Monthly Archives: April 2016

Win a copy of Desolation by Derek Landy

Derek Landy’s sequel to Demon Road, Desolation, is out now.  It’s a darker, bloodier, more violent follow-up.  You can read my review here on the blog.

y450-293

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

Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Christine.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, competition, young adult, young adult fiction

Desolation by Derek Landy

In the first book of his Demon Road Trilogy Derek Landy took us to a darker place than the world of Skulduggery Pleasant.  This was a world of demons, serial killers, vampires and witches and set on a completely different continent, America.  We met our new heroine, Amber, her mysterious companion/bodyguard Milo, and plenty of other creepy individuals.  Derek left us with a sense of foreboding, with a promise that something really bad was coming.  Desolation drops you right back into the action.

y450-293

Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose. And that night is coming.

Desolation is a darker, bloodier and more violent follow-up to Demon Road.  Throats get ripped out, heads roll, demons get eaten, and there are some incredible fight scenes.  Overall I enjoyed this sequel but there were times that I felt the story lagged.  It’s a big book that maybe could have been a little shorter to help the story move faster.  Unlike the first book, where Amber and Milo were on the run the whole time, the action of Desolation is focused in a strange little town in Alaska called Desolation Hill.  Amber is being chased by the Hounds of Hell and she has been told that she will be safe from the Hounds in Desolation Hill.  Amber and Milo get to their destination and what they have been told is correct – the Hounds are kept out of Desolation Hill by an invisible barrier.  Their main problem now though is that the people of Desolation Hill don’t want them there and try everything to get them to leave.  Something weird is going on in this town and it’s up to Amber and Milo to find out what.  Things go from bad to worse, and just when you think it can’t get any worse Amber’s family turns up.

There are several strands to the story that all eventually come together.  Of course, we follow Amber and Milo, but we also meet Virgil and Javier (two old TV stars who live in Desolation Hill and want to relive their glory days), and Ronnie, Kelly, Linda, Warrick and Two (a group of teens and their do who travel the Dark Highway to fight monsters).  Ronnie and the gang travel the Dark Highway in their van and I thought of them as the Scooby Doo gang traveling in the Mystery Machine.  You wonder which of these characters are going to make it to the end of the book alive.  There are demons everyone so you just don’t know.

I think the one thing I missed while reading Desolation was Derek Landy’s humour.  Sure, it’s a dark story and people are being killed left, right and centre, but there is always room for Derek’s humour.  There are some funny parts that made me laugh, usually involving bumbling, idiotic serial killers.  My favourite part involved the interactions of four serial killers when they had trapped Ronnie and the gang.

Although I didn’t enjoy Desolation as much as Demon Road I’m still looking forward to finding out how it all ends.  The end of Desolation leaves you with plenty of questions which I need to know the answers to.  The final book in the trilogy, American Monsters, is released on 25 August.

Leave a comment

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

Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan

I’ve read some fantastic picture books so far this year but the new picture book by Elys Dolan, Steven Seagull: Action Hero, has blown all the others out of the water.

9780192738691

Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the hilarious story of Steven, a retired cop who comes back to the force for one last case. Someone is stealing the sand from Beach City and it’s up to Steven and his ex-partner, a goldfish called Mac, to catch the thief. They have a list of suspects, including reformed criminals Harry, Lola and Rick. Will they catch the culprit and find out what’s been happening to the missing sand? You don’t want to mess with this seagull.

Steven Seagull: Action Hero is the funniest picture book I’ve ever read.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book for months as I’m a huge fan of Elys Dolan’s books.  She creates picture books with so many layers of humour and this book is no exception.  I was laughing the whole time I was reading it and every time I read it again it makes me giggle.  There is no doubt that kids will love Steven Seagull but this is one of those rare picture books that will appeal to adults as much as kids.  I think it’s a book that dads in particular will love, with the references to action movies and action stars like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude van Damme.

In Elys’s other picture books there have been lots of funny details to find in the illustrations and the pages can be packed with characters.  In Steven Seagull though it’s often the sparse pages that are the funniest.  Take the first two pages for example:

Steven 2

steven speedboat web

From Steven Seagull: Action Hero by Elys Dolan, published by Oxford University Press

 

I love the look on Steven’s face as he looks into the distance.  It’s the perfect action hero stare.  He looks tough and afraid of nothing.

I also love the stereotypical action movie details in the illustrations. Steven’s partner Mac has his police badge around his neck the whole time, there are posters up around the place encouraging the animals to ‘Vote Clam’ for mayor, and the end papers of Steven doing karate moves look like a montage of Steven preparing himself for a fight.

I urge everyone to buy a copy of Steven Seagull: Action Hero (or at the very least borrow it constantly from your library) and join the Steven Seagull fan club.  It’s a picture book that I want to share with everyone and I encourage you to share it with everyone too.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, funny, humourous, picture books

Michael Grant’s Front Lines Australia & NZ Blog Tour

Front Lines banner dates

Bestselling YA author Michael Grant is in Australia and New Zealand this May to promote Front Lines, the first book in his blockbuster new YA series, Soldier Girl.  I’m very excited to be part of Michael Grant’s Australia and NZ blog tour to promote his new book, Front Lines.  Join me on Thursday 12 May for a special guest post from Michael Grant and a review of Front Lines.  Here are the other awesome blogs and bloggers that are part of the blog tour:

Monday 9th May – Diva Booknerd
Tuesday 10th May – Reading Time
Wednesday 11th May – Paper Fury
Friday 13th May – Stay Bookish

Check out the cover, blurb and book trailer for Front Lines below:

y450-293

It’s 1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.

A court decision makes women subject to the draft and eligible for service. The unproven American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.  Three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves.  Each has her own reasons for volunteering: Rio fights to honor her sister; Frangie needs money for her family; Rainy wants to kill Germans.  For the first time they leave behind their homes and families—to go to war. These three daring young women will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, they will discover the roles that define them on the front lines.  They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.  But not everyone believes that the girls should be on the front lines of war.

Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity to a sceptical world.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, war, young adult, young adult fiction

My Top May Kids & YA Releases

 

9781760290641


 

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war; her parents were killed and her sister was kidnapped. Even though Em is only a useless Ruined – completely lacking any magic – she is determined to get revenge.

Her plan is simple: She will infiltrate the enemy’s kingdom, posing as the crown prince’s betrothed. She will lead an ambush. She will kill the king and everyone he holds dear, including his son.

The closer Em gets to the prince, though, the more she questions her mission. Her rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life – and her family – on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

9781471403200

The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

Twelve-year-old Daisy has just died in a car crash. But in a twist of fate, and through a heavenly bureaucratic mistake, Daisy ends up not where she is supposed to be – but in the body of a dog. Daisy may now be inhabiting a dog’s body, but inside she is still very much Daisy, and is as bouncy, loyal, positive and energetic as she ever was.

Daisy’s only thought is to somehow be reunited with her parents, whom she knows will be missing her. This is how she meets Pip, a boy who is homeless and on his own journey, and a lasting, tender and very moving friendship between boy and dog/girl is formed.

9781471405105

The Girl from Every Where by Heidi Heilig

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question . . .

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

9781408878415.jpg

The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will.

9781408864821

Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson

Hello there! Are you sitting comfortably? Are you sure?

Have you found the perfect snuggle-up-and-lose-yourself-in-a-book place?

Somewhere comfy, NOT itchy-fuzzy? Somewhere quiet, NOT buzz-buzzy?

You have? Great!

Unfortunately the little chap in this book isn’t having quite as much luck as you are.

9781408869970.jpg

The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin

Every Friday the 13th, 6th-grade genius Nate Bannister does three not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. This time, he taught a caterpillar to read, mailed a love letter, and super-sized his cat Proton before turning him invisible. Now Proton is on the loose, and Nate and his new friend Delphine must reverse the experiment before the cat crushes everything and everybody in town.

As if that’s not enough, the Red Death Tea Society, known for its criminal activity, killer tactics, and tea brewing skills, is plotting against Nate and Delphine. The dynamic duo must use their creativity, courage and friendship to save the day.

TickleMyEars_Cover_HR_RGB

Tickle My Ears by Jorg Muhle

It’s getting late and Little Rabbit must go to bed. Can you help him?

When Little Rabbit asks “Tickle My Ears?” a wonderful new bedtime ritual begins:

Clap your hands, fluff the pillow, give Little Rabbit’s ears a tickle, stroke his back, pull up the covers and a goodnight kiss. And don’t forget to turn out the light: here’s the switch!

y648

Olive of Groves and the Great Slurp of Time by Katrina Nannestad, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo

Olive is gobsmacked. Basil Heffenhuffenheimer has just hiked out of the Black Forest in 1857 and into Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers. When he offers to take Olive into the past, she cannot resist a time-travelling adventure. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, dear reader. Plenty!

When Olive and her friends return to the present with a hungry dinosaur, an Elizabethan pirate and a scissor-happy servant boy, strange and disturbing things start to happen at Groves. Furthermore, ‘new’ student, Pigg McKenzie, is taking an uncomfortable interest in the dangers and disasters of time travel. Can Basil and Olive keep control of their adventures, or will the Time Slurp and a certain villainous pig have their wicked way?

y649

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Dinah is a princess, the future Queen of Hearts, who will one day reign over Wonderland. Unaware of the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and to reign with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, Dinah is launched into the dangers of Wonderland. She must stay one step ahead of her enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown, it will be off with her head! Evil is brewing in Wonderland, and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself. The first in an epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains – the Queen of Hearts.

y647.png

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Imagine if you could see inside the minds of everyone around you – your best friend, your boyfriend, your enemies…? Imagine how valuable you’d be… Imagine how much danger you’d be in… Imagine being an Outlier. It all starts with a text: Please Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from her one time best friend, Cassie, in over a week. Not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, and it’s up to Wylie to do what she does best, save her best friend from herself. This time it’s different though – Cassie’s texts are increasingly cryptic and scary. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie asked him to help. Trusting the super-hot boy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice. But as Wylie and Jasper follow Cassie’s bizarre trail, Wylie has a growing sense that something is REALLY wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? Who is she with and what do they want from her? And could finding her be just the beginning…?

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard

For months now I’ve been hearing lots of good things about Beetle Boy, the debut children’s novel from M.G. Leonard.  My Twitter feed has been full of people raving about this hot new book.  Sometimes I get sceptical when there is lots of publicity for a new book and it’s in your face all the time, but I was intrigued by Beetle Boy and reserved it at my library.  It is one of those books that totally deserves all the hype and is sure to be a hit with all ages.

Beetle BoyDarkus is miserable. His dad has disappeared, and now he is living next door to the most disgusting neighbours ever. A giant beetle called Baxter comes to his rescue. But can the two solve the mystery of his dad’s disappearance, especially when links emerge to cruel Lucretia Cutter and her penchant for beetle jewellery? A coffee-mug mountain, home to a million insects, could provide the answer – if Darkus and Baxter are brave enough to find it.

Beetle Boy is absolutely terrific! It is an irresistible and iridescent read, that’s chock full of fascinating characters and beetles of every kind.  It is one of the best mystery stories for kids that I’ve read in a long time.  You get picked up by a swarm of beetles and taken on a thrilling, action-packed ride.

You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of books about beetles on hand when you read this book.  There are so many different beetles mentioned in the story, some with really cool abilities and others that just look beautiful. Blister beetles, with their ability to shoot acid, sound terrifying.  Reading this story made me want to go out and find out more about beetles, so I’ve been reserving books at the library and looking at some great websites about beetles.  My favourite part of the book was the battle plan that involved all the different beetles and their strengths.

The thing I enjoyed most about Beetle Boy was the cast of fascinating characters who have fantastic names.  Darkus is a hero that all kids can relate to and will all want to be (who wouldn’t want to have a rhinoceros beetle called Baxter!).  Darkus is joined in his quest to find his father by his new friends Bertolt and Virginia, who are both incredibly loyal.  Then there is the villain of the story, Lucretia Cutter, a rich fashion designer with a terrible secret.  Probably my two favourite characters are Humphrey and Pickering, because they’re two bumbling idiots who are disgusting and a little bit nasty.  My award for the best character names would have to go to Lucretia’s henchmen, Craven and Dankish.

Cover and spine – Not only is the story terrific, but the outside of the book is gorgeous too.  The bright orange cover showing a large beetle on a boys head is really eye-catching and makes you want to find out what the book is about.  Then, when you turn the book around, there are colourful beetles crawling up the side of the book.

IMG_1027

Beetle Boy is a must-read.  I know that kids and adults alike will gobble it up.  There are two more books coming in the trilogy and I certainly can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Leave a comment

Filed under books

Win a signed copy of Geek Girl: Head Over Heels

The latest Geek Girl book by Holly Smale, Head Over Heels, has just been released and I have a very special prize to celebrate.

Thanks to the awesome people at HarperCollins NZ I have a signed hardback copy of Geek Girl: Head Over Heels to give away!  

Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Fiona.

 

3 Comments

Filed under books, competition, young adult, young adult fiction

Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon

Nosy Crow publish so many wonderful books, from picture books to novels and nonfiction.  One of the latest from Nosy Crow is the hilarious picture book, Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon.

Dave's Cave

Meet Dave, Caveman Dave.
Dave live in cave.
Dave cave perfect.

But Dave not happy…
Dave want new cave.

Me love Dave’s Cave!  It is a perfect picture book that is so simple yet hilarious.  The story is written in caveman talk and you can’t help but read it in a caveman voice.  I dare you to read this book aloud without laughing.  It is sure to have kids of all ages in fits of laughter.  As Dave searches for his perfect cave he gets himself into all sorts of crazy situations involving animals and other cavemen.

Frann’s illustrations made me fall in love with Dave’s Cave before I even opened the book.  Just look at Dave on the front cover!  He looks loveable and you just want to be his friend.  The illustrations are bold, full of character and add to the humour of the text.

Dave’s Cave is a must-share picture book.  Grab a copy and share it with your family or class.  Kids will beg for it to be read again and again.

I can’t wait to read more picture books from Frann Preston-Gannon!

Leave a comment

Filed under books

Win a copy of Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo’s new book, Raymie Nightingale, is an up-lifting, soul-expanding story. It’s a story of an unexpected, life-changing friendship, packed with unforgettable characters. I’m a huge Kate DiCamillo fan and I loved this book. You can read my review here on the blog.

1457656550071

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are William, Leanne and Tami.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, competition

My Most Anticipated Book Adaptation of 2016

Book adaptations can be pretty hit and miss, so when a movie is made of one of your favourite books it’s always a difficult decision whether or not to see it.  The movie of Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls is being released later this year and the first full trailer for the movie has just been released.  It looks absolutely amazing!  It looks like it will be true to the book and have the same tone.  Patrick Ness actually wrote the screenplay so that should help with the authenticity of the movie.  If you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it, but then I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan so I may be biased.

A Monster Calls is my most anticipated book adaptation of 2016.  I got all choked up watching the trailer so I will probably need to take tissues.

Check out the full trailer below:

1 Comment

Filed under books, movie trailer, young adult, young adult fiction