Title: The Girl of Ink and Stars
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Interest Level: Year 7 +
They say the day the Governor arrived, so did the ravens. And the songbirds, in their despair, flew backwards into the sea. That’s why there are no songbirds on Joya.
Isabella loves stories and her father, an explorer and renowned cartographer, is a master storyteller. But since the Governor arrived on their island, there has been no need for map making – exploration is forbidden and no one is allowed to leave the island.
When her best friend Lupe, the Governor’s daughter, goes missing – Isabella is determined to help find her. Armed with only ink, parchment, her knowledge of the stars and the stories of her father, Isabella joins the search party to navigate the island’s forgotten territories. But the monsters in her father’s stories are more real than she could have imagined, Isabella must face her fears to find her friend. The vivid descriptions and stunning rendering of the book itself will draw you into this beautiful tale of courage and wonder. The debut novel of Kiran Millwood Hargrave showcases her flair for poetry and love of short stories, embedded within this fantasy tale.
Highly recommended: **** (ofr)
TITLE = 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) *****
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) *****
TITLE = SEA HEARTS
AUTHOR = MARGO LANAGAN
GENRE = FANTASY, FAMILY, COMMUNITY, RELATIONSHIPS
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+
What an extraordinary book!
This amazing book will entice readers into a foreign world of magic and mystery with a heart breaking tale of revenge and love. The lyrical language will lure readers into the story and delight them at the same time. Whilst the central story will capture their hearts.
The island of Rollrock seems to be at the mercy of the elements: such a windy, cold place which seems to demand hardiness from its inhabitants. Meanwhile the surrounding sea not only provides families with a livelihood but also provides them with mystery and wonder. The seals which lollop on the beach front may be scorned but their females (the selkies) seem to weave a charm on the hearts of the local men. Or is the spell woven by the local witch? Is it a spell of love or a curse of revenge? And most importantly, will it bring harm to the Rollrock community or can it be broken?
This story is cleverly woven from different perspectives of some of the key players on the island; their separate stories will gradually come together in a moving end. This is a book to be treasured and a book which readers will find hard to put down and even harder to forget.
This novel is a worthy selection on the shortlist for the 2013 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers).
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
TITLE =PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF
AUTHOR =RICK RIORDAN
GENRE= ADVENTURE, QUEST, MYTHS & LEGENDS, FANTASY
INTEREST LEVEL =YEARS 7 – 9
Percy Jackson has always felt a bit of a misfit at school – suffering from ADHD and dyslexia, he often finds the academic side of school a bit of a struggle. And he somehow seems to always get into trouble. Six schools in six years is not a great track record.. from the outside it seems he might be a troubled kid …but from the inside he is just a bit confused. And he rapidly becomes even more confused when he finds himself battling his Maths teacher (who has somehow transformed herself into a monster with bat wings and talons) and not long afterwards, trying to survive against a minotaur! Percy has never met his dad – and when he learns who his father really is… and that Percy himself (fullname: Perseus) is a half-blood, who has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, then the stage is set for an epic quest across America. Fortunately, Percy is not alone on his quest, with the beautiful Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover (a satyr) to help him on his way. Still, it is Percy who must unravel the mystery and bravely face not only Hades and Zeus, but also the Furies who are out to destroy him before he can complete his quest. This is a thoroughly entertaining merging of Ancient Greek myths and the modern world – the action is non-stop and brilliantly woven with humour (the chapter titles alone are quite often very funny). So readers are sure to enjoy this novel, which is the first in a series of five. So, there is plenty more to enjoy o9nce you have finished this one!
Why not check out the official Percy Jackson site – there is some fun stuff here about the books, the movie, interviews with Hades etc. Or you could catch the author at his blog.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
STORMBRINGER: RAVENS RISING by Kerry Greenwood (GRE)
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Interest level: Years 11/12
This is the third book in the trilogy which is set in a future where the world has changed dramatically. Control of this new world lies with the University but when our heroes (the Ravens) return to Melbourne Uni to tell of their exploits from Book 2, they find no-one there – except for a computer that wants to take over their minds. There are strong themes throughout the book concerning friendship, loyalty, kinship and independence. The characters and story line are intriguing; a believable future world has been created, even if the circumstances of this world are not fully explained. The traditional Good versus Evil conflict plays out with some terrific touches: the Twins (Flae & Thel) who finish each others sentences provide an intriguing mix. The main characters are drawn boldly and in pairs: Bran (the hero who is a pure, goodhearted leader) and Scathe (once an Oracle, a Good Angel, an androgynous, beautiful empath); Swart (the Bad Angel – dark in looks & mood, a cynic who hates dirt and finds it hard to share with others) and Ceridwen (a beautiful woman of the wild who brings love & comfort to Swart); Mill (a huge, Hercules type figure, full of brawn) and Tenar (his equal in size & might); the Twins (wild hunters, able to melt into their surrounds with a very close bond) and Dismas (a wily thief, able to break into anything, he thinks of himself as a coward yet he often acts heroically). Whilst this book could be read alone, the reader would be wise to read the first 2 books in the trilogy to fully enjoy the story line. Kerry Greenwood is a clever writer who always provides an entertaining and thoughtful narrative.
Recommended (dma). ***
Beowulf (Graphic novel version) (HIN)
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic novel, Action, Adventure
Interest level: Years 8 and up
This is a wonderful adaptation of the old Norse legend. A cruel monster has haunted the Danes for years, killing anyone who stays in their meeting hall overnight. The hero Beowulf (a Geat) comes to slay this monster (or be slayed by it) with his Herculean-like strength. Whilst Beowulf defeats the monster he must then face Grendel (the monster’s rather angry mother). An interesting look at a legendary superhero (without the modern day cape or alien powers). Beowulf’s modesty is a key virtue in this adaptation. The illustrations are truly compelling; it is visually a very attractive rendition of the story and would appeal particularly to those readers who like their action to be blood-soaked.
Highly recommended (dma). *****