Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Rating 4 out of 5
Age Range: 12 and up 
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (April 8, 2014)
Series: Yes, book 1
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763669881
ISBN-13: 978-0763669881
Awards: Aurealis Award Nominee for Science Fiction & Young Adult Novel (2012)

“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centers. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose, a man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured, vulnerable, with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind. And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move. Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?"

I had this book on my radar ever since I read the review by "The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader". back in 2012 I was intrigued by the concept. Yet for some reason it sat on my TBR pile for some time. I have no idea why. But recently I thought "why not".

All I can say is I am glad I read it, and cranky at myself for it taking so long to get to it.

The Author did a wonderful job of merging sci-fi and religion/mythology. I liked the references to the Indigenous Australian's dreamtime mythology (at least I hope that's what it was and not just me assuming stuff that isnt there).

It was fast paced and exciting, filled with action and adventure. I liked the way the author revealed the information even though I must confess to being a bit tired by the 4th memory flash back.

Neville Rose is a pretty nasty piece of work. He makes a fantastic villain. All the characters are really interesting and I wish we got to learn about them more.

It is hard to review this book without revealing to much. The story was intricate and fascinating. So I will just say I did really enjoy the story and didn't want to stop reading. I am kind of glad I did wait as book 2 is out this year so I don't have a long wait to see what happens next.

On an interesting note the author's story is just as interesting as the main character she has created. Kwaymullina is an Indigenous Australian from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. When not writing or reading she teaches law, illustrates picture books, and hangs out with her dogs.

I would recommend this read to anyone who likes the dystopia genre.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Shhh! Don't Wake The Royal Baby by Martha Mumford

Rating 4 out of 5
Title: Shhh! Dont Wake The Royal Baby
Author: Martha Mumford
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (August 6, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140884463X
ISBN-13: 978-1408844632
Age Range: 2-5 years

Ok so I would be lying if I didn't say upfront I was dubious about this book. I thought it would be a silly cash in on the royal baby. I wouldn't have purchased this book for myself, doubtful I would have even borrowed it from the library. So here is a big lesson in don't judge a book by its cover or title/theme, because this book is actually really good.

The books summary is "It’s chaos at the Royal Palace – the Royal Baby just won’t go to sleep. Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaah! The Royal Family has tried everything to pacify the little bundle of joy – from proferring the golden royal dummy to death-defying parachute jumps with the Queen. But, just when the little one seems to be settling, another disturbance is just around the corner. From yip-yapping corgis to marching guards and noisy party planning, the palace is awash with noise. Will it ever be peaceful enough to lull the baby off to sleep?"

There is a lot going on in this book without you even realising. Firstly I found this a great story for my toddler to highlight that babies can be difficult to get to sleep, and the impact a baby has on a household.

There is repetition and silliness in the text which is fun to read especially the "waaaaah waaaaah!" parts which master 4 found funny. He also got really into the "shhhh baby is sleeping" and would say it with me in a whisper.

The illustrations really make the book. They are so cute and fun I mean who wouldn't smile at seeing The Queen jumping out of a plane and parachuting with her corgi's in tow? and yes it is relevant to the story.

While the pictures clearly represent the current British royal monarchy the text is quite generic so it really is a story about a family coping with a new baby (ok a royal family coping unless in your family you call people the Duke, Duchess, Prince and Queen).

Counting, not sure if this was intentional or not but my son had great fun counting all the corgis on each page as there was usually one or two.

If you took the royal aspect out of the story, it is just a cute, fun story about a family dealing with a newborn baby. Would be good to read for soon to be older siblings so they can start to understand what having a baby around is like.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

There's a Dinosaur In My Bathtub by Catalina Echeverri

Rating 5 out of 5
Title: There's a Dinosaur in my Bathtub
Author: Catalina Echeverri
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (February 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1408839393
ISBN-13: 978-1408839393
Reading Age: 2-7

Love, love, loved this book. This is a must for any dinosaur fanatic, children with imaginary friends, or who has a vivid imagination. It is good for boys or girls.

Amelia is a little girl with a very special friend Pierre the French dinosaur who is very good at hiding. The two have adventures all summer long until the weather turns cold, and he has to go away.

 Master 4 loves this story, and I love the story too. If you asked me to say precisely why I probably couldn't say. Everything about this picture book just works for me.  It is just such a beautiful and fun story with dinosaurs!! I have no problems reading this story over and over and over again.

The whimsical, quirky art work really brings the story alive. There is magical element to the story and the art work. each page is a delight as we follow Amelia and Pierre on their adventures.

The story flows easily so makes reading it out loud a delight.

Interestingly the author also illustrates the book and is from Bogota Columbia, but is currently residing in the UK. She has written and illustrated other children's books which I am now keen to get my hands on.

Just everything about this book we adore and it is a firm favourite here. Probably one of the best birthday presents Master 4 has gotten from his book loving Nana.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Out in the bush by Yvonne Morrison

Rating 4 out of 5
Title: Out in the Bush
Author: Yvonne Morrison
Publisher: Koala Book Company
ISBN: 0864618093
EAN: 9780864618092
Age Range: 2-4 years

"Out in the bush" is a cute remake of the song "Over in the meadow" (if you don't know the tune google Wiggles Over in the Meadow). 

This book is educational on a lot of levels. Firstly it discusses Australian native animals with each page using a different critter. 

There is counting woven into the story and every page displays a number prominently, and then reinforcing it with the animals totalling that number on the page. My son loved counting the animals after i had read the text. 

Lastly the text rhymes and is a little silly so kids can really enjoy it (and if you know the song then you can sing it, even badly). As I knew the Wiggles version of this song (which is an old rhyming song) I couldn't help but read it as a song with the voice of Sam (former yellow wiggle) in my head.

I adore the art work which is bright and colourful and would not be out of place hanging on a wall.

For some reason I have not heard of Yvonne Morrison prior to my son bringing this book home from his school library. I have seen her books on the bookshelves in book stores though so was surprised to learn I knew the names of quite a few of her books. But I have to say this New Zealand/Aussie author has won a place in our personal book library as we just loved this book. I am going to get my hands on her "Out in the ocean" book next as master 4 will go bananas over it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone as it is a fun engaging read.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

Rating: 5 out of 5
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancy
Series: The 5th Wave (Book 1)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399162410
ISBN-13: 978-0399162411

"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death."
Perhaps I had started one to many fizzer books before I read this one, or it was the right book at the right time. Either way this book ticked all the boxes for me and I just blitzed through the book. heck I even tweeted about it. I was sucked in and held there till the end when I finally came up for air.

The alien invasion was realistic and well thought out. I could imagine an alien race doing the "waves" of death on mankind. In fact as far as invasions go it was smart, and involved little effort on the alien's behalf. The pole being dropped from outer space was perhaps a little much but everything else was very believable.

I felt the story had the feel of a "written for movie" story. It was a bit cliched, predictable and had a few unrealistic scenes (towards the end). But hey they are action scenes, action scenes in a sci-fi book no less, they should be spectacular and totally stupid all the time exciting and fun.

I did notice some faults with the book, and I didn't care. Nope not a bit. It was exciting, interesting and an interesting take on the alien invasion young adult story. That for me is a good book, when you notice flaws and you still don't want to put the book down or for it to finish.

I enjoyed Cassie, she was quite realistic. She was strong, tough and smart; but didn't have weird skills that she couldn't possibly have. She was a teen struggling with the situation she found herself in.

I have not looked forward to a sequel for a long time in the sci-fi arena but this one had me wanting the second book straight away.

If you like young adult books, and sci-fi, I would recommend this book. Don't expect a lot from it, and you should enjoy it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Last Girl by Michael Adams

Rating; 5 out of 5
Title: The Last Girl
Author: Michael Adams
Series: Trilogy
File Size: 2398 KB
Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (September 25, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Everyone looked like bad actors in a poorly dubbed movie. Their expressions didn't match their emotions and their lips didn't sync with what they were saying. But they were all so loud. God-he-looks-hot-Can't-she's-my-best-friend-How'd-she-lose-that-weight-No-don't-you-dare-Oh-no-please- The end of the world happens in the blink of an eye. When The Snap sweeps the globe, everyone can instantly hear everything that everyone else is thinking. As secrets and lies are laid bare, suburbs and cities explode into insanity and violence. What might have been an evolutionary leap instead initiates the apocalypse. Sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong's telepathy works very differently. She can tune into other people but they can't tune into her. With only this slender defence, Danby must protect her little brother and reach the safety of her mother's mountain retreat. But it's 100 kilometres away and the highways are blocked by thousands of cars and surrounded by millions of people coming apart at the psychic seams. Danby's escape is made even more dangerous by another cataclysm that threatens humanity's extinction. And her ability to survive this new world will be tested by a charismatic young man whose power to save lives may be worse than death itself.

I had been struggling with a recent book from a favourite author. I thought my reading mojo was gone. I needed a break, read something different, so this book was sitting on the top of my bedside table so I thought "why not". It came highly recommended by Books and Musings From Downunder. So I started it one evening and finished it the next day. And it was good, oh so very good.

This book is gripping, fascinating, shocking, horrifying and intense all in one go. Unlike most post apocalyptic books, where they are set well after the main event that changed society forever; this book is set as it happens. We get to see the world as we know it completely fall apart. As you can imagine this can make for some not so fun moments.

The concept is refreshing in that its not a virus, war, or zombie apocalypse. Even though it was full on times I liked how the author explored this topic.

Danby is a believable character and her reactions to scenarios thrown at her were logical. I will be interested to see if Jack is her saviour or captor. Is he good or evil? He is definitely creepy, practical, smart and possibly crazy.

This book raises some interesting issues that people in that situation might face. Who to save and who to leave, morals and survival, where do you draw the line and where do you cross.

On a totally shallow note I didn't care much for the cover.

I would recommend this book as a good read for anyone who likes the post apocalyptic genre. I can't wait for book 2 in the trilogy to come out.

A final cautionary note, there are some very full on scenes when society is falling apart. This could be distressing to some. It definitely made me uncomfortable and teary in one case (I am sorry I do not want to say more without spoiling the story). Themes of suicide, paedophilia, terrorism, murder as well as other violent crimes do get mentioned and discussed. It only lasts really for the first 1/3 of the book but when I use the word intense I really mean it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Rating 4 out of 5
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (May 27, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307381749
ISBN-13: 978-0307381743

This book is set in Egypt following one of the most well known Egyptian Queens Nefertiti. Told from the point of view of her sister.

About Nefertiti
Nefertiti has to be one of the most famous Queens through out history. Ask anyone to name a Queen from history and most would say Nefertiti and Cleopatra. Despite her fame, and unlike Cleopatra, very little is actually known about her. Her tomb has not been found, and very little information has survived to tell us what Nefertiti was like or her accomplishments. 

So it's curious to me that a Queen we know so very little about is more famous then Queens we know a lot about (for example Queen Victoria). 

The facts about Nefertiti:
  • She and her husband rules for about 12 years. 
  • They worshiped one God not the many gods that ancient Egyptians worshiped.
  • They were patrons of the art and during their life, and ushered in a new style of art for ancient Egyptians.
  • After 12 years Nefertiti disappears from history. No one knows why. There are three main theories as to what happened; She died, was sent into exile, or she assumed a male name to rule Egypt herself.
The Book
I did not find Morgan's portrayal of Nefertiti to be flattering. In fact I didn't like her "character" much at all. For Moran's portrayal of Nefertiti, I did have to remind myself though that Nefertiti was a teenager (hormonal and a know it all at best) who had been thrust into power, wealth and fame. She was deeply insecure and married to a husband who was well, for lack of a better word, bat do do crazy. I would love to know Moran's reasoning for portraying Nefertiti the way she did.

To be honest I would have preferred the story to be exclusively about her sister Mutnodjmet (Mutny). It was a bit sad to see such an interesting character relegated to be Nefertiti's assistant and story teller when her own story was fascinating. But probably not many people would pick up a book about Nefertiti's sister.

The historical accuracy seems to be pretty spot on. But some liberties with the story telling has been taken. Some things changed or assumed based on logical deduction. This is pretty normal with historical fictions.

In Summary
A good light historical fiction which is great for anyone who is starting out in the genre. Michelle Moran manages to write about fascinating historical figures and portray them in interesting ways.