Archive for the ‘action’ Category

Zeus has punished his son Apollo–god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more–by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers? After experiencing a series of dangerous–and frankly, humiliating–trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships–with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

It’s all about Apollo. Apollo is still banished from Olympus, still in the body of a pimply teen called Lester Papadopoulos and still on his quest to find the oracle that may have the answers to help him get back into Zeus’ good books. It’s all about Apollo. Accompanied by his friends he is traveling the mid-west, keeping an eye out for and battling monsters sent to destroy them all. It’s all about Apollo but not everyone loves the coolest of gods, ok, former god, and wants to help him as a matter of course because… he’s Apollo. It’s all about Apollo, however he may be beginning to just slightly be aware, that demi-gods and humans are not as, well, disposable, as he has thought up till now. It’s all about Apollo but in fact he is getting quite fond of these beings who are brave and loyal. It’s all about Apollo, but maybe getting in a big bowl of popcorn and slamming a few cold ones down as you watch a battle, where armies are tearing each other up in your name, from the comfort of Olympus, may not have been…..cool.

It’s all about Apollo but maybe it can be about others too?

 

Before they became the most famous Ranger in the land and the hard-working Ranger Commandant, Halt and Crowley were young friends determined to change the world.

The scheming Baron Morgarath is drawing other power-hungry knights and barons to his banner. King Oswald is wasting away and, if gossip can be believed, Prince Duncan is causing havoc in the north.

Halt and Crowley set out to find the prince, uncover the truth, and re-form the weakened Ranger Corps. Once-loyal Rangers are scattered across the country, and it will take determination, skill, and leadership if they’re to come together as one. Can the Rangers regain the trust of the Kingdom, or will the cunning Morgarath outwit them at every turn?

the-tournament-at-gorlan

Random House

supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

Flanagan continues to mine his “Rangers” world; only now he’s digging into prequel territory.

The flaws in his world-building are still evident – coffee ought to be a rare luxury in any pseudo-medieval world unless the setting is very close to its point of origin (or there are improbable amounts of magic messing around with transport and economics).

I keep wishing he’d chuck out this background and start again doing a proper job of it, because he’s otherwise not a bad writer.

The Tournament at Gorlan fairly rollicks along, and I have to say I quite enjoyed it. The story is that the young Prince has be taken captive, and an imposter is stirring up trouble in his name, while the old King is being slowly poisoned in mind as well as body. Our rangers make it their business to get together and put things to rights.

Which they do, culminating in the events of the titular tournament (which I must admit felt more like a modern re-enactment than the real thing, but that’s Flanagan).

The reality is that the majority of his young readers will not even notice the mistakes that annoy me, and this is probably the best of his work that I’ve read so far. Which is as close to a recommendation that you’re going to get.

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the-sword-of-summer

I must confess that I haven’t actually read any of Riordan’s work before, although I had seen the movie adaptation of Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. Which hadn’t really impressed me, so I wasn’t expecting a lot from this novel. But I soon discovered otherwise. What didn’t come through in the movie is the sheer exuberance of Riordan’s prose, and his truly wicked sense of humour. This book was fun!

There were a few things that didn’t sit well with me – the convoluted logic it took to get a Muslim girl to become a Valkyrie for example (just because Muslim heroines are fashionable doesn’t mean that every story has to have one). And I think that the choice of Boston as the centre of Yggdrasil and the connection to the other worlds was yet another case of “everything must happen in America even if it doesn’t make much sense”. Personally, I would have found Iceland a bit more interesting. Or even Norsewood.

But Riordan is good enough that this reader can ignore such matters and enjoy the story. It does begin in Boston where Magnus encounters a bridge, a sword, and a fire giant. And dies. And the story continues in Hotel Valhalla. Much of the humour devolves from the collision between Norse myth and the modern world, and it worked for me. Much better than other takes on modernising Norse myth that I’ve encountered, and Riordan’s version is much truer to the actual mythology than, for example, the Marvel version.

The main criticism others have made is that Magnus is too much like Percy and Jason. I didn’t have that issue, because I hadn’t read the other books. However, I would suggest that if Riordan is to silence his critics, he might be advised to try something totally different after finishing this series – something that doesn’t involve mythology, and has a markedly dissimilar lead character. Maybe a science fiction series with a female protagonist. As for me, I got a lot of enjoyment from this book, and I’m sure many teens would enjoy it too.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

all black

personal

The President of France is shot at from ¾ of a mile away but a sheet of bullet proof glass saves him. Only a few snipers worldwide could have made that shot, only one an American – John Kott, recently released from prison after serving a fifteen-year sentence.

The G8 nations are about to hold a summit in London and they’re not keen to have a sniper with incredible aim roaming free. International intelligence agencies are scrambling to find and capture him and have identified potential suspects but the bullet fired was American made; leaving Kott as the likely culprit.

The Americans call in Jack Reacher, he arrested Kott sixteen years ago and they’re hopeful he can find him again. This is Reacher though, so   they assign a female analyst, Casey Nice, to accompany him and report on his movements.

The action takes place in the U.S., France, and Britain and Reacher gets   the best of his handlers, as well as the bad guys. It’s a fun read that moves along at a very fast pace. It took me a while to get in to it but as there was a lot of dialogue, but by the time he encountered the East Europeans it was action packed and classic Reacher. A good read for fans!

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Stoker Munro, Survivor

Some people go through war with nothing major befalling them. Others include Stoker Lloyd William Munro, HMAS Perth. He survived two shipwrecks (once by the Japanese, once by the US Navy), several Japanese prisoner of war camps and the infamous Burma Railway. Naturally, we need to understand how someone can survive this chain of harrowing circumstances.

Spiteri interviewed Munro approximately 60 years after the war, with the story starting in mid-February 1942 and ending approximately three years later. The story is mainly told in the first person, with Munro recounting life as a POW under the Japanese. Conditions were highly variable, depending exactly where a prisoner was: Changi in Singapore was quite good until late in the war, as was Cambodia and Saigon. I got the impression that generally speaking, the Japanese allowed the POWs a fair degree of liberty if they were involved in work gangs, if only because of the paucity of Europeans in SE Asia.

Munro seems to have accepted what was happening to him as not being personal, but naturally he was upset by the loss of many friends, most of whom died from disease – tropical medicine was still not great during the 1940s, especially without modern drugs. He was also determined to return home. This determination helped him survive the two shipwrecks, especially the second. Surprisingly, Munro persisted with the RAN even after being shipwrecked a third time (this time by the RAN).

I enjoyed this book, with its harrowing tale told simply. It was passed around at work, and given good comments by all who read it. Well done, David Spiteri.

HarperCollins

Supplied by HarperCollins New Zealand

Reviewed by Steve

A Fatal Tide

Gallipoli, 1915, and Thomas Clare is hunting the murderer of his father, a rural Queensland policeman. The trail began in Barambah Aboriginal Mission Station and continued to Turkey, and the only way for Thomas and his friend Snow to follow it was to enlist. And the story of Breaker Morant is bound up in it too. As is a piece of evidence probably written by Lord Kitchener.

Sailah deftly weaves a tale of deduction, replete with homages to Arthur Conan Doyle, misdirection and political military shenanigans going back to the Second Boer War. His characters are a believable bunch of youthful Australians with a scattering of imperial nationalities thrown in. The war and the fighting serve only as a backdrop to the story, not its central theme.

I enjoyed this story, which was a page-turner, with the name of the murderer not revealed until the final act. There is an enjoyable subplot concerning whether Breaker Morant acted under written or unwritten orders prior to his court-martial and execution. Those interested in his case should check any of a number of on-line encyclopaedias to confirm details. I have the impression the story is the beginning of a series of adventures featuring Thomas and Snow.

Bantam

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Review by Steve