Archive for the ‘young adult’ Category

“Exceptional” is the sequel to the Sir Julius Vogel Awards finalist “Watched”, and continues the story of super-powered Prodigies Jason and Rory in their battle against the all-seeing Watchers.

While Rory pursues their leader, Chaos, in the Dark universe, Jason is forced into an uneasy alliance with AEGIS, a militarised intelligence agency that seems to know more about Prodigies than it should. A storm is coming.

Jason will determine its course, but there are truths waiting for Rory in the dark that will change everything. Both must decide where they stand before the storm breaks.

Exceptional: The Watchers Trilogy #2

Tihema Baker

Huia Press

Supplied by author

Reviewed by Jacqui Smith

This is the long-awaited sequel to Baker’s 2015 novel “Watched”. So, it’s superheroes again, and very much again. I’m not sure that there’s much new and interesting here. Baker introduces a second organisation, AEGIS, connected to the Five Eyes Network, and just as determined to control prodigies (his name for super-powered individuals) as the Watchers from book one, but run by secret government agencies. Which takes away some of the charm, I think. Bureaucrats are just no fun.
Meanwhile, our heroes just want to be free and to rescue their friends. Which is not going to be a simple exercise, because one of them is stuck in another universe, an upside-down where dark energy and dark matter dominate. Baker tosses a lot of physics technobabble around in this book, and I’m not convinced he understands the subject well enough to be convincing.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve had quite enough of super-heroes and comic book bad science, but I really did not enjoy this book. The action kept me reading, and I did finish it, but maybe I’m just too far removed from the target audience, because it was tough going.

An unexpected inheritance gives the Heffley family a chance to make major improvements to their home. But they soon find that construction isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When things get rough, will the Heffleys be able to stay…or will they be forced to move?

Wrecking Ball: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #14

Jeff Kinney

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Dylan Howell

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball is the 14th book in the bestselling series of kids fiction books written and illustrated by American author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney. It presents another thrilling compilation of events from the life of ‘Wimpy Kid’, Greg Heffley, who compiles dozens of anecdotal insights into the life of himself and his family with every novel. The series has been a success ever since 2004 when the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid (DOAWK) was released on kids’ website ‘FunBrain’ where it received 20 million reads. DOAWK ‘Wrecking Ball’ continues the success of this series in a hilarious new story.

In DOAWK ‘Wrecking Ball’ Greg Heffley and his family embark on a brand new adventure, after receiving an inheritance large enough to convince the Heffley’s to make some home improvements. Of course, hijinks ensue -Mould, rotting wood, rodents living where they shouldn’t be, and Greg is struggling to cope with the potential loss of his best friend, providing new material in another triumph of originality for the series. Which is at heart, a slice-of-life comedy series that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.

As a long time reader of these books, I’ve grown up with the DIAWK series, with Greg Heffley being one of the first protagonists I could ever relate to. Somehow, through over 15 years of writing, and drawing, and his audience of people like me growing up, Kinney manages to make me laugh every single time and I make sure to never miss any new novel. His books are like magic, with every new story he uses his wit and humour to stack up the pieces and jokes so expertly it’s mind blowing when he knocks them all down at the end and you feel like you’re watching the events on the page unfold for real.

More than once did I laugh out loud reading this, the 14th book in the series. These stories are timeless, endlessly original and enjoyable for any age. Diary of a Wimpy Kid deserves all the credit I can give, and this book is another perfect installment in the series that just won’t stop putting out knockout tales from the life of Greg Heffley. I can recommend this book for ages 7+. If you love David Walliams, or Roald Dahl, or if you’re a plain funny human being, I can easily say this explosive comedy novel is for you.

When the human creatures appeared, they ravaged the forests and hunted many birds to extinction. The flightless Striggs had only one option:

They went down, down under the ground . . . And it’s there, as you may have heard it whispered, that they still remain. Far below, in a place of stone and darkness . . .

Over thousands of years, they colonised a labyrinth of tunnels and caves, but even underground the Striggs are not safe: chemicals now pollute their water and a deadly sickness threatens the flock.

Even worse: an inquisitive young Strigg called Ellee Meddo discovers a human boy, trapped deep in a well. Humans are to be feared and saving him could mean travelling to the surface, a place of untold peril. What will Ellee decide to do?

A Place of Stone and Darkness

Chris Mousdale

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

It is argued that there are only 7 story archetypes: Rags to Riches, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, Rebirth, The Quest and Overcoming the Monster, so it is difficult to imagine there are an infinite number of ways to tell the same story. It is true. Some stories are too familiar, pale imitations to ones we have already read. Then there are stories that we think we know, and yet we do not.

A Place of Stone and Darkness follows the unexpected meeting of a young Strigg called Ellee Meddo and a Toppa called Blue. Deep below the earth’s surface they must overcome everything they have been taught about Monsters in order to save each other and everything they hold dear.

Mousdale’s first foray into Young Adult Literature could be read as a list of humanity’s crimes against nature, where our arrogance as taken us to the brink of extinction. It could also be read as the conflict within each one of us to honour our community without losing our own identity. But perhaps the best way to read it is that everything can change in a heartbeat if you are brave and kind, and even when you are afraid you do not give up hope. Mousdale’s original imagining of creatures below the earth, in a time we hope never happens, is embellished with his whimsical vocabulary and engaging imagery. A great read for those who like their adventure to quicken their pulse with each turned page.

Tracy Beaker is back, and she’s a mum now…

The Dumping Ground is far behind her, and Tracy Beaker has grown up, living on a tough housing estate with her daughter, Jess.

This time, it’s Jess telling the story.

Jess looks like a mini version of her mum- but she’s not quite as fiery. Well, not often. Jess and Tracy are living a hand-to-mouth existence on their estate, until Tracy meets up with someone from her past and their whole lives are turned upside down…

My Mum Tracy Beaker is a fantastic new story, reuniting readers with a much-loved old friend. Just like old times, it’s packed full of illustrations from Nick Sharratt throughout.

My Mum Tracy Beaker

Jacqueline Wilson

Doubleday

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Even the redoubtable Tracy Beaker can get stuck in a relationship that is not all it should be. We meet Tracy and her daughter Jessica when Tracy has just started a new relationship with the wealthy and handsome ex-footballer Sean. But Jessica isn’t convinced that Sean is fond of Tracy’s famously independent ways and no-filter mouth. Tracy has to battle through finding and losing, then finding, love, finding and losing jobs and looking after her daughter with every fibre of her being. A heart-warming story of what really matters in life.

I wish I wasn’t the weirdest sixteen-year-old guy in the universe.’

Felix would love to have been a number. Numbers have superpowers and they’re safe – any problem they might throw up can be solved.

‘If I were a five, I’d be shaped like a pentagon … there’d be magic in my walls, safety in my angles.’

People are so much harder to cope with. At least that’s how it seems until Bailey Hunter arrives at school. Bailey has a stutter, but he can make friends and he’s good at judo. And Bailey seems to have noticed Felix:

‘Felix keeps to himself mostly, but there’s something about him that keeps drawing me in.’

Both boys find they’re living in a world where they can’t trust anyone, but might they be able to trust each other, with their secrets, their differences, themselves?

Invisibly Breathing

Eileen Merriman

Penguin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Piper Mejia

Each generation grows up in a world that has changed since their parents were their age. When we are children we make a promise that we will be better parents than our own, a promise we forget as easily as we forget what it was like to be young. In this ‘coming of age’ novel, Eileen Merriman explores how much things have changed (what we will accept) and yet how much has stayed the same (people can be so cruel).

Invisibly Breathing is written from the point of view of a young boy, Felix, at a moment in time when figuring himself out includes figuring out love. For Felix, school and family mean dealing with the ripple effect of bullying and dangerous secrets before someone gets hurt.

Eileen Merriman has a whimsical style of writing, her characters are both quirky and familiar individuals; a snapshot of the youth of today’s society. This is a novel that will appeal to readers who enjoy the realism that a good ending doesn’t have to be happily ever after.

An all-new collection of short stories from the world of Magnus Chase!

How well do you know the nine Norse realms? Do you get all those heims mixed up?

Well, this collection of rollicking short stories – each set in a different world and told by a different character from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series – will help straighten you out.

And even if it doesn’t, you’ll enjoy reading about how Alex saves Amir’s pants, Samirah plucks a giant’s harp, Mallory teaches a dragon how to throw down insults, and much more.

Just watch out for Thor, who is running through the whole thing and raising quite a stink . . .

Magnus Chase: 9 From the Nine Worlds

Rick Riordan

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

I get the feeling that Rick Riordan had these spare chapters that didn’t make the cut….But they are entertaining and have plenty of trademark snark.

Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, Helheim. Are you ready for mad shopping skillz, dragon insulting and seven other adventures from our favourite characters from the Magnus Chase series? Be nice to think that Hearthstone, Blitzen, Samirah, Alex, Jack, T.J., Mallory and Halfborn could stave off Ragnarok until Magnus gets back from holiday but maybe not…

Seven-year-old Amanda Wilson dreams of training her own wild pony, just as her sisters have done.

Then comes the chance she has been waiting for — a muster of beautiful Welsh ponies that have run wild in the hills.

Among them is Chessy, a striking stallion, and just the right size for Amanda. But small doesn’t equal easy, and first Amanda must prove she has what it takes by training a stroppy mare from Pony Club. Will Chessy ever be safe enough to join Amanda on her crazy adventures?

Vicki and Kelly must help Amanda to win her pony’s trust in this engaging story of perseverance and reward inspired by the Wilson Sisters’ early years.

Chessy, The Welsh Pony: Showtym Adventures #4

Kelly Wilson

Puffin

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Another in the series by Kelly Wilson of the Wilson sisters who starred in Keeping up with The Kaimanawas. A family who have devoted their life to horses, show jumping and advocating for wild horses around the world, taming and raising awareness about the plight of the American Mustangs and Australian Brumbies and specifically the beautiful wild Kaimanawa horses near their home. They also run Showtym Camps, riding camps for young riders.

The sisters rescue and tame wild horses and this book, written at a young adult level is loosely based around a story from Amanda Wilson’s childhood.

It’s not the size of the pony in the fight but the size of the fight in the pony. Chessy is a beautiful stallion just the right size for the seven year old Amanda to train, but he has been running wild most of his life. If Amanda is to save Chessy and train him for a forever home with a kind family,  first her parents want her to prove herself by training Magic a very difficult mare from the Pony Club. It’s a big ask.