Indiana Jones for Young Readers

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

 

Indiana Jones eat your heart out! Meet Alex Cold, who has the heart of a jaguar, and his friend Nadia who has the heart of an eagle. They join Alex’s grandmother on and International Geographic trip into the amazon. If this were not adventurous enough for the two teenagers, they also encounter people trying to rid the amazon of its native inhabitants so they can mine the area, and they have to deal with a mythical beast who is killing those who wander into its path. While trying to protect the indians the two find a well of courage they did not know they possessed as they meet the animals and super-natural beings of the amazon.

I have always loved Isabel Allende’s books. Her characters are always interesting and her view of the world takes into account the mythical and supernatural, as well as the things we can all see. The trilogy that starts with the City of the Beasts was written for her grandchildren, and they helped her with ideas for these stories. That collaboration has resulted in three great stories that will appeal to boys and girls alike.  They are written to appeal to the 12+ reader, but there is nothing in the content that would prevent a younger advanced reader enjoying them.

Following on from City of the Beasts, Allende takes us to the Himalayas for the Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, followed by a  trip to Africa for Forest of the Pygmies.  In these books Isabelle takes the reader to not so well known areas of the world that are under threat from modernisation, and questions how we are dealing with these unique areas of our world. The books are full of adventure and mystery, and a good dose of imagination, transporting readers to new worlds viewed through the eyes of the heroic main characters Alex and Nadia. When I finished all three and was expelled back to reality I could not help but wish she had written a fourth.

I may be biased in how good these books are for children as I am am predisposed to like anything of Isabelle Allende’s, so I have asked my reviewer Sam to read the first book for me and he will put is view in the comments below when he finishes. Until then, why don’t you give these books a read, I am sure you will enjoy them as much as I have.

 

Buy City of the Beasts from Amazon

 

New Release! – Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Book Review  – Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

There is always that moment when you start a new book and you wonder if this book will transport you to another world, or will you end up not finishing it because it is not really for you. This feeling was more intense for me when starting Passengers, as this is the first book I have requested from a publisher for review purposes. As I do not like putting bad reviews on TheBookbubble I was hoping I like this book enough to be able to write something positive so I could actually publish a review. I worried needlessly, I was hooked after the Prologue. In fact I found it difficult to put the book down as it transported me to other worlds both literally and figuratively.

Passenger is  essentially a time travelling adventure story where boy meets girl and they battle evil forces to try and win the day. What makes this book so compelling are the two main characters and their reaction to the unusual situation they find themselves in. Etta is a feisty caucasian girl from the 21st Century and her partner on this adventure is Nicholas, a determined, independent black man from the 18th Century. Etta is thrust from her life back into Nicholas’ world and, not only does she have to adjust to the different time period, she also had to some to terms with a whole sub-world of time travellers she is a part of but knew nothing about. They are both forced into fulfilling a mission and to do achieve their goal they must work together, with Etta providing knowledge and Nicholas his experience of time-travelling.

As they jump from country to country and century to century they must battle not only their enemies, but also with differing perceptions of the role of women and racial prejudice that they, and those they encounter, have. This is not made any easier when they both have conflicting ideas of the form their end goal will take, and is further complicated  when they realise their feeling for each other are changing. As their journey progresses they find there is more to their initial quest than they realised; there is more than one enemy to face, and they realise that the decisions they make in trying to meet their own ends could change the course of history forever.

This book is a great read for older teenagers and will be on my highly recommended list. It is something that will entertain them when they are not busy with homework, but might also make them think a little about things we take for granted in terms of  gender and racial equality in different countries and different times. I was lost in this book for the five days it took me to read it, and I felt like I lost a friend when I reached the end. And to me that is the mark of a good read. All I can say now is “Alexandra Bracken, hurry up with the sequel please!”
Buy Passenger from Booktopia
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Holiday Fantasy Romances – One for Pre-Teens and One for Teens

Maddigan’s Fantasia by Margaret Mahey & These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan UnknownSpooner13138635

 

 

 

If you wanted proof that the realm of science fantasy writing is broad then the two book I am reviewing today illustrate that to a T. Both books are set in the future, both books are love stories inter-twined with adventure, and both books use science to create a different reality, and yet both books are so very different.

Maddigan’s Fantasia is set in post-apocalyptic  New Zealand and follows a travelling circus/fantasia as it journeys to find a power source to save civilisation. The tale of the strange journey is mainly told by Garland Maddigan but also through the eyes of other characters, including Timon a time traveller. The small group battle the elements and henchmen sent from the future to try and save their world.

This is a fantastical story that is well told, and with believable characters, and if you have enjoyed Margaret Mahey’s other books and her unique view of reality you will love this. I really enjoyed reading it, but the target audience would be the 10-14 age group and I could see both boys and girls enjoying this. The book has also been published as Maddigan’s Quest to link in with a TV series of the same name.

These Broken Stars is also a post-apocalyptic view of humanity, but in this book we have moved into space and humanity have been treating planets much like Europeans treated their colonies in the 19th century. This story is told through the eyes of Lilac (the uber-rich daughter of one of the head of one of the main colonising corporations) and Tarver (a decorated soldier and colonist who has been involved in putting down colony uprisings). In a very Titanic scenario the two are shipwrecked after their luxury space liner crashed on a planet that looks as though it has been formed for colonisation, but is a little bit more wild than they bargained for. While working towards their survival in a hostile environment the two get to know each other better, and also discover the secret of the planet which gives them a whole new view of life.

This book is the first in a trilogy aimed more at Young Adults, and is an engrossing read whether you enjoy a good love story or you love science fantasy books, although I suspect girls will find it more interesting than boys. It definitely leaves you wanting to read the next two books in the series.

So if your readers love delving into alternate realities, or like a little romance in their lives, then why not give these books a look.
Buy Maddigan’s Fantasia from Booktopia

Buy Maddigan’s Fantasia from Fishpond

You can also search for Maddigan’s Quest

Buy These Broken Stars from Booktopia

Buy These Broken Stars from Fishpond

 

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A Demi-God, an elf, a dwarf and a valkyrie with a talking sword?

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(A Review by Sam, aged 9)

What is the Book About?

A boy finds out his father is a norse god, he dies and is sent on a quest to save the world along with a dwarf, an elf and a valkyrie.

Who is your favourite character and why?

My favourite character would be Blitzen the dwarf because he has a very good imagination for building.

What was your favourite part of the book and why?

The part when the sword talks for the first time. It is funny because he just pops up and has a chat while they are running from the bad guys. He talks all through the book after that.

Why is this book better than other books you have read?

Rick Riordon writes about myths and I like myths, but it is still modern. When I read them I really want to find out what happens next. Each series he writes is better than the last one, and this is the best.

Click here to buy Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer from Amazon

 
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Beyond Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and The Secret Seven

 EJ12 Girl Hero – Spooked by Susannah McFarlane & Zac Power – Undercover Files by H.I. Larry           unknownUnknown

When I was a child I read all the Secret Seven books, all the Famous Five Book, every Nancy Drew book, and even some of the Hardy Boys. I loved reading about kids who saw things adults did not see, and found all these inventive ways to catch the crooks out. So I could understand why children have been reading Zac Powers and EJ12 books, or so I thought.

When I decided to review these two series I asked two fans to loan me books they liked. When they gave me their choices I asked them why they liked their characters? Tara said she like EJ because she was smart and cool. Sam said he like Zac Power because he always got into trouble but would still complete his mission. Already I could see that these books would be a little different from my childhood reading, but the best was yet to come.

The first big change was that my heros stumbled upon mysteries using their own initiative, and continued sleuthing often against the advice of adults. EJ12 works for a spy organisation called SHINE and Zac Power works for GIB. The have missions rather than mysteries, and they have adults directing their missions to save the world, or defeat their arch enemy agencies.

The second big difference is gadgets. I clearly grew up in the pre-iphone era, and so did my heros. They often went into danger armed with only a flashlight (if that), and when they got into sticky situations they had to use their initiative and whatever was to hand. Zac and Emma have an array of gadgets befitting members of international spy organisations, and the training to go with them.

What they do all have in common with my old favourites is that the heros save the day! And really that is what we want to know as children – good will always defeat evil, no matter how close the battle.

I missed my books when reading Zac and EJ, but I can see why today’s children like these books. Boys will love the short, snappy stories in Zac Power, and they will enjoy the fact he always gets into trouble but uses his brain to get out. Girls will love that EJ is caring and has friends, but still uses her head and kicks arse. And, let’s face it, todays young readers have grown up in an age when smart phones are a reality, and gadgets are to be expected. My mystery books might be a little tame for them now, but I think I am going to see if you can still buy Nancy Drew books and try for a little nostalgia from a simpler time.

Buy EJ and Zac Books from Bookbubble

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Buy EJ, Zac, Secret Seven,  Famous Five, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys from Booktopia (Click on Book Covers below for a range)
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Buy EJ, Zac, Secret Seven,  Famous Five, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys from Fishpond (You will need click on the image below to go to Fishpond and Search for the books you want)

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Dawson’s Creek Meets Twilight in Australia

unknownFall For Me by K.A.Last

I have to admit that I have had this book sitting on my Kindle for some time. I bought it with every intention of reading it as the first book of a series written by a new local author. But I have to say I have not been won over by the angels and vampire genre and never got past the first chapter, which is about the fall of an angel.

When I decided I was going to review independent authors as well as those supported by publishing houses, I planned to review of this book as my first. So this week, with a train journey in front of me, I started this book for the third time. I planned to finish over the next couple of weeks and write the review. Well the best laid plans and all that…..

This review is coming two week earlier than I had planned, and a little late, as I found myself getting engrossed in this book to the extent that I did  not have time to read the 2 books I had planned for this week’s review. And this is a testament to why you should sometimes read or try something out of your comfort zone.

It is not that I am suddenly a convert to the angels and vampire genre, not even close. It was more that while reading this book I was transported back to my early teens when I loved to watch Dawson’s Creek and was caught up in the love triangle that was Joey, Dawson and Pacey. To me Fall for Me is essentially a teen romance with a modern twist (the angel and vampire element) set in Australia. My teenage self that hides deep inside enjoyed the characters, their rather wry interactions and the fact that the point of view moved back and forwards between Angel Grace and  human Josh, who managed to fall in love inspite of Grace’s interesting extra-curricular activities getting in the way. To add tension to the love story, Fallen Angel Seth is there in the background causing doubts in Grace as their past is slowly revealed to her.

What saves this book from being a dewy-eyed love story, giving it some real interest, is Grace is not just any girl in love. She is a kick-ass protection angel/vampire hunter who must make a decision when confronted with a vampire with a pure soul. It is the age old question of good vs evil when the side of good is not so clear, and how do you make the right choice when whatever you do there are consequences that will affect those around you.

I was side-tracked by Fall for Me this week, and enjoyed it! Even better, book two in the series, Fight for Me, is already out, and book three is on the way.

If you want a return to your teenage years, or you love the Angel and Vampire genre, or you are looking for a book for a tween girl, then you cannot go past Fall for Me.

You can buy Fall for Me by clicking here

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Combining History and Fantasy – What could be better for a good read?

 Alchemyst_Nicholas_Flamel  The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

For my second review I wanted to share a book (or rather a series of books) that I really enjoyed reading recently, and that I am sure many teens and maybe even other adults will enjoy.

What initially attracted me to this book was the story line: fifteen year old twins meet a medieval alchemyst and help him in his search for the philosophers stone like codex that is missing some pieces. They are hindered along the way by Nicholas Flamel’s arch-nemesis, John Dee who is also trying to find the complete codex to bring back beings called The Dark Elders. History and fantasy all rolled into one book, what’s not to like!

The first book is fast paced and well written and takes the reader through a mad chase to find the codex, introducing them to a range of historic characters in a new light such as; Bastet from Egyptian history, the Morrigan for Irish legend, and even Yggdrasil – the life tree from Norse legend.

Michael Scott has imagined a story that weaves the fantastical with historic characters with a modern day spin. The Alchemyst certainly pulls the reader into this world and leaves them wanting more, so it is a good thing there are five more books in the series that introduce more historic characters and takes the story around the globe and beyond.

Although in later books some of the writing gets a little bogged down in retelling the story of previous books, a problem with any serialised story, the characterisations and cleaver plot line more than make up for this.

 

For the series buy from Booktopia buy clicking on the link below:

Booktopia

in New Zealandbuy the Alchemyst from Fishpond by clicking on the link below.

The Alchemyst: Book 1

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