By: Michael Pryor
Anton Marin has ghost-sight, it runs in his family, even though his father doesn’t have it. It is their job to send the ghosts out of this world. Their’s is a gentler approach to many of the others who pursue the same calling. Into his uncertain world crashes Rani Cross, her method involves a lot more slashing and sword work, needless to say they don’t see eye to eye. This is a moot point however when it becomes clear something is going on causing a massive spike in ghostly manifestations. In order to get the the bottom of things they need to find a way to work together. As things become more violent and crazy Anton needs to somehow find the time in this his gap year, to decide if this is the career he really wants.
In this book it is the girl who is more physical and this makes for a delightful extra dimension in the buddy hunting theme. Anton is a torn character, he knows ghost hunting is a family thing, and if he has the gift he should probably use it, however it is so not really what he wants to do with his life. He also doesn’t want to disappoint his dad. This story is not only intriguing and entertaining, it delves into some real family issues that people feel growing up and that makes Anton easy to identify with, even if his choices are beyond the bounds of what us normal folk experience. Anton and Rani balance each other well and keep the story moving at a good pace. A fun read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 26th July 2017
Key Words: Ghosts, Ghost Hunting, Family, Intrigue
By: Gareth Ward
This book was sent to me by the publisher.
Sin is a street rat. A kid from a gang who survives by stealing. That is until the day he tries to steal from the wrong person. Cornered the strangest thing happens, Sin is offered a way out of his street life. He is offered the chance to join the Covert Operations Group and train to be a spy. This is a very different world for Sin, the people he is dealing with and learning with are very different from the world he knows, however some of the skills learnt on the street that helped him survive there are the very ones that help him now. Befriending the eccentric Zonda Chubb he starts to navigate his way through this new world, before discovering there is a traitor in their midst. Now he has to ally with the school bully to uncover the traitor, is there anyway he’ll get out of this alive.
Steampunk is fun. This world is one that is both familiar and yet not. There are elements that ring true in amongst a whole heap of things that are fresh, fun and just plain different. Ward’s world is intriguing, the differences draw you in deeper. Sin is a fun character, a classic diamond in the rough type, who is perfectly offset by the not so fit, and slightly left of centre Zonda. This is a story that is full of intrigue and action. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: 1st August 2017
Key Words: Steampunk, War, Spies, Intrigue
I received my copy from the publisher
By: AL Tait
Book 2 of The Mapmaker Chronicles
Quinn is making the most of being part of the quest to map the world. He takes pride in his work and is enjoying time with friends and learning so many new things. It isn’t all fun and games though, they have had run-ins with their competitors and the fact it is a race is never far from mind. When Quinn is betrayed by someone close to him, things take a terrifying turn and he finds himself trapped on an enemy’s boat. He has to find a way to survive, can he do this without compromising his loyalty to his team? Can he stay strong enough so that when the time comes he can make his escape, if that is even an option.
The world in this story continues to expand as the characters explore new places and each is pushed to think a little outside what they are familiar with. Quinn tries to do what is asked of him, but his doubts linger. Even so, when his lack of trust in someone proves to be valid, it is a tough pill to swallow, especially when it puts him in so much danger. Quinn though has proven his ability to think quickly and now more so than ever he needs to keep a clear mind. Throughout the adventure theme a strong theme of loyalty is woven. Ash is a stubborn girl who does all she can for her friend and to fit in even though her secret coming out makes it harder she pushes on. Zain, the captain/slave is a great central adult character because he has had it tough, he knows how to survive and by simply being he is a good role model for the children in the story. The lessons he teaches directly and indirectly are foundational for fictional characters and good for readers to have laid out before them.
It will be interesting to see where Tait continues to take these characters.
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Published: 31st March 2015
Format: Paperback 241 pgs
Key Words: Adventure, Courage, Intrigue, Survival, Loyalty
I received my copy from the publisher
By: AL Tait
Book 1 of The Mapmaker Chronicles
Quinn Freeman has an unusual talent that his family have tried to keep hidden, but it is this talent that leads him to the halls of power. Quinn finds himself being trained as a mapmaker because his King has decided he wants a detailed map of the world. This seems like a silly idea to Quinn because everyone knows if you sail too far you will fall off the edge of the world and into the grasp of the dragon Genesi. What a King wants though is what his subjects will do and the reward at the end is pretty worth while, it will really help Quinn’s family out. Still he doesn’t seriously think he’ll get picked by one of the three adventurers. So when he does he finds he has to step up and take his part in the race to the end of the world, on a ship captained by a slave.
This is a fun read and a good way to start off a series. The world is both small and vast, the writing style conveys the smallness of what is known and compares it to the vastness of the unknown. So much is perspective, some see things one way, others see the same thing differently. Quinn has to come to terms with where he finds himself and keeping his secret hidden, if possible. He has to learn new skills, take on board what he can because he doesn’t know what he will need to survive, if there is any surviving when they get to the edge of the world. Quinn is a good central character, not exceptional in anyway except one and the situations he is put in mean he has to think fast and adapt, as well as find courage he never knew he had. It is also nice to see some stereotypes pushed a little with the inclusion of a girl on board, when it is considered such bad luck. Making a slave the captain of the ship also adds an interesting dynamic as a slave’s perspective is vastly different to the privileged who normally captain.
All up a thoroughly entertaining read. Well worth it if you are looking for some fun adventuring.
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Published: 14 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback 236 pgs
Key Words: Action, Adventure, Intrigue
I was sent this book by the publisher
By: Teri Terry
Luna is different, she has a secret. In a world where nearly everything is done online she remains unplugged. The pressure to join the crowd is great but she stays strong for a long time, until someone hands her a possible answer. Even online though there are things she must keep hidden for she is different and those differences are ones that could cost her her life. Luna plunges into a world that killed her mother and is fraught with dangers that few others seem to be able to perceive. Even amongst the hackers she is gifted and can do things no-one else can do. She wishes she knew why, that she understood what was going on but finding out those answers changes everything for her.
Luna is an interesting character, her developing gifts make it difficult for her to be sure of her place as she finds she has abilities that no-one else has. She learns that everything she does is being watched. She doesn’t know who to trust, just when she thinks she has a grasp on it, things turn sideways. Luna has cause to be skeptical, every time she thinks she has a friend she can trust something happens to undermine that. The characters that come alongside her are an eclectic group of individuals all with their own agenda.
It is an intriguing read. The world is how is could be if everything goes digital, the pros and cons. There were some fascinating concepts woven into this story and it could certainly be listed as a tale of caution about relying too much on technology. The only thing that threw me was that the author put in a reference to her own books, an action that seems to me to be self serving and a bit pretentious. That aside I would say this book is well worth investing the time to read.
Publisher: Orchard Books
Published: 10th March 2015
Format: Paperback 433 pgs
Key Words: Science Fiction, Family, Intrigue
By: Alison Goodman
Eon is training for Dragoneye selection, a revered position – a powerful Lord able to master the wind and water elements to protect the land. Eon struggles with a damaged hip and a desperate secret for Eon is in reality Eona, a gifted young woman disguised as a boy in order to provide her master with the chance for a return to power. This deception is deadly as the world she inhabits views women as powerless, they have no respect and can only be wives or servants, for the most part they are hidden away.
The outcome of the Dragoneye testing is totally unforseen and thrusts Eona right into the heart of a vicious struggle for the Imperial throne and ultimate power. With no way out Eona must learn to navigate the treacherous court and make the hardest decisions she has ever faced. She will need all her wits and strength just to survive the bloody struggle and hold onto her magic.
An amazing read, I just have to start there.
Goodman has created a wonderfully detailed world that draws you in and doesn’t let you go – like the monsoon winds controlled by the Dragoneyes. Eon/Eona is an amazing character of vulnerability, confusion, determination and strength. At her heart she wants to do good and she struggles with her lack of knowledge and uncertainty. She is thrust into a world far more complex than she could have imagined. The events around her sweep her in as much as they do us as she struggles to to come to terms with the depth of her deception and the scope of her responsibility.
Lady Dela is a wonderful companion/advisor for Eona allowing for a unique and interesting perspective. Other characters flesh out the world and contribute to it’s total believability.
The story is at one time both simple and complex. To say it is a story of good versus evil would be true but an oversimplification. The politics, culture and natures (hidden and open) of the characters make this story so much more. This was a book I didn’t want to put down and I look forward to reading the sequel Eona. If you are looking for a well constructed fantasy with layered and interesting characters and a story that won’t let you go, I would have no qualms recommending this.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Published: 01 December 2009
Format: Paperback 448 pages
Categories: Fantasy, Dragons
ISBN 13: 9780732290115
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