Monthly Archives: August 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go!

Are you a Thunderbirds fan?  Whether you love the original TV show or the reboot you’ll love these fantastic new books from Hachette New Zealand.

Official Guide Book

This official guide to Thunderbirds Are Go has all the information a new recruit needs.  Learn all about the history, vehicles and daring rescues in this definitive guide to International Rescue.

Sticker Activity Book

Are you ready to test your knowledge in this Thunderbirds Are Go Sticker Activity Book? From Sudoku and logic puzzles to a giant wordsearch and poster spread, this activity book is perfect for any International Rescue recruit.  Intelligence and reasoning are at the centre of every rescue and this book will test yours with these brain-bending activities.  So, if you think you have the skills to join the Tracy brothers then get your pens ready!

Crosscut Book

High radiation levels have been detected over Southern Africa – and are rising dangerously fast.  Can International Rescue find a way to stop the radiation leak and not get trapped in the treacherous mine? Find out in Crosscut, the first thrilling adventure – with free removable pop-up Thunderbird 1.

I love both the original series and the new CGI reboot so I was very excited to see these books.  They’re perfect for kids of all ages who enjoy the show.  The Official Guide Book is my favourite of these new books and it’s chock full of information about the characters and the vehicles.  There are profiles of each of the Tracy brothers, including info about their personalities and their responsibilities, and there are also profiles of new characters and vehicles.  I gave this book to my 11 year old sons and they were occupied for ages, poring over all the details and imagining their own adventures as the Tracy brothers. The sticker book is full of fun activities to keep kids entertained.  It contains over 50 awesome stickers (that I’m going to stick all over my notebook).  The Crosscut book is a great storybook for young Thunderbirds fans. It’s one of the stories from the TV series, but in book form.  The thing I love most about this book is the free 3D model of Thunderbird 1 that comes with the book and is super easy to assemble.

I hope there are plenty more Thunderbirds books to come (with other 3D models to collect).  Grab these fantastic books for the Thunderbirds fans in your life.

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I Can’t Wait For…Another Day by David Levithan

David Levithan is one of those authors whose books I always pick up (I don’t always get round to reading them).  I love his writing style and his books stand out as being quite different.  Every Day is one of my absolute favourite books.  It’s one of those few books that has had a real affect on me and has stuck with me. In Every Day, A is in a different body each day, so it has to get used to being a different person (on the outside) and acting like that person. You can read my very gushing review here on the blog.

Another Day is a companion novel to Every Day and tells the story from Rhiannon’s point of view.  I know it will be very different from Every Day but I’m curious to see the story from Rhiannon’s perspective.

Another Day is published by Text Publishing and is available in Australia and NZ now.

Another Day

Bestselling author David Levithan (co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green) tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin. She’s even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

But one morning everything changes. Justin wants to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning.

Confused, depressed and desperate for another great day, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Until a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with—the one who made her feel like a real person—wasn’t Justin at all.

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My Most Anticipated September Kids & YA Releases from Scholastic NZ

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?
What’s wrong with you, Brian? You’re a piranha.

Brian is a piranha. He is also a vegetarian. But do you think he can convince the others to join him?

Quaky Cat Helps Out

Quakey Cat Helps Out by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop

Quaky Cat, five years on … It’s been five years since the first big Christchurch earthquake, but some of Tiger’s friends still have broken homes – or none at all. Kind-hearted Tiger rounds them all up for a gathering of friends.

300 Minutes of Danger

300 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath

George is trapped in a falling aeroplane with no engine and no pilot. Milla is covered with radioactive waste and her hazard suit is running out of air. Otto is in the darkest depths of the ocean, where something hungry is circling . . . 10 dangerous situations. 10 brave kids. 30 minutes to escape.

Dragon Knight #4 Dragons!

Dragon Knight: Dragons! by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

The terrifying cyclorgs want their gold back – NOW!

If Merek can’t outwit the evil Lord Crumble, the village is doomed.

Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown

It’s hard to believe this is Roan’s last year at Jedi Academy. He’s been busier than ever learning to fly (and wash) starships, swimming in the Lake Country on Naboo, studying for the Jedi obstacle course exam, and tracking down dozens of vorpak clones (don’t ask). But now, someone is setting him up to get in trouble with everyone at school, including Yoda. If he doesn’t find out who it is, and fast, he may get kicked out of school! Why can’t middle school just be easy?…

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Stan the Van Man by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Philip Webb

The Joy Cowley Award is an annual award that fosters the publication of excellent picture books by New Zealand writers.  Some wonderful picture books have been published thanks to this award, including Kyle Mewburn’s Kiss, Kiss, Yuck, Yuck, and last year’s winner of the award is no exception.  Emma Vere-Jones was the winner of the 2014 Joy Cowley Award with her book, Stan the Van Man.

This delightful, rhyming story follows Stan who offers to help with the mail delivery when the usual driver of the van refuses to do his job.  The owner of the post office store, Miss Mickle, is ‘in a pickle’ because there is no-one to deliver the mail.  Luckily, Stan, who doesn’t like to say no, offers to help out.  He tries to tell Miss Mickle that he has a secret that she needs to know but she doesn’t listen and sets him on his way.  The only problem with not being able to say no is that Stan just has to stop and help anyone that needs it, including a boy stuck up a tree and someone needing a tow.  Stan’s secret is that he can’t read and so all his parcels end up going to the wrong people.  Even though the people of the town are angry at first, they all band together to help Stan to read.

Stan the Van Man is a lot of fun to read!  The rhyming text flows well and the language is wonderful, with words like ‘perplexing,’ ‘vexing’ and ‘quivered.’ I love how everyone bands together to teach Stan to read and that once he gets started he just wants to read more and more.  The very last page, with Stan surrounded by books and his cat on his lap, is my favourite.

I read Stan the Van Man at the Christchurch Storylines Family Day at the weekend and the children absolutely loved this story.  There is lots of laughter when the people of the town open their packages to find something completely different than what they were expecting.  I especially love Professor John Moore and his lady’s pants.

Philip Webb’s illustrations are a great match for Emma’s story and bring her different characters to life.  Philip’s Stan is a loveable, friendly guy that just wants to help out.  I really like the design of the book, especially the way that the house numbers blend in to the illustrations.

I look forward to reading more of Emma’s stories in the future.

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My Most Anticipated September Kids & YA Releases from Allen and Unwin

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Flip Flap Jungle by Axel Scheffler

What do you get if you cross an monkey with a armodillo? Why, that would be a Monkadillo! And a Leopard with a Frog? That would be a Leopog, of course! With its sturdy, split pages and spiral binding, 121 possible combinations, silly names and animal noises to make you giggle, this hilarious rhyming flip-flap book in a fun format is perfect for pre-schoolers.

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The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan

The three little pigs are the best guys for the job, a specialist team of Ghosthunters equipped with the latest in ghost-hunting gadgets. But when the Phantom Finder 5000 fails to recognise any paranormal activity AT ALL, the pigs realise all is not quite as it seems. . . and there’s certainly something suspicious about the mysterious chicken coup up on the hill . . . could that be a werepuppy?

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This Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron

A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human ‘family’, the descendants of Dr Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr Moreau, long ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid.

Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?

Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?

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Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why.

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The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing by Barry Hutchison

I’ve been a huge fan of Barry Hutchison for ages.  He is one of those incredibly talented authors who can write for all ages and in a range of different genres.  His Invisible Fiends series is one of my favourite series and is delightfully creepy.  I was sucked in to the series with Mr Mumbles and eagerly awaited the next books in the series.  Barry’s next few books, The 13th Horseman and The Book of Doom were hilariously funny books for older readers and I loved these just as much.  Earlier this year Barry released the first book in his brilliant new series for younger readers all about Benjamin Blank, The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.

In an alternate 15th century, where dragons roam, sailing ships transform into submarines, and blacksmiths build steampunk robots, ten-year-old orphan Benjamin Blank battles monsters, rescues maidens and discovers fantastic new lands, but never quite manages to get his homework handed in on time. Each adventure sees Ben and his friends, Paradise Little and Wesley Chant, face a new monstrous menace.

The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing is a hilarious, rollicking adventure that will have you laughing out loud as you follow Ben and his friends on their quest.  Ben desperately wants to be a hero and when a girl called Paradise turns up in his village looking for a warrior, Ben sees his chance.  A monster is terrorising Paradise’s village and she needs a warrior to save them and vanquish the monster.  Ben hasn’t had much practice but he’s the only warrior around that can help.  Armed with a magic gauntlet, Ben sets off with Paradise to save her village from the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.

The thing I love the most about Barry’s books is the dialogue.  The conversations and interactions between his characters always makes me laugh and I certainly laughed my way through The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  This is a perfect book to read aloud as it really keeps kids’ attention.  There is one particular part of the book, involving a troll and his game of ‘Burp-or-Death’ that I love reading out to kids.  I can hardly get through this part with out cracking up laughing and kids absolutely love it, especially boys.  If you’re looking for the perfect read aloud for ages 8 and up you really can’t go past The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  I guarantee it will be a winner!

I love Chris Mould’s illustrations and they perfectly match Barry’s story!  They are quirky and add an extra layer of humour to the story.  I especially love Chris’ cover illustration, with the Shark-Headed Bear-Thing creeping up on Ben, and his illustrations of my favourite troll in his y-front undies.

There are more books coming in the series, including The Swivel-Eyed Ogre-Thing (which has just been released) and The Moon-Faced Ghoul-Thing (coming in October).  I can’t wait to read more adventures of Benjamin Blank and see how he defeats new monsters.  Grab a copy of The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing from your library or bookshop now.

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One week until Stray!

If you’re a fan of Rachael Craw’s Spark, you’ll know that there is only a week until the second book in the series, Stray, is released.  If you haven’t read Spark, you absolutely need to go and grab a copy now so that you’ll be up-to-date with the story before it continues in book two.  I’ve just re-read Spark to prepare myself for Stray, so Rachael’s brilliant story and characters are fresh in my mind.  I have to know what will happen to Evie, her family and friends, and what the repercussions will be from the events of Spark.  It is such an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat read and Stray is sure to be more of the same. Spark is one of the best YA science fiction books I’ve read and it’s even better knowing that Rachael is from New Zealand!

It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA. Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

I’m super excited to be helping Rachael Craw launch Stray in Christchurch next Tuesday night!  I’m looking forward to meeting Rachael, hearing all about Stray and getting my book signed.  If you’re in Christchurch or near-by you could also come along too.  Here is the invitation to the launch:

Stray - Invite CHCHIf you can’t get to the book launch I have some fantastic news for you!  Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have 5 copies of Stray to give away here on the blog.  I’ll ask Rachael to sign them so I’ll have 5 SIGNED copies to give away.  Keep an eye out on the blog next week for your chance to win.

Check out Rachael Craw’s website for more info about Spark, Stray and Rachael herself.

 

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My Most Anticipated September Kids & YA New Releases from Walker Books Australia

Stray by Rachael Craw

It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA. Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully asks what if you weren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you were like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions…

A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell

The poems in A Great Big Cuddle fizz off the page with sound and rhythm, energy and laughter, as Rosen captures in the most remarkable way what it means to be very, very young. A child’s world with all its details and feelings – toys and games,
animals and made-up creatures, likes and dislikes – is vividly conjured up in the most memorable, playful language, and Chris Riddell has produced some his most extraordinary pictures ever to bring this world to life. It’s a book that will be enjoyed
by the oldest grown-up and the youngest child – and a future classic.

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Derek Landy introduces Demon Road + Demon Road Book Trailer

The countdown to the release of Derek Landy’s new book is on, with Demon Road being released on Thursday!  I’m reading it the moment and IT. IS. EPIC!  Whether or not you’re a Derek Landy fan you will be blown away.

You can enter the draw to win Demon Road button badges and Demon Road Maps here on the blog too.

Check out these videos of Derek Landy introducing Demon Road and the brand-spanking new book trailer.

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Interview with Leah Thomas, author of Because You’ll Never Meet Me

Today I’m super excited to host an interview with Leah Thomas, author of the wonderful Because You’ll Never Meet Me.  It is one of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in a long time. You can read my review here on the blog.  I had a few questions about Because You’ll Never Meet Me and Leah Thomas has very kindly answered them for me.  Read on to find out what inspired Leah to write her wonderful story, where her characters came from and her favourite books and movies.

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  • I love Because You’ll Never Meet Me! I haven’t read anything quite like it.  What inspired you to write this story?

Thank you, thank you! I love hearing “I love”! And I love hearing “anything quite like it.” But in truth, so many things inspired this story that to me it feels more like “everything quite like it.” Parts of it were inspired by my homesickness while living abroad, parts of it draw directly from the comics and superhero stories that informed my childhood, parts come straight out of working with kids and in schools, with being raised by social workers (like Liz, yes), and a huge chunk of the story comes from the conviction that distances don’t matter so much when you can share words with people, in stories or in letters or in music.

  • When and how did the characters of Ollie and Moritz come to you?

Ollie was easy. Ollie demands to be heard, and I’m pretty sure he was hollering noisy things in my ears for at least a few years before I finally let him holler at other people. There are certain characters that really fight to exist, and he was one of them. I am often captivated by good people who put on a show of being happy even when they may not be, because they care more about how those near them feel than they care about themselves. This is, to me, a very selfless but sad way to live life, and with Ollie, he can’t quite pull it off, because he does value himself.

Moritz is the natural foil to Ollie: he’s very introverted and the front he puts up is that he couldn’t care less about the world, but the opposite is actually true. His self-loathing is so apparent but also so wrongheaded.

Both these characters are approaching their lives with whatever coping strategies they can, and when they contact each other, discover new possibilities for managing the crappy hand life dealt them.

I think these two boys really need each other. They are each other’s hope.

  • Did you have to do a lot of research about their conditions?

Of course research goes into any kind of writing, and where medical issues are concerned this is a must, but I’m going to reiterate: this is by no means a factual book, or at least was never intended to be. Yes, I very much wanted to write about characters with disabilities (and will continue to, because representation is everything!), but in my mind I was doing so within a science fiction framework. On a personal level, an immediate family member has epilepsy, and certainly my experiences with that informed the book, and as far as research into echolocation – it’s true and truly amazing that some people who are visually impaired adapt in remarkable ways, but in the book this is hugely, hugely exaggerated.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me falls very much in line with the spirit of superhero stories – just with a realism aspect that I hope is empowering, if a bit odd.

  • Would you rather live the life of Ollie or Moritz?

I feel like I already lived the life of Ollie! I grew up in the woods of northern Michigan, at the end of a dirt road, and so did a lot of my friends. It’s funny how many people from my hometown recognize aspects of our childhood in the book.

Having said that, I’d love to live in Germany. There’s a distinct lack of diskotheks here!

  • What books and movies inspire your writing?

Oh, gosh, what a huge question! Have you got time to read another book? Because this could go for so many pages. I’ll try to name a few things, in a random blob of text:

Harry Potter, Kurt Vonnegut, Discworld, Wes Anderson, His Dark Materials, MT Anderson, Fullmetal Alchemist, Nancy Farmer, Hannibal (Bryan Fuller), Marvel Cinematic Universe, Coraline, Ray Bradbury, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Tim Burton (the older stuff – you should have SEEN my wall collages in high school), Steven Universe, Patrick Ness, Harold and Maude…

Seriously, do people find ways to answer this question?! INTERROBANG?!

  • Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yes, yes, yes! (Sorry; I’m still excited by the fact.) The sequel to BYNMM, hesitantly titled Nowhere Near You, was actually drafted back in 2013, and will be released in early 2017! And following that, Bloomsbury’s also bought the rights to a work-in-progress called Birds and Other Transdimensional Things, which tells the story of a mother and daughter who have trouble with parallel universes, but more trouble with their relationship.

Thanks so much for having me aboard! I’m still pinching myself.

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