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Archive for the ‘Fiction 8-12’ Category

Machine Wars

machine-warsBy: Michael Pryor

Bram was late home from music practice, these things happen but this time something is very wrong when he gets home. This is a moment he has been training for. For some reason a paranoid, super intelligence is out to get him. His mum always said she hoped this would never happen but she made sure he was prepared if it did. Thing is Bram really wasn’t expecting it to be today. The plan calls for Bram to scatter and hide. It sounds so simple but with so much technology around that the intelligence is able to tap into to use to hunt for him, that is no easy task. Bram isn’t alone in this, somehow his best friend gets dragged into his disaster. Also there is one piece of technology left that is on his side, a Roboduck called Bob. This unlikely group have to survive, if they can do that they will be instrumental in saving the world.

A fun roller coaster of a read. The pace of it does not stop. Bram is a bit of a loner, all his moving about has made it difficult for him to make friends. Stella gets through his defences by being herself. She refuses to let herself be boxed into one group, instead she goes out of her way to be friends with everyone. This is beneficial in this situation because she has learnt some neat little bits of information along the way. Bob is such a wonderful addition to the story. He is part comic relief, part necessary associate and a reminder of another robot with self esteem issues from another series of books.

The world Pryor has created seems not too distant from our own in many ways, just with an abundance of technology that we don’t live with.I enjoy the way Pryor has blended together the familiar and the not so familiar to create a place that is very easy to visualise. you can almost hear the machines, (though it’s entirely possible that that is my over active imagination). I also like the way the characters work together, how Stella is an equal partner in their survival. The story touches on some interesting ethical issues around the topic of artificial intelligence, but the ethics don’t bog it down.

Another wonderful read from one of my favourite authors. For ages 10+

Recommended.

Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s Books

Published: 01 October 2014

Format: Paperback 288 pages

Categories: Artificial Intelligence, Action

ISBN 13: 9780857982766

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page.

 

Cave of Wonders

cave-of-wondersMatthew J Kirby

Infinity Ring bk 5

Bagdad has become a centre of learning in the Dark Ages. As well as merchants and explorers from all over the city houses many scholars. It is here that Sera, Dak and Riq find themselves for their next fix. They determine that they have to find a way to save the great library that is there from destruction. This is no small task as what is coming toward the city is one of the most ferocious and successful armies ever, the Mongols. Convincing the Khan is one thing, they still have to get around the SQ and they have no idea who they are, or who might be on their side.

This is a turning point for Sera who finally shares her big secret, so it is a weight she is no longer carrying alone. Riq still has his own demons to face and with it looking like they will be returning to their own time shortly he has no clue what is going to happen to him, but he continues to hold this close. This is a fun addition because for all the success of the Mongols they are not often used in a children’s book setting and this is an interesting look at that army and what was the prosperous city of Bagdad. I enjoyed the tone of this one and continue to look forward to what the next instalment brings.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 05 September 2013

Format: Hardback 192 pages

Categories: General Adventure Science Fiction Historical

ISBN 13: 9780545387002

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Timmy Failure Now Look What You’ve Done

now-look-what-you-ve-doneBy: Stephan Pastis

Timmy Failure bk 2

Timmy Failure believes himself to be the greatest detective ever and he is going to solve the biggest problem of the missing globe. There are many things he has to contend with along the way : a very lazy partner, a best friend with an abnormal interest in learning an arch nemesis who cannot be named and a strange letter sending person who is threatening him and goes by the name of MM. Also there is his somewhat loopy aunt, who he is living with at the moment. Life just isn’t easy when you are a great detective.

This series is very funny, and more than a little silly. Timmy is in turns entertaining and frustrating. The style of the book is perfect for those readers who maybe don’t want to pick up the bigger books, the text is amply broken by simple illustrations used to show Timmy’s point. The mysteries themselves aren’t that challenging but the fun is in watching Timmy arrogantly bumble his way through.

If you have a reader who loves Wimpy Kid or Big Nate then give this series a look.

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 25th February 2014

Format: Hardcover

Category: Humour

ISBN: 9781406356342

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

 

Curse of the Ancients

the-curse-of-the-ancientsBy: Matt De La Pena

Infinity Ring bk 4

Sera, Dak and Riq find themselves back with the ancient Maya people. The Maya’s are a people who seem to know a great deal about the future but that doesn’t prevent them from being involved in one of the breaks that the kids have to fix. The only problem is they aren’t sure exactly what it is they have to do. To make things even more complicated Dak gets injured and Sera can’t tell any of them what it was she saw in the future. Riq finds friendship and possibly something more with Mayan girl Kisa. Sometimes fixing one thing leads you to another discovery and they find out how much they influenced one person’s life, and how it rippled out from there.

An interesting instalment. After the last story and how it affected Riq it was interesting to see his character arc through this. Sera is struggling with what she saw and it is influencing her choices, especially as this story has to do with her past. The way the Mayan civilisation has been woven into this story is very interesting. It is nice to see an ancient civilisation fleshed out, de la Pena has done a great job of this, bringing the people and their lives to life in a way they comes very visually off the page. Probably my favourite book in the series so far.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 06 June 2013

Format: Hardback 192 pages

Categories: Science Fiction, History

ISBN 13: 9780545386999

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page.

Poison Boy

I was sent this book by the publisher

the-poison-boy

By: Fletcher Moss

Dalton Fly has a job, it’s not one that guarantees a long life but for an orphan it is better than nothing. Dalton is a food taster for the rich. He has the unenviable job of testing to ensure food and drink on the tables of the wealthy is not poisoned. Dalton has had a narrow escape, his mate wasn’t so lucky. This though thrusts Dalton into a world he has only ever been part of on the fringes. Along with his best mate and Scarlet Dropmore, one of the rich and privileged, he sets out to find who killed his friend only to discover he has wandered into something far bigger and way more unexpected than his wildest dreams could ever have come up with.

From the first blood filled moments this book takes the reader on quite a ride. The world Moss has created is gritty, grotty as you would expect when the characters come from the poorer parts of the world. It is contrast to the the parties and lifestyle of the wealthy whose lives they end up meddling in. Dalton and his best mate Sal are a great team, Dalton’s courage and Sal’s smarts are a good balance. I like their loyalty, it is a thread that runs through the story and gives Dalton a more rounded character which he needs as the story progresses. The plot is tight and action packed. If you are looking for a mystery dashed in blood and back handed goings on, this is well worth a look.

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

Published: 04 April 2013

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781908435446

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Ash Rover Keeper of the Phoenix

ash-rover

By: Aleesah Darlison

Ash Rover doesn’t want to be just looking after the cows, which goes someway to explaining how he was asleep on his post. He is rudely awakened by a rock dropping on his head, though it is no ordinary rock, this rock generates warmth. He takes it home but his mother is not impressed she just wants him to do his chores. It turns out his rock isn’t rock, it is a phoenix egg and when the phoenix hatches it declares Ash it’s keeper. Ash has no idea what this means but in a place where magic is banned, this may not be a good thing. Before long Ash is summoned before the lady of the land, sent out on a quest, responsible for saving everyone he knows and dealing with things he has simply never thought about before. The problem with this quest is it has a deadline, will he be able to beat it?

This is a thoroughly fun adventure filled with magical creatures and a hero who isn’t sure he can be a hero. Ash isn’t the smartest or the bravest, in the end he does what he has to simply because it is the right thing to do. A great thing about this is he isn’t alone, his best friends have joined him on the quest and throughout they also have their moments of doubt, the great thing is they help each other push on.

Darlison has taken some familiar creatures and given them a little twist. She has given us characters who are appealing, and a plot that keeps a good pace never slowing down enough to lose the reader. A great choice for younger readers just beginning their journey into the fantastical realms created for reading pleasure.

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 01 February 2014

Format: Paperback 272 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781922179029

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Monster School

I received this book from the publishers.

monster-school

By: DC Green

City of Monsters bk 1

Thomas Regus is an endangered species, he is a human in a city of monsters. If he isn’t very careful he will end up as food for any one of various predatory species. The problem is he is feeling trapped. He is net in line for the human throne but he feels he knows nothing about the world in which he lives. So Thomas puts together an outrageous plan to get him out of the castle and learn more all at the same time. He enrols in Monster School, where he meets vampires, zombies, goblins, mummies and giant spiders. It turns out though that he finds out more than he bargained for and sets out on a quest to save what is left of his kingdom.

An adventure story filled with fantastical creatures, backstabbing and loads of greed. Thomas is a character filled with heart and courage, he doesn’t back away from something that may be dangerous if he knows it has to be done. The wacky group of outsiders he teams up with make for interesting companions, some who fight their nature to travel with a human, (monsters are of course bought up to think of humans as food). This is a dark world, as you would expect from one filled with creatures from nightmares but it is tempered with plenty of humour. If you have or know a middle grade readers who love monsters then give this series a try.

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing

Published: 01 October 2013

Format: Paperback

Categories: Horror, Monsters

ISBN 13: 9781925000078

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Nowhere to Run

nowhere-to-runBy: Jude Watson

39 Clues Unstoppable series bk 1

Dan and Amy Cahill finally think it’s over and they can go back to having a normal kind of life, or at least as normal as can be. Then strange things start to happen, men attack them out of nowhere and suddenly their whole lives are under attack. A tiny mistake has lead them to a terrible catastrophe that could endanger the whole world. At first they think there is no way what they think has happened could possibly have happened, but when they put everything together, there is no way around it. Someone has stolen the serum and that someone will stop at nothing to rule the world and if that means getting rid of Dan and Amy permanently then thats what they will do. The Cahill’s find themselves on the run, just to survive before they can go on the offensive.

It is possible that you could think the 39 Clues franchise has run it’s course, but this takes it to a whole other place. The thing they spent so long fighting against is actually happening, from an unexpected direction. It will be interesting to see how this new enemy effects the group dynamic. Amy has relationships to work through as well as the responsibility of being the head of the family and she wants to protect as many people as she can, but that isn’t really possible. Dan has to decide if he really wants in this still. Loads of favourite characters are here, both good and bad ones as well as a new and powerful enemy. This enemy fights differently though, this enemy throws the media under his control at the problem meaning the Cahill’s have to fight this battle on two fronts, the one that paints them as tearaway, wealthy brats and the real fight.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 03 October 2013

Format: Paperback 192 pages

Categories: Adventure, Family, Crime

ISBN 13: 9780545521376

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

 

Flora & Ulysses – The Illuminated Adventures

I received this from the publisher

flora-and-ulyssesBy: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated By: KG Campbell

Flora Belle Buckman is a little different. Flora considers herself a cynic. She loves comic books, practices hard at ignoring her mother and misses her father who no longer lives with them. One day she witnesses something strange, a squirrel getting vacuumed up. She races out to rescue him and a most amazing thing happens. The squirrel has been changed by his ordeal and Flora takes it upon herself to take care of him, starting with giving him the name of Ulysses.

Flora talks to Ulysses, he understands. He types poetry, has amazing strength and can even fly. Together they will be able to do remarkable things. Flora’s mother however sees things differently, fortunately Flora’s father is more understanding. Then the two are separated, will they find their way back to each other?

This is a truly beautiful tale of a unique friendship and a dysfunctional family. Flora is different and that makes her open to seeing the potential in Ulysses but it also makes her fascinating in her own right, as she grows in their journey together to find positive things a cynic might otherwise not see. This is a heartwarming story told with a masterful hand and complemented wonderfully by illustrations, sometimes in the form of comic book like panels. It is the sort of story that you really want to share with your children, you know the ones I’m talking about; they tug at your heart, they delight and they beg to be revisited over and over.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: 24 September 2013

Format: Hardback 240 pages

Categories: Adventure, Friendship, Fantasy, Family, Humour

ISBN 13: 9780763660406

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page.

Claws of the Crocodile

I received this from the publisher.

claws-of-the-crocodile

By: Bear Grylls

Mission Survival series bk 5

Beck Granger has been in some tight situations all over the world, on this trip to Australia he has promised his Uncle that he will stay out of trouble. Then somebody lures him away from his uncle with information about the accident that killed his parents. Or at least that is what he thinks he will be getting, rather he finds himself swept up into corporate espionage. He sets out to find an Aboriginal Elder in the outback, who holds information Beck’s parents gave him. To track this man down and survive in the harsh environment Beck will need to use all the skills available to him.

An interesting story that has family, friendship, action and mystery. Beck is a mini Bear, imparting plenty of knowledge about surviving in extreme circumstances, throughout. The other thing this story has that is often missing is a respect for Australia’s natural heritage and those who lived here before Europeans colonised the country. Beck is adventurous, respectful, brave and resourceful, these books are entertaining and maybe a little bit of something educational will be imparted in the process of reading.

Publisher: Red Fox

Published: 01 August 2013

Format: Paperback 272 pages

Categories: Adventure, Action, Environment

ISBN 13: 9781849418423

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

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