Monthly Archives: August 2012

Win a signed copy of The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket

John Boyne is touring New Zealand this week, including attending the Christchurch Writer’s Festival.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him this morning, and I’ll be posting this soon.  As well as signing my copies of Noah Barleywater Runs Away and The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket, John kindly signed two extra copies of Barnaby Brocket.

If you would like to win one of 2 signed copies of The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket all you have to do is enter your details in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 7 September (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  This competition is now closed.

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Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

I can only think of a handful of books, among all the books I’ve ever read, that I’ll carry around in my head and my heart for the rest of my life.  Sometimes it’s the characters, the setting, or the feel of the book, and sometimes it’s the combination of all those things at exactly the right time.  When I first read the synopsis of Vikki Wakefield’s latest book, Friday Brown, I had a feeling that it was going to be one of those books.  As soon as I started reading it, I knew I wouldn’t be the same when I’d finished it.

I am Friday Brown.  I buried my mother. My grandfather buried a swimming pool.  A boy who can’t speak has adopted me.  A girl kissed me.  I broke and entered.  Now I’m fantasising about a guy who’s a victim of crime and I am the criminal.  I’m going nowhere and every minute I’m not moving, I’m being tailgated by a curse that may or may not be real.  They call me Friday.  It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown…

Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run—running to escape memories of her mother and of the family curse. And of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. She’s lost, alone and afraid.

Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful, charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghosts of her past. She will learn that sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started—and often, before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you were never meant to be.

Friday Brown is simply one of the most powerful, beautifully written stories I’ve ever read.  It’s one of those stories that you really lose yourself in and emerge several hours later, with your heart aching and a sense of loss.  You know that you’ll never forget the story, the characters, and the way they made you feel.

Vikki’s characters are always extraordinary and she introduces us to a menagerie of different characters in Friday Brown.  There is a sense of mystery about each of the characters in the book, as they all seem to have something they’re hiding or trying to forget.  I like the way that Vikki peels back the layers of her characters throughout the story and, even at the end, you still feel like you don’t know everything about them.  Although we don’t see much of Friday’s mum, her and her family curse are quite an imposing figure throughout the book.  Friday is forever running to escape the memories of her mother and the family curse that killed her.  If there is one character that I wish I could meet in real life it would be Silence.  He’s one of the most mysterious characters, but also the most loveable.  He’d had such a tough life and I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything would be alright.

Apart from Vikki’s characters, I think the thing I liked most about Friday Brown was the mood of the story.  From the first chapter, you get the sense that things aren’t going to end well.  You know that the family curse is hanging over Friday’s head, and this adds a darkness to the story.  You wonder if the curse will catch up to her or will she be able to break it.

Vikki Wakefield’s first book, All I Ever Wanted, was a stunning debut, but Friday Brown has really highlighted her incredible talent.  I would rate her as one of my favourite authors, especially of contemporary YA fiction, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  Whatever she does write, I know it will be incredible!

Friday Brown is a book that everyone should read, both teens and adults alike.  You will fall in love with Vikki’s amazing story and make some extraordinary friends along the way.

5 out of 5 stars

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Chris Colfer introduces The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell is the debut novel from Chris Colfer (Kurt from Glee).  It’s a beautiful book and I’m loving the story.  If you like books about books, like Inkheart, or fairy tales it’s the perfect book for you.  Available now in NZ.

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Win The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time

To celebrate the release of Scholastic’s new interactive series, The Infinity Ring, I’m giving away 2 copies of the first book, A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner.  It’s a very cool new time travel adventure series, perfect for fans of The 39 Clues.  To learn more about the series you can read my post here on the blog.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  This competition is now closed.

Scholastic NZ are also running a really cool competition on their website to celebrate the release of the series.  All you have to do is register and play the Infinity Ring game on http://www.scholastic.co.nz/assets/pdf/tileE.pdf and you go in the draw to win iPods and iPads.

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The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner

A Mutiny in Time, the first book in Scholastic’s new interactive series, The Infinity Ring is released today. Like the hugely popular 39 Clues series, the story doesn’t stop when you close the book.  It’s one of those books that comes with extra bits and pieces so that you can find out more about the story and the characters.  The Infinity Ring series is all about time travel so you follow the characters through different time periods.  Each book comes with a Hystorian’s Guide, a collectible map that includes a special code to unlock exclusive content on the Infinity Ring online game.  The multi-dimensional game on http://www.infinityring.com allows readers to play as the main characters from the books, as they travel back in history to fix the “Great Breaks,” key events that have gone wrong, altering history as we know it.  Players can interact with characters and explore key events in history alongside Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, and other figures featured in the books.

Book 1 is called A Mutiny in Time  and it’s written by one of my favourite authors, James Dashner (author of The Maze Runner series).

History is broken, and three kids must travel back in time to set it right!

When best friends Dak Smyth and Sera Froste stumble upon the secret of time travel — a hand-held device known as the Infinity Ring — they’re swept up in a centuries-long secret war for the fate of mankind. Recruited by the Hystorians, a secret society that dates back to Aristotle, the kids learn that history has gone disastrously off course.

Now it’s up to Dak, Sera, and teenage Hystorian-in-training Riq to travel back in time to fix the Great Breaks . . . and to save Dak’s missing parents while they’re at it. First stop: Spain, 1492, where a sailor named Christopher Columbus is about to be thrown overboard in a deadly mutiny!

Reserve your copy of The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time at your library now or grab a copy from your bookshop.

Enter my competition to win one of two copies of The Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time.

Scholastic NZ are also running a really cool competition to celebrate the release of the series.  All you have to do is register and play the Infinity Ring game on http://www.scholastic.co.nz/assets/pdf/tileE.pdf and you go in the draw to win iPods and iPads.

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Four Children and It Book Trailer

Four Children and It is Jacqueline Wilson’s brand new book.  It’s due out this month and you can reserve your copy at your library now.  I haven’t read a Jacqueline Wilson book before but I’ll definitely be reading this one.  I remember watching the BBC adaptation of Five Children and It as a kid and loved it.  I’m sure Four Children and It will be just as popular as her previous books.

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Picture Book Nook: In the Lion by James Foley

‘In the city there’s a zoo.  In the zoo there’s a lion.  And in the lion there’s…’  Richard and his family are visiting the zoo one day when they witness the lion swallowing the zoo dentist whole!  This is only the first of many things that end up ‘in the lion.’  Will anybody be able to stop the lion?

In the Lion is a hilarious picture book about a very hungry lion and the havoc that he causes.  The story gets sillier and sillier at more and more things end up in the lion.  Children will be laughing out loud because they’ll figure out very quickly what is going to happen next.  Just when you think you know what is going to happen on the next page, James Foley surprises us and brings in the hero of the story.  I love James’ illustrations because there are lots of extra details that you might not notice the first time (look at the shadows and reflections on each page). The expressions of the characters in the story (both people and animals) are hilarious, especially at the end of the book.  Every page in the book is illustrated and full of colour, including the very cool end papers.  If there was an award for the best picture book cover it would have to go to In the Lion because it’s absolutely fantastic and will really appeal to children.

The story works well as a read-aloud, but is even better for one-on-one sharing so that you can make the most of the illustrations.  James Foley is a very talented author and illustrator and I’ll look forward to reading more of his picture books.

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Interview with Ambelin Kwaymullina, author of The Tribe

Today I’m joined by Ambelin Kwaymullina, author of the fantastic new futuristic Young Adult series, The Tribe.  The first book in the series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf was released last month and if you haven’t heard all the hype about it you can read my review here on the blog.  I caught up with Ambelin to ask her a few questions about her hot new series.

  • What 5 words would you use to describe The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

Wow, it’s really hard to describe your own work!  I guess I can describe what I wanted the story to be…although I think it’s really up to my readers to judge. Here goes:

Mysterious. Dramatic. Thrilling. Smart. Hopeful.

  • What inspired you to write The Tribe series?

Mostly, it was Ashala herself. She is such a strong character, that it would have been impossible for me not to tell her story. From the beginning, the first line of the book has always been the same – ‘He was taking me to the machine.’ Those words followed me around for a few days before I began writing, lurking in my consciousness and demanding that I write more. Then, once I started writing, I had to keep going until I reached the end – I certainly couldn’t leave Ashala trapped in the detention centre!

  • The Tribe has a spiritual connection to the land and the creatures that inhabit it which, I think, makes your story unique. Is this aspect of the story from your own culture?

Yes, it is. Aboriginal people, and Indigenous people from all over the world, have strong connections to our homelands and the ancient spirits of our peoples. Ashala’s world is very different to the one we live in now, of course – the tectonic plates have shifted, creating a single continent, and people no longer make divisions on the basis of race. But Ashala’s ancestors were Aboriginal, so I knew she’d have a deep love for the forest that she lives in. And I knew that her connection to country would be a source of strength and courage for her, the same as it is for Indigenous peoples now.

  • Do you know how the Tribe’s story will end or will you wait to see how the story evolves?

No, I know how it ends. Many of the small details are mysterious to me, but I know where all of the Tribe will be, at the end of the story. And, for this particular story, I think that’s important. I don’t think I could tell it the way that it deserves to be told otherwise.

  • Will we find out more about the abilities of the Tribe and where these came from?

 Oh yes. I didn’t have a lot of narrative space to explore this in the first book, but as the series goes on, readers will find out much more about how all the different abilities function, and what their strengths and limitations are. There’s some tough times coming for the Tribe, too – so they’re all going to have to push themselves, and be able to control their abilities a lot better than most of them can now.

  • How did you find the experience of writing a novel, compared to creating a picture book?

Harder! Much, much harder…also, with picture books, I’d gotten used to being able to pore over every single word until I was satisfied the text was completely perfect. It takes much longer to do that with a novel, which was something I hadn’t realised until I was hopelessly overdue on a deadline.  I think, though, that writing picture books, where you have to tell a complete story in not a lot of text, did teach me to be more disciplined with words than I would have been otherwise. That was helpful. On the other hand, I am going to have to learn to restrain my perfectionist tendencies, or I’ll never get the second book done.

  • What books would you recommend to anyone who enjoyed The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

There’s so much great dystopian fiction, and sci fi/fantasy fiction, for young adults – here’s some I’ve particularly enjoyed: Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, and Moira Young’s Dustlands series.

 

The next stop on Ambelin’s blog tour is with Celine at http://forget8me8not.blogspot.com.au/.
 

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Picture Book Nook: A Hare, A Hound and Shy Mousey Brown by Julia Hubery

The best picture books are those where the text and the illustrations are perfectly matched.  Even though the author and illustrator may have worked in different parts of the world, the book is so perfect that they could have been working side by side.  A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown, written by Julia Hubery and illustrated by Jonathan Bentley is one of those rare picture books.

‘There’s a hare in the air, there’s a hound on the ground, and watching them both is shy Mousey Brown.’  On the first page we meet these three very different characters.  The hare is bouncing around, full of joy, while Mousey Brown watches on, hoping the hare will notice him.  But when the fearless hare dances right up to the hound and tries to wake him, Mousey Brown has to be brave and save the hare from the hound’s jaws.

A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown is a beautifully illustrated picture book, full of joy, mischief, and three very loveable characters.  Julia Hubery’s rhyming text begs to be read aloud and it simply rolls off your tongue.  It’s the sort of story that’s perfect to act out because of the three different characters and their very different personalities.  The hare has lots of energy and is always bouncing around, the dog is pretending to sleep, and Mousey Brown is just watching from afar and trying to warn the hare.  Jonathan Bentley’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and he’s perfectly captured the personalities of the three different characters.  The illustrations are cute but full of character.  I love the way that Jonathan has captured the complete joy and carefree nature of the hare, the irritation of the hound, and the admiration and worry of Mousey Brown.  Even before I opened the book and read the wonderful story inside, Jonathan’s front cover grabbed me and I knew it was going to be special.

Like Mousey Brown, my heart goes pitter-pat-pounding with love for Julia and Jonathan’s book.  I hope that we see more picture books by this amazing duo.

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My Most Anticipated September New Releases

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood (NZ)

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

 

Around the World in Eighty Days, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

A newly illustrated edition of this classic tale by one of Australia s greatest children s book illustrators. Unabridged version.

Set out on a thrilling voyage with the quintessential English gentleman, Phileas Fogg. To fulfil a wager made at the Reform Club in London, Fogg and his newly appointed manservant, Passepartout, embark on the race of a lifetime to circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days! Travelling by steamboat, train, and even elephant, and with adventure around every bend, the intrepid duo find themselves rescuing a young Indian woman from sacrifice, escaping kidnap, and battling hurricane winds and all the while, tenacious Detective Fix of Scotland Yard is in hot pursuit, believing Fogg to be the criminal mastermind behind a Bank of England robbery. Rich in humour and excitement, Around the World in Eighty Days deservedly remains one of Jules Verne s most popular books. This handsome new edition brings together the complete and unabridged text with over 70 magnificent illustrations by the award-winning artist Robert Ingpen.

 

The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania by Barbara Else (NZ)

Hodie is the unpaid odd-job boy at the Grand Palace in the Kingdom of Fontania. Fed-up, he decides to leave and better himself in the South. But the young Queen, 12 year old Sibilla, is fed-up, too, because of gossip about her lack of magical ability. She decides to go with him, insisting he go north to get his mother’s bag back from the Emperor of Um’Binnia.

 

The Boy in the Olive Grove by Fleur Beale (NZ)

On the night of her seventeenth birthday Bess Grey sees images of a witch-burning unfold in front of her as if in a movie. She also sees images from a different time — lovers, and the girl, she’s sure is — was – herself. When she meets Nick she recognises him as the boy. There’s an immediate connection. However when her father nearly dies from a heart attack there’s no time to brood as Bess tries to save her father’s business. She falls in love with Nick but her difficult mother interferes, forcing Bess to make the hardest decision of her life.She must decide whether to lose her mother or the boy she loves.

 

Friday Brown by Vicki Wakefield

Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run—running to escape memories of her mother and of the family curse. And of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. She’s lost, alone and afraid.

Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful, charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghosts of her past. She will learn that sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started—and often, before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you were never meant to be.

 

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

From the Newbery Medal–winning author of When You Reach Me

When Georges moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy club recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

 

The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George

The first young adult book by a #1 New York Times bestselling author

Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it’s a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn’t suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear “whispers”–the thoughts of others–Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

 

Elf Boy and Raven Girl #1: Fright Forest by Marcus Sedgwick

Raven Boy has short black spiky hair, amazing night vision and can talk to animals. Elf Girl is light of foot, sharp of mind and…elfish all over. She hadn’t expected to meet Raven Boy; it’s not that often someone falls out of the trees and squashes your home flat like Raven Boy did.

Before they know it they are plunged into some very strange, creepy, altogether spooky and hilarious adventures as they save their world from trolls, ogres, witches and things that slither and slide in the fiendish forest.

 

Metawars by Jeff Norton

In an unforgiving future, two warring factions – the MILLENNIALS and the GUARDIANS – are locked in a brutal battle over control of an online virtual world called the Metasphere.

Jonah Delacroix has always known which side he’s on – the same side as his dead father. But when he assumes his father’s avatar, he learns that things aren’t as black and white as he once believed. He’s catapulted into a full-throttle race through both worlds – but can he find the truth?

 

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner tells a story that is rich in drama and ideas as Standish Treadwell, an unlikely hero, takes on the vicious forces of the repressive motherland in a novel set in a bleak world that is redeemed only by the very human qualities of some of the survivors. Standish and his remarkable grandfather keep going, eking out a living after the disappearance of Standish’s parents. Standish struggles at school and is the victim of relentless bullying.  But then he finds a friend in the newly arrived Hector. When Hector is taken, the only hope lies in Standish…Luckily, Standish has just the qualities that are needed.

 

Shrunk by F. R. Hitchcock

Jed ‘Model Village’ Perks discovers the ability to shrink things and gleefully shrinks some sheep, a few boats and… the planet Jupiter. But then he loses it. With the *accidentally* miniaturised school bully shouting up at him, Jed has to find Jupiter and return it to orbit before the earth collides with the sun.

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