The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge

23592175The family arrive off the boat on a stormy night to an isolated island community. Father is a noted scientist trying to outrun something that happened before they left home. Her mother is trying to keep up appearances and her little brother needs attention.
She suspects that her father is up to something so does some spying. He seems unbalanced and she is worried.  She is smart in a world that doesn’t admire smart girls.
Tragic events unfold but Faith is smart and she stays strong. The social commentary is telling as the women of the family try to salvage a life for themselves.


Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Absolutely great kid literature.  Funny, adventurous and a bit farcical.  For independent boys or girls age 8+ or a terrific read aloud.

I listened to the audio version, would be fun for a family car trip.


Wool and Shift by Hugh Howey



by Hugh Howey

4 1/2 stars

Sci-fi, dystopia in a new setting with a new concept and quite the thriller.  I think Wool will be THE book at the beach this summer.

In Wool the people are living in a community below ground.  The earth is currently uninhabitable.  The people live on levels of the silo, the worker bees getting deeper and deeper into the ground.  They are self-sufficient as a community, but communication is limited between levels.  Life is strictly controlled and it is dangerous to ask questions.

Shift is the prequel to Wool.  You find out how the people got where they are in Wool.  This book raises as many questions as it answers.  Very creative and easy to read.

I went along to meet Hugh Howey at Takapuna Library in April, brought to New Zealand for one event in April by his publisher.  He is a genuine guy.  He seems as amazed at the popularity of his books as I was at his imagination and attention to detail in his imaginary world.  He is a champion of making books available online and has plenty of ideas as to how ebooks and paper books can co-exist.  His popularity soared as he produced these stories as chapters online and later the publishers then paid attention and made offers.  He is also a supporter of ‘fan fiction’ where fans write about characters or settings in the original work, and there are many written around Wool & Shift.

I look forward to Dust the sequel to Wool appearing in August.  It give me time to imagine what I think might happen.


The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne

Barnaby floats, he can’t keep his feet on the ground for more than a few seconds. His parents don’t like it, they just want a ‘normal’ life. They decide that they must let Barnably go and the Mum takes him for a walk and ‘loses’ him along the way. This is where Barnaby’ s adventures start. While this could spell disaster, Barnaby has some luck, meets some kind people, learns about other people who aren’t ‘normal’, gets helped, helps others and runs into an old friend. Over time Barnaby starts to wonder what is ‘normal’ and is it really such a good thing to aspire to.

ImageEven knowing what his mother did he wants to get home, he misses his brother and sister. The family pet Captain W E Johns hasn’t been the same since Barnaby left, he knows what happened on the ‘walk’. Barnaby is a thoughtful and forgiving boy, he faces his challenges bravely and learns character along the way.

I liked this book and think readers 10+ will enjoy Barnaby’s story. It’s message is simple and rings true- it’s okay to be different. Author John Boyne who also wrote “The Boy With Striped Pajamas” takes a light hearted look at society and we all can learn from Barnaby’s story.

Red Rocks by Rachael King

Red Rocks by Rachael KingSAM_8576

New Zealand author alert!

This book ticks all the boxes. A very clever take on the old Selkie legends of Scotland set in present times in Wellington.

Jake is staying with his Dad for two weeks in the summer holidays. Dad is busy writing a book so Jake goes off on his own. He finds a sealskin in a cave and takes it home, but doesn’t tell his Dad. The man living in a shack on the beach shows him kindness, yet Jake has been told never to trust strangers. A mysterious women befriends his Dad and thing quickly get out of hand. The local bully’s level of violence is escalating.

Two weeks go by fast in the summer, Jake is under pressure to sort things out before it’s too late.

Recommend age 10+ but it has what it takes to be an adult read.

The Last Guardian – last book of Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer

The Last Guardian

– last book of Artemis Fowl by Eion Colfer

Artemis is one of my favorites, who I hadn’t read in a while. It didn’t take me long to get back into the story. Good to get to know the old characters again. It started well for me, in true Artemis style. Then I felt as if things started happening way, way too fast and things went too smoothly for the main characters. I loved finding out about Foaly’s wife and she seemed a great character but too much happened too quickly to savor the moments, I needed more savor.
I guess no ending was going to please everyone I hope this ending pleases other readers. I was not prepared for how it all worked out, and am not sure if things were well enough detailed for the reader to feel confident of it’s resolution.
One thing though, I still love Aretmis but I think his story has been told. I hope that his little twin brothers feature in an Eion Colfer story of the future. Maybe Foaly and his lovely wife will have some kids in the next story.

The Recruit – CHERUB #1 – Book 10

SAM_8579The Recruit


By Robert Muchamore

From Goodreads-

CHERUB agents are all seventeen and under, and look like regular kids. But they’re not. They are trained professionals who are sent out on missions to spy on terrorists and international drug dealers. CHERUB agents hack into computers, bug entire houses, and download crucial documents. It is a highly dangerous job. For their safety, these agents DO NOT EXIST.

James is the latest CHERUB recruit. He and his sister were recently orphaned, and James has been in a lot of trouble. But he is brilliant in math. And CHERUB needs him. After one hundred days, the grueling training period is over. But the adventure has just begun.

From Mrs Salter

The CHERUB series is very popular in the library with intermediate students and it’s a gateway for those who do not enjoy reading.  For many it is their first positive reading experience.  I took the first one home, The Recruit, after a couple of years to see what it was all about, I was back the next day to get some more and finished the first nine books in just over a week.  Before that I only recommended to boys, not realizing all the really strong girls in the stories, now it is just as popular with the girls.  I have four copies of the first and multiple copies of the rest because once a student starts enjoying it they want their friends to as well.  What more could a school librarian say to endorse a book?

A few years ago I read that some libraries were concerned with the subject matter, the violence and that the rape made it unsuitable for students – there is no rape in any of the books.  Yes, the kids do go undercover and do witness and become involved in the seedy side of life, but that is part of the appeal to my readers, to see sides of life they will never experience (I do hope so anyway).  What makes these books better than others is they are well researched and inform the reader of topics in the headlines i.e. using animals in science, being lead into a powerful cult, becoming a victim of human trafficking, all real life dramas with life lessons thrown in.  

Personally I think Mr Muchamore has created a realistic, believable fantasy for my readers to enjoy, learn from and share with their friends.  Parents could also enjoy the series, I did.