It has all your favourite things! Adventure, maps… and a sad ending.

The-Girl-of-Ink-and-Stars-by-Kiran-Millwood-HargraveTitle: 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)

 

 

A gritty and compelling vampire story

coldest girl in coldtownTITLE = THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLD TOWN

AUTHOR = HOLLY BLACK

GENRE = FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, VAMPIRES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS

Imagine a world where vampires exist … not the sparkly kind, the dangerous kind. Imagine going to a party one night and waking up the next morning to find all the other party guests have been killed …. by vampires. That is, all but your ex-boyfriend. Do you run? Do you save him? And what about the vampire chained in the corner .. do you take him with you or escape while you can??

This may seem like a nightmare world but it is Tana’s reality.

And so begins a gripping new novel by that wondrous writer, Holly Black. As Tana tries to maintain her sanity, and her humanity, she is driven into increasingly desperate situations. Going on the run with a soon-to-be vampire she once loved and a somewhat crazed vampire who she seems to be falling for, may seem like an act of madness but Tana is intent on staying alive and staying one step ahead of danger. She is not trying to impress anyone, she is not looking for romance – she simply wants to stay alive and human …even if she must risk everything by entering the strange world of Coldtown, where vampires and reality TV seem to have merged.

Only Holly Black could have dreamed up a world like this one: dark and cruel and absolutely fascinating. A world where compassion may be found in the unlikeliest places and where no-one is quite as they seem. A compelling tale from go to whoa which will have readers spellbound, especially those who like their fantasy to be just a little bit gritty.

Highly Highly Recommended (dma) *****  

A brilliant update on an old classic

TITLE = BLACK SPRING

AUTHOR = ALISON CROGGON

GENRE = GOTHIC, FANTASY, LITERARY REVAMP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 12

A fresh and brilliant take on a literary classic (Wuthering Heights), this novel is an absolute masterpiece. For those who have read the story on which it is based, this will be a wonderful read: the intense gothic atmosphere is rendered effectively, the characters are well drawn and familiar, the inclusion of supernatural elements only heightens the effect and gives it a more credible context. The writing is brilliant: the sense of place and mood is created with succinct yet evocative imagery, which recalls the harsh beauty of the original Bronte creation. Croggon has even kept the structure of the original – with the finicky character (here named  Hammel), whose commentary frames the real story of the relationship of 2 compelling and passionate characters (in this case Lina and Damek, rather than Cathy and Heathcliff).

For those who are new to the story line, they will be equally captivated. The front cover is haunting and truly creepy, to match the narrative style which reflects the writing of the 19th century without being too old-fashioned to put off readers who are more used to modern novels.  The ensuing tale of intense emotions – love, anger, hatred and revenge – is wrapped up in a haunting atmosphere where darkness lurks and where passion is never far from the surface.

This novel could be a great introduction for many to the Bronte world for after reading this book, many will be drawn to the original and may well find it more accessible. Alison Croggon is to be commended for taking a literary classic and breathing new life into it – for complementing the original work so cleverly.

A must read for lovers of YA literature and for lovers of literature in general

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

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Final instalment was worth the wait.

TITLE = THE POWER OF FIVE: OBLIVION

AUTHOR = ANTHONY HOROWITZ

GENRE = FANTASY, ACTION, ADVENTURE, ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-10

When we last left the 5 teens who represent “the Power of 5” they were racing against the elements – diving through a gate in Hong Kong, in the hope of saving themselves and the future of the world. “Oblivion” is the final instalment of this highly charged fantasy-adventure series. It is double the size of previous volumes for a very good reason: each of the 5 main characters has been separated as they travelled through the gate, so each of their stories is told separately. They have landed on separate continents, sometimes alone, sometimes with another but there is a certain unity to their situations: firstly, time has progressed at an alarming rate and secondly, they are also ALL in a life and death struggle – almost on a daily basis.

Matthew has been the leader of the group in past series and he shoulders this mantle again, somewhat reluctantly. Can the five meet in the dream world? Can they each survive, let alone find each other and save the world?

Or in this strange new world of the future, is it all too late? Are the human race saving? And will 5 teens really stand alone against their longtime enemy … or is help at hand? Each character will be tested… but who will win?

Another exciting instalment with action and drama aplenty, as is to be expected from Anthony Horowitz. A fitting conclusion to what has been an amazing journey for Matt and his peers … and for readers, too

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A nail biting adventure series begins

TITLE = THE POWER OF FIVE: Raven’s Gate

AUTHOR = ANTHONY HOROWITZ

GENRE = FANTASY, ACTION, ADVENTURE, ANCIENT CIVILISATIONS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-10

When Matt Freeman is caught breaking and entering, he knows that his life will change, but he has no idea of the horrifying direction that it is about to take. At 14 yo, the authorities decide that Matt should become part of the LEAF project, which is meant to support his rehab but instead he finds himself locked into a world of drudgery on a farm. But worse still, it appears he is trapped here; trapped by a village determined that he will not escape, trapped by forces that wish him harm. Is he up against some kind of weird magic?

Who can he turn to for help? Who can he trust? As Matt does his best to flee, it seems that anyone who tries to help him gets killed, which only ramps up his fear & suspicion. When he seeks outside help from a local journalist he is mocked. Is all hope lost?? And why are these strange people after him anyway? Is it linked to the weird power that occasionally rises to the surface in Matt, a power he is unable to control.

Thriller action and eerie mystery are brilliantly woven together in this exciting book, the first in “The Power of Five”. As the mystery of Matt’s powers are gradually revealed it is clear that there is plenty more adventure and horror in store for both Matt and the reader. Four more titles await – with the action ramping up in each one.

Not to be missed. An exciting new series from the gifted author of “The Alex Rider series”, Anthony Horowitz. Read more about the series and the author.

Highly Highly Recommended (dma) *****    

An enticing sequel

TITLE = QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

AUTHOR = LEANNE HALL

GENRE = FANTASY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

A sequel to the engrossing “This is Shyness”, this novel is every bit as enthralling and intriguing. We pick up the story 6 months after the conclusion of “This is Shyness” only to find that Wolfboy and Wildgirl haven’t been in touch since then. Both are getting on with their lives in positive ways: Wildgirl (now better known as Nia) has moved schools and has a new part-time job, which she loves. Wolfboy has a caring and close relationship with his niece and her mother. Yet each still can’t help thinking of the other with an element of regret.

When a friend is in trouble, Wolfboy instinctively turns to Nia for help. But is it too late for them to start again? And is it too late to hep Paul? Is there even more danger looming in the depths of Shyness?

An engrossing sequel which leaves room for further adventures to come.

Read about the first book in this series here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****   

 

A new student booktrailer on a popular book

TITLE =SKULDUGERRY PLEASANT

AUTHOR = DEREK LANDY

GENRE =FANTASY, MYSTERY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

 

 

 

Highly Recommended by claire & lauren – check out their book trailer below:

Music (“Bandroid ” by Cracknation) sourced from the Animoto site as are the images. Text created by claire & lauren.

And if you like the sound of this book why not check out the booktrailer on Book 2 in the series here.

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) *****

 

When myths come alive

TITLE = CROW COUNTRY

AUTHOR =KATE CONSTABLE

GENRE = ABORIGNAL MYTHS & LEGENDS, SUPERNATURAL, TIME TRAVEL

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

This is an intriguing blend of fantasy, Aboriginal mythology and mystery. 13 year old Sadie is not happy that her Mum has relocated her from Melbourne to the small country town of Boort. But when she comes across an ancient ring of rocks at a nearby dried up lake, Sadie is awakened to the mystery lurking there. First she feels like the crows are talking to her, directing her to take action, to right a long-ago wrong. Then she begins to slip back in time to witness events which seem to have cursed her family and others ever since they happened.

For Sadie discovers that her grandfather, Clarry had two mates from the war: Gerry Mortlock, a local squatter, and Jimmy Raven, who worked on Gerry’s property after the war. Although Jimmy was not from the local Aboriginal tribe (he hailed from Melbourne) he still held great respect for the land and mythology surrounding the Boort region. Unfortunately, this brought him into conflict with Gerry and Clarry with tragic results.

And it seems that this tragic relationship has oft repeated itself. Sadie’s Mum, Ellie had once dated Gerry’s grandson, Craig until she left him for an aboriginal boy, David. The result was again brutal. And in Sadie’s own time, her friendship with Walter, an Aboriginal newcomer, comes between her new found friendship with Craig’s son, Lachie Mortlock and it looks set to end in violence yet again.

Can Sadie prevent disaster repeating itself? Will her new found kinship with the crows provide her with strength or act as a millstone around her neck.

This is an entertaining tale with its clever blending of crow mythology and time travel into a credible mystery-adventure. The characters are believable and the action and mystery moves along at a good pace.

Shortlisted for CBCA Book of the Year 2012 (Younger Readers)

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

 

 


Mystery, intrigue and forbidden love

TITLE = WINTER’S SHADOW

AUTHOR =M.J.HEARLE

GENRE = FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, ROMANCE,

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 10

An entertaining supernatural story – it might include forbidden love but there is not a werewolf or vampire in sight, which is a pleasant change! The beautiful cover sets the tone of the book: romance, darkness and mystery. Winter is a very credible character and the world she becomes embroiled in is imaginatively conceived.

Why not check out this book trailer which hints at the flavour of this most engaging story:

 

 

Recommended (dma) ****

 


(Note: all images in the book trailer courtesy of the Animoto site, music also provided from Animoto – Artist: Jeff Wetherall Song: Love Enduring. Text created by dma)

 You might also want to read the author’s blog or enter a competition he has started and win yourself a signed copy of this book! get your cameras out now.