I totally love goats! Little did I know that when I was writing ‘The Lost Stone of SkyCity’ with some cheeky goat side-kicks called gotals, I would imbue my love of goats into the very story.
Evidently, I did. Because when people read the book, they’re always saying ‘You must love goats! Why is that?’
Aha! Glad you asked!
What’s not to love? Our two species have a shared history, and goats have got to be one of the smartest, funkiest animals. EVER. Here’s what I love the most about them … Continue reading
There is a happy place where the reader and the scientist in me combine to devour both books and chocolate, all with a smile on my face. Only found amid the pages of truly fab books, I found that happy place reading ‘Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile’ by Jo Sandhu.
Hey if your kids (or you!) love history and science and all things Stone Age, then this is the book to read. It’s got danger, adventure, friendship and a diverse set of characters.
It’s got mammoths, too.
The things that work so well in this book are the basic building blocks of any great read: world-building, narrative and character.
World-building so epic you forget how to use a zip
I loved how Sandhu built the world for her book, with historical gems like reindeer hide and flints and boots with stuffing, and then added magic. Look, I’m no expert on Stone Age life, but I get the strong feeling Sandhu might be close. Her writing is alive, her world works. And no one slips up and lights a fire with matches or zips up their jacket or anything 🙂
Brilliant. The authenticity of the world is what really drew me into this story. Like I was learning at the same time as I was enjoying the read. Continue reading
Now, I’m the sort of person to approach a series with trepidation … Sometimes I LOVE the first book SO MUCH, I don’t want to ruin it by reading a substandard follow-on. (Who’s with me?)
But then, there are series that are totally ace at being a series. Where the whole premise just gets better and better with each new book. I’m thinking Harry Potter, Lintang, Chronicles of Prydain, The Old Kingdom …
When authors get it right, I’m eagerly awaiting every new book.
Thankfully (because – mate – I really enjoyed ‘Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow’ and there was no way I wanted to mess with that level of love) the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend only got more awesome with the second book, ‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’.
Like, if awesome went out kayaking and then had a lemon and lime tart and some hot chocolate in a comfy armchair by the fire to celebrate how awesome the day was. That kind of extra awesome. Continue reading
This book has stolen my heart! I enjoyed reading it so much.
I loved it on the first read, when I was captivated by the friendship, humour and exciting world filled with unknowns that I just wanted to know.
I loved it on the second read, as I discovered some of the tricks author Rhiannon Williams used to make it so super-duper awesomesauce.
YES! And then!
AND THEN!!!! I went out and bought it because my library only had an e-book and I love paper books. And I loved it on the third read with its beautiful cover and fabulous messages for kids.
‘Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt’ by Rhiannon Williams is a delight for middle-grade readers. It won the Ampersand Prize. I can see why. If I’d been judging, I would have hugged the manuscript after I’d finished it.
(I may have hugged the book) (I do that sometimes)
Why did I enjoy so much?
Because it has action and suspense and camaraderie with this deep underlying theme of challenging gender stereotyping and being true to who you are.
AND I enjoyed it because I felt like I was in safe hands with the author – the reason why came apparent in my second read because Williams follows a pretty standard structure for the book. This isn’t a bad thing at all – it’s standard because it works for the reader, keeps them hooked and reading to the end.
So, a quick summary (and careful if you haven’t read it, because I can’t explain without a few spoilers!!): Continue reading
Seven teens from seven continents, trying to crack seven signs a day for seven days as the world progressively swirls down the proverbial toilet.
Gold. Total gold.
I was reeled in by Skyfire, the first in The Seven Signs series by Michael Adams, hauled deeper into the mystery the more I read. I’ll be honest, the first few pages I was totally thinking yeah, I know what this is all about. But then the characters came alive and the action began ticking. And awesome things began happening. And happening. And happening.
And then, hooly toolooly, the first signs arrived.
There was no turning back for me. I had to buy the rest of the series. I had to read them all, stat. I had to know what was happening and where were they going next and who was the Signmaker and for goodness’ sake, can someone let these kids sleep sometime!? Continue reading
When you hear of a children’s book exploding onto the scene like those whizz-bang fireworks that keep on sparkling (complete with everyone going ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’) what you absolutely want to find out is HOW DID THEY DO IT?
‘Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is one such delightful explosion. It’s surrounded by stories of bidding wars and movie rights that make me happy-sigh, because stuff like that is still possible, and books are still awesome and kids still love reading, and more will love it after reading this book.
And that’s all awesome!
So, how did Townsend do it?
What is so delightfully scrumptious about her book?
- A huggable world you get immersed in
- The laughs and clever whimsy
- The intricate extras in the story.
‘Dragonkeeper’ p 264… made by me using pablo
This super book has won heaps of awards and admirers since it was published. ‘Dragonkeeper’ by Carole Wilkinson is the first in a series that splices history and fantasy.
I enjoyed this book on many levels. It is intricate, reserved, rich, and beautiful.
And I had to chuckle at Ping’s utter belief that there is no need for bathing more that once every summer or so…
The cover of this book drew my eye. A girl, a gargoyle, a rooftop race. I grabbed it for my library bag. So glad I did!!
What a ripper of a yarn!
I really enjoyed ‘The Luck Uglies’ by Paul Durham. It’s a fab piece of middle-grade fantasy, with a crafty and strong female lead.
I often read books to figure out what they did to become popular, win awards or fans. That doesn’t always mean they connect with me. But sometimes, like now, I don’t just read – I LOVE. I get absorbed. I chuckle. I smile.
Seriously, this has to be one of the best first sentences I’ve read in a while:
Rye and her two friends had never intended to steal the banned book from The Angry Poet – they’d just hoped to read it.
So, without further ado, what was fabularytastic?
- The narration and humour
- The world-building
- The House Rules
It’s hard to just pick three, but these encompass why I enjoyed the book so much.
The Embassy Row series seemed to be popping out at me from everywhere, and I was intrigued. So when Book 1 showed up at my library, I grabbed it.
‘All Fall Down’ by Ally Carter was an unexpected surprise for me. I had very little idea what the series was about, and what I did know had me thinking it was going to be something a bit Selection-y (perhaps because of the cover of Book 3). It’s not.
It’s got more grit and less glamour, with an ace setting and many twists and turns that will have you wishing you’d trailed string behind you in those dark underground tunnels so you could crawl out to safety.
And check out the cover. I love the fractured font above the soft image.
It is a bridging YA text, you could be confident giving it to middle-grade readers who are looking for something more, as well as more seasoned YA readers. The book combines adventure and mystery with the gaining, and losing, of friendships. As well as some harder issues around mental illness and grief.
So, what worked?
- The inspired setting
- The plot twists
- The supporting cast
If you love unabashed epic middle-grade fantasy, you’ve probably heard of John Flanagan. Between the Ranger’s Apprentice series and Brotherband Chronicles, I count nineteen books. Each and every one with a totally awesome cover.
Today I’m heading back to where they started, in 2004 with ‘Ranger’s Apprentice Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan‘.
Hang on one book-devouring second…
Nineteen books in just over twelve years? And another one due this year? That is, hands down, awesome work. Bravo Flanagan!
So, what did I love?
- Positive relationships
- Incorporation of bullying