Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category

After a daring chase across the globe, Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland have brought Clara’s scientist father’s secret formula to Westralia. Here, much of Australia is simply too hot to be habitable by day. Duke Malcolm, of the Imperial Security Service, transports Claras rebel-father to a prison in Eastern Australia, hoping to bait her into attempting a rescue. Clara looks to Tim for help, only to find he has fled a racist incident into the desert. She takes a burrowing machine know as a “steam mole” in search of him. The two head to Eastern Australia, where they discover an invading force with plans to take Westralia.

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Published by Pyr

Purchased from Bookwyrms (some time ago)

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

This is the sequel to Dave’s young adult novel Cuttlefish which I reviewed recently, and features the continuing adventures of Tim Barnabas and Clara Calland. Tim, along with the crew of the Cuttlefish, is stuck in Westralia, while the submarine is repaired. He takes a job working on the steam moles, digging tunnels to the mines north of the Tropic of Capricorn where it has become so hot that the trains must go underground. Only it all goes wrong, and he escapes into the desert… Meanwhile, Clara’s mother is poisoned by an Imperial agent and is sick in hospital. Clara learns that her father is incarcerated in Imperial territory in Queensland, and sets about attempting a rescue. When she finds Tim is missing, she steals a scout steam mole and follows him out into the desert.

I think you can see where this is going. You get a rollicking steampunk adventure, with a touch of romance, set in the Australian desert. It’s a lot of fun. The star of the show, however, is not the characters, but the steam mole itself. Dave does a masterwork job of creating this wonderful steampunk device, making it thoroughly believable.

The story ends happily for all concerned, save the villains, who get what they deserve. Perhaps it’s a bit simplistic for some, but I found it a good read, and one I can happily recommend to young and old, especially if they are fascinated by unusual mechanical devices.

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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

WARP 3

I enjoyed Colfer’s Artemis Fowl stories (Yes, I know they’re fairy stories, they’re written for kids, and you know perfectly well that I don’t care, because they’re that good), so I thought I might try this. Unfortunately it’s the third book of a trilogy – which rather threw me in the deep end of the wormhole, but Colfer was clever enough to include a brief “Need to Know” introduction, which explains the background. And a bizarre background it is. WARP stands for Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme, which is what you think it is… and not. Because Professor Charles Smart figured out how to mess with quantum physics to create wormholes into the past – and when the FBI found out about it they decided to use it to stash important witnesses back in history. But Professor Smart didn’t really understand what he was doing, nor does anyone else, and now he’s gone missing… And then there’s the unpredictable weird stuff that keeps happening to people who pass through the wormhole. You can see the potential for trouble. And then, Colfer throws in a couple of clever kids to save the world from a psychotic Victorian villain, who has been let loose to cause havoc across history.

As you might imagine, this book is a whole lot of fun. Colfer has a seriously warped sense of humour, and a talent for action. The youthful lead characters here are well-crafted (and more sympathetic than Artemis Fowl ever was). The villain is an absolute nutter, no bones about it. As for how it all works out in the end… very clever, Mr Colfer.

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

th game of lives

This book is the third novel in James Dashner’s “Mortality Doctrine” series, and the climax. It concludes the series in a satisfying way that is wonderful to read about. I cannot stress enough about the importance of reading these books in order. There is a lot to keep track of, and lots of things to think about while reading the book, and it will get confusing. Even more so if you don’t read in order.

The story continues following Sarah, Michael, and Bryson, and their fight to defeat Kaine and the VNS. In the last book the three friends became suspicious about the VNS, and their suspicions led them into strife and the partnership with the VNS was terminated. Yet the trouble continued, Kaine’s mortality doctrine programme has been uploading more tangents (AI programs) into more humans, and the world is slowly losing balance. It’s now up to the three friends and the resistance force to defeat Kaine and the VNS, and destroy the doctrine once and for all…

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a wonderful, suspenseful read that I couldn’t put down. Although I hadn’t read the books in a while, the story gave light exposition that told me everything I needed to know to be involved. The action was tense, the emotions were heavy, and it really was just another wonderful Dashner bestseller.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. James Dashner has produced another brilliant work, I recommend this book to anyone who is already familiar with the series, and is ready for the third one. Or for anyone who enjoys well-written, action-packed stories with great design.

Corgi

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

Lair of the Leopard

When I finished the previous Bear Grylls book Rage Of The Rhino I couldn’t wait until Lair of the Leopard arrived, and let me just say it didn’t disappoint.

Once again we meet Beck Granger, the orphaned child pursuing one goal; to save the world from evil corporations poisoning it. When we last saw Beck he was declared dead, and the LUMOS Corporation forgot all about him. Little did they know, he was climbing across the Nepalese mountains to take them down once and for all.

Bears Grylls has proved again and again that he can survive the wild. Now he has proven he can write a good book too! Bear writes a story with description; the anxiety of the characters’ problems makes the books addictive and you will be unable to put one down once you start reading. Bear’s knowledge of the wild is immeasurable, and he incorporates this into his books as much as he can. When the characters face a problem, it’s almost always life-threatening, and as they get weaker in their journeys the pressure grows on anyone reading, giving it a sense of reality unforgettable to the reader.

This book is amazing, Bear Grylls should be proud of the work he produced. I should mention that this is a series, and it is a series that must be read in order. But that isn’t a problem, all nine books are brilliant, and they eventually reach a climax sure to fill you with joy. This book, and all other Bear Grylls books, is stupendous, and I greatly recommend reading this series.

Red Fox

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

rage of he rhino

After discovering how excellent the last book in this series (Strike of the Shark) was, I doubted that Rage of the Rhino could be an improvement. How wrong I was.

This book continues the story of Beck Granger, a young hero who is determined to continue his parents’ legacy to save the world from pollution, poachers, and greedy companies that would do anything to make more money. After his adventure in the last book, Beck is wary about leaving the home. But disaster strikes when an e-mail shows up from an old friend of his parents. She is asking him to come to Africa so he can make a SAVE-THE-RHINOS campaign to discourage people who kill rhinos for their keratin and ivory. But it turns out all is not as it seems in Africa.

Like most Bear Grylls books, Rage of the Rhino provides life-saving information. Because this book is based in a safari setting, the tips include things like: that you can find safe drinking water from squeezing elephant dung, or that zebra stomachs make a great insulant for food.

This is an amazing book, the characters are relateable, the concept is understandable. It’s a simple story with a brilliant plot. I cant wait to read Bear Grylls’ next book!

Doubleday

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan

Review of Strike of the Shark