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Archive for October, 2012

The Anti-Prom

I received this book from the publisher.By: Abby McDonald

Bliss Merino is set for the perfect prom, she has the dress, the boy, the friends. At least she thought she was going to have the perfect night, until she sees her boyfriend making out with her best friend. Then she hears that bad girl Jolene is at the prom and Bliss engages her help for a night of revenge. Meg, always thought she was invisible and somehow she gets swept up into Bliss’s need to get even. It turns out there is more than that on the books for in one night they rebel, party, experience romance, get revenge, and realise what they thought they wanted they didn’t. It was supposed to be one unforgettable night and it becomes one but not for the reasons they thought.

Bliss is not the sort of girl I would ordinarily read about but she was fun. She got to enjoy shining moments and some not so good moments and seeing all this made her more three dimensional, more than just a cheated on pretty girl. Jolene has her own problems, her bad girl reputation makes her the perfect person to turn to for help with nefarious deeds, but like Bliss Jolene has hidden corners. Meg is so reserved, she is pulled into this night reluctantly but through it she learns from both girls and has her own hidden strengths finally coming out of her shell. Sure there may be a few cliches in her but that totally doesn’t matter. McDonald has given us a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining story. The perfect thing for a light weekend read.

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd

Published: 03 May 2012

Format: Paperback

Categories: High School, Prom, Revenge, Romance

ISBN 13: 9781406337587

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

Summer’s Dream

By: Cathy Cassidy

The Chocolate Box Girls series

Middle school has ended and summer holidays are underway. Summer’s mum has gotten married to Paddy and they are taking off for three weeks on a working honeymoon. There is a film being shot locally, it is going to be a fun holiday. Unlike everyone else Summer has no time for fun. She had been asked to audition for a new ballet academy, this is her dream, a dream she once saw slip through her fingers and now she has a second chance.

Holidays turn into an obsession on finding perfection. Summer starts down a dangerous path that soon spirals out of control. She pushes everyone away. Perhaps the boy she has know forever and never seen as boyfriend material, will actually be the one who can help her. Maybe through it all she will discover that dreams can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Wow what a powerful story. We are familiar with the characters and this is Summer’s story. Summer is the perfect one, the one voted most likely to succeed. The other books were engaging but Summer’s story is darker – her obsession leads to anorexia and depicts how easily it can take hold. It shows how the mind can and does trick her into believing one thing and how easily it can be hidden.

If you want to increase awareness to this topic then this is a good book. This series is for 8-12 year olds but definitely the top end of that and possibly the lower end of YA. It is a strong story that resonates, balanced with quirky and well written. characters.  A great choice.


Publisher: Puffin Books

Published: 07 June 2012

Format: Paperback 304 pages

Categories: Eating Disorders, Siblings, Family

ISBN 13: 9780141344294

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

The Gobbledygook is Eating a Book

This copy was sent to me as an ARC by the publisher.By: Justine Clarke and Arthur Baysting

Illustrated By: Tom Jellett

A child is reading when up comes a Gobbledygook. The Gobbledygook is making a mess of the books by eating them. The child tells the Gobbledygook that this is not what we do with books. The child then sets about taking the Gobbledygook on a journey through a wide selection of books.

This is a very simple book with a theme close to my heart, that books are to be devoured, enjoyed and can take you to some amazing places. It finishes up in a great place for parents, with the child tucked up in bed snoring. The illustrations are fun, there are plenty of colours but the general palette is muted rather than jumping off the page with brightness. It certainly has an appeal about it. The more I look at it the more I like it.

Publisher: Viking Australia

Published: 29 October 2012

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Books, Monsters

ISBN 13: 9780670076574

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

The Mark of Athena

By: Rick Riordan

Heroes of Olympus bk 3

Percy and Annabeth are finally reunited and Jason returns to Camp Jupiter. The first steps are tentative but the fragile peace is quickly shattered. It is in this precarious environment that the seven start out on their new quest. They have to find Nico di Angelo, who is being held by twin giants, if they are to have a chance at preventing the rise of Gaia.

The quest takes them across the path of those determined to stop them, they cannot be assisted by most of the gods as many of them have their own issues to do with split personalities. The greeks and the romans learn to work together in the face of enemies, time restraints and a coming war between their two camps.

Concurrent to the overriding quest Annabeth has a very personal journey to go on. Her mother has commissioned her to follow the Mark of Athena and correct an ancient wrong. This is a task she will have to face on her own, a task all those sent before her have failed to fulfil.

This is a welcome return to the world of Jason and Percy. The combination of these two characters is very interesting, two guys who are used to leading now trying to work together, the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy give their moments a great depth (as much as an action story can have depth).

Every character gets the chance to excel, they all get the chance you use their particular abilities to further the quest. This quest only continues because they find a way to work together, even when things are a little confusing.

In some ways Leo has the hardest time of it because he is the only one of the seven who isn’t with a partner, the other six are all couples. His story arc is interesting in a different way and the connection he has with Hazel gives that part of the story an different feel.

All the characters have important parts to play and in particular Annabeth who finally gets a solo quest. This story has developed into a great ensemble piece which gives you the chance to explore all the characters. The relationships between the couples add tension as they struggle to find just a few moments to be normal teenagers.

As always Riordan transports you to a place full of gods and monsters, it seems totally surreal and yet you are totally willing to be swept along for the ride. The action is fast paced, the plot skips along at a wonderful pace that ensures you are unwilling to put the book down for very long. The problem I have with these books is the wait between them. The Mark of Athena didn’t disappoint.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Puffin Books

Published: 02 October 2012

Format: Paperback 528 pages

Categories: Mythology, Fantasy, Action

ISBN 13: 9780141335759

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

The Mark of Athena – Not a Review

Oh my goodness, can’t blog tonight, finally got my copy of The Mark of Athena and need to read instead. Sometimes even the extra study needs to find it’s place behind a good book.


Lioness Rampant

By: Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness bk 4

Alanna has moved on from her shaman duties with her adoptive tribe and is feeling a bit restless. It is a good thing then that a new challenge comes her way. A message from a dying woman sends Alanna on the path of the  Legendary Dominion Jewel. This is a gem of enormous power, the stuff or heroes and songs. It can be a thing of great good – in the right hands. With it in Prince Jonathon’s hands Alanna fells Tortall will prosper.

All is not well though, her beloved kingdom is in great danger from Duke Roger, the man she has already defeated once. Roger is back from the dead and she knows he is up to something. Prince Jonathon isn’t the only one in danger, George the Rogue is under threat from a mysterious foe known only as Claw.

Alanna thrives on challenging herself and I identify with this, maybe that is why I love Pierce’s characters, they set goals and do what they need to to achieve them. We can never have too many characters modeling that kind of behaviour. Liam the Shang Dragon is a welcome addition and adds yet another texture to the fabric of the world Pierce has given us. He challenges Alanna, teaches her and brings what ultimately becomes a beautiful friendship.

I realise that through these reviews I haven’t mentioned Pounce, Alanna’s pet companion (if you have read the Beka Cooper books Pounce will be familiar to you). This cat is a mysterious and wonderful addition to these stories, he is his own character, with his own style and brings a wonderful layer of humour.

This book, like the series, is full of action, adventure and plotting. Strands that were background in other books are pulled forward and masterfully woven to a final climactic conclusion. Characters you’ve missed are back and you can’t help but sigh in satisfaction at the end and a feeling of sadness that the series has finished. The story is complete but you just don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 19 April 2011

Format: Paperback 368 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic, Action

ISBN 13: 9781442427662

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

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

By: Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness series bk 3

Alanna has her brand new knighthood, the very thing she toiled so long and hard for. With her big secret revealed she sets out for adventure, knowing she can’t stay at court because her being a woman makes many uncomfortable. Travelling with trusted companion,Corum, they are captured by a tribe of desert dwellers.

Alanna is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death and this is just the beginning of a whole new set of trials. Facing people who have trouble accepting female warriors, Alanna unwittingly becomes the first female shaman and sets about making changes in her adoptive tribe. These changes she enacts have wide reaching consequences, not only for herself and those she trains but for her Prince and the kingdom of Tortall. All is not business though as Alanna’s suitors take things to the next level.

This is a well balanced follow on to The Hand of the Goddess. This sees Alanna focus more on the magic aspect of her skills and goes a long way to Alanna becoming all she can, fully knowledgable about all her gifts. The other nice thing here is Alanna moves from student to teacher, there is a lovely scene where her students actually teach her something new.

Her relationship with Sir Myles is given a beautiful few moments and adds a lovely facet to Alanna’s story. It is also good to see Alanna the woman, having to evaluate relationship and professional desires and make some hard decisions.

The Voice and other new characters add another layer to Alanna an the complexity of the kingdom. They all bring something to the story and our heroine.

The first two books finish one chapter of Alanna’s life and this is the first of another two book chapter, yet Pierce manages to bring strands across the divide and weaves an engrossing story that leaves you wanting more.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 19 April 2011

Format: Paperback 260 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Magic

ISBN 13: 9781442427655

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


In the Hand of the Goddess

By: Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness series bk 2

Alanna, still known to those she has lived, studied and trained with as Alan, has now become a squire to Prince Jonathon. He is her liege lord, best friend and keeps the secret of her true identity. Things around them aren’t peaceful, Tortall is at war and someone seems out to get Alanna. She is also the only one who seems to sense the danger at court, where a sorcerer threatens not only the prince’s life but the stability of the entire kingdom. It is going to take everything Alanna has to ensure things don’t fall apart. Is Alanna willing to  risk everything, even the possibility of revealing her biggest secret?

Alanna keeps pushing herself, it is one of the things I love about her. This story smoothly follows on from the first book, wrapping up the dangling threads as Alanna completes her training and fully comes into her own as a mage and a warrior. Her focus remains and her faults still cause her to stumble. Alanna pushes herself and is a great role model for girls. It is particularly nice to see Alanna trying to get touch with her feminine side, often strong female characters have to be men with breasts. Alanna starts to celebrate being a woman as well as a fighter and we simply don’t have enough characters who embrace all aspects of who they are.

Highly Recommended.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 19 April 2011

Format: Paperback 241 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Magic

ISBN 13: 9781442427648

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

Alanna – The First Adventure

By: Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness series book 1

Alanna of Trebond really wants to be a knight of the realm. Girls aren’t allowed to be knights, but that is a small inconvenience. It isn’t hard to convince her brother to switch places with her, after all Thom really wants to be a sorcerer not a knight.

Disguised as a boy Alanna becomes Alan and begins her training as a page. The training is much tougher than she expected. There is plenty of book work as well as the need to master weapons and combat magic. To succeed at this she is going to have to be dedicated and manage her temper. Throughout it all she makes some tight friends amongst others at the palace and also in some rather unexpected places.

This is the first of the Song of the Lioness books and is the first place we meet the remarkable Alanna, as well as Prince Jonathon, Raoul of Goldenlake, Gareth of Naven and the cheeky Rogue George. These are characters we will come to love.

You can’t help but adore a character as focussed and determined to achieve everything she puts her mind to. Alanna is great, not just her strengths but also her weaknesses – the blending of these traits is what makes her so believable. She struggles, things don’t always come easy for her and that is one of the things that keeps the reader engaged.

Pierce creates a wonderful world, populated with amazing characters. As soon as I put this book down I picked up the second, I just couldn’t help myself.

Highly recommended.

Age : 11 + certainly don’t let that put you off if you are looking for something for a YA who likes fantasy and great female characters.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 07 December 2010

Format: Paperback 249 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Adventure, Friendship

ISBN 13: 9781442426412

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



By: Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium is a land on the brink. The Lotus Guild worship machines and have given the country clockwork industrialization. The downside of this is that the skies are coloured like blood and mass extinctions of all kinds of wildlife. It is a land being choked by toxic pollution, a by product of production of the blood lotus, a plant that provides everything from their fuel source to a drug to numb the public.

The hunters from the Imperial Court are sent on an insane mission to capture a legendary beast, a griffin (or thunder tiger) half eagle and half tiger. Everyone knows they have been extinct for years. The price for failing the Shogun in this mission is death, the leader tolerates no failure, no matter how ridiculous the task.

Yukiko is the daughter of Black Fox (Masaru), the Shogun’s Master of Hunter’s. She also has a secret that if discovered will see her dead at the hands of the Lotus Guild. Yukiko accompanies her father on this hunt and starts to see things that cause the thoughts she has suppressed, come to the surface. When things go horribly wrong she finds herself lost in the wilderness with creatures from stories and an injured and angry thunder tiger for company. Together though they may be able to change an empire.

So much about this story had me gripped and eager to get my hands on it way before it hit the shelves. Honestly I wasn’t let down.

Yukiko is a wonderful character; young, stubborn, strong and conflicted. She grows through her challenges, she sees beyond to understand things she never thought she would. She engages you and you want to go on this journey with her.

The world Kristoff has created is wonderful. It is dark and compelling. There is a grittiness in the telling that just draws you in. Complex friendships and family dynamics give things a believable edge. The plot is tightly layered and there are strong characters in some suprising places..

I really did love so very much of this book; the characters, the world, the politics, the environment and the creatures. I really can’t wait to read the next installment.

This will probably make my top five of the year.

Publisher: Tor

Published: 13 September 2012

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Steampunk, Adventure, Action

ISBN 13: 9780230762886

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

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