Tag Archives: Young Adult

The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

Sometimes you get that feeling when you start reading a book that you know you are going to love it.  Something about it, whether the characters or the tone of the story just clicks with you.  Mark Smith’s debut novel, The Road to Winter, is one of those books for me.

9781925355123Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters—hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley—an asylum seeker—and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.

And Ramage wants the girls back—at any cost.

I absolutely loved The Road to Winter, from the first page to the last!  It’s a thrilling story of survival in the aftermath of a virus that wipes out the population.  There’s lots of action and twists to keep you reading, but there are also some lulls in the action that give you a chance to breath and prepare yourself for the next part.  It’s a story that I couldn’t stop thinking about either.  When I wasn’t reading I was wondering what was happening to the characters and how the book was going to end.

Finn’s story takes place in the aftermath of a virus that has wiped out a huge percentage of the population.  The virus affected females mostly so it is mostly males that have survived.  Gangs of men, called Wilders, wander the countryside and control the north where Finn lives.  With a lack of females around to keep them in check these men have lost their humanity and have become violent and ruthless.  You certainly don’t want to bump into them!  Finn has hidden himself away in his house, with a secret store of food, gas, and other supplies, and he and his dog, Rowdy, have survived by themselves fine.  However, when Rose turns up, she brings trouble to Finn’s door and his quiet life is disturbed.  Being the kind of guy that he is though, Finn has to help Rose, both to help her hide and recover and to help her find her sister, Kas.

The Road to Winter reminded me of other books that I’ve really enjoyed, including one of my favourite books, Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go.  The tone of the book felt quite similar, as Finn has to try and help the girls escape the clutches of the violent men who want to harm them.  There is the suspense of them evading capture but not really knowing if they’ll be able to outrun them.  The other similarity to The Knife of Never Letting Go that I really liked was the relationship that Finn has with his dog Rowdy.  Rowdy is his constant companion and is incredibly loyal, much like Todd and Manchee.  The story also reminded me of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet because it’s all about Finn’s survival on his own, becoming aware of the land and the ocean to find hidden trails to get around and hunt for food.

I loved Mark’s characters too, especially Finn.  While the other males have lost their humanity, Finn has held onto his and leaves the safety of his home to go out and try to find Rose’s sister.  He cares for the girls and is willing to do anything he can to protect them and keep them alive.  I loved the special moments of hope that Finn shared with the females in the story.  Even with everything that was happening to them they still managed to laugh and enjoy having full stomachs.

My only complaint with The Road to Winter is that now I have to wait to find out what happens next.  I need to know what happens to these characters and whether they can find some peace eventually.  The book comes with a money back guarantee but you are certainly guaranteed a great read and I highly recommend The Road to Winter.

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My Top July Kids & YA Releases

Forgetting Foster | REVISED FINAL COVER x 2 (18 April 2016)

Forgetting Foster by Dianne Touchell

Foster Sumner is seven years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad’s stories.

But then Foster’s dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. But the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.

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Little Bits of Sky by S.E. Durrant

Siblings Miracle and Zac have moved between foster homes ever since they can remember. When they are moved to a group home called Skilly House, they think everything is about to break, but it may just be the beginning of their news lives.

Simple, heart-breaking and ultimately full of hope.

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The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager—but she just happens to be goddess of the underworld too. Why is life so unfair? Still, Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead whom she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened… A hilarious and thought-provoking sideways look at life—and death—through the eyes of the funniest teenager in all the (under)world.

 

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My Gym Teacher is an Alien Overlord by David Solomons

Zack and Lara have superpowers. Luke has new school shoes and a burning sense of resentment. He KNOWS that aliens disguised as gym teachers are about to attack Earth but will anyone listen? No. So one dodgy pact with a self-styled supervillain later, and Luke is ready to save the world. He just need to find his trainers.

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Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman

When his father is arrested and transported to the Colonies, Caleb is left alone. After a desperate journey in search of an aunt he’s never met he receives a strange, cold welcome. Then a body washes up on the nearby beach and Caleb is caught up in a terrifying net of lies and intrigue. Soon he and his new family are in mortal danger.

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Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame

Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true – flawed – colours on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide – not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?

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Sunken Forest by Des Hunt

Sent to live with his grandmother in Hastings after his father is jailed, Matt becomes the victim of bad friends and false accusations. Sent off on a military-style school camp to the wilds of Lake Waikaremoana, Matt again gets in trouble for something he didn’t do, and is unjustly punished. Not allowed to join his school friends on their activities, he spends time alone down by the lake where he discovers a massive eel. Unfortunately, news gets out about the eel Matt has nicknamed Elsa, and the class bad-boy, Cameron, is determined to kill it. Matt is determined not to let him … but then, following a night of torrential rain, catastrophe strikes the camp and Matt ends up saving Cam’s life.

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The Road to Winter by Mark Smith

Since a deadly virus and the violence that followed wiped out his parents and most of his community, Finn has lived alone on the rugged coast with only his loyal dog Rowdy for company.

He has stayed alive for two winters—hunting and fishing and trading food, and keeping out of sight of the Wilders, an armed and dangerous gang that controls the north, led by a ruthless man named Ramage.

But Finn’s isolation is shattered when a girl runs onto the beach. Rose is a Siley—an asylum seeker—and she has escaped from Ramage, who had enslaved her and her younger sister, Kas. Rose is desperate, sick, and needs Finn’s help. Kas is still missing somewhere out in the bush.

And Ramage wants the girls back—at any cost.

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When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

A boy’s chance encounter with a scruffy dog leads to an unforgettable friendship in this deeply moving story about life, loss and the meaning of family.

Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in. A former foster kid, he keeps his head down at school to avoid bullies and spends his afternoons reading sci-fi books at the library. But all that changes when he finds a scruffy abandoned dog named Flip and befriends the librarian’s daughter, Halley. For the first time, Ben starts to feel like he belongs in his own life. Then everything changes, and suddenly Ben is more alone than ever. But with a little help from Halley’s magician father, Ben discovers his place in the world and learns to see his own magic through others’ eyes.

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The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

You know a book is really good when you can’t stop thinking about it.  You want to shirk all your responsibilities just so you can read it in one sitting.  The Leaving by Tara Altebrando is one of these books.  You will not want to stop reading it until you’ve reached the last page and finally know what the hell happened!

26073074Eleven years ago, six five-year-olds went missing without a trace. After all this time, the people left behind have moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Now five of those kids are back. They’re sixteen, and they are … fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mother she barely recognises, and doesn’t really know who she’s supposed to be, either. But she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, but they can’t recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back and everyone wants answers.

I absolutely loved this book!  The Leaving is super twisty, tense and heart-pounding.  Tara Altebrando had me at the tag-line ‘Six were taken.  Five came back.’ The blurb completely gripped me and I had to read it straight away.  I got completely lost in the story and couldn’t stop thinking about it when I had to put the book down.

It’s one of those books that I feel that I can’t say much about, for fear that I’ll give something away.  The whole premise of the story is intriguing.  Six kids went missing when they were 5 years old.  They have turned up at home again eleven years later.  Why now? Where were they? Who had them?  Tara is very good at stringing the reader along, giving you tantalising pieces of the puzzle so that you have to keep reading to find out how all the pieces fit together.  When I started I had my own theories about what had happened to the characters but I couldn’t have picked what actually happened.

The story takes place over fifteen days from when the kids return and throughout the story we get the perspectives of different characters. We follow two of the returned, Lucas and Scarlett, as well as Avery, the sister of the kid who hasn’t returned.  The returned desperately try to remember what happened to them, while their families adjust to having them back again (or wondering why they haven’t returned, like Avery and her mum).

I think this is one of the best YA books this year and I highly recommend it.  It’s a great read for those Year 7/8 readers who want to be reading YA too.  Grab a copy of The Leaving now and get lost in this incredible story.

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My Top June Kids and YA Releases

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Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg

Jamie is a sixteen-year-old maths whiz. Summerlee, his older sister, is in the grip of a wild phase. Tensions at home run high.

When Summerlee wins a 7.5-million-dollar lottery, she cuts all ties with her family. But money can cause trouble – big trouble. And when Jamie’s younger sister Phoebe is kidnapped for a ransom, the family faces a crisis almost too painful to bear.

Jamie thinks he can use game theory – the strategy of predicting an opponent’s actions – to get Phoebe back. But can he outfox the kidnapper? Or is he putting his own and his sister’s life at risk?

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The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Alaska, 1970: growing up here is like nowhere else. Ruth wants to be remembered by her grieving mother.Dora wishes she was invisible to her abusive father.Alyce is staying at home to please her parents. Hank is running away for the sake of his brothers. Four very different lives are about to become entangled. Because if we don’t save each other, how can we begin to save ourselves?

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Bad Apple by Matt Whyman

Like all good law-abiding citizens, sixteen-year-old Maurice no longer considers going off the rails as just a teenage phase. It can only mean the mark of a troll… But these trolls aren’t confined to causing trouble online: now they’re in our homes, on our streets and have ruined life as we know it. As a rule Maurice tries to avoid trouble – until the day he crosses paths with Wretch, a very bad apple indeed. And with tensions rising, can these two teens put their differences aside in order to survive?

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The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Eleven years ago, six five-year-olds went missing without a trace. After all this time, the people left behind have moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Now five of those kids are back. They’re sixteen, and they are … fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mother she barely recognises, and doesn’t really know who she’s supposed to be, either. But she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, but they can’t recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back and everyone wants answers.

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Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.

Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.

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You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

You Know Me Well is a tender and joyful young-adult novel tracing the powerful friendship of two lovesick teenagers—a gay boy, Mark, and a lesbian girl, Katie—over the course of Pride Week in San Francisco. Told in alternating chapters, You Know Me Well explores how Mark and Katie help one another overcome heartbreak, fractured friendships and the dizzying speeds of change.

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A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt

The year is 2509 and Earth is a rather polluted blue dot that suffers from global warming, overpopulation and not enough people using deodorant.

Blake Carter, star agent with the Planetary Bureau of Investigation, isn’t having a good day. First he’s beaten up by a bunch of religious zealots, and then he’s assigned a robot—sorry, cyborg—as his new partner, right before his ex-wife calls to tell him his daughter has gone missing. His car keeps criticising his driving, and finally, to top things off, the world is held to ransom by his nemesis, evil genius Bartholomew Badde.

Can things get any worse?

Yes!

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Maladapted by Richard Kurti

Cillian is the sole survivor of a devastating terrorist attack on a packed Metro train. How did he survive when everyone else was killed? Searching for answers with the mysterious Tess, Cillian discovers that his father has links to P8, a group of genetic scientists operating outside the laws of Foundation City. The shocking discoveries he and Tess make at P8’s secret hospital start to make Cillian ask not who he is, but what he is.

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Circle by Jeannie Baker

This is the story of the little-known Bar-tailed Godwit who, following invisible pathways that have been used for thousands of years, undertakes the longest unbroken migration of any bird, a total of 11,000 kilometres, flying from their breeding grounds in Alaska across the Pacific Ocean to Australia or New Zealand. Facing hunger and treacherous conditions to reach their destination, their flight is one of bravery, tenacity and strength, and Jeannie’s stunning mixed media collages, inspired first-hand by the spectacular landscapes of Alaska and China, will amaze readers, and take them on an extraordinary visual journey to the corners of our Earth.

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The Book of Pearl by Timothée De Fombelle

Joshua Pearl is from a world that our own no longer believes in. He knows that his great love is waiting for him in that distant place, but he is trapped in our time. As his memories begin to fade, he discovers strange objects, tiny fragments of a story from a long time ago. Can Joshua remember the past and believe in his own story before his love is lost for ever.

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Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero by Francesca Armour-Chelu

In a world that has been ravaged by flooding, Fenn Halflin learns the truth about his past – a secret that forces him to flee the safety of his home as he is chased across the vast sea by the ruthless Terra Firma and their cold-blooded leader, Chilstone. Finding shelter on a decaying island, Fenn is taken in by child survivors in hiding, and he begins a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the Terra Firma, who will stop at nothing to find him. But as Chilstone’s dreaded Fearzero ship appears on the horizon, and the water levels continue to rise, it seems that Fenn’s hopes of escape will be washed away for ever.

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The Bubble Boy by Stewart Foster

Eleven-year-old Joe can’t remember a life outside of his hospital room, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his ‘bubble’. But then someone new enters his world and changes it forever.

 

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The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

As a male I really value authentic male teenage characters in YA books.  I find those ‘hot, bad boys’ very fake, whereas the nerdy, sweary guys feel like the guy I was and a lot of the guys I knew.  I’m always on the look out for books with authentic male teenage characters and books that focus on male friendship, because it’s these books that I want to get into the hands of teenage guys.  The new book by Aussie author Will Kostakis, The Sidekicks, is one of these books, and I think every teenage guy should read it.

9780143309031The Swimmer.

The Rebel.

The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

I loved The Sidekicks!  I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager because it would have totally clicked with me.  Will makes you feel like you are part of the characters’ lives and that you’re one of the Sidekicks too.  Will absolutely nails what it’s like to be a teenage guy and the often awkward friendships between different guys.

The Sidekicks follows three teenage guys after the death of their friend, the one guy who was holding their group together.  They are all quite different guys who were friends with Isaac, but they don’t have anything in common with each other.  Ryan is The Swimmer, whose mum teaches at his school (which creates its own problems), and who is hiding a secret.  Harley is The Rebel, the guy who would drink with Isaac and was with him on the night that he died.  The papers imply that Isaac killed himself but Harley knows he wouldn’t do this and tries to set the story straight.  Miles is The Nerd, the intelligent one of the group who works hard, but also has a side business that he ran with Isaac selling essays.  Although Isaac is no longer around their friendship with him might be enough to help them through.

This is not just about friendship though.  It’s about three guys who are dealing with grief in different ways.  Like a lot of males they don’t really want to talk to anyone about it, especially the school guidance counsellor. Harley feels guilty because he could have stopped what happened to Isaac, and he wants to do what he can to set the story straight.  Miles holds on to Isaac through the film that he made starring Isaac.  Through his film Miles continues to have conversations with Isaac, even if it is just Isaac’s smiling face paused on the screen.

The ending of The Sidekicks is absolutely perfect and it made me want to go right back to the start and take that journey with those characters again.  I’ll be eagerly awaiting Will Kostakis’ next book and putting The Sidekicks into the hands of any teenage guys I can.

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Front Lines by Michael Grant

I’m a huge fan of Michael Grant.  His Gone series is one of my all time favourite series.  His books are dark and he’s particularly good at writing gory scenes.  One of the things I love most about his books is his characters.  You really get to know his characters and they end up feeling like your closest friends (and in some cases your worst nightmares).  Michael introduces us to a new cast of characters who will grow to be your friends in the first book in his new series, Front Lines.

y450-293It’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.

Front Lines is an epic read! It’s a fresh and exciting alternate history that makes you look at World War II in a completely different way.  In Front Lines, Michael Grant has reimagined World War II with females fighting on the front lines.  I’ve read quite a lot of fiction for kids and teens about World War II and it’s rare to find a story told from an American point of view, let alone from a female point of view.  These girls aren’t keeping the home fires burning though, they are ‘Soldier Girls,’ fighting alongside the boys.  They may be allowed to fight but they are not accepted, especially by some of the older men.  However, just like the boys and men they are about to grow up very quickly and see things they won’t be able to forget.

Like the characters in Michael’s other books, the characters in Front Lines will get stuck in your head and you won’t be able to stop thinking about them.  We follow three girls, Rio Richlin, Rainy Shulterman and Frangie Marr.  Rio is a white girl from California who has lived a fairly sheltered life.  Rainy is a Jewish girl from New York who wants to be part of army intelligence. Frangie is an African American girl from Oklahoma who wants to join the army to help support her family.  We know straight away that Rainy and Frangie aren’t going to have an easy time in the army and they’re often the target of abuse.  We follow each of these girls through their training and onto the front lines of the war.

Michael paints a very vivid picture of war.  His descriptions of the battles and the injuries that the soldiers sustain in battle are harrowing and gruesome.  War takes its toll on all of the characters and none of them are the same person they once were by end of the book.  The story is told to us through a mysterious narrator, who is looking back on the war from a hospital bed.  I’m curious to find out who this person is.

Front Lines is the first book in the Soldier Girl series and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Rio, Rainy and Frangie next.

Check out Michael Grant’s guest blog post here on the blog as part of his Front Lines Australia/NZ Blog Tour.

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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.

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

Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Christine.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

 

 

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My Top May Kids & YA Releases

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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…?

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