Monthly Archives: November 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I am a geek and happy to admit it.  I love science fiction stories, whether it is in book or movie form.  There have been some great sci-fi stories for teens published in recent years, my favourite being Beth Revis’ Across the Universe Trilogy.  A few months I was hearing alot of hype about a new YA sci-fi series that was going to blow everything else out of the water.  That series is The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  The description of the series from the publishers, Allen and Unwin, was ‘Battlestar Galactica meets 10 Things I Hate About You,’ which hooked me in straight away (Battlestar Galactica being my all-time favourite TV series).  Luckily the hype was totally deserved as this is one incredible book!

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the hell is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Illuminae is an out-of-this-world, sci-fi thriller that is absolutely addictive!  It has the elements of all the best sci-fi stories (giant spaceships, fighter pilots, an artificial intelligence, corporations fighting for control) but this story is told in a completely different way.  The book starts with the attack on Kerenza by BeiTech, the escape of the survivors on board the Alexander, Hypatia and Copernicus, and follows the events as they spiral further and further out of control.  The protagonists are 17-year-olds Kady and Ezra and we follow their story, which is interspersed with emails, chat transcripts, action reports, laboratory reports and various other communications.

One of the things I really love about Illuminae is that it doesn’t hold back.  It’s violent, bloody and pretty freaky in some places.  The body count is huge, from the thousands of people who die when ships are blown to pieces to those who succumb to the Phobos virus.  The tension of everyone on board the ships is taut and you can sense it in the way that people react to the disastrous situations they find themselves in.  It’s not surprising that soldiers are trigger happy or that commanders find themselves ordering people to be ejected out of airlocks.  Who would want to be a leader in their situation? Not me that’s for sure!

Amie and Jay are brilliant at building the suspense.  I found it very difficult to put the book down, especially near the end.  You are just never sure how the story is going to end and who is going to make it to the end of the book.  There were times when I really was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of what would happen next.  I felt like I was right there with Kady as she was making her way through the almost-abandoned Alexander.

Kady is a brilliant character who is gutsy, determined and incredibly sarcastic.  She’s the sort of person you want by your side in a crisis.  Some of my favourite parts of the story are her interactions with the AI of the ship, Aiden.  Aiden is an intriguing character itself.  My perception of Aiden changed completely over the course of the book but I never quite knew whether it could be completely trusted.

Illuminae is an epic read that left me desperate for more.  It’s the start of a trilogy, so I know there are two more books to look forward to.  I just hope that I don’t have to wait too long to read the rest of the Illuminae Files.

 

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Interview with Katrina Nannestad, author of Olive of Groves

k3Today I’m very excited to be joined by Katrina Nannestad, author of the enchanting new book, Olive of Groves.  You can read my review of Olive of Groves here on the blog.  I absolutely love this book and I wanted to ask Katrina a few questions about her book, her characters, and what we can expect next from Olive and the gang at Mrs Groves Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.  Thanks for joining me Katrina!

  • What inspired you to write Olive of Groves?

‘How about a boarding school story?’ A simple suggestion from my publisher and the world of Groves came tumbling, rumbling, rollicking into my mind. The way a story takes shape can be a little mysterious, but I do remember starting with my students – talking animals for charm, naughty boys for action and circus performers for a touch of the exotic. The combination of all three was sure to lead to adventure, danger, disaster and hilarity. Mrs Groves, kind but bonkers, bumbled forth as the perfect headmistress – one who would not interfere too much with the students’ wild and woolly activities.

Somewhere in this creative process, Olive stepped forward – brave, clever, loyal and a little bit quirky. It was love at first imagining … despite the tartan skirts and long socks … or maybe because of

Once I started writing, the story seemed to take on a life of its own. I just went along for the ride, recording events as they happened, throwing in a pithy comment or two along the way when the need (or urge) arose!

  •  You have a delightful cast of characters in Olive of Groves.  Do you have a favourite character?

Such a difficult question! It’s a bit like asking a parent which child is their favourite.

Olive, of course, is my beloved heroine of whom I am very fond and proud. What a sweety-pie!

But I also adore Pig McKenzie, head boy and school bully. I have had an enormous amount of fun creating this Pig of Poor Character, developing his wicked schemes, fabricating his ridiculous tales of heroism. There is something thrilling about writing a truly despicable character, a villain who inspires us to boo and hiss and stamp our feet every time he sets his fat, pink trotter on the page. There is also something marvellous in knowing that his fate is in my hands!

  •  Which of your characters are you most like?

I hope that I am most like Olive. I always write something of myself into my heroines. Like Olive, I am a little bit clumsy, I can read and write big words like ‘conflagration’ and ‘arthritis’, I like choc-chip bickies and I strive to be brave, kind and loyal.

I fear, however, that I am more like Mrs Groves. I do bumble around the house muttering to myself, I am rather forgetful, I’d rather dive behind a potted palm or some heavy velvet curtains than confront troubling issues  and I do cry, ‘Goodness gracious me!’ many times each day.

  • Lucia Masciullo’s illustrations are wonderful. Are they just as you pictured your characters?

When I write a story, I develop a vivid mental picture of my characters and their world. To have someone else step in and present their own interpretation of that world could be rather troubling. Lucia, however, is a genius! When the roughs for Olive arrived, I thought, ‘Of course! That is just what my heroine would look like!’ From that point on, Lucia’s Olive was the picture in my mind as I was writing.

There is often a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing with roughs and the ideas around characters, but Lucia is incredibly perceptive and has embraced the craziness of Groves. Her illustrations have not changed the characters but have added to their personality and charm. I feel very privileged to be working with this wonderful artist.

  • You have a word-loving rat in your story called Wordsworth and it’s clear that you love playing with words.  Do you have a favourite word or words?

Yes! Don’t we all?

I love words that roll off my tongue, like ‘haberdashery’ and ‘brandish’.

I love words that are out-of-date and sound like something my granny might have said, like ‘evidently’ and ‘poppycock’.

I love ridiculous words, like ‘bowels’ and ‘squelch’.

I love words that contain an entire character description, like ‘prim’ and ‘unscrupulous’.

And I adore words that conjure up big pictures, like ‘flamboyant’ and ‘pandemonium’.

  • Chester the rat loves to collect buttons.  Do you collect anything?

I didn’t really set out to collect pigs, but I have quite a few hanging around. Perhaps people have seen a rusty metal pig in the garden and a wooden pig in the kitchen and they have thought, ‘Hey! I’d better buy Katrina a pig!’ … which is lovely … but also a little bit weird … As a result, I now have a large herd of pigs snuffling and snorting about the house.

There is also at least one pig in every book I have written!

  • Do you have any naughty boys, talking animals or circus performers in your life?

I grew up in a neighbourhood stuffed full of naughty boys, all running around on the tail of my brother’s hare-brained schemes. There were rotten plum fights, parachute jumps, flying fox disasters, wrestling matches, slingshot wars, firecracker explosions, bike stunts … and that was just in our back yard! Now, I am the mother of two boys, so the naughtiness lives on.

I am surrounded by talking animals! My dog, Olive, talks incessantly when we are out walking: ‘Look at that dog over there! Can we go and play with him? Can we? Huh? Can we?’ or ‘Oh no! There’s a bicycle headed our way! A bicycle! You know how they terrify me! Aaaaah!’ The birds in my garden are constantly arguing over branch rights – who got there first and who should take a hike – and whether or not it’s okay to use the birdbath as a toilet. And the nanny goat in the neighbour’s paddock shouts some very rude things to Olive every time we walk past.

Sadly, there are no circus performers in my life. I am, however, currently building a cannon in the shed, from which I plan to fire my husband and then my two sons.  I am expecting them to land somewhere on the South Island of New Zealand.

  • Do you have more adventures planned for Olive?

Absolutely! Books 2 and 3 are already written. This very morning, I received Lucia Masciullo’s cover illustration for the second Olive of Groves. It’s magical!  We are currently editing the third Olive of Groves. Books 2 and 3 are due for release next year in May and November, respectively. 2016 will be a busy time for Olive and her friends! The Pig of Evil Intent returns, too, so BEWARE!

 

 

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Win a copy of Olive of Groves

Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is an enchanting, entertaining and incredibly funny book, packed with imagination.  It is one of my favourite books of 2015 and you can find out why in my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have a copy of Olive of Groves to give away.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Ange.

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Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad

There are only a handful of books each year that stand out and shine brighter than all the others.  Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad and illustrated by Lucia Masciullo is one of these books.  I want to shout about it from the rooftops and shove it into the hands of all the kids I meet.  It has shot to the top of the list of my favourite kids books of 2015.

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Olive has always dreamed of attending boarding school, but Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers is not what she expected. To tell the truth, dear reader, it is not what anyone expected!

The headmistress is completely bonkers and Pig McKenzie, school bully and all-round nasty swine, is determined to make Olive’s life unbearable.

Olive, however, is clever, sweet and kind, and soon gains the loyalty and devotion of three rats, a short-sighted moose, a compulsive liar and a goose who faints at the sight of cherries.

But will friendship and wits be enough when Pig McKenzie puts his Truly Wicked Plan into gear? Or will Olive be cast out of Groves forever?

Olive of Groves is an enchanting, entertaining and incredibly funny book, packed with imagination.  I love everything about this book, from the crazy antics to the wonderful characters.  I picked it up thinking that the blurb sounded intriguing and I fell in love with it from the very first page.

It’s a story about doing the right thing and being the better person in the face of bullies, believing in yourself and being the best friend that you can be.  With a headmistress who is afraid of girls, Olive has to set out to prove that she is not a ‘simple, ordinary, everyday girl.’ Throughout the story we discover how extraordinary Olive is.  She is kind, sweet, brave and a very loyal friend.  Olive is the sort of girl that everyone would want to be friends with and I know that the kids reading this story will love her as much as I did.  Olives is certainly one of my favourite protagonists in any of the books I’ve read and I hope we get to read more of her adventures.

Olive is only one of the many wonderful characters that inhabit Mrs Groves Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers.  If you step through the doors you’ll meet Blimp (a rat with a large bottom), Wordsworth (a rat who loves words), Chester (a rat who loves buttons), Glenda the Goose (who faints at the thought of the nine times tables), Reuben the Rabbit (who loves nothing more than a good spin in the washing machine), Fumble (a shy talking moose), Mrs Groves (the ‘teeny-weeny bit odd’ headmistress), the villain of the story, Pig McKenzie, and many, many more.   I love all the characters, but my favourites are the three rats – Blimp, Wordsworth and Chester.

Katrina sweeps you up in the story with her lyrical writing and amusing dialogue.  She had me smiling all the way through the book and there were several parts where she had me laughing out loud.  I also Lucia’s illustrations.  They perfectly match this delightful story and bring Katrina’s characters to life.  My favourite illustration is on page 217, where we see Olive leading a whole bunch of the characters on a rescue mission.

I’m glad that Katrina has more adventures planned for Olive of Groves and I can’t wait to see what her and the gang get up to next.  Olive of Groves is the perfect present for 7-12 year olds so grab a copy for your children this Christmas.  I guarantee they will love it!

 

 

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A Monster Calls Movie Trailer

I am so excited to be able to share the teaser trailer for the movie of A Monster Calls.  The movie is based on the book written by Patrick Ness, which came from an idea by Siobhan Dowd.  I absolutely love this book and the trailer certainly looks amazing.  Liam Neeson seems to be perfect for the voice of the monster.

A Monster Calls is due for release next October.  It can’t come soon enough!

 

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The Marvels by Brian Selznick

I fell in love with Brian Selznick’s stories when I first opened The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Brian’s style of storytelling, alternating between text and illustration, really appeals to me.  His black and white illustrations are stunning and ‘reading’ them is like watching a movie.  I have been eagerly awaiting Brian’s new book, The Marvels, and I was completely captivated by it.

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The journey begins on a ship at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage. Nearly a century later, Joseph Jervis runs away from school and seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale’s strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

The Marvels really is marvellous!  Brian Selznick has given us another incredible, unforgettable story and a beautiful work of art.  It’s difficult to know where to start when talking about The Marvels as there is just so much that I love about this book! I want to carry it around with me wherever I go.

The story is in two parts.  The first part is completely told through illustration and takes up the first 390 pages.  This tells the story of the Marvel family, starting with Billy and Marcus in 1766, who became a famous acting family.  Through Brian’s amazing illustrations we follow the many generations of the Marvel family until the story ends abruptly.  The story then jumps forward to 1990 and follows Joseph, a boy who loves stories, and his quest to find his uncle.  Joseph has run away from his school to find his uncle, Albert Nightingale. However, Uncle Albert isn’t quite who Joseph pictured.  Why is Albert’s house in such disarray, where are those mysterious sounds coming from, and why won’t Albert give Joseph any answers? Joseph knows that Albert is hiding a huge secret and it’s up to him to discover what it is.

Brian had me gripped from the very first page.  The way that Brian tells the story of the Marvel family, through illustration alone, makes the reader piece the story together themselves, rather than telling you with words.  It is almost like watching a silent movie.  Brian gives you different views of the action, from huge, sweeping shots of the Kraken being tossed on the waves, to close-up shots of character’s faces (like the one of Marcus below).  These close-up shots show so much detail and emotion.  It amazes me what Brian can do with a few strokes of a pencil!

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Image from The Marvels by Brian Selznick.

There are lots of twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing.  I certainly didn’t expect the secrets that were revealed, and to me that is a sign of a really good story.  The ending of the story is perfect too and left me smiling.

The Marvels is one of my top reads of the year.  It’s the perfect gift for any book-lover (just look at that lovely hard cover and gold edging!).  This is a must-read book and I guarantee you will fall in love with it.

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Inside Illuminae

I’m currently reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, an incredibly gripping YA sci-fi thriller.  It is one of my favourite YA reads of 2015 and I can’t wait to see how it will end.  I’ll post my review very soon.

Random House US have created some brilliant book trailers to promote Illuminae and they really capture the tone of the story.  Check them out and grab a copy of Illuminae: The Illuminae Files #1 now.

 

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Exciting news about the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

It has finally happened.  One of the best decisions for authors and illustrators of books for children in New Zealand has been made.  The NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards is merging next year to create the MEGA awards for children’s literature.  It means that more effort can be put into promoting the best books for children and teens in NZ and it will hopefully be less confusing for kids and adults alike.  I really like that they’re taking the best of both awards and putting them together.  The Hell Pizza Wheels have been a great way to get kids reading and I believe that it is incredibly important to acknowledge both the author and illustrators when it comes to picture books.

Read the press release below to find out all the details:

Leading New Zealand Children’s Book Awards merge and Hell Pizza encourages Reading addiction – Prize money now totals $59,500

The New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) have announced today that they are merging their respective children’s book awards, setting the stage for even more activity and visibility around books for New Zealand children. Complementing the Awards, Hell Pizza has partnered with the New Zealand Book Awards Trust to sponsor the Hell New Zealand Reading Challenge.

The awards have a combined legacy of more than 100 years; the Trust-governed awards began in 1975 and LIANZA’s were established in 1945. A shared passion for children’s literature has brought the two awards together in a desire to increase children’s engagement with reading.

“We are thrilled about this decision to amalgamate the awards,” says New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair Nicola Legat. “The LIANZA awards are highly regarded by authors and publishers and we acknowledge how difficult it has been for LIANZA’s board to take this historic decision. We feel privileged to have LIANZA’S trust, and their awards will be in very good and sustainable hands. They will be cherished within our organisation.

“The merged awards now have a prize money pool of $59,500. This amount is a significant contribution to the children’s literature economy in this country.”

LIANZA President, Kris Wehipeihana, is equally delighted. “Merging the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards with the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is exactly the kind of collaboration that our sector endorses.” she says. “This is a win for both organisations, and for Aotearoa New Zealand children’s literature. We’re looking forward to working with the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.”

While the new awards will still be known as the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults they will incorporate important elements of the LIANZA awards. The awards will continue to bestow the Esther Glen title to the junior fiction category which maintains the tradition of New Zealand’s oldest children’s book award. In addition, the awards will continue to confer the Elsie Locke title to the non-fiction award and will also include LIANZA’s award for illustration, the Russell Clark award.

LIANZA’s Te Kura Pounamu award for the best book in Te Reo will replace the current Māori language award. This award will continue to be judged by Māori librarian and information association, Te Ropu Whakahau,

The awards will be administered and governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, and a LIANZA representative will have a permanent seat on its board of trustees.

Hell Pizza’s high-profile relationship with LIANZA’s awards via its Reading Challenge will continue within the new format. “The success of the Reading Challenge has been hugely satisfying. With the announcement of this exciting merger of the awards we can take it to the next level and encourage even more New Zealand kids to enjoy reading books,” says Hell Pizza’s general manager Ben Cumming. “The 150,000 free pizza vouchers we gave out earlier this year amounted to more than one million books read by Kiwi kids. We would love to build on that number in 2016. Hell has always challenged the norm, and with kids now becoming so engrossed with modern technology we are bucking that trend and making reading cool again. We want pizza to be the gateway drug to reading addiction!”

Nicola Legat concludes, “The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is grateful for the support of our major funder Creative New Zealand as well as our other key sponsors Copyright Licensing New Zealand, Book Tokens Ltd and now Hell Pizza. We very much appreciate their significant investment and we are very much looking forward to next year’s awards.”

The call for entries in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults opens on Monday, 16 November 2015 and the awards ceremony will held be in Wellington in August 2016.

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Perfect Picture Books from Nosy Crow

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Nosy Crow books are spectacular!  They always publish the best picture books and their books for older children are getting better and better.  I reviewed some of my favourite Nosy Crow books back in August, including There’s a Bear in my Chair, Superhero Dad, and Use Your Imagination (you can read my review here).  One of my favourite authors, Barry Hutchison, has published a hilarious series with Nosy Crow, starting with The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  It’s one of my favourite books of 2015 and you can read my review here.

Nosy Crow publish so many great books that I’ve always got a book of theirs that I want to shout out about.  Here are four of my recent favourite Nosy Crow books.

Flip Flap Jungle by Axel Scheffler

Axel Scheffler is one of my favourite illustrators so it’s great that he’s so prolific. This is the third title in Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap series (there’s also Flip Flap Safari and Flip Flap Farm).  It’s a zany flip book where you’ll meet animals you know and some you don’t know.  What do you get if you cross a leopard and an armadillo? Well that would be a leopadillo!  And what about a porcupine and a chameleon? Why a porceleon, obviously!  There is a wonderful rhyme accompanying each animal which are great by themselves but are even funnier when you mix the animals up.  These books are perfect for sharing one-on-one but they also work well with a big group (I’ve used them at Story Time in the library and the kids were laughing at my crazy creature creations). With 121 different combinations this book will keep kids entertained for ages!  See what weird and wonderful creatures you can come up with.  All of the Flip Flap books are also available as apps which are heaps of fun to play with.  You swipe the screen to create new animals and hear the poems read aloud, plus there are sound effects and jungle music.  Check out the Nosy Crow website for more details about the apps.

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan

I love Elys Dolan’s books!  Her previous books, Nuts in Space and Weasels, are hilarious and her illustrations are chock full of lots of quirky details (including references to spy and sci-fi movies).  Elys’ latest book, The Mystery of the Haunted Farm, is even better.  Strange and spooky things are happening down on the farm and Farmer Greg knows just who to call – Ghost Hunters.  The three little pigs are the best guys for the job, with the latest ghost-hunting gadgets, including the Scare-o-Meter and the Phantom Finder 5000.  The farm has a serious zombie duck problem and there are ghosts, vampires and mummies wandering around.  Strangely though, the Phantom Finder 5000 isn’t picking up any unusual activity.  Something fishy is going on and it’s up to the Three Little Pigs to find out what.  This is a brilliant book that kids will want to come back to again and again.  Elys has put so much detail into her illustrations and kids will have heaps of fun reading all the speech bubbles.  The text is hilarious and the humour works on several levels.  Adults will enjoy reading it just as much as the kids.  It’s a picture book that’s perfect for older readers to as they’ll get some of the references that younger children will miss.  I really like the size of this book too (it’s larger than usual, making it great for sharing).  Grab a copy of The Mystery of the Haunted Farm and check out Elys Dolan’s previous books too.

Box by Min Flyte and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Box is a perfect picture book for pre-schoolers (and anyone who loves making stuff from old boxes).  Four toddlers find some boxes with toys inside them.  After playing with their toys for a while their attention turns to the boxes.  But what will they do with all those boxes?  They use their imaginations and turn their boxes into all sorts of exciting things.  This is a delightful story about all the fun that you can have with boxes.  There are lots of flaps (or boxes) to open and pull-out pages, giving children the sense of anticipation, wondering what might be inside the box.  There are boxes of all sizes, from little boxes to big boxes, and even boxes inside boxes.  The book even looks like a box, with a slot to look through.  Min Flyte’s text encourages children to participate in the story and Rosalind Beardshaw’s illustrations are adorable.

Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Jarvis

Jeanne Willis is a prolific author and whenever I see her name on the cover of a picture book I know it will be a winner.  The combination of Jeanne’s story and Jarvis’ illustrations make Poles Apart a winner to me.  The story follows the Pilchard-Browns, a family of penguins who set out on a picnic and get incredibly lost and find themselves at the North Pole.  Everybody knows that penguins belong at the South Pole and when Mr White, the friendly polar bear finds them he decides to help them get home again.  We follow Mr White and the Pilchard-Browns as they pass through America, England, Italy, India and Australia before they finally make it home.  Then Mr White has to make the 12,430 mile journey all the way back home to the North Pole.  I loved following this funny penguin family and their helpful polar bear friend on their journey.  Jeanne Willis certainly makes the journey entertaining by adding little details, like saying hello in different languages as they pass through the countries.  The penguin children, Peeky, Poots and Pog keep you entertained with their silly antics too.  Jarvis’ illustrations take you on a colourful journey around the world and children will be able to spot the landmarks from the different countries.  Poles Apart is sure to be a book that will be read again and again.

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The Gateway Series by Cerberus Jones

The Gateway is an exciting, action-packed series from Hardie Grant Egmont, written by Cerberus Jones.  The series focuses on The Gateway Hotel, which is a hotel for aliens on earth.  It follows Amelia and her family who have left their home in the city to come and run the Gateway Hotel.

The first book in the series, The Four-Fingered Man, introduces readers to the characters and the creepy Gateway Hotel.  It has been cared for by a strange old man called Tom for many years, and he is often seen creeping around the hotel and doing things he shouldn’t.  Tom is only one of many strange people that Amelia and her friend Charlie meet at the hotel.  They soon meet Miss Ardman and are both drawn to her mysterious luggage.  Amelia senses that something strange is going on and when she overhears her parents talking she knows that she is right.  It is one night when they are following Miss Ardman that they discover who she really is and uncover the mysteries of the Gateway Hotel.

I love The Gateway series!  It is perfect for kids who want a quick read that’s fast-paced and will hook them.  There are currently four books in the series and hopefully more to come. Check them out below:

The Gateway #1: The Four-Fingered Man

When Amelia’s parents decide to reopen the creepy old hotel at the edge of Forgotten Bay, she and her new friend Charlie quickly discover that the place is much more than they bargained for.

The Gateway is no ordinary hotel – and its guests aren’t just visiting from other cities and towns!

The Gateway #2: The Warriors of Brin-Hask

The Gateway Hotel is open for business, and Amelia and Charlie are awaiting their newest intergalactic arrivals, the fearsome Warriors of Brin-Hask.

But the kids soon discover that the Brin-Hask aren’t their only new guests. A plague of rats has infested the hotel’s kitchen, but these are no ordinary rats…

The Gateway #3: The Midnight Mercenary

A ferocious storm has struck the Gateway Hotel – and so has the hotel’s most terrifying intergalactic visitor yet. Why has he come? Who is he after?

With their families and the hotel in grave danger, it’s up to Amelia and Charlie to save the day…

The Gateway #4: The Ancient Starship

When an ancient starship is discovered in the deserts of Egypt, Amelia’s dad is whisked away to help.

Meanwhile, as the first human guests begin arriving at the hotel, Amelia and Charlie soon realise they’re hiding just as many secrets as their visitors from across the galaxy…

Cerberus Jones is the three-headed writing team made up of Chris Morphew (author of The Phoenix Files), Rowan McAuley (Go Girl! series) and David Harding (Robert Irwin’s Dinosaur Hunter series).  Chris the architect of the stories, who weaves the team’s ideas into story outlines, Rowan is the chief writer, who expands the outlines into stories, and David is the editor and checks for continuity. They certainly make a great team!  Check out this video of them talking about their series:

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