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Archive for October, 2013

Russian Roulette

I received my copy from the publisher.

russian-roulette

By: Anthony Horowitz

Prequel to Alex Rider series

Yassen Gregorovich is an international assassin, he works for an organisation that wants Alex Rider dead. Life isn’t that simple sometimes as these two people who move in international espionage circles share a secret. This is a mission that forces Yassen to remember. He is forced to look at all the things that bought him to this point, the Russian town that no longer exists, the time spent living on the streets and doing everything he had to to survive, when in his first bosses employ. Yassen was trained to be a specific type of agent and some of that training holds the secret that he shares with young Alex.

This is a dark and intense novel. A look at the forces that can shape a young man’s life and lead him to a path of destruction. Yassen goes through some really horrible experiences but he is determined, in fact that is probably his strongest trait. So many stories look at the hero, the good guy, this one looks at the bad guy. It is an incredibly fascinating read.  The world created for this is so very knowable and thus believable. The things that take Yassen to the point where he faces Alex Rider and the secret that makes the decision for him. Horowitz has given us a tale that ultimately we know the end result of but knowing makes it no less engaging. You are drawn into wanting to know how Yassen gets from who he was to what he becomes.

Fans of Alex Rider will love this.

Publisher: Walker Books Limited

Published: 12 September 2013

Format: Hardback 416 pages

Categories: Action, Adventure, Thriller

ISBN 13: 9781406350869

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

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Princess Betony and the Rule of Wishing

I received my copy from the publisher

princess-betony-and-the-rule-of-wishing

By: Pamela Freeman

Illustrated By: Tamsin Ainslie

Princess Betony series

Princess Betony is thrilled that she finally might have a friend. Rosie’s niece Clover Pink has come to stay next door for a while and Betony is really looking forward to finding out what a real friend is. It’s not as simple as all that when you are a Princess and your friend to be wants to become a witch. To do that Rosie has to figure out what the Rule of Wishing is. Can Betony help her? Especially if it means she has to let Clover know her secret.

An adorable story about friendship, the surface and what it means to be a true friend. For these girls it is something that comes from searching for an answer to Clover’s challenge. Betony is a free spirited kind of princess who has a generous nature. The story is delightful and it’s lesson heartfelt. These are the sort of characters any little girl could fall in love with and want to share more adventures with.

Recommended.

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Published: 01 October 2013

Format: Hardback 112 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Friendship

ISBN 13: 9781921720253

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

The Last Thirteen – 13

 

9781742831848By: James Phelan

The Last 13 bk 1

Sam is used to strange dreams, sort of, he is used to having them. The morning he wakes from a nightmare where everybody dies his world changes. Firstly he is kidnapped right form school, then he is taken to a different type of school where he is told nothing about his life is what he thought it was, including his parents. It turns out he is the start and people have been waiting and looking for him for a long time. It turns out Sam is part of an ancient prophecy, his dreams are special, they are real and they give him power, but it is a power he las to learn to master, for his enemy is plotting to destroy the world.

Sam is a teenage boy full of angst, confusing dreams and parents who worry about him. When he is ripped from the only world he knows he isn’t sure what to really do, he is thankful though that he isn’t alone because two others were ripped from their lives at the same time as he was. Together they form an uneasy alliance as they face all the weirdness that is thrust at them, including the knowledge that a whole group of people are trying to kill them. Alex is cocky and a character who breaks the tension with defensive humour. Eva is more sensible, she also has first hand experience of having a dream that has actually come true.

A fast paced, action filled story with a interesting twist of dream manipulation and scientific experimentation. It will be interesting to see where this story takes us.

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 01 September 2013

Format: Paperback 216 pages

Categories: Action, Adventure, Thriller

ISBN 13: 9781742831848

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

Verity Sparks, Lost and Found

I received my copy from the publisher

9781921977886By: Susan Green

Verity Sparks is in Melbourne with the father she found and some very good friends, the problem is Verity has lost her gift. The tingle in her fingers has gone and she can no longer find things. This is fine with her father who is determined she will become a proper lady. Verity however isn’t all that interested in pursuing that goal. Despite her reluctance she ends up at Hightop House, an exclusive boarding school. Once there though she finds a couple of mysteries to occupy her mind. Then there is the case of the missing Ecclethorpe heiress. Finally there is a lead she can follow, with her new governess to accompany her Verity starts out on an investigation that becomes more dangerous the closer they get to finding an answer. Will Verity’s gift return to help her before it is too late.

A totally wonderful mystery story with an intriguing and fascinating character at it’s core. Verity is a great character, she is wilful and clever. She isn’t cowed by bullies and has a generous spirit. Verity is the sort of character who draws you into the story and the mysteries along the way add interest to her journey. It is an historic setting with some of the elements very much of that time, whist other aspects are timeless, (for example dealing with bullies in a school environment). There is something open and appealing about this story and I must say I want to read more about Verity’s adventures.

Recommended

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Published: 01 May 2013

Format: Paperback

Categories: Historical, Mystery

ISBN 13: 9781921977886

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

Alice-Miranda In Paris

9781742752884By: Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda and her friends are in Paris, they have been asked to sing at several events for Fashion Week and they are tres excited. There is more going on than work for them, it is a great opportunity for them to explore the fabulous city. What is fashion week though without some corporate espionage. A couple of designers have big secrets and somehow Alice-Miranda and friends find themselves involved in ways that don’t involve singing. Will Christian Fontaine get his stolen fabric back and will the children be able to help the strange boy who lives across from their hotel?

This is a light, fun, fantastic read and it totally doesn’t matter if you have an interest in fashion. Fashion is the setting, a convenient backdrop for the wealthy but the story is more about the children and their interactions. Alice-Miranda is infectious, her openness and niceness are quite simply contagious. The mystery at the heart of the story drags you in and you really want to know how it all plays out. Each of the children has a unique personality and you can’t help but feel like an observer of a small school excursion, the sort of one I would never even thought to dream about.

There is a wonderful ambience around Alice-Miranda that is engaging and makes you want to seek out other stories about her. Harvey has wonderfully bought the Parisian scene to the page and it begs you to make the journey.

Recommended.

Publisher: Random House Australia Children’s Books

Published: 01 March 2013

Format: Paperback 336 pages

Categories: Friendship, Fashion, Mystery

ISBN 13: 9781742752884

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

 

The Andy Flegg Survival Guide…

9780143306771By: Mark Pardoe

Andy Flegg wants an X-box, to get one his mother has told him he has to write in a journal everyday. Andy is not impressed. Some entries are really short and then things start happening. A cute girl starts in his class, his parents are fighting and his dog gets sick. Then his dog gets a bit better, his parents get back to normal briefly and the cute girl is texting him. Things are just not meant to be that way. The day the motorbike his dad has borrowed is vandalised is the day things go from bad to worse for Andy. Just when he thinks it can’t get any worse he finds out just how wrong he can be.

Andy is an everyday 11 year old who loves computer games and isn’t fond of school. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t have an X-box. As Andy writes in his journal bits of his life seem to unravel. It is a fun, somewhat quirky look at being a preteen boy who has to deal with the obvious things such as the next best computer game and the other unexpected things such as his ‘thingie’ suddenly taking on a life of it’s own, particularly when he thinks about Amber. It is an angsty time and Pardoe takes you through it with humour and ease. Andy could be any boy, he is believable and his responses to the curveballs life throws at him are made all the more real by the fact that there are consequences.

This is a wonderful read, the fun balances out the pathos and there is no total happy ending, which is good because that would totally have negated the power of the story-telling. Also as a funny little bonus each entry has an obscure word defined and used, I think I can safely say a large number are words I will never come across again but it is a great device. Suitable for 10+.

Recommended.

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Published: 24 July 2013

Format: Paperback 240 pages

Categories: Life, School, Friends, 

ISBN 13: 9780143306771

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

The School for Good and Evil

the-school-for-good-and-evilBy: Soman Chainani

Sophie is so excited. Every four years two children from Gavaldon are kidnapped, supposedly they are taken to the School For Good and Evil. There the good one would be trained to be a fairytale princess or prince, and the bad one a villain. Sophie is so sure she is going to be taken to be a princess, it’s all she ever wanted. It is her destiny, her escape. She is everything a princess should be – pretty, blonde, health conscious and does good deeds. Her best friend Agatha doesn’t see things that way, everyone expects Agatha to be taken for the School of Evil. Agatha is dark, moody, not easily befriended and lives in a cemetery. Things however don’t go to Sophie’s plan. Sure both girls are taken but the rest goes all wrong. It seems sometimes the princess and the witch don’t look like everyone expects then to.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot because I don’t want to give too much away. This was a wonderful story. It takes the cliches and gives them a little twist. Chainani has created a world that is real and yet seems to have been created with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I love Agatha, she doesn’t fit but she does. Sophie is so determined to prove what she is that she misses what is plainly clear. The characters that surround our central two have as much to learn as they do, they see what they expect to see rather than what is really there.

A wonderful, and enchanting tale. Delicately crafted and layered. This story is all about the layers. It isn’t about what you see on the surface, rather it is about motivations, what is truly at the heart of someone. This idea is what drives this story along and it is told without preaching. The packaging, the world, the school is colourful, full of wonderful contrasts. The jump between good and evil is fluid, it never feels clunky. The descriptions make it easy to picture the entire school. Perfect for those who love fairytales, or even just a good story. Great for 10+  but younger YA readers will love it too.

Do yourself a favour and read it.

Highly Recommended

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Published: 06 June 2013

Format: Paperback 496 pages

Categories: Fairytales, Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9780007492930

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

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