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Figgy in the World

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By: Tamsin Janu

Figgy is a determined young girl who has two very big problems. The first is her name, there is no one else in the whole country that has Figgy for a name, unfortunately that is a problem she can do nothing about. The second problem and the worst one is that her Grandmother is very sick and needs special medicine. Figgy thinks there might be something she can do about that. In America they have the medicine that will help her Grandma, so she sets out to get herself and her goat to America. She doesn’t really know how to go about it but that isn’t going to stop her. It turns out getting to America isn’t so easy and many things happen along the way.

Figgy is a wonderful, determined and loyal girl. She sets her mind to something and goes about trying to do it the best way she can. Life though is something that happens whilst you are doing things and for Figgy it becomes the most incredible adventure filled with loss and gain. Nana comes into her life and fills it in a way Figgy hadn’t expected, he opens his life to her and his actions tug at her loyalty strings. Figgy’s bravery speaks to those who come in contact with her and you cannot help but champion her along her way. A wonderful read set in a world of poverty and lack that many will have limited understanding of, this though gives the chance to open dialogue about things that really matter, or you can just read and be swept up into Figgy’s world.

Recommended

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 1st June 2014

Key Words: Life, Adventure, Friendship, Family, Hardship, Ghana

ISBN: 9781742990453

 

Nightbird

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By: Alice Hoffman

Twig is isolated, she doesn’t really have friends. It’s not that she isn’t loved it’s just her family has a secret. Twig’s mother is the most beautiful woman in their town and is famous for her apple pies and honey butter, that doesn’t stop the talk and that doesn’t stop the mystery. Everything changes though when Julia and Agate move in next door. Twig has never had friends before and their influence brings her out of her shell. These girls are bound together even more so as the secrets reach the surface and lives will be changed forever.

Hoffman has created a twisting and enchanting tale. Twig pulls at the emotions as you want her to embrace these new friends but as you are drawn into the family story and it’s secret heart. It is a story that whilst removed from the familiar and the possible parallels in our world where difference is at the heart of so many problems. This is a story that can simply be read and enjoyed as it comes to its emotional and uplifting crescendo or you can look deeper into its themes and use it to springboard some solid discussion of weightier matters.

An enchanting read and recommended.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: 1st March 2015

Key Words: Family, Mystery

ISBN:  9781471124211

New Guard

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By Robert Muchamore

A CHERUB story

James Adams has come a long way since his first days as a CHERUB agent, he is now a mission controller and handling a team of boys sent out to look into a potential new recruit. That mission turns out to be a bust but in the process a larger mission is uncovered. Now he has to assemble a team of ex agents to rescue two kidnapping victims. Things have changed though, not least being James’s office lifestyle is far removed from the brutal physical regime the young agents are put through. Intense training aside the old team is back together, it is going to  be one heck of a ride.

This story does a good job of blending both the old and new guard and in no way will disappoint fans of the series, in fact many may enjoy the chance to catch up with some old favourites. The banter and action are still there. The brashness of the teenagers shines out from the page to the point where they can just frustrate you like any teenager can, this adds to the reality and relatability of the characters. The world they tend to live in is gritty and dirty, the action fast when it needs to be. The scenes between the old and new guard are fun, giving the story a welcome lightness. This was an enjoyable read.

Recommended.

Publisher: Hodder Children’s

Published: 31st May 2016

Key Words: Action, Crime

ISBN: 9781444932157

Kizmet and the Case of the Smashed Violin

I received my copy from the publisher.

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By: Frank Woodley

Part of the Kizmet Papancillo series

Kizmet and Gretchen are assisting Kizmet’s father Detective Spencer with another case. This time they are in Hugelstein and the job at hand is to protect a couple of priceless Stradivarius violins. Something disastrous happens and one of the violins is destroyed. The more they pursue the case, the more complicated things seem and the more dangerous the case becomes.

I have to admit that this series is quite a lot of fun. Silly moments, with the parental figure being somewhat of the bumbling detective and Kizmet being the brains of the operation. Kizmet follows the train of evidence with skill and learns a new trick along the way. Woodley has put together interesting stories and a strong character in Kizmet and used his experience in comedy to good effect.

Remains on the recommended list.

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 29th July 2015

Format: Paperback, 112 pages

Genre: Detective, Fun, Adventure

ISBN: 9780143308553

Kizmet and the Case of the Tassie Tiger

I received my copy from the publisher.

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By: Frank Woodley
Livestock are being attacked by a strange creature in the Tasmanian bush. Sightings are claiming it is the, supposedly extinct, Tasmanian tiger. Kizmet, Gretchen and Detective Spencer are called to investigate.
This is a fun little story, part of a new series written by comedian Frank Woodley. Kizmet is the daughter of Detective Spencer, a somewhat bumbling investigator from IMPACT – International Mysteries Puzzles and Crime Taskforce. She is the brains of the operation and is ably assisted by her pet currawong. The story itself moves at a good pace and is entertaining, written with a tone of humour.
Recommended.
Publisher: Puffin
Published: 29th July 2015
Format: Paperback 112 pages
Genre: Adventure, Fun
ISBN: 9780143308546

Stone Rider

I received my copy from the publisher.
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By: David Hofmeyr

Adam Stone wants nothing more than to escape Blackwater, the hole of a town that he lives in. He longs for something more, something better, and if Sadie Blood is part of that then all the better. The thing is there are only two ways out of Blackwater, death or riding in the brutal Blackwater Trail. The race is harsh, desert environs, savages and the other competitors. The competition is so fierce because the prize is a one way ticket to Sky-Base, a place of freedom, health and luxury.
Adam wants to ride but he has to overcome his fears to get to the starting line. Then he has to overcome everything else. He believes he has to ride the race alone, but things soon change and he ends up alongside Sadie and outsider Kane. Will Adam overcome his fears and find his courage and will any of them make it to the end?
This is a dystopian book with a very immediate goal. Setting the events around the race give it tension because time is limited. The world Hofmeyr has created is a bleak one. Parched desert, a people downtrodden and filled with anything but hope. This world, though some sort of post apocalyptic is also filled with futuristic touches – the bikes that meld with the rider, tech implants, robots, non terrestrial transport and living.
Adam is very definitely an underdog. He is bullied, withdrawn and has a condition that only makes his life harder. Sadie is a strong willed girl who is determined to separate herself from her own legacy, and Adam’s attraction to her is strong but doesn’t overwhelm the plot, in some places it very much drives it. Kane gives the story a darker twist, who is he and where does he fit.
A fast paced and entertaining read. I really enjoyed it and recommend it for those who like dystopian or action stories.
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 24th June 2015
Format: Paperback 305 pages
Genre: Action, Dystopian
ISBN: 9780141354439

The Walled City

I received this book from the publisher
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By: Ryan Graudin

There are three rules of survival in the Walled City: run fast, trust no one and always carry your knife.
These rules are always to be remembered. Living on the streets of the Walled City isn’t the safest place to be, but for some it is the only place they can be.
Jin Ling is doing everything she can to hide the fact she is a girl, being a girl in the Walled City is a death sentence but she can’t die because she has a job, a task, a mission. She has come her to find her sister. That is all that matters, that and surviving.
Dai has his own secrets. He survives by trafficking drugs for the most dangerous man within the Walled City, but to rise in ranks he needs the help of someone who can be invisible, he needs to find a partner.
Mei Yee is trapped. She hasn’t come to the city by choice, she was taken here and now is trapped in a brothel doing what she has to to survive. When she can, she dreams of escape no matter how futile that dream seems.
Together these three can pull off something that can see all of them move away from their past and have something more for the future, but how do you find trust in a city built on everything but?
This is a dark and murky tale. A tale of survival, of doing what you need to, of owning up to the mistakes of your past. These three characters work very well together, balancing each other out. They each have secrets, they each have issues and the only way they can truly survive is to try as part of a team. The city itself is drenched in dark tones that make you grasp at any sign of light. You are desperate for the underdog to win, to just get away. Each character has their own arc, there own journey and to reveal too much would be to detract from the story itself.
If you like or are looking for something gritty, intriguing, with characters you can’t help but invest in give this a go.
Recommended.
Publisher: Indigo
Published: 11th November 2014
Format: Paperback 424 pgs
Key Words: Crime, Survival, Family, Courage
ISBN: 9781780621999

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