September 1

Code name Verity

This novel, set in World War II tells the story of two young women, Julie and Maddie, who are best friends and become involved in the Air Transport Auxiliary, one as a pilot and the other as an agent.  When flying over the English Channel and into  France, their plane crashes.  One is captured and tortured by the Germans, forced to reveal secret codes she has knowledge of.  Part 1 of the book is about Julie, and her imprisonment and torture.  Part 2 is about Maddie, and her journey back to freedom, which takes place after a devastating event in which she reunites momentarily with Julie.  This is a powerful story which reminds one of the sacrifices made by so many during the Second World War.  It is about courage, friendship and betrayal on a number of levels. The climax of the story is confronting.  Revealing the plot would be unforgiveable.  Read the book – it’s worth it!

July 14

The prey

The Prey

The Prey

Yet another dystopian adventure….  This book follows on from “The Hunt” by Andrew Fukuda.  This novel sees main character, Gene, and a group of humans struggling to survive in the Vast, an inhospitable wasteland, whilst also trying to remain safe from the predators hunting them.  As if life isn’t difficult enough, Gene is haunted byhis memories of the girl he left behind, and is struggling to define his new relationship with the human girl he is running with. Refuge seems to come in the form of a group of very regimented humans they discover in the hills, led by a group of elders.  However, as they “settle” into their new haven, questions still abound.  Where are all the young men, and why are rules and punishments so rigid?  Can it be that their new found safety is not what it seems?  Check out the website here.

July 14

The Real Thing

TRTThis is great book.  Only three people in the world know the recipe for Coca Cola, and when they are kidnapped, Fizzer Boyd is called upon to help out.  Fizzer’s ability to tell one soft drink from another has never appeared to have any significance until now.  Interested?  Read the first chapter here.  This is an original adventure, with the search for the kidnapped experts becoming a matter of life and death.  Brian Falkner’s website features this book and others, as well as cool facts and reviews.

July 14

Socks are not enough

 

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If you like Adrian Mole, be sure to give “Socks are not enough” by Mark Lowery a go.  This humorous tale follows the fortunes of one Michael Swarbrick, aged 14, whose life changes dramatically when he discovers that his parents are nudists.  This discovery sparks a series of embarrassing events for Michael, which ultimately sees him forced into counselling and then referred on to a University lecturer from the 60s, Chas.  Chas is able to sort through the adolescent debris in Michael’s life to find out why “socks are not enough”.  This is a summation of the trauma and humour of being a teenage boy.

July 14

Starters

Starters-by-Lissa-Price_thumbI’ve read many novels set in a dystopian world, but this one has a fresh and exciting feel.  The setting is a post war world.  16 year old Callie and her little brother have lost their parents, and the thriving industry of the time is the rental of teen bodies by seniors through a company known as Prime Destinations.  However, Prime Destinations shields another much darker enterprise and Callie finds that her body has been rented to carry out crimes including murder, and the only thing standing in the way of this is her mind.  She must will herself not to carry out these deeds.  This is an action packed book with a very strong female protagonist in Callie.  View the book trailer here.

July 14

The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice

573861Dow Amber is finally sailing aboard the battleship the Chloe.  His place amongst the Ship Kings is questionable yet as he is an outsider and an enemy.  He finds himself sailing to the frozen north, with treachery surrounding him.  Is Ignella friend or enemy?  Will he ever truly take his place amongst mariners?  And what vast and unexplored lands lie beyond the Barrier? This is the second book in the Ship Kings series, by Andrew McGahan, who conjures for us a cold and sometimes desperate setting as the backdrop to Dow’s adventures.  More information about the series, background information and the author can be found at the Ship Kings website

July 1

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Long Lankin

Long Lankin

When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to live with their great aunt Ida, who they have never met before, they quickly come to realise that they are not welcome.  Already in a difficult situation, with an absent mother and a father who is too busy to care for them, they must also deal with their eccentric aunt and an enormous, intimidating and ruinous old house which holds many secrets, which Cora in particular comes to realise will become a direct threat to their safety.  Without the kind attention of their neighbours, their stay would be intolerable.  Why is it that village children are not permitted to go anywhere near the old church, and why is it that Aunt Ida insists that all doors and windows in the house are bolted and never opened?  Why too does she insist that Mimi must never be left alone?  As Cora and her friends delve deeper into these mysteries, they uncover an age old secret that has threatened the safety of village children for generations.  It is a malevolent threat that is alive even to the present day.  As danger creeps closer and closer, many of the main characters attempt to thwart the growing threat, with varying degrees of success.  What follows is a gripping finale, sure to rattle the boldest reader.

March 17

Maggot moon by Sally Gardner

Maggot MoonAt first, as I read this novel, I wasn’t quite sure just what was going on.  The setting is a dystopian world bearing resemblance to Nazi Germany.  Events are occurring in the 1950s, we later find out.  The highly original voice of Standish Treadwell leads us through the story.  He is a boy who lives with his Grandfather in impoverished conditions and  is mocked at school for his lack of academic ability.  “Can’t read!  Can’t write!  Standish Treadwell isn’t bright”. A boy with one brown eye and one blue eye, and a way of seeing the world that is different from others, Standish and his friend Hector court danger when they discover what’s on the other side of the wall, whilst chasing a soccer ball.  In a world where life is not valued and the Motherland dictates the beliefs of individuals at all costs, Standish must try desperately to keep secret what he has seen and knows.  This is a narrative that is at times humorous, at times tender, at times glaringly violent.  Well worth the read though, as Standipresents an original voice and the novel provokes much thought and discussion.

 

January 1

The children of freedom by Marc levy

This book, which is a translation, and is based on true stories of the period from the father and uncle of the author, reminds us how lucky we are if we are living in a free and democratic society.   It outlines conditions in occupied France and the brave actions of the young people of 35th FTP-MOI Brigade of the Resistance, many of them refugees,  to frustrate German initiatives and enhance the possibilities for an allied invasion and ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.  One is moved to read about the risks taken and sacrifices made valiantly by so many as members of the French Resistance.  It also brings home the horrors of the period for political prisoners and Jews and the senseless fear, violence and murder which marked this period in history for everyone.  This book is definitely worth the read.  I feel that the author has fulfilled the promise made by Jeannot to Samuel to ensure that future generations know about and understand the sacrifices made by so many in the fight for freedom during this dark time in history.

December 13

Casual Vacancy

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. RowlingI found this book initially difficult to get into – there were introductions to many characters, and the setting of the village of Pagford, and the adjacent Fields.  However, as I read and became more familiar with characters and setting, I began to appreciate JK Rowling’s writing and the storyline, which basically looks at small town politics and personal interactions, following the sudden death of the admirable Barry Fairbrother, which leaves his position on the parish council vacant.  As relationships are revealed within the small community, and people vie for poor old Barry’s position, the reader receives an insight into the haves and have nots in a small English village.  At times the community is portrayed as classist, racist and bleak.  Reviews I have read claim that this portrayal is innaccurate and “feudal” by today’s standards.  The young characters in this story all ultimately learn life’s lessons the hard way.  Some triumph, others unfortunately don’t.  If you are a JK Rowling fan, don’t expect magic, wonderful feasts, or good always triumphing over evil.  This is definitely a senior fiction read.  There’s also use of expletives.  After an initial struggle, I found this book to be a page turner which I’m glad I read.  Check out my review in Goodreads.

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