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Archive for June, 2011

Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards Shortlist

The shortlists for the 2010 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced today.

A big congratulations to all shortlisted authors. Here are the category lists The’Verse is most interested in.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Henry Hoey Hobson by Christine Bongers (Random House)

Mirror by Jeanne Baker (Walker Books)

Sarindi’s Dragon Kite by Janine M. Fraser/Illus. Elise Hurst (HarperCollins Aust)

The Red Wind by Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)

The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds (Penguin Group Australia)

Toppling by Sally Murphy/Illus. Rhian Nest James (Walker Books)

YOUNG ADULTS

Anonymity Jones by James Roy (Random House Australia)

Happy as Larry by Scot Gardner (Allen & Unwin)

The FitzOsbornes in Exile: The Montmaray Journals 2 by Michelle Cooper (Random House)

The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett (Penguin Group Australia)

This Is Shyness by Leanne Hall (Text Publishing Co.)

Wavelength by A.J. Betts (Fremantle Press)

The winners will be announced in September 2011.

For further information go here

Strings Attached – Book Trailer

Strings Attached is written by Judy Blundell. She is the 2008 winner of The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED. She also writes under the name of Jude Watson, and is the author of the bestselling Star Wars: Last of the Jedi and Jedi Quest series as well as contributing author for the 39 Clues series.

Strings Attached is set in the 1950’s and is the story of Kit Corrigan who arrives in New York City only to get caught up in love, mystery, Broadway glamour and Mob retribution.

Uncommon Criminals

This book was sent to me by Hachette AustraliaBy: Ally Carter

A Heist Society book

Kat Bishop is back. She stepped away from the family business before being thrust back in and becoming the girl who orchestrated the robbery of the greatest museum in the world. She is still not interested in rejoining the family business but on the side she is working to restore stolen treasures to their rightful owners. Then along comes an untouchable heist. Kat is asked to steal the Cleopatra Emerald, a stone that Uncle Eddy (head of the family) has deemed off limits. The other thing  about the Cleopatra is that it is cursed.

Kat and her crew step up to the challenge but what happens when Kat is the one being played? Will she be able to replicate the success of the Henley? Kat and her crew are pushed to their limits when they come up against their toughest opponent yet, a con who already knows every trick in the book.

Kat Bishop is such a fun character. I mean who doesn’t dream of a little larceny accompanied by some time living the high life? Or is that just me? Kat may not technically be the good girl, she is a thief after all, but she has a strong moral code. It is easy to forget the players in this heist are so young. Carter has written them so well, they have smooth and rough edges, strengths and weaknesses. She doesn’t allow the characters to run away from their flaws rather she has them embrace them. Kat’s youth and doubt provide a delicate counterpoint to her skill. Her uncertainty in her relationship with Hale allow the story and the characters to develop outside the job. Her crew boost Kat when she’s down and give her sound advice keeping her from getting too high.

The story moves at a brisk pace as they jetset around the world plotting, discarding, sorting, scheming and setting in motion the plan that will get them the Cleopatra Emerald. With a skilled hand Carter presents us with a world most of us are familiar with, even if it isn’t on a first hand basis (the high rolling con), then she peoples it with players much younger than we expect to see. However she does it, it works. The characters ages are an advantage and their background insure the whole concept doesn’t seem totally implausible.The way she has them moving through their paces keeps you relaxed by the seeming reality and enthralled by the quick changes, sleight of hand and clever manipulations. Uncommon Criminals is a ripping story that leaves you wondering, with the world at their feet where will the talented Kat and the crew she tries unsuccessfully to isolate herself from, end up next? This is a thoroughly fun and addictingly escapist romp.

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: June 28th 2011

Format: Paperback 300 pgs

Categories: Adventure, Crime

ISBN 13: 9780734411938

Purchase: here (hardcover) or use Booktopia logo on side of page

Hour of Need

I received this book from Random House

Hour of Need

By: Michael Pryor

Laws of Magic series bk 6

(Spoiler Alert if you haven’t finished book 5)

Aubrey Fitzwilliam is considered a renegade and traitor in his own land. instead of seeking to right this problem he chooses to track down his enemy Dr Mordecai Tremaine. To do this he ventures deep into the heart of enemy territory and finally has Tremaine in his crosshairs. Things seldom go smoothly for Aubrey though and what he uncovers at Tremaine’s base leaves him wondering and very worried. He has known for a while that his enemy was seeking immortality and that the path to that is a bloody one, but what Tremaine appears to be doing to attain his goal leaves Aubrey’s blood running cold.

A terrifying combination of electrical science and cutting edge but soul shattering magic seems destined to bring the world far closer to destruction than most people realise. Only Aubrey appears to grasp what is going on and how much is at stake.To stop Tremaine may cost Aubrey the very life he fought so long to save. Fortunately Aubrey isn’t alone.

Wow, what a way to end a series.

I feel I should warn you I may gush a little here but this is the final book in this series so I am going to talk about the things I loved about these books.

Aubrey, for all his ability is a very thoughtful and moral character, though he is in no way perfect. He doesn’t always know the answer but he always tries. He stands for what he believes and does what needs to be done without much thought about personal accolades, he just doesn’t want to let his friends or family down.

George is a wonderful counterpoint to Aubrey, in so many ways. He is in no way considered less by Aubrey because he has no magic, like a true friend Aubrey sees George’s strengths and abilities and he values his friend for them.

Caroline is a wonderful character. She is strong, smart and thoroughly enjoyable to read about, though like her friends she is in no way perfect. It is a real pleasure to find stories where the girls are strong of mind, will and ability. Where they are able to go toe to toe with the boys and in a manner that is indicative of equals. Caroline doesn’t need magic to stand side by side with Aubrey she just needs to be herself. In addition I’d like to mention the suffragette movement in these books. It never seemed preachy to me and I think that is a credit to Pryor and the way he developed and wrote Caroline, Lady Rose and Sophie.

Dr Mordecai Tremaine is all about power and self. He is not a character we ever like or even really understand, but as Aubrey tries to do just that, he comes to know more about himself. This really works on two levels; the character development of Aubrey and in giving texture to the story as a whole.

These were the first steampunk novels I bought and I love them. I found myself totally immersed in the world Pryor created; the depth of character and a story wonderfully balanced with action, espionage, humour and humanity. These books are filled with light and shade. The labyrinthine layers to Tremaine’s plotting may have gotten confusing, clunky or even obvious in another’s hand, but Pryor never allows it to get that way. Cleverly and seemingly effortlessly (though I am sure it wasn’t) he weaves complex pieces together producing a fascinating and addictive read. I think I am going to miss these characters.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 2 May 2011

Format: Paperback 437 pages

Categories: Adventure Crime Fantasy Steampunk

ISBN 13: 9781741663105

Purchase from Booktopia using logo on side of the page

Moment of Truth

By: Michael Pryor

Laws of Magic series bk 5

Albion is at war. As much as they had hoped to avoid it, war is upon them and Aubrey and George can’t sit back and do nothing. On the way to signing up they find themselves swept into roles at the Directorate, a joint force comprising of the Magic Department and the Secret Services. Aubrey believes he George and Caroline make the perfect combination for a special unit, though it appears the military hierarchy may have other ideas.

Before long Aubrey’s team find themselves in a far more precarious situation than their superiors believed it to be when they sent them in. Sent to establish a safe base and investigate mysterious magical emanations. Instead they discover something far more horrible than they could have imagined. Aubrey has to decide if they are going to obey their orders and just observe or step in and do all they can to prevent what will be a terrible bloodbath.

Aubrey is back and facing the weighty decision of how best to live up to his family name. He isn’t the sort of person who could or would sit back and allow  others to step up when he is perfectly capable of doing something. He is a moral and forward thinking character who still remains somewhat unbalanced when around Caroline. His abilities make him powerful but he doesn’t revel in this, he takes pride in his abilities, accepting that it means he can he can step up. He is an example of the saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Aubrey is the antithesis of his arch enemy Dr Tremaine. Tremaine is a great bad guy, he is canny, talented, super smart and totally ruthless.

Pryor has created a world that has depth and colour all of it’s own. The three central characters gel so well, they balance and ground each other and the addition of Sophie is an artful touch. It brings new energy to the team, with none of them seeming out of place. With a truly deft hand Pryor untangles layer upon layer of plotting, to bring problem after problem to the fore and creative solutions out of our heroes. (I’m sure Caroline would dislike the addition of the word heroine here). Then he leaves us with a final twist that had my hand desperately reaching for book 6.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 02 August 2010

Format: Paperback 432 pages

Categories: Adventure Crime Science Fiction Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781741663099

Purchase: here or click on Booktopia logo on side of the page

Twilight Robbery

By: Frances Hardinge

Eponymous Clent is in debtors prison and Mosca Mye needs money to get him out. Unfortunately she agrees to read ans write for the wrong person, a fellow named Skellow, who uses her skills at the underground Pawnbrokers Auction. When he’s done with her it appears she is destined to have a very short life. Somehow Mosca manages to escape with the knowledge of a kidnapping which is yet to take place. Having reunited with Clent and with limited options they Mosca and Eponymous set off for Toll in the hopes of claiming some reward for preventing the crime.

However Toll is a very strange city. As dusk approaches the residents of Toll-by-Day shut their doors and hide in fear, for in the dark Toll-by-Night comes out and it is a very different place. Mosca must navigate both and avoid being found out by members of the Locksmiths Guild, if she is to reach the bottom of what turns out to be a rather convoluted plot.

This is a story full of twists and turns. Mosca is a very clever young girl who, in striving for survival, has a tendency to get involved in rather risky situations. Mosca is a sneaky and ultimately likable character. The plot is layered and the characters interesting.  I enjoyed the overall story and the many twists of plot. It was a slightly difficult read for me to sink into though and I’m not sure I can pinpoint why. The language is at times heavily descriptive due to the complex nature of the world that has been constructed for these characters. If you like your fantasy gritty and are looking for something more than a light read that will whisk you away for a few hours, then I am sure you will like this.

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Published: 04 March 2011

Format: Paperback 544 pages

Categories: Fiction

ISBN 13: 9780230753587

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

Lights, Camera, Action Hero!

Star League series bk 1

By: HJ Harper

Illustrated By: Nahum Ziersch

Jay Casey is a superstar and he is thrilled when he is invited to audition for his favourite director Ben Beaumont. When he arrives he finds he is not the only kid there and he isn’t auditioning for a movie role. Ben wants Jay to lead a team of talented kids in a battle against evil. Before Jay can decide what he is going to do about his offer, he is kidnapped. Can he come up with a plan to get himself out of this mess?

A kids series that contains a movie star, a werewolf, a ninja, a robot, an animancer and a zombie. It is an easy read with short chapters and a few black and white illustrations. There is plenty of action to keep young readers interested. Though there are fight scenes in this book the violence is against robots. It doesn’t seem to be worse than what kids see in cartoons. I can see it being popular with kids who like action and want something more than fairies, dancing and poop jokes. With a mix of male and female characters all involved in the action it has the potential to reach both male and female readers. I’m interested in seeing how it progresses.

Publisher: Random House Australia

Published: 01 June 2011

Format: Paperback

Categories: General

ISBN 13: 9781864718669

Purchase: here or click on Booktopia logo on side of the page

‘The Tomorrow Book’ Wins Environment Award

The 2011 Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature has been awarded to The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French and Sue deGennaro (HarperCollins).

This award was established in 1993 and for a book to be eligible it has to encourage caring for the natural environment.

The Society said in a statement that The Tomorrow Book ‘is a story of ideas and hope, demonstrating possible solutions to water conservation, consumer waste, pollution and wildlife protection.’

‘While the tone of the book is imaginative and light-hearted, it promotes a thoughtful and creative approach to environmental problems.’

2011 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards Short List Announced

The shortlists for this year’s Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) Children’s Book Awards have been announced.

A big congratulations to all short listed authors and illustrators.

The shortlisted titles are:

LIANZA Esther Glen Award for junior fiction

  • The Haystack (Jack Lasenby, HarperCollins
  • Dreams of Warriors (Susan Brocker, HarperCollins)
  • The Sheep on the Fourth Floor (Leonie Thorpe, HarperCollins)
  • Boy Zero Wannabe Hero (Peter Millet, Faber)
  • Shadow of the Boyd (Diana Menefy, HarperCollins)

LIANZA Young Adult Award for fiction

  • Smiling Jack (Ken Catran, HarperCollins)
  • Fierce September (Fleur Beale, Random House)
  • Ebony Hill (Anna Mackenzie, Longacre Press)
  • Blood Lines (T K Roxborogh, Penguin)
  • Lethal Deliveries (Ken Benn, Puffin)
  • The Limping Man (Maurice Gee, Puffin)

LIANZA Russell Clark Award for illustration

  • The Moon and Farmer McPhee (Margaret Mahy & David Elliot, Random House)
  • Quaky Cat (Diana Noonan & Gavin Bishop, Scholastic)
  • Hill and Hole (Kyle Mewburn & Vasanti Unka, Puffin)
  • The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate (Joy Cowley & Sarah Davis, Gecko Press)
  • A Dog Like That! (Janene Cooper & Evie Kemp, Duck Creek Press)

LIANZA Elsie Locke Award for nonfiction

  • ‘Weird Wabbit & Friends’ series (Vasanti Unka, Penguin)
  • The Life Cycle of Pukeko (Betty Brownlie, Scholastic)
  • Sensational Survivors (Sandra Morris, Walker Books)
  • The Kiwi Fossil Hunters Handbook (James Campton & Marianna Terezow, Random House)
  • The Tui New Zealand Kids’ Garden (Diana Noonan & Keith Olsen, Penguin)

Te Kura Pounamu (to reo Maori) Award

  • Mahiara (Sally Sutton, illus Brian Lovelock, retold by Kāterina Mataira, Walker Books)
  • Ngarimu: Te Tohu Toa (Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education)
  • Rawiri, Matiu, He Kura Te Tangata, He Ora Kai Te Kupu Series (Peti Nohotima, He Kupenga Hao i te Reo)
  • Manu Haututu (June Peka, illus Jo Thapa, retold by Kāterina Mataira, Scholastic)
  • Kapa, Te Niu Series (Hana Pōmare & Heni Jacob, HANA Limited/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education)
  • Te Mata o Tuna, a Hina rāua ko Mo’o Kuna (Hana Pōmare, Ellie-May Logan & Hēni Jacob, HANA Limited/ Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga – Ministry of Education).

The winners of this year’s awards will be announced in Wellington on 8 August.

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards are presented by New Zealand librarians for outstanding local children’s literature.

Enchanted Glass

By: Diana Wynne Jones

Jocelyn Brandon died leaving his house and magical field-of-care to his grandson Andrew. Unfortunately he doesn’t leave Andrew any instructions and Andrew has forgotten most of what he learnt while staying with his grandfather during his childhood. He does however remember the strong-willed staff, the fact his grandfather put large inedible vegetables on the roof of the shed and the stained glass window in the kitchen door that must be protected.

Andrew has plans when he first moves in but they have nothing to do with his field-of-care and finding out about that involves a steep learning curve. Into this situation comes young orphaned Aiden, who was seeking out Jocelyn for help. Andrew takes Aiden in and it becomes clear there is some kind of connection between them. Aiden can see magic and he helps Andrew as Andrew helps him. There is a mystery to solve and they will need to do it together if everything is to be set right.

The setup may be vaguely familiar, a little town populated by quirky characters. A house populated by unknowing new-comers and strong-willed old hands. It needs to be said though that in no way does this equate to a stale story. Andrew is seen as he is but also shaded by other characters views of him, Mrs Stock’s continual comment, ‘World of his own, that man!’, for example. Aiden brings youth and freshness to the story which results in Andrew getting in touch with the person he was and could be. Strong-willed characters clashing yet coming together bring humour and vitality to the story, each of them adding colour, like a pane from the glass window. I was intrigued by the magical characters introduced at the heart of the mystery, a twist on some familiar faces. Once again Jones has written an intriguing and dare I say enchanting story that is capable of sweeping you away from whatever your reality is.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Published: 07 January 2010

Format: Hardback 336 pages

Categories: Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9780007320783

Purchase: here or click on Booktopia logo on side of page

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