This is an excellent story about a wayward youth getting in touch with his ancestors and ancestry. It also has a good message about adults losing theiThis is an excellent story about a wayward youth getting in touch with his ancestors and ancestry. It also has a good message about adults losing their cultural identity....more
This is rather a lovely book. The illustrations are relaxed - clear colours but not bold, life-like but not attempting to be like photographs. The texThis is rather a lovely book. The illustrations are relaxed - clear colours but not bold, life-like but not attempting to be like photographs. The text is sweet - a grandmother using the example of this amazing little migratory bird (the godwit) to talk about perseverance and following your dreams and being adaptable. A nice step-off too for talking about different immigrants to our beautiful New Zealand....more
Jack has dreams of being a swimming champion; he also dreams of Viking times. When disappointment dogs him over the swimming, and a bully attacks himJack has dreams of being a swimming champion; he also dreams of Viking times. When disappointment dogs him over the swimming, and a bully attacks him mercilessly, Jack suddenly finds himself in the Norway of old. He learns very quickly that it is no glorious existence, but he also learns a lot about himself. How on earth will he ever get home though!
This book is excellent for young teens, all packed inside a great story that combines both history and contemporary issues. ...more
This is probably the first book I've read by Jack Lasenby, and I'm an instant fan.
This book begins with a scene of rage as the narrator is thrown intoThis is probably the first book I've read by Jack Lasenby, and I'm an instant fan.
This book begins with a scene of rage as the narrator is thrown into a boat and banished from her village. She is the Selene, the person who calls the gods each year so they can get enough whale meat and oil to supply themselves and to trade. The world is one of simple barter, though we realise gradually that this world is in our future long after something has caused technology to have failed. The Selene must try and build a new settlement as a few other outcasts and children who have escaped death in their own villages join her. She must also try to keep them from falling into their ancestors' destructive ways of vengeance....more
What a nice theory of time travel! Ben has to vacate his bedroom for his grouchy great-grandfather, and one day when the rest of the family is out, BeWhat a nice theory of time travel! Ben has to vacate his bedroom for his grouchy great-grandfather, and one day when the rest of the family is out, Ben thinks his grandfather isn't breathing so reaches out to shake him. He suddenly finds himself transported back in time to when his Poppa was 12, the same age as Ben is now. Everything would be great, except back in real time Ben's friend Zac is getting into bad company, and in Poppa's childhood there's an alarming new troublemaker.
A great piece of history inside a contemporary issue - this is a great read for older kids and young teens. Oh yes, and a nice slice of New Zealand....more
This book follows very close to the first in the series (Murder At Mykenai, and keeps building the myth of Odysseus, who is now all of 16 years old, aThis book follows very close to the first in the series (Murder At Mykenai, and keeps building the myth of Odysseus, who is now all of 16 years old, and a little less impulsive perhaps. When Odysseus' grandfather dies it's too dangerous for Odysseus' father to travel there to pass his last respects (not that he feels anything less than pleased that the old man has died, but even so). However, there's the matter of the fortune in gold that, clearly, hasn't been found. Odysseus hatches a plan.
There's lots of excitement in this story, some teenage love (unrequited, alas!), riveting scenes of training and of battle, and some great slapstick due to the various disguises that Odysseus and Eurybates (the squire) must don. This gives an idea:
"What is that stench?" the squire asked, holding his nose. "What stench?" Odysseus started pushing his arms through the straps [of his fake paunch] and froze. "Toad's testicles," he exclaimed. "I think the contents of my stomach have started to rot. I assumed it was your feet and I was too polite to say." He sniffed inside the bag and recoiled. "Silly idea in the first place, using lamb's bladders." "What else could I have blown up like this? I had to use something I can puncture to make room for the gold. When we find it."
Once again we've been given a thoroughly entertaining tale to read....more
Ruby Yarrow is one of those good-natured children (14-year-old at the start of this story) who likes to help. Nothing wrong with that. We all like ourRuby Yarrow is one of those good-natured children (14-year-old at the start of this story) who likes to help. Nothing wrong with that. We all like our offspring to be helpful and to grow up into adults who give a hand to others. However, there's a point at which (and often too easily reached by those who should know better) using and developing a child's natural helpfulness turns into taking advantage, and even abuse.
Ruby's younger brother (by 11 months) has been spoilt rotten. He's the bright one, top of the class, while Ruby has a learning difficulty and can't read or or write. So the mother's hopes are all pinned on the boy - he needs to do well at school and go to university and get a good job, not like the low-paid, going-nowhere jobs that she has. What child would not take advantage?! And he plays it like a professional.
Then one day, Ruby's best friend, Tia, gets fed up with her. She says she's never going to speak to her again until she gets some backbone. And so this excellent book is about that - Ruby's gradual, and often painful, development of assertiveness.
This is set in New Zealand, in the lovely town of Napier (with a brief foray to the capital city, Wellington, and a briefer trip up the coast to Gisborne), and it brings in the world with visits by exchange students from Brazil, and a babysitting job for immigrants. This could be set anywhere, though, in any small town or suburb. The coming-of-age story is universal....more
Janet Frame is one of New Zealand's best-known authors, and this book is the third part of her autobiography in which she leaves NZ on a journey to 'bJanet Frame is one of New Zealand's best-known authors, and this book is the third part of her autobiography in which she leaves NZ on a journey to 'broaden her experience'. Frame writes beautifully and honestly - her words are a pleasure to read and her life (and 'analysis' of it) is fascinating. Frame's novels aren't easy reads - she records what her British publisher said: "The critics love you, but nobody buys your books." - though I have read most of them. However, I found each volume of her story about herself to be extremely readable.
One minor gripe (and this is to do with this Audio edition, not the book itself): the narrator is Australian. She doesn't have a terribly strong accent, the kind that hits you the instant you hear it, and quite probably a listener from the UK or USA (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) can't hear the difference between an Australian and a New Zealand accent, but New Zealanders can, and Janet Frame is a New Zealander. Why did the publisher (Braille Audio Books) not hire a New Zealand voice? This thought flashed through my mind every time there was a word which betrayed the narrator's nationality, and I found it distracting.
I've written about this 'voice' issue on a number of other audio books I've listened to this year, and it's about being authentic to the nationality of the book's narrator....more
Evie is 17 and her mother has just died so she's living with her mother's twin sister, Miriam. She'll be seeing her best friend, Kitty, soon, which isEvie is 17 and her mother has just died so she's living with her mother's twin sister, Miriam. She'll be seeing her best friend, Kitty, soon, which is going to help just a little in dealing with her grief, but she's glad she won't be seeing Kitty's brother Jamie whom she has avoided since he humiliated her 3 years ago.
So we have the set-up for some predictable angst-filled teen romance, and yes, there's plenty of that. But what makes this book is the suspense and the action - the author really pushes that along, and it kept me snatching time to read 'just a little bit more'. The suspense is not only connected to finding out who the person is who's trying to kill Kitty, but also in whether Evie can manage to hold herself together against the fear and confusion as her body reacts to the genetic programming that has turned her fiercely protective (and with awesomely enhanced physical abilities).
The explanation of the 'science' is a little clunky, and the words turned into initials (but not even acronyms that you can say as a word) are annoying. I guess the author wanted things to sound scientific rather than fantastic - but kinetic memory harvesting (KMH) really is just telepathy. And what the heck was AFS again?
That aside, however, this is a great teen-read, and I'll be looking out for the next episode....more
Ancient history brought to life! We'd just got this book and its sequel into the bookshop, and instead of adding it to my to-read shelf, which could hAncient history brought to life! We'd just got this book and its sequel into the bookshop, and instead of adding it to my to-read shelf, which could have meant it was eight or nine years away from being read, I immediately went onto the library website (yes, a little personal time stolen from my boss) and reserved a copy. It just seemed it would be such a great read, and it is!
Written for younger teenagers, this is being taught in schools locally (that's local to the author, not the people in the book), and I could only wish that I'd had such an opportunity when I was a schoolgirl. The author's blog and (her website) give lots of information about this book and the next, about school resources and some work that pupils have done in response to reading this, and about the research that goes into writing. It's excellent - I recommend it highly.
The book has some great action scenes, and excellent exploration of friendship and family relationships. The two youths, Odysseus and Menelaos, are moving from boyhood to manhood, and it's a pleasure to journey with them in this exciting tale of political manoeuvrings and secrets over 2000 years ago....more
Book 3 (of 6), I'm as engrossed as I was in the first, and the only reason I'm not immediately ordering the next from the library is because I have toBook 3 (of 6), I'm as engrossed as I was in the first, and the only reason I'm not immediately ordering the next from the library is because I have too many other booms right now that are waiting for me. Besides, reading a series too quickly tends to merge the tales one into the other, and I want to keep each book distinct.
Marillier is doing that superbly. Each book has the wonderful Fair Folk and the Old Ones (each book to various amounts); each has the interplay of family relationships, liaisons with neighbours, and enmities; each has a beautifully drawn romance. But each also has its quite different female lead character and a different focus on the story development. Here, our narrator is a confused 15-year-old who has grown up in almost solitude, taught the ways of a druid and the powers of a sorceror by her father Ciaran, who we know from the previous books was the son of Colum of Sevenwaters and his second wife, the sorceress Oonagh.
It's easy to imagine the problems that beset a teenage girl, manipulated by her grandmother, unskilled in social niceties, and suddenly thrust into a busy family and a world preparing for a battle that is expected to fulfill a prophecy. This is a story of finding oneself, and the setting is fabulous....more