A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab

darkershademagicThis is a an excellent sophisicated fantasy. Kell is a terrific hero. He makes mistakes, but when he understands the implications of his mistakes (the end of the world as he knows it), he tries to rectify his errors.

It is quite violent, so it’s probably a book I will recommend to older readers. I am looking forward to the next one.

Year 7F Reading Blogs

Here are the blogs created by your classmates. If you intend on commenting, ensure you are logged in and make positive and thoughtful posts.

Nathan Adcock-Eyles

Will Barnes

Sam Buckland

Louis Chinasing

Rocco Crawford

Jakob Duffy

Jack Fiorini

Mathison Frau

Henry Goddard

Grayson Heselden

Oliver Hyman

Jake Impellizzeri

William Jones

Sebastian Merlo

Artie Nicholls

Jake O’Brien

William O’Brien

Dallas Retchless

Jaiden Saxil

Joel Sherman

Aiden Smith

Wilson Stewart

Ashton Tareha

Bailey Tidsell

Jack Viner

Reuben Woollard

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

ratcatcher The Ratcatcher’s Daughter is a terrifically detailed book about a period in Brisbane’s history that we know very little about. At the turn of the century, Brisbane was innundated by rats infested with the bubonic plague. Many people were infected, and the government of the day did not cope well with managing and controlling the outbreak.

Issy is the main character, a 13 year old girl, forced to leave school and work as a maid to the Lewis family, who run an undertaker’s business. Issy’s family get caught up early on in the plague infection, but they also benefit, as Dad has a pack of terriers trained as ratcatchers. Rushby’s style is easy to read and her ability to combine historical facts through the narrative never makes the story seem expository or preachy.

Highly recommended.

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

cinnamon girlI found myself addicted to this book. I had to keep reading and the funny thing is that it was actually uncomfortable to read.

It’s hard to explain my reaction to this book. In effect, it’s no different from many YA stories – Alba, small town girl, finished Yr 12, the future stretches out with many possibilities and yet she is paralysed by uncertainty and fear.

Its the writing that makes it different. Makes it more. I felt uncomfortable reading it because Alba is uncomfortable. She no longer fits her skin, and yet, she’s not sure what’s happened and she’s in denial about everything.

The portrayal of the small rural Australian town is spot on. The feeling that everyone knows each other’s business and the annoyance of that but also the safety and the stability of that. The secondary characters – Alba’s mum, her high school friends and people around the town are described in rounded and realistic ways, and they are all great.

I haven’t mentioned Grady or Daniel. Two boys. Alba’s boys. One who has been with her throughout her entire life, and one who was dragged off when they were aged 10. When Daniel returns (and why he comes back is a whole other issue!) Alba has to confront a lot of stuff including the death of her father and what to do now school is done.

I rushed through this. But I loved it. I smirked and snorted, because seriously, the whole sub-plot involving the end of the world is hilarious and really well written.

Alba is a feisty girl, and even though she needs to make a few decisions, she doesn’t swoon or whine, although admittedly she does wallow… But that’s allowed, right?

Really strong follow-up to Life in Outer Space.

Tigerfish by David Metzenthen

tigerfish

What Mezenthen does with the voice of his main character and narrator Ryan is nothing short of brilliant. This kid knows his reality. He knows what he doesn’t have (privilege and easy success), but he is also very much aware of what he does have (supportive, loving family, a steady best friend, a genuine girl, the best dog in the world & the Western Bulldogs).

Ryan’s sense of self is strong, positive and totally sympathetic. His progression through the novel is tense and endearing. There are dark and scary moments, but there are also heart-felt, poignant ones too.

Readers are very soon conscious they are in the hands of an author in control of his story and a master of language and style.

Loved it.

Read from June 08 to 14, 2014. Review originally posted at Goodreads.

 

Intruder by Christine Bongers

intrudersChristine Bongers’ new novel develops the plot device of an intruder, not into a mystery or suspense narrative, but to a coming-of-age story. Fourteen year old Kat is about to be intruded upon by people and situations she does not want. Her life has been on hold since the death of her mother but grief is a finite excuse. Kat needs to move on, find friends, take risks and most importantly trust again. The catalyst of a stranger in her bedroom is just the fright she needs to stop the navel gazing and start living.

If only Kat’s progression could be easy. She fights the introduction of a protector – a drooling loveable dog called Hercules.  She resists the overtures of the re-establishment of a relationship from her mother’s best friend, Edie, and she manages to halt the progress of a possible romance with a new boy across the park, Al. Kat’s selfishness, her deep grief, her sense of betrayal from both her father and Edie are still fresh wounds. These flaws are balanced with Kat’s snarky humour, her burgeoning understanding about how insular she has allowed herself to become, and her growing sense that it’s not always about her.

I love the gritty realism that defines this author’s writing. Chris doesn’t shy away from dog drools and farts. Kat screams when unhinged, yells thoughtlessly, and acts like an angry teenager who believes the world is against her. It’s both maddening and totally understandable. The other characters in the book are depicted through Kat’s eyes, so we slowly come to see their true qualities as Kat does. Jimmy, dad, musician, absent father turned desperate dad, trying to give Kat the space she needs, but quickly running out of patience. Al, dog lover, science geek with his own story to share, who tells Kat a few home truths she’s not ready to hear. And the enigmatic Edie, whose unusual habits start to make sense as pieces of Kat’s life puzzle fall into place.

Intruder is smart and funny, with authentic characters and poignant moments of insight and affection. Highly recommended.

Pandora Jones: Admission by Barry Jonsberg

 

Pandora Jones Admission sm

 

We all know by now that Jonsberg writes well. But what he also does well is write across age groups and genres. His foray into dystopian fiction is a great addition to the growing Australian collection. Not that it feels all that Australian to be honest.

What is does feel though, is controlled and tense. Pandora is our view into this new world. But she recognises that her memories and her understanding aren’t necessarily reliable. She is curious by nature and suspicious by experience, and the reader learns more about The School and the rules as she does.

It’s best to read this novel without prior knowledge and go along for the ride. It’s a turbulent one and the ending is explosive. Fortunately number two is out later this year. I spoke to the man himself at the cbca conference, and he was reluctant to share any spoilers.

So if you are looking for an exciting narrative, full of mystery and suspense, as well as great writing and well developed characters, this could be the one for you.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

I have posted about wanting to read this book before. And now I have. Read it I mean. So here’s my review. It goes without saying that I loved it.

dreams of G & M

The scope of this series has always been ambitious and fantastical. The change in tone from book one to book two illustrated the author’s intent to keep the series moving forward, re-creating it, developing it, turning it into something even more.

‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’ continues this intent. There is more humour here (thank goodness for Zuzana & Mik), but also more grief and more heartache (aaw Ziri).

But there’s also more motivation, more detail about the worlds and their connection. There’s more strangeness and wonder and so much more love.

I am breathless with awe. I am singing its praises and celebrating its promise of life.

Loved it. If you have not read books one and two, get onto that right now. So you will be ready when number hits our shelves in April.

Review was originally posted at Goodreads. I love this cover, but I bet we (Australians) end up with this one>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>dreams of G & M 2