Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Malichea Quest Book 3 The Lethal Target by Jim Eldridge

This is Book 3 in the Malichea Quest series, and I haven't read books 1 and 2.  I am happy to say that it didn't matter and I could enjoy this book as a stand alone title.

The Order of Malichea have a library of scientific texts, According to Jim Eldridge's website: 1497 the leader of the Order of Malichea instructed the monks of the Order to take these so-called “heretical” science books and hide them in secure places, hiding each book in a separate place. To ensure the books would not be discovered, each book was to be hidden in a place that was unlikely to be disturbed because it was either sacred, or said to be cursed, or claimed to be haunted. A coded list of the different books and their hiding places was kept, known as The Index. 

Now these aren't ordinary scientific texts, these books include topics such as time travel and alchemy. The book at the centre of this story is, Dioscorides “De Materia Medica Contiuum” and it's about spontaneous human combustion.  Imagine having the ability to create a weapon that allows you to cause people to burn from the inside out,  killing them without a trace. It is an ability that the Russians want, and they will do whatever it takes to get it.

It is because of this book that 19 year old Jake Wells finds himself on the Isle of Mull, with exiled girlfriend Lauren, aka Helen Cooper.  They need to stop the Russians getting their hands on the book, but they are not the only ones on the Island with an interested in it.  The pair have to figure out who they can trust, and avoid joining the ever growing death toll, as people involved are being murdered!

Books 1 and 2 in the series
I really enjoyed this story with it's mix of action, history and conspiracy theory.  The series has been called an action packed thrillers for fans of the Da Vinci Code, which is a bit misleading, because while the main characters in this book are adults (19 years old), it is still a book for teenage readers.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Interview with Peter Cooper

As much as I hate the idea of being on camera, I was very happy to have a chat with Peter Cooper about his books and the story of how he bacame a published author.

Peter has written three books in the Tales of the Blue Jade series, two of which I reviewed last year

Book 3: Jeweller of Rassylon

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Shahana by Roseanne Hawke

This book is a real winner for readers who are interested in reading about children who live dramatically different lives to their own.  Shahara lives in Azad Kashmir, in the shadow of the Line of Control. Her mother, father and older brother have all been killed, her Grandfather is dead, and she lives with her younger brother, all alone in the forest outside of a village.  Shahana is only15 years old, but she works hard to keep her small family together.  Then along comes a strange boy who needs their help, but helping him puts her and her brother’s lives in danger.

Fans of Parvana by Deborah Ellis will really enjoy this book, as Shahana is another strong female character.  While it may sound like a depressing story, and there are depressing moments, it is at it heart, a story of hope, because we see how the rest of the world is beginning to become aware of what is going on in this war torn part of the world.

There is information in the back of the book, giving historical background to the story as well as a timeline. The war over Kashmir is the longest running conflict in the world today, and probably the least well known. 
This is the first book in a new series called Through My Eyes, each book will be written by a different author, and each story will be about a child living in a conflict zone. Amina by JL Powers will be set in Somalia and is out in September 2013.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

There's a new spy in town

There's a new spy in town, and her name is Maggie...

Here's the lowdown:
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case…all while trying not to blow her cover.
I am a fan of the Gallagher Girls and the Heist Society books, and to be honest that's why I picked up this book, because it sounded like a similar type of book.  There's plenty of 'spy' activity in the book, but it's also a book about a very sheltered teenage girl, finding her way in the world.  Yes Maggie may have travelled the world, lived in exotic cities and be a much sought after safe cracker, but, she has never been to a party, had a best friend let alone a boyfriend,  in fact, Maggie has never even been to school!  
The US edition of the book is called Also Known As
While Maggie is working on her first assignment she's also figuring out how to be a regular teenager...making friends, going to parties, flirting and even doing homework. So, while you Ally Carter fans are anxiously waiting for a new book to hit the shelves, why not give his one a go.
Here's a link to the authors website, to see what else she has written.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

I have been more that a little bit slack with my blogging this year, but it's a book like this one that make it easier to get on the computer and start typing because I just want everyone to read it.  It was originally published in hardback in 2011, but is now out in paperback.

Jack and his Mum are on a camping holiday in the Acadia National Park in Maine.  On the very first morning, Jack wakes up to find his Mum gone, she's taken her tent and the car.  Jack doesn't tell anyone, his Mum has left him before, so he sets out alone to find her, because he is sure if he tells someone what happened, they will take him away from her forever.

So they story begins of 11 year old Jack, who all alone, begins his search for his Mother, and when he realises that he may not find her, his journey to get back home, with one important stop on the see Lydia, the elephant.

Heartbreaking is the word that springs to mind when I think about this book. The reason for this is that despite everything, Jack loves his Mum, and he doesn't want to get her into trouble. He thinks if he gets caught, his Mum will go to jail for leaving him.  Imagine the life of an 11 year old boy, who would rather eat food out of a dumpster and sleep in the woods than give himself up and be somewhere safe and warm...heartbreaking.

This book is simply written, but it has a lot of heart.  I think it will be a book that teacher's will jump on to use in the classroom, and Candlewick Press have even provided a teacher's guide.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Littlest Bushranger by Alison Reynolds illustrated by Heath McKenzie

Sometimes it’s the books that you least expect to grab you…that actually do.  I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up, and what I found was quite a treat.  It immediately reminded me of another favourite of mine You Must Be Joking! By Mike Dumbleton.

Jack’s sister Lily is starting school, so he is left with only his dog Hector for company.  What starts off as a quite day with Jack standing guard at home, turns into an action packed race to retrieve Lily’s telescope, snatched away by the Outlaw.

Jack jumps on his trusty stead and gallops after the Outlaw.  He battles snakes and bunyips, ploughs through a scorching desert, crashes through a rainforest until he comes face to face with the thief and battles it out until the telescope is once again in his grasp.

The real treat for me was at the end of the book, when Jack has returned from his gruelling exploits, we see the backyard…on his bike.  There are upturned pot plants (rainforest), a paddling pool (billabong) a sandpit and umbrella (dessert and scorching sun), a hose (the snake), and the evil outlaw perched on the fence.

Boys will love this rollicking read, which shows that all you need to have an adventure is a good imagination.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a bargain at $14.95 for a hardback!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

I just love love love Sarah Dessen, and this book did not disappoint.

Here's what it says on the back of the book:

Colby may be just a small holiday beach town for the tourists, but for Emeline it's home.
It looks like it's going to be another typical summer there with her gorgeous high-school sweetheart, Luke - until a New York filmmaker and her ambitious assistant Theo check in.  They're obviously after a story.  But, when getting the locals to talk proves tricky, Theo decides they need a guide and he's got his eye on Emeline . . .
Can Emeline decide where her loyalties, and her heart , truly lie before the summer ends?
I love books about summer, I especially like books set in the US during Summer vacation.  Why? Because living in Australia, it's such a foreign concept...three whole months off...when I was at school, the summer holidays seemed long, but they were probably 6 weeks long, at the most.

So in this book we have Emeline who has always lived in a small town, has had one boyfriend, and is about to move away and start a new life.  She thinks she has the summer to get used to the idea, but the changes are already happening.  Emeline undergoes a break up, a new boyfriend, and a new relationship with a half brother she barely knew at the start of the summer. She starts to think that while change is inevitable, she's may not be ready to leave everything she has ever known behind.

It's not just the summer break that highlights a difference between the US and Australia, it's the concept of going off to College.  It's not that Australian teenagers don't go to University, we do, but we seem to go to Uni closer to home.  Maybe it's just me from little old Adelaide, but I know very few people who went interstate to go to Uni, so a teenager embarking on such a big life changing experience is a novel concept to us.

If have not read a Sarah Dessen novel yet, visit her website, and see what other gems are waiting for you!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Elephant Road by Nicola Davies

I became a fan of Nicola Davies after reading Rubbish Town Hero last year.  I liked the fact that the book was for a middle primary reader, but dealt with an important global issue.  So I was very happy to see this new series that also looks at global issues, this time focusing on environmental issues and animal welfare.
This book is set in the fictional village of Umiamara which is a village built on a elephant road.  Every year elephants travel long distance to find food and water, in many cases the routes the elephants travel through have been used for generations, and they are called elephant roads.  The problem is obvious…big elephants vs villages made up of wooden buildings, a bump in the night when the elephants are coming through could mean a house gets knocked over.  The other issue is that the elephants LOVE to snack on the local crops, which means the farmers livelihoods can be destroyed as well as their homes.
Wilen is a young man living in Umiamara, many people in his and neighbouring villages hate the elephants and think they should be kept in zoos, his grandfather however sees the environment as a whole, animals, nature and wildlife all living together, balanced.  The village has an opportunity to plant new crops, with the help of a dodgy business man, he will even provide the chemicals to keep the crops free from pests, and he includes elephants as pests.  Wilen needs to convince the village that there is another way to farm successfully, make money AND without harming the elephants.
This title OUT NOW also
What I like is the information at the back of the book. I learnt that around 300 people are killed every year in India by elephants, and a similar number of elephants are killed by people. The information in the back of the book explains more about the elephant roads, and the work that is being done in India to keep the elephants and the people safe.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

All the Buildings In New York by James Gulliver Hancock

I am not sure why this book has landed on our shelves, as it’s not really a children’s book, unless your definition of a children’s books is ‘a book with lots of pictures and very few words’, because that’s what this book is.

The book is by Sydney born James Gulliver Hancock, who like many Aussies has spent a great deal of his life travelling.  When he arrived in New York he says how familiar everything seemed to him, growing up with American TV shows and movies.  I particularly like this idea that “Newcomers to New York City really want to own it, to make up for all the years they’ve missed living here.”  As a way to connect with the city, he has made it his ambition to draw ‘all the buildings in New York’, and this book is, as the title suggests
 All the Buildings* in New York

*That I have drawn so far.

Each illustration is accompanied by it’s address, and in some cases there are additional pieces of information thrown in, such as the year the building was completed, who designed it or the fact that Patti Smith once worked at the Strand Book Store on  828 Broadway.  Some of the buildings are famous landmarks, like the Empire State Building, while other illustrations represent residential buildings, all beautiful and unique in their own right.
While the book may be new, the project is not, so if you would like to see more from James Gulliver Hancock, visit the blog link below.
 Have a look at this book if you:
  • love New York
  • love movies and TV shows set in New York (the book even includes the Cosby House)
  • love architecture

I love this book basically because it’s interesting and different, and while it may only appeal to a small percentage of children, it will appeal to a large number of adults.