Monthly Archives: December 2011

Adventures of Tintin movie review

I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Adventures of Tintin since I heard the movie was being made, so I went to the very first screening on Boxing Day. All of the pictures and movie trailers I’ve seen for the film made it look amazing and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Adventures of Tintin is a mish-mash of three different Tintin stories, Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure and The Crab with the Golden Claws, so there are locations and characters from each of these books (minus Professor Calculus). The opening credits really set the scene with an endless action sequence that highlights lots of different Tintin stories. The movie opens with Tintin’s creator, Herge, making a guest appearance in the market where Tintin discovers the model of the Unicorn. The story rockets along like all good Tintin adventures and you meet some of your favourite Tintin characters, including Captain Haddock and Thompson and Thomson.

The motion capture animation is amazing, making the characters look real while still looking like Herge’s illustrations. The characters use their catch-phrases, including my favourite ‘Billions of blue, blistering barnacles!’ There are some brilliant action sequences throughout the movie, especially in Bagghar (this part made me crack up laughing as well). I saw the movie in 3D but I’m sure it’s just as great in 2D. Whether or not you’re a fan of Tintin you should go and see The Adventures of Tintin for your dose of action, adventure, and laughs. It’s perfect for anyone from 7-107.

10 out of 10 – my favourite movie of the year!

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Join us for the Night School Blog Tour

Author C. J. Daugherty’s first book for Young Adults, Night School is being released in January.  She’s doing a blog tour to celebrate the launch and My Best Friends Are Books is lucky enough to be having a Q & A and a giveaway.  Here’s the blurb for Night School:

“When everyone is lying, who can you trust? Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she’s just been arrested. Again.
This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off
from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers. But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there’s the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. When Allie is attacked one night the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what’s really going on at Cimmeria Academy.”

 Join us for the fun on Wednesday 11 January.  

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Hana – a Delirium short story by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver’s Liesl and Po was one of my favourite books of 2011.  I absolutely loved her very descriptive writing and magical story.  While I haven’t read Delirium yet it’s definitely on my to-be-read pile.  I know there are lots of Delirium fans out there and I like to support and promote authors whenever I get the chance, so here’s some special news for you:

“We now have a special Christmas treat for all you Delirium fans: whilst you’re eagerly awaiting its sequel, Pandemonium, out in March, you can read Lauren’s amazing short story, Hana. It’s told from the point of view of Lena’s best friend (who, you might have guessed, has some secrets of her own…) There’s a shocking twist to her tale that will leave you with your heart in your mouth. The short story is out exclusively in eBook this Christmas – it’s available to buy for just 99p for a limited time only over the festive season. 

Now, we know you’ll be desperate to order it immediately, but we have a favour to ask you. We’d love to give Lauren the best Christmas present ever: seeing Hana at number one in the eBook charts on Christmas Day.

Will you help us get it there by joining in on one big Christmas Eve push? If we all buy it on the 24th December, that will propel it up the charts into (hopefully!) the top spot.”

Check out the Hodder and Stoughton website to find out more about the story and where to purchase it.



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The Adventures of Tintin movie tie-in books

Here in New Zealand we have to wait until Boxing Day to see The Adventures of Tintin on the big screen.  I certainly can’t wait to see it as the trailers and clips I’ve seen so far have been amazing.  While I wait for Boxing Day I’ve been checking out the cool movie tie-in books that Bantam have released.  There are 6 books all together and they are all aimed at different age groups.

The Adventures of Tintin Novel by Alex Irvine is a novelization of the screenplay which was written by the legendary team of Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.  This novel tells the story of the movie and is aimed at children 9+.  It’s a very different experience reading this than the original graphic novels because you don’t have any images to help tell the story.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Chapter Book, adapted by Stephanie Peters, is the story of the movie written as a chapter book aimed younger readers (7-9 year olds).  Unlike the novel, the chapter book has photos from the movie to add some excitement to the story.  The chapter book tells the whole story of the movie, but is very abridged.

There are also two Colour First Readers, The Mystery of the Missing Wallets and Danger at Sea.  These two first readers take a particular part of the story and simplify it for those children who are just starting to read.  They are full of colourful photos from the movie and are perfect for readers who are comfortable tackling new words and starting to read on their own.  There is also Tintin’s Daring Escape, a picture book that’s perfect for sharing with young Tintin fans.

My favourite of all the Tintin movie tie-in books is the Sticker Book.  It includes games and puzzles, as well as over 100 full-colour stickers.  Children could stick them in the book, save them for something special, or stick them all over their school books.

I’m a huge Tintin fan so I think it’s great to see these movie tie-in books.  I’m sure the movie and these wonderful books will help to introduce Tintin to a whole new generation.  If you need any last minute Christmas gift ideas or just want something special to keep the kids entertained over the Christmas break, head to your bookstore and grab The Adventures of Tintin movie tie-in books.

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The Extraordinaires: The Extinction Gambit by Michael Pryor

I’ve been a fan of Michael Pryor’s ever since I first picked up Blaze of Glory, the first book in his Laws of Magic series.  I was captured by the old-style covers and as soon as I started reading I was transported to a world very similar to ours.  The series was full of magic, politics, intrigue, espionage and brilliantly witty characters.  When I found out that Michael had started a new series I was eager to delve into his new story and meet new characters.  His new series is called The Extraordinaires and the first book, The Extinction Gambit, introduces us to a shadowy London where dark creatures lurk just below the surface.

Kingsley Ward knows nothing of his parents.  His foster father, Dr Ward, refuses to tell him how he came to be looking after Kingsley.  On the night that he is to make his professional debut on stage with his death-defying escapology, his performance ends in disaster.  Kingsley has a wolfish nature that bursts free at the most inappropriate times, especially in the middle of his performance in front of hundreds of people.  A strange albino girl called Evadne comes to his rescue and takes him back to his foster father’s house, only to find his father is missing, the house keeper has been murdered, and two abnormally large, very ugly men are ransacking Dr Ward’s library.  Kingsley has no idea who these men or what they have done to Dr Ward.  Evadne takes Kingsley to her secret hideaway and explains that she is part of the Demimonde, the ‘world of the dispossessed and the fugitive, of outlaws, thieves and cutthroats, of the lost and abandoned, of the strange and uncanny.’  Through alternate chapters Michael Pryor introduces us to other members of the Demimonde: Jabez Soames, the human inside the Demimonde who wheels and deals and knows just how to bargain with the various groups in the Demimonde; the True Humans or Neanderthals (depending on whether you’re one of them or not) who want to wipe out the Invaders (Homo sapiens) by travelling back in time and killing them; and the Immortals, a group of immortal sorcerers who need to inhabit the bodies of children to live the longest.  As the story progresses the paths of these various groups cross and it’s up to Kingsley and Evadne to disrupt their plans before it’s too late.

Michael Pryor has once again created a story filled with action, suspense, mystery and fantastic characters.  I loved the idea of this group of shady characters lurking underneath London and having a group of Neanderthals that didn’t die out is brilliant.  The Immortals at first sounded a little like vampires, but I think they’re far creepier.  There’s also a slight hint of the Frankenstein story creeping into this story, as the Immortals create their minions, the Spawn, from their own body parts that they cut off.  Like Aubrey in The Laws of Magic, Kingsley is a fantastic character who is intelligent and witty.  At first I thought Kingsley’s wolfish nature might be hinting at him being a werewolf, but the true is much more exciting, and is linked with Rudyard Kipling who is also a minor character.  Evadne is a girl who can look after herself (and Kingsley at times) and is also incredibly intelligent.  There is a sense that there are many layers of Evadne that Kingsley, and the reader, hasn’t been introduced to yet.   The Extinction Gambit is the perfect book for anyone who likes their supernatural/fantasy stories without the gushy romance.  I can’t wait to see what Michael Pryor has in store for Kingsley and Evadne next.

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Most Anticipated Books of 2012

There are so many great books coming out in 2012 (some of which I don’t even know about yet).  What books are you looking forward to in 2012?  Here are just a few of them that I can’t wait to get my hands on:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

No blurb available yet.

Department 19: Rising by Will Hill

The pulse-pounding sequel to DEPARTMENT 19 – “The best action horror story I have ever read” according to Bookzoneforboys…




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.

Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall

The dark is dangerous. So is the past. So are your dreams.

For six months Nia—Wildgirl—has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she spent one night with in Shyness—the boy who said he’d call but didn’t.

Then Wolfboy calls. The things he tells her pull her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate. There, Doctor Gregory has seemingly disappeared, the Darkness is changing and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble. And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

The sequel to the 2009 Text Prize-winning This Is Shyness is about the difficulty of recreating the past—about how the Darkness no longer sets Wolfboy and Wildgirl free.

The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams

But there I go, getting ahead of myself. Skipping straight to the part where I was front-page news and they were calling me Dorothy, instead of starting at the beginning…

When Dodie’s parents go missing just as final year exams are about to start, she convinces herself they’re fine. But when the least likely boy in class holds the key — quite literally — to the huge secret her parents have been hiding all these years, it’s up to Dodie, her sister, the guy from school, and two guys she’s never met before, to take on the challenge of a lifetime. So now Dodie’s driving — unlicensed — to Sydney, and being chased by bad guys, the police, and one very handsome good guy.

From the acclaimed author of Beatle Meets Destiny.

Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Godspeed was fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos.

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to enact his vision – no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that’s growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

In book two of the Across the Universe trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis mesmerizes us again with a brilliantly crafted mystery filled with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

BZRK by Michael Grant

Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.

A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:

-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens

-BZRK’s DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots.  If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die.  Hence the name BZRK.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven returns to the world of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop. It begins one year after the close of The Shadow of the Wind when a mysterious stranger enters the shop, looking for a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo.

13th Horseman by Barry Hutchison

Drake Finn has just met the Horsemen of the Apocalypse but is that really the end of the world? Pratchett meets Python in this dark comic fantasy with plenty of action, perfect for 11+ boys

Drake is surprised to find three horsemen of the apocalypse playing snakes and ladders in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they insist that he is one of them. They’re missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths and they think that Drake is the boy for the job. At first he’s reluctant to usher in Armageddon but does being in charge of Armageddon have to spell the end of the world?

An apocalyptic blend of riotous comedy, heart-stopping action and a richly imagined fantasy adventure.

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Chronicles of Harris Burdick – 14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales

I’ve been reading lots of short stories lately because we’ve been getting some cool collections of short stories for children and young adults in our library.  The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is a collection of short stories written by 14 amazing authors, including Kate DiCamillo, Louis SacharJon Scieszka and Lois Lowry.  The stories are based on the original illustrations from the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, in which there are only illustrations with a title and caption.  I got introduced to this book about 8 years ago when I was at Teacher’s College and have loved it ever since.  There’s a whole mystery to the book and where the illustrations have come from.  Who was Harris Burdick and why did he disappear after dropping off his illustrations?  If you’ve never seen it you should definitely get this from the library to have a go at making up your own stories to go with the pictures.

I love this book!  Not only are there so many great stories by some of the best children’s authors, but the book is beautifully designed too.  There are stories for everyone in this book, from the magical and funny to the strange and unsettling.  There are naughty children, different dimensions, a wizard, floating nuns, aliens, ghosts, and a horrible stepfather who gets his comeuppance.  All of the illustrations are amazing and you could make up all sorts of stories about them.  I liked some of the stories more than others.  Some of them are really strange and others just left me thinking ‘what just happened?’  My favourite story is The Harp by Linda Sue Park, about two sisters who are always bickering and get a spell put on them by a wizard.  Get a copy of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick and discover this strange collection of stories from some of your favourite authors.

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Picture Book Nook: Two Little Bugs by Mark and Rowan Sommerset

Last year Mark and Rowan Sommerset brought us the hilarious Baa Baa Smart Sheep, which went on to win the Children’s Choice Award at the 2011 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Their latest creation, Two Little Bugs, is sure to be another hit with children.

As the title suggests, the story is about two little bugs, Little Bug Red who lives underneath the leaf and Little Bug Blue who lives on top of the leaf.  They try to convince each other that life is better on their side of the leaf, but neither is willing to try something different.  Little Bug Red decides to start eating the leaf bit by bit, and so each page gets smaller and smaller, until there is no leaf left, just a stalk.  They discover that the end of their leafy home is just the beginning of a new adventure.

While Two Little Bugs doesn’t pack the same humorous punch as Baa Baa Smart Sheep, it’s a fun story with an interesting design that children will love.  I love the way that the pages mirror each other so that you can see both bugs in each double-page spread (the bugs can be seen poking through the holes in the leaves).  This design aspect will make it appealing to children, as they see the page (leaf) shrink every time they turn it.  The colour palette is simple (green and black of the leaf with the red and blue of the bugs) which draws your attention to the two bugs.  Mark and Rowan publish their books through their own independent publishing company, Dreamboat Books, and other self-publishers could learn alot from the quality of their beautiful picture books.

You can learn more about Mark and Rowan Sommerset and buy their books from their Dreamboat Books website.

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The Hugo Movie Companion by Brian Selznick

Two of my favourite things in the world are books and movies, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Hugo Movie Companion.  The Invention of Hugo Cabret is one of my all time favourite books because of the combination of words and pictures, and I can’t wait to see the movie, which is directed by Martin Scorsese

The Hugo Movie Companion is a behind-the-scenes look at how Brian Selznick’s book was made into a movie, from the vision of the director, to the costumes, make-up, sets, and editing the footage into the final movie.   I was totally engrossed in the book from beginning to end because Brian takes the reader through the process of making the movie.  You learn about all the roles that are needed to make a movie, from the director to the animal trainer.  There are biographies of each of the actors and film crew, with information about their role in the movie.  The book is filled with stunning photos from the movie (some beside Brian’s original illustrations), diagrams, sketches, and historical material from the French cinema archives.  I was really interested to read Martin’s reasons for choosing to film in 3D, as it seems to be somewhat overused these days.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is that it’s written by Brian Selznick himself.  You get the impression that Brian is incredibly happy with how the film has turned out and how Martin Scorsese has portrayed his characters.  The Hugo Movie Companion is the perfect gift for anyone (kids and adults) who are fans of Brian’s book or just love movies.

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The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

What happens when some of the coolest children’s book authors and illustrators play a writing game that starts with one person’s ideas and ends with a novel of 27 episodes?  You get The Exquisite Corpse Adventure.  The title makes it sound like it should be a horror story, but it’s actually a weird, crazy, funny, out-of-control story put together by some of the coolest authors around.  If you’ve read or participated in the FaBo story that Kyle Mewburn started, The Exquisite Corpse is the same idea.

The story starts with twins Nancy and Joe escaping from the circus, where they have lived since they were babies.  With the help of different clues, Nancy and Joe search to piece together the Exquisite Corpse and find their parents.  Each chapter is written by a different author, so just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, the story can go off in a completely different direction.  The story is a little bit like Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth because they meet lots of weird and wonderful characters and get into some tricky situations.  The first chapter hooks you in by imagining what could happen in the rest of the story:

“…there is a good chance that Nancy and Joe will have to deal with werewolves and mad scientists, real ninjas and fake vampires, one roller-skating baby, a talking pig, creatures from another planet…plenty of explosions, a monkey disguised as a pirate, two meatballs…and not just one bad guy but a whole army of villains.”

Pick up The Exquisite Corpse Adventure if you dare and be prepared to be taken on a wild ride.

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