up in and this new Melbourne are good, or for good reasons.

This adventure shows us what our future might be; how our decisions can change the world, even if we are sixteen year old girls who have been asleep for a century.

The author, Karen Healey, is from New Zealand but lived in Melbourne for a few years. On her website she has some extras for When We Wake: you can have a look at what the characters are wearing, listen to the book’s soundtrack, or read her essays on the Sleeping Beauty archetype that inspired the story!

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Silver Inky awards.

Highly recommended (emc) *****

A gripping read

KILLING-WOODS-Final2-196x300TITLE = THE KILLING WOODS

AUTHOR = LUCY CHRISTOPHER

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY, ADVENTURE, HORROR  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

This is a clever but quite chilling tale told by 2 key characters: Emily and Damon. Emily is the daughter of a battle-shattered man who has been arrested for the murder of a teenager in the woods behind their house. The doctors and police have decided that her dad’s wounded mind has led him to mistakenly kill the girl whilst in the throes of a flashback. Emily refuses to believe that her dad is guilty of the murder so she wants answers: why was the teenage girl (Ashlee Parker) in the woods on that night anyway? Was her dad simply trying to save the girl as he had saved many woodland creatures in the past?

Damon was Ashlee’s boyfriend. He too wants answers – whilst he firmly believes that Emily’s father is the guilty party, he was actually in the woods with Ashlee on that fateful night  … but a combination of drink and drugs means he cannot clearly remember what happened. He is haunted by the suspicion that he could or should have saved her. Worse still, could he have anything to do with her death?

Can Emily and Damon trust each other enough to find answers for both of them? And what about their own close friends – are they helping or hindering the police investigation … can they be trusted?

A gripping story which is a real page-turner from go to whoa. Like Emily and Damon, the reader will be keen to piece together the events which have led to Ashlee’s death, but will we see the truth before they do?

Why not check out the author’s website to learn more about this gripping novel and her other award winning books?

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting adventure set in Ancient Roman times

galdiator bk 1TITLE = GLADIATOR: FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

AUTHOR = SIMON SCARROW

GENRE = ADVENTURE, ANCIENT ROME, IDENTITY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

If you like reading adventure stories set in Ancient times, then this book is for you! At the beginning, Marcus is ten years old, growing up on a small farm in Ancient Greece. He adores his father, Titus, who was a centurion before he retired and loves his mother Livia. Life is good. Until the day that the money-lender, Decimus, sends his men to the farm to brutally slay Titus and send his family to be sold as slaves.

Vowing revenge, Marcus is sent to a gladiator school where life is brutal indeed. Apart from trying to survive the gruelling training, Marcus must try and outwit the local bully, Ferax, who hates him with a passion and would like nothing more than to see him dead. Can Marcus survive these threats to his life? And what news does the kitchen slave have for Marcus about his father Titus and the slave hero, Spartacus, whom Titus fought in the slave rebellions 10 years ago? Spartacus may have died in that uprising but his name lives on and he is still revered by slaves throughout the land.

This book is fast paced and Marcus is a brave and clever lad who will win the hearts of most readers. Furthermore, this is the first book in a series, so there is plenty of action still to come. And if readers wish to know more about Ancient Rome as depiced in this story, then there are useful notes at the end of this book. Or why not check out the “Gladiator” website?

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting horror adventure awaits … if you dare to read….

screaming staircaseTITLE = LOCKWOOD & CO. : The Screaming Staircase (Book 1)

AUTHOR = JONATHAN STROUD

GENRE = GHOSTS, FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, ADVENTURE, HORROR

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 10

A bit of horror, a bit of humour and a whole lot of adventure … this book has it all. Set in a world where ghosts come out to play at night, and they like to play nasty, scary, life threatening games! Lockwood and Co is a small company of psychic investigators; for a price they will come in and rid your home of those nasty spectres, they will banish the ghosts to eternity.

Well, that is what Lucy has trained for and that is why she has joined forces with the dashing Anthony Lockwood and his side-kick, their researcher, George. The three teenagers hope to make a name for themselves, even though they are working solo, without the usual adult supervisor. However, it is hard to be taken seriously when your exploits have a tendency to go slightly awry. Customers may want the ghosts to disappear but they don’t necessarily want their house to be burnt down in the process!

This is the predicament they find themselves in early in the novel. To avoid going out of business, they must solve a mystery and take on the scariest challenge ever: a challenge that has already taken the lives of many other ghost seekers. Can they survive the night on the renowned “screaming staircase”? Will Lockwood lead his charges safely or will they pay with their lives for his recklessness?

An exciting adventure awaits readers … and the best news is, this is the first in a series of books by Jonathan Stroud – so there are plenty more to come. This book has already been nominated for a number of awards, including the Edgar award (US award for mystery writing).

Check out the website based on the series or read the interactive shortstory featuring Lockwood and his crew, here.

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Silver Inky Award.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A wonderful blend of spy action and schoolyard romance

TITLE = SPY SOCIETY: Hide in Plain Sight

AUTHOR = ROBIN BENWAY

GENRE = SPIES, SCHOOL, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read largely because neither the author nor the narrator take themselves too seriously.

Maggie Silver is the daughter of two international spies and, since the age of 4, has been a safecracking genius. The family has just been sent to NYC on assignment but this time, Maggie is the key. Yes, she has her first real job as a spy: attend high school and befriend Jesse Oliver so she can break into his dad’s safe! Sounds easy?? Well, for a girl who has spent her life travelling the world accompanying her parents on their spy cases, attending high school is not as easy as you might expect. Maggie soon discovers that she is more adept at cracking safes than she is at cracking the teenage high school code of behaviour, let alone cracking the code of teenage boys.

Part mystery story (with just enough hints thrown in to keep the reader guessing), part teen romance story (as both Jesse and Maggie try to make sense of their equally unusual upbringings) and part high-school drama this novel is a thoroughly engaging romp from beginning to end. Robin Benway balances the demands of each element of her story cleverly and the teenage narrative voice is pitch perfect. With plenty of action, romance and just the right amount of teenage ansgst to keep young readers entertained, it looks like a delightful series is about to begin.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting mix of supernatural curses and romance

TITLE = INVISIBILTY

AUTHOR = DAVID LEVITHAN & ANDREA CREMER

GENRE = PARANORMAL, ROMANCE, FAMILY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 -11

 Stephen has been invisible since birth yet he has somehow managed to eke out an existence in one of the busiest cities in the world: New York. Living on his own since his father fled and his mother died, Stephen is used to spending time with himself, invisibly wandering the city, especially Central Park. IT may be a solitary existence but he has made peace with his lot in life. This peace and quiet is massively disrupted when he discovers that his new neighbour, Elizabeth can actually see him! Elizabeth is battling her own demons: for she is angry at the world since a shocking attack on her gay brother, Laurie, has split up her family and forced Elizabeth, Laurie and her Mum to relocate from small town Minnesota to NYC. Both Elizabeth and Stephen are shy and hesitant when it comes to forming relationships, yet they tentatively reach out to each other.

Then suddenly everything changes: for the characters and for the reader. For once we learn the reason for Stephen’s invisibility the whole genre and pace of the novel changes. Suddenly Stephen and Elizabeth are facing life changing and life threatening odds and we enter a world of magic, spells and curses and nail biting action. Andrea Cremer is well versed in paranormal fiction but this is new territory for David Levithan and one of the charms of this novel is that the chapters that he contributes to the story (those from Stephen’s perspective) are filled with typical Levithan thoughtfulness and reflection.

Ultimately, this is not your everyday paranormal romance… it is much much more… and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Fans of David Levithan may be surprised but many will also be excited by this new direction in his writing.

Check out the authors websites here (David Levithan) and Here (Andrea Cremer ).

Highly Recommended *****         

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) ****

 

Dreams can come true … maybe

TITLE = GALACTIC ADVENTURES: FIRST KIDS IN SPACE

AUTHOR = TRISTAN BANCKS

GENRE = SCI FI, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

This is an easy story to read and enjoy. Why not check out the book trailer below:

(Note that the music for this trailer was sourced from the Animoto site: “Moon Based Memories” by Bernard Fevre)

 Recommended (dma) ***

 

 

 

A slow burn sci fi story

TITLE = A CONFUSION OF PRINCES

AUTHOR = GARTH NIX

GENRE = SCIENCE FICTION

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 -10

After a slow start, this journey into a Sci Fi world becomes quite engaging. Khemri has been programmed to become a Prince, a ruler of the Empire. With all sorts of in-built biological and technological aids, you would think that this young Prince in the making would be heroic and wise. Instead, at the start of the novel he seems like a spoilt jerk!

This humorous characteristic is the saving grace of the novel at the beginning. In amongst all the SF techno jargon and the setting up of this strange new SF world, the reader can enjoy a chuckle at Khemri’s expense. Although one delightful part of this arrogant Prince’s character is that he is a fast learner – so he soon begins to recognise his own short-comings (and the problems and humourous situations that can arise from them).

Most importantly he gradually realises that having been prepared for life as a priest is really no preparation for his world at all. Sent off on strange missions, Khemri begins to realise that those mere humans that he once scorned may actually offer a life that is preferable to the world of power and dominion for which he has been bred. More importantly, he falls in love and his whole world view changes. As Khemri grows and becomes more human he also becomes more likable so readers are likely to be drawn in excitedly over the last few nail-biting chapters … to see if Khemri will survive his brush with humanity.

This novel was written to accompany the online game “Imperial Galaxy” – check it out here. And the accompanying wiki can be found here.

Recommended (dma) ****