Tag Archives: action

The Last Thirteen by James Phelan

Do your children love sinking their teeth into a new series? Do they love books like The 39 Clues, The Infinity Ring and Conspiracy 365?  Scholastic have just released a new series, called The Last Thirteen, that’s perfect for fans of these series and anyone who loves a fast-paced story full action, adventure, and mystery.

I click my fingers and everybody dies.

Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality. It will come true.

Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren’t who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With his life and identity shattered, Sam’s salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all.

He alone can find the last 13.

Are you one of them?

The first book in The Last Thirteen series has just been released and James Phelan kicks it off with a bang.  The first book sets the scene for the rest of the series, so we find out snippets of information about Sam, the Last Thirteen, and the organisations that want to get their hands on them.  The Last Thirteen are a group of teenagers with a special ability that some people will kill to get their hands on – their dreams come true.  Sam is the first of the 13 and the race is on to find the other 12 in order to save the world.

The plot races along (especially in the second half of the book) and the chapters are short, so readers will gobble it up and be waiting for the second book.  Each of the books ends with a dramatic cliff-hanger, and the end of the first book certainly makes me want to read the next one to find out what happens.

Like similar series (39 Clues, Infinity Ring) there is a dedicated fan website, where fans can register online and gain VIP access to a range of exciting features.  There’s also the chance to enter the competition, with your chance to become famous.

The Last Thirteen is perfect for ages 10+ who love action, adventure and mystery.  Get your copy today and join the race to find the Last Thirteen.

Check out the book trailer and the video of James talking about the series:

3 Comments

Filed under adventure, books, children, children's fiction, mystery, young adult, young adult fiction

Boy Nobody book trailer

I’m really looking forward to reading this one.  It looks like a great action-packed read. Boy Nobody by Allen Zadoff is out now in NZ from Orchard Books.

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, book trailer, books, young adult, young adult fiction

W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin book trailer

W.A.R.P. (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme) is Eoin Colfer’s new series.  The Reluctant Assassin is the first book in the series and is released later this month by Penguin Books NZ.  It sounds like it’s going to be a great series and perfect for fans of his Artemis Fowl series.

Leave a comment

Filed under book trailer, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy, mystery, science fiction

2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Finalist: The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager

Mandy Hager’s The Nature of Ash is one of the finalists in the Young Adult category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  It was one of my favourite Young Adult books of 2012 so I’m really glad to see it as a finalist.  I reviewed it back in June last year, so if you want to hear all about it and find out what makes it such a worthy finalist, read on.

I love books with lots of action, but I also want to read about characters that I care about and can relate to.  Those books are the ones that make me keep reading furiously, just to make sure the characters make it to the end of the book alive.  I love books like Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner for this very reason, but there aren’t many books like this for teenagers set in New Zealand (Fleur Beale’s Juno series and Brian Falkner’s Tomorrow Code are the only ones that come to mind).  Mandy Hager has set a new standard in thrilling, action-packed stories for NZ teens with her new book, The Nature of Ash, and I’ll say it can proudly stand alongside these international, best-selling dystopian thrillers.

Ash McCarthy thought he finally had it made: away from home and all its claustrophobic responsibilities, he’s revelling in the freedom of student hostel life. But life is about to take a devastating turn, when two police officers knock on his door. Their life-changing news forces him to return home to his Down Syndrome brother Mikey, and impels him into a shady world of political intrigue, corruption, terrorism and lies . . . so many lies. As if this isn’t bad enough, the whole country is imploding, as the world’s two greatest super-powers start a fight that leaves New Zealand ‘piggy-in-the-middle’ of their deadly games. While trying to protect Mikey, along with strangers Travis and Jiao, his fight to uncover the truth turns into a nightmare race to save their lives and stop the destruction of all the principles he holds dear.

The Nature of Ash is an exciting, explosive, action-packed thriller that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  From the first page I got caught up in Ash’s life and the horrific situation he finds himself in.  Mandy Hager has painted a picture of a future New Zealand that you could imagine turning from fiction into fact.  Our country is caught in the middle of a conflict between the two super powers of the world, the Western Alliance (USA, UK, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysian Federation, Republic of Indonesia, Peru) and the United People’s Republic (China, East Russia, United Korea, Japan, Republic of Indochina, Fiji, Chile).  Our Prime Minister is corrupt and will sell his loyalty to the highest bidder, there are protests, riots and looting breaking out all over the country, and food is running low.  In short, the country is falling apart and things keep getting worse.  In the middle of it all is Ash, who had gone to study in Christchurch, but gets called back to Wellington when a bomb explodes at his dad’s office.

In my opinion, Ash is one of the most authentic male teen characters in New Zealand fiction.  Mandy Hager is absolutely spot-on with Ash’s voice, his actions and decisions.  Sure, he swears, he drinks, and smokes some weed, but in the crappy situation that he’s in you can completely understand why he talks the way he does and makes those decisions.  He’s fiercely loyal to his family, especially his brother Mikey, who has Down Syndrome.  Even though it’s hard to look after Mikey and keep him calm and happy, Ash does all that he can to help him and protect him from harm.  I also loved Jiao and Travis, the other teenagers that escape from the city with them.  Jiao is an Asian girl who often looks after Mikey and is someone that he trusts (and has a bit of a crush on) and Travis is the son of policewoman Jeannie.  The group have some tense moments but they pull together when they need to.

The adult characters are a real mixed bag.  Ash and Mikey’s Dad is a very loving parent who really cares about his kids.  He’s always telling them he loves them and provides them with what they need.  Ash is left with no doubt that his father loves him and does all he can to protect them, even hiding secrets from them so they don’t need to worry.  There are many other adults who help them along the way, including Jeannie, Lucinda, Simon, and one of my favourite characters, Erich.  Then there are the immoral, sadistic characters, like the members of Muru, whose actions made me so angry.

Mandy Hager has created a story and characters that will stay with me long after I’ve put the book down.  I’m sure that teenage boys in particular will relate to Ash and his struggle to do what’s right.

5 out of 5 stars

Please note:  Ash uses some quite strong language (which I think is perfectly acceptable because of his situation) so please consider this if buying for your school library.  I would recommend the book for 13+.  Teaching notes are available through the Random House New Zealand website.

2 Comments

Filed under authors, books, New Zealand, young adult, young adult fiction

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis

Imagine that you were told that you woke up on a mysterious island, a place that few people know even exists, and told that you have six months to live.  You’re told that you have a special gene that gives you amazing powers, but the only way to keep those powers under control and keep you alive is to retrieve seven lost magical orbs.  These orbs have been hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and it’s up to you and your new friends to retrieve them before it’s too late.  This is the task that is given to Jack McKinley in Peter Lerangis’ new series, Seven Wonders. The first book in the Seven Wonders series, The Colossus Rises is out now.

The day after twelve-year-old Jack McKinley is told he has six months to live, he awakens on a mysterious island, where a secret organization promises to save his life – but with one condition. With his three friends, Jack must lead a mission to retrieve seven lost magical orbs, which, only when combined together, can save their lives. The challenge: the orbs have been missing for a thousand years, lost among the ruins and relics of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With no one else to turn to and no escape in sight, the four friends have no choice but to undertake the quest. First stop: The Colossus of Rhodes … where they realise that there’s way more at stake than just their lives.

The Colossus Rises is an action-packed blockbuster of a book. From the first sentence you’re hooked into the story and, like Jack, you’re whisked from your normal, everyday life into a strange new world.  You’re taken to a place of legend, home to mysterious creatures, and where a group of kids have amazing powers.  The mystery of the unique gene that Jack and his friends have and the magical orbs draws you in and you keep reading hoping to find the answers.  Peter Lerangis is very good at only revealing little details throughout the story to leave you hanging and we’ll find out more as the series progresses.  There is definitely more to the island and their quest that Professor Bhegad isn’t revealing to Jack and his friends (if you read the free ebook prequel, The Select, you’ll see what I mean).

Peter really keeps you on the edge of your seat.  There is danger around every corner so you never know what to expect next.  I wasn’t even sure that Jack and his friends were all going to make it to the end of the story alive, as they have some very close shaves.  The second half of the book is especially exciting and fast-paced and had me engrossed in the story.

Like the Percy Jackson books The Colossus Rises is a mixture of adventure and fantasy.  Jack and his friends have powers that help them in in their quest to find the orbs and the island is home to mysterious and mythical creatures.  They have to fight for their lives with these creatures, both on the island and on the other side of the world, in plain view of normal humans.

Seven Wonders is sure to be a hugely popular series and I certainly can’t wait for the next book in the series, Lost in Babylon.  The Seven Wonders website is awesome and definitely worth a look too (especially for the free ebook prequel, The Select).

4 out of 5 stars

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy, mystery

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises Book Trailer

The day after twelve-year-old Jack McKinley is told he has six months to live, he awakens on a mysterious island, where a secret organization promises to save his life – but with one condition. With his three friends, Jack must lead a mission to retrieve seven lost magical orbs, which, only when combined together, can save their lives. The challenge: the orbs have been missing for a thousand years, lost among the ruins and relics of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With no one else to turn to and no escape in sight, the four friends have no choice but to undertake the quest. First stop: The Colossus of Rhodes … where they realise that there’s way more at stake than just their lives.

 

The Colossus Rises is the first book in Peter Lerangis’ action-packed new series called Seven Wonders. It has been described as ‘Percy Jackson meets Eragon’ and it sounds really exciting.  You might recognise Peter Lerangis as one of the authors of The 39 Clues series.

The Colossus Rises is due out in March from HarperCollins New Zealand, and watch out for your chance to win a copy of the  book here on the blog.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Crystal Code by Richard Newsome

What do you get when you mix Tintin, James Bond, and The Famous Five together?  You get Richard Newsome’s Billionaire Series.  So far in the series we’ve followed Gerald, Ruby and Sam to England, France, Greece and India, trying to stay one step ahead of the notorious Mason Green.  In their latest action-packed adventure, The Crystal Code, we join our favourite characters as they make new friends and enemies.

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?

The Crystal Code is Richard Newsome at his best!  It’s chock-full of everything I love about the Billionaire Series – chases, fights, close calls, awkward situations, sarcastic remarks, laugh out loud moments and memorable characters.  From the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, to Prague, and a tiny island in Sweden, Richard Newsome takes us on a wild ride where the action never lets up.  Whenever I read one of Richard’s books I feel the absolute joy that I remember feeling the first time I read Tintin’s adventures.  They make you wish that you were a billionaire with a crazed mad man threatening your life.  As the characters grow up, their relationships change, so things become a bit awkward between Gerald and Ruby (especially when another girl, Felicity, gets thrown into the mixture).  I really liked the dynamics between the characters, and by introducing new characters into the original trio, Richard has refreshed the series and made it even more exciting.

Richard has also taken the series in a different direction by introducing some new villains.  At the center of the story is a centuries old manuscript that nobody has been able to decipher, and there are two characters that are desperate to get their hands on it.  Tycho Brahe, the mysterious man with the silver nose, is a fantastically sinister character who will stop at nothing to carry out his plans.  There is a lot of mystery surrounding him and Gerald and his friends don’t believe that he can be the man he says that he is.  Then there is Ursus, the man with many names, a shadowy character whose motives are unknown.  They’re both really intriguing characters and I have a feeling we’ll meet them again.

The Crystal Code, and the rest of the Billionaire series, are a must read for anyone, young or old, who love action, adventure and mystery stories.  Grab it from your library or bookshop now and dive into the adventures of billionaire boy, Gerald, and his friends.

5 out of 5 stars

1 Comment

Filed under adventure, authors, books, children, children's fiction, mystery

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

I love a story with a great villain.  Some of them, like Patrick Ness’ Mayor Prentice and Chris Morphew’s Noah Shackleton, you hate so much because they’re incredibly evil men (and you really want to punch them in the face!).  Other villains are quite likeable because, no matter how hard they try, things really don’t work out for them.  Lester Smythe, in Glenn Wood’s fantastic debut children’s book, The Brain Sucker, is one such villain.

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

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.

The Brain Sucker is one of the coolest junior fiction (middle grade) books I’ve read in ages!  The idea is original, the story is action-packed, the heroes are unlike any you’ve met before and the villain is sinister.  From the very first page, when the villain slinks onto the page, I knew I was going to love the story, and I greedily turned the pages wanting to know how it would end.

Lester Smythe is a sinister villain, but there’s also something awkward about him.  He reminded me of a cross between Gru (from Despicable Me) and Professor Doofenshmirtz (from Phineas and Ferb) and I almost expected him to announce that his brain sucking machine was the ‘Brain-suckinator.’ I think Craig Phillips has perfectly captured Lester in his front cover illustration (I especially like the way that Lester’s eyes catch the light).  Lester’s plan is to rid the world of goodness because anyone acting good makes him physically sick, due to a horrible experience when he was younger.  The machine that will help him with his task is the Brain Sucker, which sucks the goodness right out of people’s heads.  It’s up to the heroes of the story to save the day (and the world from becoming a miserable place).

The heroes of the story, Callum, Sophie and Jinx are unlike any heroes I’ve met before.  They all have flaws but they manage to overcome these to help save the day.  Callum is paralysed from the waist down so he’s wheelchair bound, but he’s really determined and doesn’t let his disability get in his way.  He’s also got one of the coolest wheelchairs around!  Sophie is Callum’s best friend and she’s incredibly talented and intelligent.  She has a mechanical mind, so she can make improvements to her toys or invent new gadgets to help her friend.  Her only problem is that she gets claustrophobic.  Jinx is the funniest character in the book, because he has really bad luck.  He’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether it’s a gas main exploding under his school desk or bird dive-bombing him.  You always know something bad is going to happen when he’s around, especially when his thumb starts to dance.

If you’re after a fun story, full of adventure, mystery, magic, exciting gadgets, and great characters, The Brain Sucker is the book for you.  I’d recommend it for 9+ and it would be a great read-aloud for Year 5-8.

4 out of 5 stars

1 Comment

Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy, mystery, New Zealand

The Phoenix Files: Fallout by Chris Morphew

Chris Morphew’s Phoenix Files is one of my favourite series.  I got in to them last year before Chris came to New Zealand for the Storylines Family Day in Christchurch last year, and I was hooked from the first page of Arrival.  They’ve got the perfect mix of action, suspense, mystery and science fiction that make them hard to put down.  Fallout is the fifth book (in the six book series) and has just been released in Australia and New Zealand.  Chris doesn’t waste any time getting straight back into the action and rocketing you along to the end of the world.

The Shackleton Building has been turned into a concentration camp, and the last free people in Phoenix have been forced into hiding. Unless Jordan and the others can figure out where the Co-operative is keeping Tobias, everything they’ve fought for will be for nothing.

As Peter spins further out of control, can Jordan find a way to save Luke’s life, or is history doomed to repeat itself?

With only weeks left until Tabitha is released, Phoenix’s biggest secrets are still yet to be revealed.

And the clock is still ticking.

There are 14 days until the end of the world.

To tell you much about the story would only spoil it for everyone, but I will say this – Fallout is the best book in the series so far.  It’s action-packed, explosive and there are shocks galore.  Chris answers a lot of those burning questions you’ve had about Phoenix right from the start and leaves you on the edge of your seat at the very end.  We haven’t seen much of Shackleton in the last couple of books but he comes back in all his sadistic glory in Fallout.  He’s the best villain since Mayor Prentice in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy.  He’s one of those guys you just want to punch in the face because he makes you so angry.  I’ve read the last 3 books one after another and I wish I could just keep reading and find out how it all ends, but I’ll have to wait until 2013 for Doomsday.

5 out of 5 stars

3 Comments

Filed under authors, books, mystery, science fiction, young adult, young adult fiction

Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill

Will Hill’s Department 19 was one of my favourite books of 2011 so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the sequel.  Until Department 19 came along I’d been put off vampires because most of the vampire books around seemed to be about vampires that sparkled and spent their time scowling at girls or were stuck in a love triangle.  Department 19 blew me away because Will’s vampire were vicious and would do anything to get the blood they needed to survive.  Department 19: The Rising amps up the violence, the blood and guts, and the action.

91 DAYS TILL ZERO HOUR.

THAT’S 91 DAYS TO RUN.

91 DAYS TO HIDE.

OR 91 DAYS TO PRAY FOR DEPARTMENT 19 TO SAVE YOU…

After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.

They won’t be waiting for long.

Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.

The 700 brilliant pages of Department 19: The Rising are dripping with blood and vampire guts.  The Rising is even better than the first book, as Will amps up the violence, blood and guts, and the action.  One of the reasons I loved Department 19 so  much was because of the history of the organisation and their fight with vampires and Will gives us more of this in The Rising.  At the end of the first book we were left wondering if Frankenstein survived and Will explains what happened to him and tells us about Frankenstein’s history, including his links with some horrendous vampires.  Sometimes when you’re reading a book you wish that you knew what happened to a character before you meet them, so that you know why they act the way they do, and I love that Will shows us these details.  The Rising could be half the length it is without this back-story but it’s this that makes the book so brilliant.

One thing I especially liked about The Rising is that Will shows us that not all vampires are evil.  Some vampires wish nothing more than to be human again and hide away from the world as much as they can.  They still need to feed so get animal blood from a butcher or find other ways that mean they don’t have to kill humans.  There are vampires of all ages, including fathers and daughters, and some of them just want to carry on living the way they did before they were turned.

The Rising is real boys book.  Department 19 is a secret government organisation that protects the world from the supernatural (especially vampires) and they’re equipped with some great weapons, including the T-Bone, a gun that fires a stake at vampires.  There’s more blood and guts in this book than what I’ve seen in any vampire movie.  Whenever a vampire is staked in the heart it explodes like a balloon leaving the Operators covered in blood and chunks of vampire.  Will has written some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read, with blood squirting everywhere and they left me feeling quite queasy.

Anyone who loved Department 19 should get their hands on The Rising and you should shove the Department 19 books into the hands of any teenage boy you know.  They’re perfect for readers of Anthony Horowitz, Robert Muchamore and Darren Shan.

5 out of 5 stars

NB: I know some primary schools have the first book in their libraries but I wouldn’t suggest The Rising for your library unless you really know your readers can handle it.

1 Comment

Filed under adventure, authors, books, horror, young adult, young adult fiction