A book of wit, wisdom and golden tickets from the world’s greatest storyteller – Roald Dahl.

From advice on finding magic and thinking nice thoughts, to the importance of frequent whizzpopping, the writing of Roald Dahl is filled with wit and wisdom and advice for little people growing up – and big people growing down.

How not to be a Twit and other Wisdom from Roald Dahl

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

The audience for this book is unclear from the start. Whether it was an attempt to reach an audience of adults nostalgic about their favourite Roald Dahl, or to entice younger readers to give Roald Dahl stories a go, this book missed its mark twice.

The extended explanations for each section (starting with the introduction) makes a mockery of Dahl’s wit for, though the book may be attempting to channel his linguistic dexterity, it fails. Then when it comes to the division of the book, once again any adult who has read Roald Dahl, who fell in love with his stories, would be disappointed, and those who are unfamiliar with his writing would be put off from every cracking a spine. Both the sections and the selections of Dahl witticism are shallow and unimaginative, in complete disrespect of the person they are supposed to be honouring with this publication. For someone who has read every Roald Dahl novel, and a number of his short stories, it was confusing why there were numerous quotes from some stories but none for others. Even more confusing were the quotes chosen, many did not hold much (if any) wisdom and often did not seem to fit within the section it was placed.

I am not against showing insight into an author’s cannon of work (I love ‘The Wisdom according to Pooh’) but this is not that, if that was the intention. My suggestion is that if you love the work of Roald Dahl go read your favourite story again or try one you missed. If you have never read Roald Dahl my favourite was James and the Giant Peach.

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From the top ten bestselling author of Middle School and I Funny comes a brilliantly original new adventure series, jam-packed with action, humour, and heart!

The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and travelling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear on the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives.

They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure-hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents – and find out if they’re still alive.

Treasure Hunters: Treasure Hunters #1

James Patterson with Chris Grabenstein

Arrow

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Bick, Beck, Tommy and Storm are searching for their parents who have gone missing while on a treasure hunting job. The Kidd family are full time treasure hunters but not all is as it seems and treasure hunting can get you in a heap of trouble. There are Caribbean pirates, gold, cryptic clues and an evil rival to contend with in the search. And then there is Uncle Timothy. Do they dare trust him? How much and is he really their uncle and how is he connected to the CIA? Is he all he seems? A cracking good story told in the “children out of any parental control” style of  the books I grew up with; if Arthur Ransome, the Famous Five, Pippy Longstocking and Rick Riordan had a baby…..

On an ordinary morning in her village, Talia Ridgetree has no idea the adventure she is going to be captured on and taken for, nor does she have any inkling to the looming mystery of her past. With the cast of a powerful spell from the evil forces of the Blood Wizard, Talia must embark on a journey with an assorted cast of companions, from the village she calls home, to an elven forest. In the company of a pompous wizard, a strong woodsman, an herbal master, and a royal elven wizard, Talia finds herself in strange lands among strange magic.

As the stonebearer of the Talisman of Hope, Talia must find her inner strength and courage to tolerate the magic and mysticism around her. Questions assail her of who she calls family, who she can trust, and what she can ultimately believe. In the face of pending war and tragedy, Talia struggles to be true to her heart and soul as she treks to faraway lands in search of answers, all the meanwhile fending off the wickedness of the Blood Wizard, battling unimaginable beasts, overcoming biases, and freeing captured creatures.

The Stonemason’s Curse: Talisman of Hope Book One

Janet Bradley

Published by Austin Macauley Publishers

Supplied by Austin Macauley

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

I did try. I got about half-way through this work before I simply gave up. I found myself looking wistfully at the to-be-read pile, and then at this book with distaste… altogether too often. So, the challenge for me as a reviewer is to figure out just what was so very wrong with it. And it seems to me that there are four main issues.

First, world design. This is a very Tolkien-esque high fantasy, with elves, little people, and so on. But where was the map? There has to be a map. It also felt very derivative. Changing a few race names isn’t enough to create an original and vibrant world. That said, there were some interestingly dangerous monsters… the Stonemason and the poisonous Sillatour in particular.

Second, the plot, such as it was. It was very linear, essentially a chase sequence. But all the locations seemed oddly close together. I really would have liked to have seen a map – it’s a staple of the genre, for good reason. It also felt odd that the principle MacGuffin, the talisman, was introduced as simply sitting on a shelf in the wizard Brymble’s house, among a row of orbs (who knows what happened to the rest of them).

Third, there are the characters, especially the elven prince Ivus. I don’t mind a bit of romance in my fantasy, but this character is an arrogant lecher chasing every skirt he sees, including one of the party members… and he’s meant to be a good guy! Many of the party were undeveloped, and lacking in personality. Even Talia, the lead character, seems more of a petulant teen than anything else. Oh, and more female characters in the party would have helped the dynamic work a whole lot better.

Fourth, there’s the actual writing. I can forgive a lot if a book reads well, but this didn’t. On a very basic level there were the missing commas, the poor punctuation of speech, and even the occasional spelling mistake. More importantly the choice of words was often stilted, and it lacked the rhythm and flow that characterises good prose.

There is quite possibly a decent fantasy tale buried in this novel somewhere, but it’s struggling to get out. A good solid rewrite, losing about half the verbiage would help; as would a hard editing to find and fix all the errors. I can’t really recommend the work, but you never know, it might be just me.

In this exciting sci fi graphic novel, Helen is kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas and finds herself in the year 2355. Humankind has been enslaved by giant ‘Peace Balls’ – and Helen holds the keys to their destruction . . .

Kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas, Helen is thrust into the year 2355 — a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds.

The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal — to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how.

Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future?

An electrifying graphic novel by award-winning authors.

Helen and the GoGo Ninjas

Ant Sang and Michael Bennett

Illustrations by Ant Sang

Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan Howell

‘’Helen and the gogo ninjas’ is a 2018 graphic novel by co-authors Ant Sang and Michael Bennett. This novel tells a zany time-travel adventure with a crazy dystopian future and a dark truth about what price peace comes with.

Kidnapped by time-travelling ‘go-go ninjas’, Helen is brought to the year 2355 where she discovers that mankind has been enslaved by floating ‘peace-balls’ and these ninjas believe that she knows how to save the world.

I enjoyed this graphic novel. As an avid comic book fan I don’t always get the opportunity to enjoy an illustrated text that has a fresh idea. I can safely say I have never read a book like this. How often do you have an apocalyptic, time-travel action novel? Even though it was a short read, it provided a compelling story with excellent drawings with vivid and distinct images that leave a lot to the imagination. The story moved quickly but gave enough dialogue to keep me completely in time with the events in the story. There was not a moment when I was confused.

I would recommend this as a light read or to help a child get interested in reading. I certainly enjoyed it, however I would consider the age of a potential reader  as at points the action can get mildly violent or grim. So if you aren’t comfortable with blood and the idea of dismemberment or slavery, this may not be the book for you.  Read this book with caution.

That being said, I went back to read this book several times, the story and pacing was so light it was easy to pick up, but seemingly impossible to put down because the events happen so fluidly.

Dylan Howell

The incredible story of Lyra Belacqua will begin in La Belle Sauvage – the first volume of The Book of Dust. Now you have the opportunity to revisit her adventures in Northern Lights, with this graphic novel adaptation of a masterpiece, which comes to life with incredible full-colour art. Follow Lyra’s story once again in a way you’ve never experienced it before, as the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle – a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armoured bears. Lyra hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, never suspecting the shocking truth, that she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle. This edition combines all three illustrated volumes of the story, now available for the very first time in hardback.

Northern Lights – The Graphic Novel

Philip Pullman

adapted by Stéphane Melchior, art by Clément Oubrerie, translated by Anne Eaton

Doubleday

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

The publication of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights as a graphic novel was inevitable. The book had been published in several languages as well as being made into a film. Surprisingly, the graphic novel was initially French and required retranslation back into English. For those who are wondering why retranslate and not just slip Pullman’s dialogue into the speech bubbles – don’t go there. It’s the arcane worlds of publishing and translation.

To answer the obvious questions, it sticks to the story and to story order. The original 450 pages have been reduced to 280. Considering “a picture is worth a thousand words”, this isn’t a reduction in length and points to the eloquent sparsity of Pullman’s work. It had been quite a while since I read Northern Lights (or watched The Golden Compass), that re-reading the graphic novel wasn’t a chore.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a graphic novel is the artwork, and Clément Oubrerie has done an excellent job. The style is suggestive of drawings by early teens, as opposed to the hyperclean comics of DC and Marvel. The colours are subdued, like those of a Northern Europe autumn. Mercifully, he has eschewed the bright ink of Asterix and Lucky Luke for dull pencil. Melchior has kept the dialogue balloons small and ownership obvious.

While the original version of this story was the text novel, this graphic novel was as satisfying. Plus it is encouraging me to try the French version. Definitely worthwhile.

The publication of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights as a graphic novel was inevitable. The book had been published in several languages as well as being made into a film. Surprisingly, the graphic novel was initially French and required retranslation back into English. For those who are wondering why retranslate and not just slip Pullman’s dialogue into the speech bubbles – don’t go there. It’s the arcane worlds of publishing and translation.

To answer the obvious questions, it sticks to the story and to story order. The original 450 pages have been reduced to 280. Considering “a picture is worth a thousand words”, this isn’t a reduction in length and points to the eloquent sparsity of Pullman’s work. It had been quite a while since I read Northern Lights (or watched The Golden Compass), that re-reading the graphic novel wasn’t a chore.

Perhaps the most important aspect of a graphic novel is the artwork, and Clément Oubrerie has done an excellent job. The style is suggestive of drawings by early teens, as opposed to the hyperclean comics of DC and Marvel. The colours are subdued, like those of a Northern Europe autumn. Mercifully, he has eschewed the bright ink of Asterix and Lucky Luke for dull pencil. Melchior has kept the dialogue balloons small and ownership obvious.

While the original version of this story was the text novel, this graphic novel was as satisfying. Plus it is encouraging me to try the French version. Definitely worthwhile.

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blakwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid

Hexed: The Witch Hunter #1

Michelle Kays

Corgi Children’s

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

And it was all going so well. Indigo Blackwood is on the cheerleading team and has a devastatingly good looking football playing boyfriend. As far as teenage high school social status goes, she has it made. But then her Wiccan mother is murdered; she finds out she is supposed to be a witch; a tall dark stranger starts meddling in her life and the ancient book her family were entrusted with “The Witch Hunters Bible” goes missing; as a bunch of very bad spell casters want more power for themselves and will happily go through Indi, her family and friends, to get it.

Excellent read with likeable characters and believable dialogue.  I look forward to more of this world.  Recommended  for teens.

E L James revisits the world of Fifty Shades with a deeper and darker take on the love story that has enthralled millions of readers around the globe.

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian

EL James

Vintage Books

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Donna

Another amazing book by EL James.

Having read the original trilogy (from Anastasia perspective ), I found this book interesting. Hearing the story from Christian’s point of view has provided more in-depth understanding of the history, emotions and greater perspectives of the characters’, especially Christian’s.

The book follows the same time frames as the original trilogy. I look forward to the next instalment.

I would recommend this book. Especially to Fifty Shades of Grey fans.