Tag Archives: science fiction

The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher Edge

Christopher Edge’s previous book, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright was science fiction for kids at its best. Christopher effortlessly wove actual science with fiction into a story about a boy’s search for his mum across multiple dimensions. It is a fantastic book that the kids at my school have loved and I’ve certainly enjoyed discussing the story with them. Christopher’s latest book, The Jamie Drake Equation, is another brilliant science fiction story that readers young and old will devour.

Repro_JamieDrake_cvr.inddHow amazing would it be to have a dad who’s an astronaut?

Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake’s dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it’s cool but he just really misses him…

Hanging out at his local observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad’s mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he’s a hero too?

The Jamie Drake Equation tore apart my atoms, shook them up and put me back together again. It made me smile, broke my heart and left me in awe of the universe.  The story is narrated by Jamie so you really get inside his head and experience his sadness, embarrassment , heartbreak, wonder and awe.

Ultimately this is a story about a boy and his connection with his father who he just wants to return to him on Earth. Jamie’s dad is often away, training for missions or up in space, and Jamie and his family have had to live all over the world for his dad to achieve his dreams. Jamie really misses his dad and just wants him to be home, rather than talking to him on a screen. His dad’s latest mission is to launch nano-spacecraft in to space to look for signs of alien life. However, it’s Jamie who makes contact with an alien race when he accidentally downloads a transmission to the Hubble Telescope to his phone. Soon Jamie is discovering more about aliens and the universe than he ever thought he would.

Like The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, the thing I love most about The Jamie Drake Equation is the way that Christopher not only tells a fantastic story but also teaches you about the wonders of the universe. I never knew about things like a star’s ‘Goldilocks zone’, or that one of our closest stars, Proxima Centauri, is only four and a quarter light years from Earth. Reading this book made me want to desperately visit an observatory to look at the stars (something I’ve never done).  I’m sure Christopher will inspire kids to want to explore the universe too.

The Jamie Drake Equation is perfect for readers who love adventure, science and space, stories about families, or anyone who just loves a gripping story.   It would be a great read aloud for Years 6-8 as it will certainly grab kids (and teachers).  I wonder where Christopher Edge will take us next?

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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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Win a signed copy of Stray by Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw’s addictive sequel to Spark, Stray, was released yesterday and I had the pleasure of helping Rachael to launch it in Christchurch last night.  It was a great launch with heaps of Spark fans! You can read my review of Stray here on the blog.

Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have 5 copies of Stray to give away, and thanks to Rachael they are all signed.  To get in the draw to win a signed copy of Stray just email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Stray’, along with your name and address.

Competition closes Wednesday 9 September (NZ only).

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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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Interview with Thalia Kalkipsakis, author of Lifespan of Starlight

Thalia Kalkipsakis’ latest book, Lifespan of Starlight is one of my recent favourite young adult books.  It’s an incredibly exciting, fresh and unique story about time travel.  You can read my review here on the blog.

I had a few questions about Lifespan of Starlight, Thalia’s vision of time travel.  Thalia very kindly answered my questions and you can read my interview with her below.

  • What inspired you to write Lifespan of Starlight?

I love the idea of a hidden skill or ability that all humans possess – exploring how it might be discovered and what it could be. But for me the ‘ability’ is really just a metaphor for human ambition and the way imagination can lead to creation. I’m also fascinated by time – and the variety of ways we experience time – so it was easy to work out what the hidden ability would be: conscious control over where we move in time.

At the moment, human beings are facing huge challenges – both in terms of how technology impacts on our lives and also how our lives impact on the environment – but I still look to the future with a sense of hope. So the ability to time travel in the story is also a metaphor for our future inventions and resilience. I believe that we might even surprise ourselves.

And the main character? Strangely it was our cat who inspired Scout’s character. The cat was from an animal rescue shelter and the runt of the litter. She seemed so powerless, but she is actually quite cunning and resourceful once you get to know her. I wanted to write a character that has no power, no rights, but uses creativity and courage to survive.

  •  Is your vision of time travel based on real scientific principles? Is there such a thing as Relative Time Theory?

I chose the name Relative Time Theory as a nod to Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I also took a huge amount of fictional licence in order to make the story work. The idea that we can control our experience of time is entirely my own leap of fun. But once you make that leap I like the way it relates to the true concept of spacetime – once you completely stop your progress through time, you also cease to exist physically in space. At least, that’s how it works in the story.

  • Your vision of time travel in Lifespan of Starlight is not a stereotypical idea of time travel.  What are your rules of time travel in your story?

Since the initial seed of the idea was an ability that exists in us all, it was important to me that it didn’t come easily – so no flux capacitors or sonic screwdrivers here J. It is simply a matter of meditating to a point where your ‘flow through time’ reaches a standstill, then (within limits) you choose your return point. Human beings are capable of amazing things but we also have to overcome our weaknesses and flaws, so things like confidence and fear impact on how well a character can time skip. And as with every skill you might try to master, your ability to time skip also improves with practise. In book 1 and even more in book 2, the characters also struggle to hit their chosen time for return.

The idea that you can only travel in one direction also relates to our experience of time – we always experience time progressing forwards, we never see the world unravelling around us. So even though the characters begin to believe that it’s impossible to go back, in my mind and within the rules of that world, I do imagine that going backwards is possible, but it’s our difficulty comprehending ‘backwards’ that renders it almost impossible to achieve. Although, that’s an issue for book 2…

  • If you could time jump, how far ahead would you want to go?

I don’t think I would jump very far ahead at all. Once I began spending time in that world, it didn’t take me long to realise the impact of jumping ahead in terms of leaving behind the people you love. This issue looms large in book 2 but I think it’s also true to how life would be if time skipping were real. Since I could only go forwards, I’d only want to time jump if everyone I care about could come with me. But if I knew I could easily come back to ‘now’? In that case, my answer’s completely different. Let’s start with 2084 and I’d get to see how closely the world in the Lifespan of Starlight matches reality.

  • What is your favourite book and movie about time travel?

Aw, only one book and movie? It’s difficult to choose, but I can say that my favourites all link time travel with a sense of genuine human experience.

For adults, it’s hard to go past The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger: it’s both a book and a movie. The way time travel impacts on the character’s daily lives rings so true that you end up believing that it’s real.

For kids, I’d have to choose Cicada Summer by Kate Constable. I don’t want to give anything away, but one of the main twists always gives me a lump in the throat. It’s not a movie, but it should be.

  • If you could choose a song to be the theme song for Lifespan of Starlight what would it be?

Gosh, what a great question. Pity I don’t have a decent answer. I know this is cheating but it’s hard to go past the soundtrack to the movie Run Lola Run. I love the lyrics: “I wish I was a writer, who sees what’s yet unseen”.

So, just cos they’re awesome, here are links to the trailer for the movie and the title song:

  • You leave readers on a cliff-hanger ending.  How long do we have to wait for book two and do you know the title?

It wasn’t so much about leaving readers hanging, but I did want to give readers that sense of jumping into the unknown – reaching the end of the story and not knowing where the next story would begin.

Book two has a couple of twists and surprises – it’s due for release in April 2016 and the working title is ‘Split Infinity’.

  • Have you planned the trilogy or do you have to see where Scout takes you?

The short answer is ‘yes to both’. I did have a sense of the overall structure very early on, but it was only when I recognised three distinct sections that I began to think it might work as a trilogy. The identity of the woman in the cave, for example, I’ve always known would be revealed in book 3. But I’ve also left enough room for the characters to breathe – to let them lead the story rather than the other way around. I’ve already found in book 2 that Scout is brave enough to take on more than I had planned.

Grab a copy of Lifespan of Starlight from your library or bookshop now.  Stay tuned for the chance to win a signed copy of Lifespan of Starlight next week.

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More Than This by Patrick Ness

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Patrick Ness.  He’s one of my favourite authors and I love everything he writes, whether it’s for adults or teens.  It’s been a particularly good year for fans of Patrick this year, as he’s published two books, one for adults, called The Crane Wife and a Young Adult book called More Than This.  The thought of a new Patrick Ness book always gets me excited, because I never know quite what to expect.  When Patrick revealed the details about More Than This, he gave just enough to whet reader’s appetites but left you with a huge sense of mystery.  When I picked up my copy of the book, Patrick hooked me in straight away and it haunted me right until the end.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonising memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.

More Than This is a tense, suspense-filled read that haunts you, so that every waking minute you are thinking about the story and trying to figure out what’s happening.  It’s one of those stories that is very difficult to explain to people without ruining the story for everyone.  I haven’t felt so obsessed with a book in a long time, wanting to just loose myself in the story and help Seth reveal the mystery of the world in which he finds himself.  Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s happening, the story takes a completely different turn.

Patrick Ness is brilliant at creating suspense (fans of his Chaos Walking Trilogy are familiar with this) and there are plenty of cliff-hangar endings in More Than This. There were so many times that I finished a chapter and had to immediately go onto the next to find out what happened.  I’m sure there were times when my colleagues wondered where I had disappeared to.  There were a couple of times where I cursed Patrick Ness out loud.  He really knows how to keep you addicted to a story!

Like his other books, Patrick has created very real characters who you feel for and are rooting for.  You follow Seth’s journey to find out what has happened to him, while at the same time, putting together the pieces of his life and discovering what led him here in the first place.

One of my favourite things about More Than This is the ending, which leaves the story open, but left me totally satisfied.

I can’t recommend Patrick Ness’ books highly enough and More Than This is one of his best.  He just keeps getting better and better.  Grab a copy of More Than This now. You won’t regret it!

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Cover reveal – Shattered by Teri Terry

Shattered_cvr

Kyla’s memory was erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

Or so she thought.

After the shocking events of SLATED and FRACTURED, we return to Kyla’s oppressive world as she tries to make sense of her lfe and everything around her.

I’m very pleased to reveal the cover for the final book in Teri Terry’s Slated trilogy, Shattered. I loved the first two books in the trilogy and I’m really looking forward to finding out how it all ends.  You can read my review of Slated here on the blog.

Shattered is due for release in the UK in March 2014, so we should get it in NZ around the same time.

 

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Silver book trailer

Who will turn silver next?

When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a mysterious infection. But this is no ordinary virus. It turns flesh into metal, and pupils into machines.

As the virus spreads and more terrifying, blood-thirsty machines appear, a small group manage to barricade themselves inside the school. Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming?

Meanwhile the virus is spreading and its victims are changing… evolving… becoming stronger… The world as our heroes know it is turning silver. Will any of them survive?

Silver is the latest book from Chris Wooding.  I read about this book a few months ago on Vincent Ripley’s wonderful blog mrripleysenchantedbooks.blogspot.co.uk.  It sounds awesome (and perfect for Michael Grant fans) so I can’t wait to read it.

Silver by Chris Wooding is available now in NZ from Scholastic NZ.

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The Originals by Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick’s books are nothing but original.  The best way I would describe her books are teen romance with a science fiction twist.  Forgotten is about a girl whose short-term memory is erased each night and she can only “remember” events from her future.  She falls in love and has to write notes at night to remind her about her boyfriend in the morning.  Revived is about a girl who was one of the first subjects in a covert programme that tests a drug called Revive. She has died and been Revived five times, but in order to live a normal life and have relationships, she has to escape from the programme.  Cat’s latest book, The Originals, is equally as original and gripping.

OriginalsTo the outside world, Elizabeth Best is a model student. She’s a cheerleader, gets straight As and holds down an after-school job. But what the outside world doesn’t know is that Elizabeth Best is actually three girls. Lizzie, Betsey and Ella are no ordinary triplets. Born as part of an illegal cloning program, the girls were forced into hiding when the program was uncovered. To avoid being taken away, the girls have lived as one girl ever since. Living a third of a life can suck. Imagine having to consult your sisters before choosing your clothes, or hairstyle, or boyfriend. So when Lizzie is forbidden from seeing Sean, the amazing guy from her English class, she and her sisters decide they’ve had enough. But for a chance at a full life, they’ll have to risk everything they know.

The Originals is a genre-bending novel that draws you into the lives of three very different girls who share one life.  Romance, science fiction, mystery, suspense, secrets and lies are all mashed-up in this very cool story.  One of the things I like the most about Cat Patrick’s books is that she keeps surprising me.  Just when you think she couldn’t possibly top her previous book, she does.  I love the way that Cat weaves science fiction into her stories and it’s this element that really draws me to her stories.

Cat’s characters are always memorable and this is certainly the case with the Best girls.  The story is narrated by Lizzie so you get to know her the most and get inside her head, but Cat really fleshes out the characters of Betsey and Ella too.  Through Lizzie you get a sense of how frustrating, confusing, and unfair it is to live a third of your life.  You are stuck taking the same subjects (even if you’re no good at them), if you’ve got the first or second part of the day you can never go out at night, and if two of you like two different guys you all have to decide which one you’ll date.

I’m not a huge teen romance reader but one thing I really like about Cat’s books is that the love interest isn’t some super hot guy that drips testosterone.  Sean in The Originals, much like Luke in Forgotten and Matt in Revived, is an average guy who is intelligent, talented and caring.   As a teenage guy reading this book I would have found Sean alot easier to live up to than many other males in teen fiction.

If you haven’t discovered Cat Patrick you don’t know what you’re missing.  Read The Originals and you’ll be hooked.

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YA Sci-fi Giveaway

Like many of you, I can’t go walk past a bookshop without going inside to have a look.  Often I emerge minutes (or hours) later with books that I don’t have the money for or time to read, but I now have new worlds to explore and friends to make. While walking past a chain bookstore this morning I noticed their sale table had some awesome books on it for a fraction of their normal cost so I grabbed some to give away here on the blog.

YA prize

I have 2 sets to give away of:

  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  • This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
  • Flip by Martyn Bedford

All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 10 May (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Lynley and Annie.

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