Category Archives: Intermediate Fiction (11+)

Shiverton Hall by Emerald Fennell

Barry Hutchison, Will Hill, Joseph Delaney and Derek Landy are some of my favourite authors because of the way that they can creep me out, but also having me hanging on every word.  I can now add another author to this list, one with possibly the coolest name around – Emerald Fennell.  With a name like that you’re destined to become an author or an actress, and she’s both.  Her debut novel, Shiverton Hall, is a chilling tale set in a boarding school in England.

Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . .

But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur’s life a misery.

Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don’t want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

I absolutely loved Shiverton Hall!  It brings together elements of my favourite horror series, Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends and Will Hill’s Department 19, mixes it with a touch of Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror stories, and sets it in a kind of sinister Hogwarts.  I don’t want to give too much detail in case I spoil the story, but needless to say, if you love Barry Hutchison’s Invisible Fiends books about sinister invisible friends then you will love this story!  I liken the story to Will Hill’s Department 19 and Chris Priestley’s Tales of Terror because Emerald Fennell breaks up the story of the children in the present time with stories about the history of Shiverton Hall.  The grandfather of George (one of the main characters) wrote a book called Accounts of the Supernatural and Preternatural at Shiverton Hall and Its Surrounds, and George tells his friends some of the stories throughout the book, so you find out about what has happened at Shiverton Hall in the past.  These stories of Shiverton Hall’s past are seriously creepy and I was really 0n edge as I was reading them.  Like when you watch a horror movie, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for something to jump out at me.  These historical stories are what made the book so great and I wanted to know even more about the sinister history of Shiverton Hall.

There is plenty of mystery to keep you reading too.  You want to know what is making the students do strange things, why doesn’t the headmistress believe anything they say, and what secret is Arthur keeping hidden?  Emerald keeps you guessing right up to the very end.  Just when you think the worst is over though, she knocks you in the guts and leaves you desperately wanting more.

I sure hope that Emerald is planning to write a sequel as I’m sure Arthur’s story is far from finished.  I’ll be waiting with bated breath.  In the mean time I’ll go and read her Shiverton short story, The Quality Chophouse, for free here.  If you know any young horror fans, Shiverton Hall is a must read, and it’s perfect for primary and secondary school libraries (Year 7 and up).

5 out of 5 stars

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My Top 10 Middle Grade Fiction of 2012

There have been so many middle grade fiction books published this year, both here in New Zealand and overseas.  It was difficult to pick my absolute favourites but here they are, my Top 10 Middle Grade Fiction of 2012.  If you want to know more about these books you can read my reviews here on the blog.

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My Most Anticipated October New Releases

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Evening Spiker is recuperating from a freak accident in her mum’s medical facility. She is healing at a remarkable rate, faster than physically possible. As she grows closer to the hot lab assistant Solo, who seems to be hanging around a lot, she realises that things at Spiker Biotech are not quite as they seem. Joining forces, Solo and Eve uncover a secret so huge it could change the world completely. Spiker Biotech is about more than just saving lives. It’s about creating them.

All the Wrong Questions: Who Could That Be At This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Author Lemony Snicket is a broken man, wracked with misery and despair as a result of writing A Series Of Unfortunate Events. He spends his days wandering the countryside weeping and moaning, and his evenings eating hastily-prepared meals. But what was he like when he was thirteen years old? Find out in the brand new series from best-selling author Lemony Snicket!

Zom-B by Darren Shan

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B Smith’s racist father thinks it’s a joke– but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish. B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. But when zombies attack B’s school, B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors, making allegiances with anyone with enough guts to fight off their pursuers.

Maddy West and the Tongue Taker by Brian Falkner

Maddy West can speak every language in the world. When she is asked to translate some ancient scrolls, Maddy is excited. But the scrolls hide many secrets. Secrets that send Maddy on a wild adventure with a stowaway ninja, a mysterious monkey, a Bulgarian wrestler and a fiendish witch. And soon Maddy finds herself in deadly peril. Does Maddy have what it takes to save herself and her new friends?

The Crystal Code by Richard Newsome

Gerald, Ruby and Sam are meeting up with Alisha and Gerald’s Australian school friend Ox for two weeks of snowboarding in the mountains of California. It’s a dream vacation.

But soon after they arrive—by helicopter, with Gerald’s butler Mr Fry at the controls, of course—the private chalet is attacked. Gerald and the gang escape through a secret passage, only to be pursued on snowmobiles by men with guns across frozen lakes and into the path of a cascading avalanche.

Could this be the work of Gerald’s nemesis Sir Mason Green, recently escaped from prison? Or is someone else behind the attack? Does the old dry cleaning ticket Gerald found amongst Green’s belongings hold the key? And how does an invitation to join the secretive Billionaire’s Club land Gerald in so much trouble?

Join Gerald and his friends in the USA, the Czech Republic and a tiny island in Sweden for a new thrilling adventure. After all, with all that money, there’s got to be more to the story.

Every Day by David Levithan

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
And then A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Can you love someone who is destined to change each day? YA superstar author David Levithan brings all his trademark insight to a novel that is edgy, romantic and page-turning. Every Day has a touch of the paranormal and a grounding in the real world.

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi

Perry’s mother and father are busy people … they’re impatient, they’re tired, they get cross easily. And they think that only children, like Perry, should be kept busy. On Saturday mornings Perry and her father visit her gran, Honora Lee, at the Santa Lucia rest home, but Gran never remembers them. ‘Who is that man?’ Honora Lee asks when Perry’s father leaves the room. After movement class is abruptly cancelled, Perry is allowed to go to Santa Lucia on Thursday afternoons. She discovers her Gran has an unconventional interest in the alphabet, so Perry decides to make an alphabet book with the help of Honora and the others. Soon everyone is interested in Perry’s book project.

Spook’s: Slither’s Tale

Far from the Wardstone, a new darkness is rising . . . Slither is a haizda mage who preys upon humans, drinking their blood to feed his dark urges. So when a local farmer dies, it’s only natural that Slither should want to feast on his lovely daughters. But then the farmer offers him a deal, and extracts from Slither a promise that will take him on a journey to the City of the Petrified Tree, to a fallen star-stone that holds great power, and straight into the path of Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin.

The Books of Beginning: The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens

It’s been six months since Kate, Michael, and Emma confronted the Dire Magnus, but the trail to their long-missing parents remains cold. Then Michael and Emma find a man who saw them ten years ago—three days after they disappeared. He knows about a map of a distant land, a place shrouded in mystery that may lead them to their parents. Meanwhile, Kate’s connection to the Book of Time is growing stronger and stronger, until a dangerous trick gets her stuck in the past, searching for a friend to help her. Only a perilous quest and a daring risk will help the children to harness the power of the Books of Beginning. But will it be enough to save them?

Ratburger by David Walliams

Things are not looking good for Zoe. Her stepmother Sheila is so lazy she gets Zoe to pick her nose for her. The school bully Tina Trotts makes her life a misery – mainly by flobbing on her head. And now the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers is after her pet rat! And guess what he wants to do with it? The clue is in the title.

And these picture books…

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Guest Author: Cristy Burne on her Top 5 demons

Today I’m joined by the wonderful Cristy Burne, author of the fantastic spooky, adventure series, Takeshita Demons.  Cristy tells us about her Top 5 demons from her series so far.

Demons. I love them. I also love monsters, mythical creatures, spooky feelings and freaky things that go bump in the night. Woah. I get shivers just thinking about them.

My Takeshita Demons books are overflowing with spooky monsters and demons from Japanese folklore, called yōkai. Anyone who’s heard of Pokemon, played with Yu-Gi-Oh, read manga or even bought a lotto ticket has probably encountered a yōkai. (Remember that lucky cat with the beckoning paw?) There are hundreds of yōkai and they’ve been popular in Japan for hundreds of years. Some are hugely famous, like the nine-tailed fox or the shape-shifting tanuki, but others are obscure and strange. My books feature lots of different demons, but here are my top five from the series so far:

1. Akaname (The Filth Licker) 垢嘗

The demon you really want for a friend. He’s loyal and funny and he loves to clean, so you don’t have to. In traditional tales, he comes out at night to lick dirty bathrooms till they sparkle… In my books, he also cleans laundries, kitchens, dirty faces, you name it. Plus his super-sensitive tongue can taste out clues. He’s like a detective in a frog’s skin.

2. Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり

This demon gets a prize for Weird Monster of the Year: It’s basically a horse’s head that floats around upside-down, has electric nose hairs, sharp teeth, and a habit of dropping on you unexpectedly. St-range! And dangerous!

3. Kodama (Tree spirit) 木魂

I love big, old trees, and in Japanese culture, these ancient trees are often home to kodama (http://hyakumonogatari.com/category/magical-tree-stories/), spirits who mimic the sounds of the forest and cause echoes to bounce through the woods. A kodama’s tree trunk is tied with a sacred rope, called a shimenawa. If you cut down such a tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

4. Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊

This shape-shifting yōkai can wipe features from its face like words from a whiteboard. The noppera-bō can take the shape of any person: it could be your best friend, your mum, your teacher… There’s no way to tell unless you look in a mirror: a noppera-bō’s reflection will have no face! So, is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are?

5. Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん

Almost everyone has had the feeling they’re being followed. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is…you ARE being followed. The good news is, you’re being followed by Betobeto-san, a sort of oversized, invisible marshmallow on legs. He eats the sound of your footsteps, but don’t worry: he’s quite shy and not at all dangerous (unless you’re allergic to marshmallows?).

Thanks Cristy for your wonderful post about your Top 5 demons!  I highly recommend Cristy’s Takeshita Demons series, especially if you like spooky, adventure stories.  You can learn more about Cristy and her books on her blog at http://cristyburne.wordpress.com Here are some links to some of the cool stuff on her blog:

Monster Matsuri: http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/monster-matsuri/
Takeshita Demons series:
http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/takeshita-demons-series/
Free activities http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/free-stuff/
Monster memory game http://cristyburne.com/game/game.html

Don’t forget to enter our Takeshita Demons Monster Prize Competition for your chance to win a $50 book pack from Walker Books Australia.

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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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The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket Book Trailer

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is the latest children’s book from John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.  I’m reading it at the moment and absolutely loving it!  John Boyne is coming to Christchurch at the end of August for the Christchurch Writer’s Festival and I’m very excited to be interviewing him on behalf of Christchurch City Libraries.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket is out in NZ on August 17.

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Derek Landy’s NZ Tour – Event Details

HarperCollins Publishers NZ is delighted to announce that Derek Landy, creator of the wise-cracking skeleton of a dead wizard Skulduggery Pleasant, will be returning to our shores in August.

Over the space of five days Derek will visit Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and speak to more than 3,000 children.  The Kingdom of the Wicked, the seventh book in the bestselling and award-winning Skulduggery Pleasant series will be released to coincide with Derek’s visit.

Derek is author of the bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series which is hugely popular with children all over the world.  The first book in the Skulduggery series was published in 2007 and since then the series has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide and earned many prestigious awards, including the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Bord Gáis Irish Book of the Decade (awarded in 2010).

Children and fans of Skulduggery Pleasant will be able to meet Derek at the following events:

Thursday 9 August – Wellington

4.30pm

Opportunity to meet Dereky Landy and have him sign your book.

The Children’s Bookshop,
26 Kilbirnie Plaza,
Kilbirnie,
Wellington

7.00pm – Opportunity to meet Dereky Landy and have him sign your book.

Whitcoulls Queensgate,
Westfield Queensgate, Corner Queens Drive and Bunny Street,
Lower Hutt,
Wellington

Friday 10 August – Christchurch

4.30pm – Opportunity to meet Dereky Landy and have him sign your book

The Children’s Bookshop,
Shop 5, Blenheim Square,
227 Blenheim Road,
Christchurch

Saturday 11 August – Auckland

10.00am – Opportunity to meet Dereky Landy and have him sign your book

Whitcoulls Albany Westfield,
Westfield Albany,
Don McKinnon Drive,
Albany,

Auckland.

1.00pm – Opportunity to meet Dereky Landy and have him sign your book

Paper Plus Botany Town Centre
Botany Town Centre,
588 Chapel Road,
East Tamaki,
Auckland

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My Most Anticipated July New Releases

  • Pop! by Catherine Bruton (Young Adult Fiction)
The first round of auditions was a bit mad. All these wannabe popstars sitting around trying to look wacky/soulful/tragic (delete as appropriate) to catch the attention of the TV cameras.At least we had a cracking back story. The story of me, Agnes, Jimmy and baby Alfie; the tears, the tragedy, the broken homes and feuding families, the star-crossed lovers. And only some of it was made up.

If I say so myself, it was genius: a sure-fire golden ticket to stratospheric stardom. Or at least that was the plan…

  • 1.4 by Mike Lancaster (Young Adult Fiction)
It’s a brave new world. In the far future, people no longer know what to believe…Did Kyle Straker ever exist? Or were his prophecies of human upgrades nothing more than a hoax? Peter Vincent is nearly 16, and has never thought about the things that Strakerites believe. His father – David Vincent, creator of the artificial bees that saved the world’s crops – made sure of that. When the Strakerites pronounce that another upgrade is imminent, Peter starts to uncover a conspiracy amongst the leaders of the establishment, a conspiracy that puts him into direct conflict with his father. But it’s not a good idea to pick a fight with someone who controls all the artificial bees in the world.
  • Shadows by Paula Weston (Young Adult Fiction)

Love. Nightmares. Angels. War.

It’s been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant.

It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense.

Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth—and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly—who can she trust?

  • Ransomwood by Sheryl Jordan (Young Adult Fiction)

Spurned by her lover, and with her uncle threatening to marry her off to his odious widowed brother, Gwenifer is almost relieved to be sent away to escort the magistrate’s old, blind mother to Ransomwood, where the tears of the statue of the Holy Mother are said to have healing qualities.

Together with Harry, the village halfwit, who is escaping a sentence of hanging for being in charge of an ox that trampled a child almost to death, they embark on a perilous journey … each of them looking for a different kind of healing.

  • The Tribe: The Interrogation of Ashla Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina (Young Adult Fiction)

“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below … And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.” Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe – the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.

  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Children’s Fiction)

In extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things… It is 1944 and Florence is occupied by Nazi German forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though – and neither have Paolo and his sister, Constanza. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings do against a whole army with only a bicycle to help them?

  • Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer (Children’s Fiction)

Is this Armageddon for Artemis Fowl?

Opal Koboi, power-crazed pixie, is plotting to exterminate mankind and become fairy queen.

If she succeeds, the spirits of long-dead fairy warriors will rise from the earth, inhabit the nearest available bodies and wreak mass destruction. But what happens if those nearest bodies include crows, or deer, or badgers – or two curious little boys by the names of Myles and Beckett Fowl?

Yes, it’s true. Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl’s four-year-old brothers could be involved in destroying the human race. Can Artemis and Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police stop Opal and prevent the end of the world?

  • The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (Children’s Fiction)

Deadweather, a sweaty little pirate-infested island, is home to Egg, thirteen years old and prey to a pair of cruel and stupid older siblings. But when Egg’s family disappears in a freak accident, he finds himself living on Sunrise Island with the glamorous Pembroke family and their feisty daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect.

Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff.

Suddenly, Egg is lost in a world of cutthroat pirates and powerful villains.

  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (Picture Book)
Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.
But every story has its upsets…
Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds. But the power of story will save the day.
  • The Owl and the Pussycat and Other Nonsense, illustrated by Robert Ingpen (Poetry)

Jump aboard the pea-green boat and enter the enchanting world of Edward Lear. This collection of Lear’s best-loved nonsense verse is published to coincide with the Bicentenary of his birth in May 2012. Rediscover the Owl and the Pussycat, The Jumblies, and The Dong with a Luminous Nose. Learn what happened to The New Vestments of the old man from the Kingdom of Tess and take a stroll through Bong Tree Land. Lear’s verse and limericks have enthralled generations of families, but it is as an ornithological illustrator that he first made his name. His poems, and the original artworks that accompany them, form the heart of this beautiful book, but Lear’s sketches and drawings of birds, as well as a brief glimpse into the life of the man who declared: ‘Nonsense is the breath of my nostrils’ complete the tribute to an extraordinary and enduring talent. This specially illustrated Bicentenary edition provides not only a celebration of Edward Lear’s two-hundredth year, but a unique gift for adults and children to enjoy together for centuries to come. Every poem in this collection is brought to life with a series of stunning new illustrations by award-winning artist Robert Ingpen.

  • The Spook’s Blood by Joseph Delaney (Children’s Fiction)

For Tom Ward, the Spook’s apprentice, the pressure is now on. Having bound the Fiend’s spirit temporarily he now has to come up with a permanent solution – and quickly. The tenth installment in the chilling Wardstone Chronicles. Warning: Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s tales are not to be read after dark . . .

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Win The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker

Susan Brocker is a New Zealand author whose books keep getting better and better.  Her love of animals and history are obvious in her stories, especially her latest book, The Drover’s Quest.  The story is set in 1860s New Zealand and tells the story of Charlotte who joins a drove from Christchurch to the West Coast to find out what has happened to her father.  You can read my review here on the blog.

Thanks to Susan’s wonderful publishers, HarperCollins NZ I have 2 copies of The Drover’s Quest to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your details in the form below.  Competition closes Monday 25 June (NZ only).

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The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker

Over on the Christchurch Kids Blog (Christchurch City Libraries’ blog for children aged 8-12 years) our June Star Author, Susan Brocker has just released a fantastic new book called The Drover’s Quest.  It’s filled with Susan’s favourite things, including history and animals, and it’s set in New Zealand in the 1860s.

Rumour is flying around the west coast gold fields that Tom McGee has struck it rich and found a nugget of gold as big as a man’s fist. So no one is surprised when next his campsite is found wrecked and abandoned. Men have been killed for a lot less on the tough goldfields of 1860s New Zealand.

But one person is convinced Tom is not dead. His headstrong daughter, Charlotte.  Solving the mystery is not her first task, though. First, she must get to the coast. A skilful horse rider, she disguises herself as a boy and joins a cattle drive across the Southern Alps. To survive the dangerous drive over Arthur’s Pass and to keep her identity hidden from the vicious trail boss, she’ll need the help of her dog, her horse, and her father’s friend, Tama. She knows she can do it – she has to – but what will she find? And will her new American friend, Joseph, help or hinder her quest?

Charlie is in for the ride of her life – and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

If you love stories set in the past, stories about animals or stories with lots of adventure then The Drover’s Quest is the book for you.  The story starts in Christchurch and the characters travel over Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika on the West Coast.  These are my favourite parts of our beautiful country and I’ve travelled the route they took many times so I could see it clearly in my head.  It’s a route that is very quick and easy to travel today but was very rugged and dangerous in the 1860s.  There is a very tense part in the book where the drovers are taking the cattle down the Otira Gorge (it had me on the edge of my seat).

I really liked the characters, especially Tama and Joseph who bring different cultures into the story, and Scar because I couldn’t figure out whether he was good or bad.  The animals are also important characters in the story and they are incredibly loyal to their masters.

Check out the Christchurch Kids Blog throughout June to find out more about The Drover’s Quest from our June Star Author, Susan Brocker.

5 out of 5 stars

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