Book Review: The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre – Gail Carson Levine – The Two Princesses of Bamarre #0.5 – HarperCollins – Published 2 May 2017

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Synopsis

Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Lakti—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, whom she knows to be weak and cowardly.

But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Lakti-born. She is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti power, Perry must free her people from tyranny.

My thoughts

Achingly gorgeous, this is a tale of courage, family, love, loyalty, and a dangerous quest for freedom.

The name Gail Carson Levine evokes strong memories – my first discovery of her beautiful stories, an eternal love for her wonderful characters, sharing her books with other readers, and rereading the tales many, many times over. Of all her books, The Two Princesses of Bamarre was always my favourite, so let’s just say I was completely thrilled that there was to be a new book, a prequel to this wonderful story. Starting The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre I was both excited and cautious – could this story possibly live up to the wonder I feel when reading The Two Princesses? At first, no, it could never have that sparkle of first discovery, but this new story shares all the same wonder, vibrant character, clever storytelling, and magic as the original, and by the end I was just as in love with this book as I am with The Two Princesses of Bamarre.

Perry is the daughter of Lord and Lady Tove – a true Lakti in strength and ability and courage. She can run and fight better than all of her peers. But when she discovers that she is actually Bamarre, stolen from her true family, her eyes are opened to the treatment of the Bamarre and how, with a little courage, freedom could be theirs.

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Book Review: Suri’s Wall

Suri's Wall

Suri’s Wall – Lucy Estela, illustrated by Matt Ottley – Penguin Books Australia – Published 26 August 2015

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Synopsis

Eva squeezed Suri’s hand. “What’s there? What can you see?”

“What can I see?” Suri looked out over the wall. “Oh, it’s beautiful, let me tell you all about it.”

A moving tale of the power of the human spirit.

My thoughts

This is an incredibly powerful book.

I went into the book knowing very little about it. I had not even read the blurb. And I think that was the best way to read it. So, if you want to go and find a copy, snuggle down, enjoy the story and then come back and read my review, go ahead. I’ll wait….

Suri’s Wall has been nominated for CBCA’s Book of the Year in 2016, and for very good reason. It is a particularly powerful and moving story. It speaks volumes and yet is gentle and quiet in conveying a message of hope and beauty in times of pain and loss.

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Book Review: Skyfire

Skyfire

Skyfire – Michael Adams – Scholastic Press Australia – Published July 2016

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Synopsis

Seven talented and driven teenagers from around the world have been selected by trillionaire Internet King Felix Scott to form an elite group of young people committed to help make a difference in the world. They meet at the ceremony announcing their selection, then their lives are bound together on a quest as they come to realise that each of them has been sent part of a code that predicts an unknown disaster.

My thoughts

Skyfire begins The Seven Signs series where seven young people are entangled in a dangerous and compelling mystery that puts the whole world in danger. It is fun, fast-paced and full of action.

Seven young people have entered a competition that is set to change their lives. As the winners, they are granted the chance to work with the internet and technology king Felix Scott. They are gifted the latest in phone technology, rides aboard space-skimmers and even one million dollars. But as they are named winners they become targets for a cruel and dangerous plot to destroy the world. They each receive a sign, which together they must decode before terror is unleashed on the world.    

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Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Pony DetectivesI would like to welcome author Soraya Nicholas to my blog. Soraya is the author of the recently released children’s books Pony Detectives and Gymkhana Hijinks, the first two books in the new Starlight Stable series.

This is a wonderful series for young readers, particularly if they are horse crazy. Set in the Australian bush, this is a lovely addition to all those horse stories that young readers just love.

Poppy has always wanted her own pony, and her dream finally comes true when her aunt and uncle present her with the most gorgeous pony, Crystal. But joining Poppy at her aunt and uncle’s stables are two other girls who have also been gifted their own ponies. These girls form a wonderful friendship, take care of their ponies and even set out to solve the mystery of the horses that have disappeared from neighbouring properties.

You can find my full review of Pony Detectives here.


Soraya-Finn

Meet Soraya.

Soraya is pictured here with her own horse, Finn. 

I recently had the chance to meet and work with Soraya when she visited the school’s library and conducted a writing workshop with some lucky students. Soraya shared with us some of her writing tips, her inspiration for her stories and the publishing process. She has graciously offered to answer a few more of my questions so that I can share them with my readers here.     Continue reading

Book Review: Pony Detectives

Pony Detectives

Pony Detectives – Soraya Nicholas – Starlight Stables #1 – Penguin Australia – Published 28 March 2016

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Synopsis

Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch . . . Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?

When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?

My thoughts

Love horses and dream of owning your own pony or escaping to riding camp for the summer? Well, Poppy answers yes to all three, and this summer her wishes are about to come true.

Poppy is going to stay with her aunt and uncle at their riding camp for the holidays and they have a very special surprise in store for her – her very own pony. But she will have to share this privilege with two other girls. When horses are stolen from neighbouring properties, Poppy and her two new friends decide it is up to them to keep their own ponies safe and maybe even rescue the missing horses.

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Book Review: Wonder

Wonder

Wonder – R.J Palacio – Knopf – Published 14 February 2012

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Synopsis

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

My thoughts

I have to admit when I heard about the hype, the accolades surrounding Wonder I was a little sceptical. Sure, maybe it would be a good book, but really, that great? I am very happy to report that it deserves every kind word and more. I surprised myself by really, really liking it. I fell in love with the characters little by little, I got more involved in their stories with every page and I even teared up a few times and was celebrating at the end. This is a book that will become a class reader, be pushed by booksellers and librarians alike, and top best-seller lists. But it will also be enjoyed by the children for whom it was written, and that is most important of all.      Continue reading

Book Review: Orion and the Dark

Orion and the Dark

Orion and the Dark – Emma Yarlett – Templar Publishing – Published 1 May 2014

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Synopsis

Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure.

My thoughts

This book is wonderfully charming. I sat down to cover it for the library and, opening it up, could not stop reading. Every page is full of humour and surprises. Even the title page is clever and funny. Orion and the dark 3
Orion and the Dark is written in notebook form. Orion tells the reader that he is afraid of a lot of things, but is especially scared of the dark. So when Dark comes for a visit and Orion is more scared than ever before, he is a little reluctant to go on an adventure with Dark. But adventure they do, and Orion soon discovers that the dark can be a lot more fun than he ever expected. 
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Book Review: Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous

Bala-Gala

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous – Gita V. Reddy – Published 7 August 2015

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Synopsis

Bala-Gala the Brave and Dangerous is a bed time story for kids, and also a first-read for early readers.
Bala-Gala lives in the forest of Gamba-Bamba, and must save himself from the crocodile, Brammy-Gommy, who lives in the River Kanga.
But who is Bala-Gala? Is he is deer, a tiger, a dinosaur, or a dragon? The answer will delight kids, as will the story. 

My thoughts

I was asked to read and review this children’s picture book. It is a clever and sweet story about a child’s playful imagination.

Bala-Gala is brave and dangerous. When he walks through the forest as a deer his friends hide from his large, earth-shaking steps. When he is a tiger he can scare the nasty crocodile. And he loves being a dinosaur so he can carry his friends all over the forest. But when a monster threatens the peace of the forest it will be up to Bala-Gala to save his friends.

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Book Review: The Duck and the Darklings

Duck and the Darklings

The Duck and the Darklings – Glenda Millard, Stephan Michael King – Allen & Unwin Australia – Published 1 April 2014

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Synopsis

Grandpapa’s eyes shine when he remembers the beauty of the world, long-ago. Peterboy wants to find something wonderful to bring the light to Grandpapa’s eyes and keep it there. What he finds is a duck, wounded and broken, and Grandpapa mends her from top to tail; quack, waddle and wing! This is a triumphant story, for children and adults, about the coming of hope in dark days, the warmth of friendship and the splendour of a new dawn.

My thoughts

This is the first book I will be reviewing as part of my Book Week 2015 summary. The Duck and the Darklings has been nominated for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award in 2015 in the Picture Book of the Year category. You can find the full short list of nominated titles here.

The Duck and the Darklings is a very special picture book, most notably for its creativity. I have read lots of post-apocalyptic young adult books, but never have I come across a post-apocalyptic picture book before now.

Peterboy lives with his Grandpapa. They live underground, away from the ruined world where they only venture to scavenge for lost things. When Peterboy finds an injured duck, he takes her back to his grandfather. Together they mend the duck and she in turn brings happiness and light to Peterboy and Grandpapa, inspiring them to look past their safe hole in the dark for hope for the future.

The illustrations in The Duck and the Darkling are as beautiful as they are unique. Large swarths of black and purple shade the majority of the book, with swirls and splashes of colour in yellow, red and green, purple, orange and pink. Peterboy, Grandpapa, Idaduck and their fellow Darklings stand out, drawn in white with black outlines. The writing style is incredibly poetic. The ideas of where the characters are living now, why and what happened to where they were living before are all cleverly alluded too. There will be much to discuss with young readers about what they think happened and why. There are wonderful words, such as disremembered and spiderling, and nothing is described with one word where two or more can be used. Sticks are fiddlesticks for firewood and collecting water is instead filling billies with trickle.

Aside from its creativity and unique beauty, this book is so well placed for Book Week 2015. The themes of dark and light and hope work so beautifully with this year’s theme Books Light Up Our World, as indeed they do in this time of considering our impact on the world. A wonderful and thought-provoking picture book.

More information

Category: Fiction – Picture Book.

Genre: Post-apocalyptic

Themes: Social issues, friendship, family, environment, communities, hope and renewal.

Published: 1 April 2014 by Allen & Unwin.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 32 pages.

Find it on Goodreads

Review: Mac on the Road to Marseille

Mac

 

Mac on the Road to Marseille – Christopher Ward – Dundurn – Published 17 June 2014

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In Mac on the Road to Marseilles, Mac (never Mackenzie thank you) once again teams up with her favourite cab drivers from Paris. In this book, Mac becomes entangled in the annual taxi driver road rally and a rash of artwork theft in which art originals are being replaced with fakes, made noticeable by their modern additions.With high-speed car chases, tricks, disguises, mysterious passengers and suspicious characters, Mac has her work cut out for her to ensure her team of cabbies get to their goal point safely.

Middle graders will love this cultural romp through France, and the whole cohort of colourful characters. While there is a fair bit of French, it makes the book feel wonderfully authentic and nothing felt too overwhelming, through some readers may struggle with the diverse vocabulary. This is a book I would love to read aloud – French accent included! Though I had not previously read Mac in the City of Light I was able to quickly connect with the characters, though reading book one would have helped make more sense of their story. A fun and entertaining read.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Juvenile Fiction: Ages 12 to 15. Fantasy and Magic.