The Goose Road

Author – Rowena House36357681

Age – 9+

It’s 1916. Angelique is 14 and is not sure how she should feel after hearing the worst news about her father fighting in WWI. Her mother is grief-stricken but Angelique only remembers her father’s anger. Her fears for her beloved brother Pascal overshadow her guilt over her father, and she vows to make sure their farm will be just as it was when Pascal left to fight. He must have somewhere safe and loving to return to.

But doing everything herself is almost impossible, and when Nature takes a swipe at them, and then the Army take even more, Angelique is at breaking point.  There is even worse news to come – they will lose the farm if they don’t pay her dead father’s debts.

It’s a heart-breaking choice, but Angelique decides to sell Pascal’s Toulouse Geese. But the only way to get the best price is to take them to where the money is – the officers in the army. This means a long, cold and dangerous journey closer to the front.

Along the way they meet many people just as desperate to live as they are. She must keep her wits about her, and sum up all the courage she has.

The idea for this story came from a photograph the author saw on a TV documentary about the Spanish Flu pandemic – blamed on domestic birds like geese, chickens or ducks in 1916. It spread through the army who then spread it further when they returned home. (Angelique has no idea what is making her birds unwell along their journey.) Through thorough and meticulous research by the author, this story gives yet another face to war – that of those left behind, trying to hold onto hope for their loved ones while holding everything together at home. War took their fathers, uncles, brothers and sons, then their stock, their livelihood, farms and homes. Stunning.

(War, Family, Courage, Geese, Goose, France, WWI, Soldiers, Journey)

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The Invasion (The Call 2)

Author – Peadar O’Guilan38592818

Age – 13+

Nessa may have returned from ‘The Grey Land’, but her battle isn’t over yet. She is instantly under suspicion. How could she survive with her bent and twisted legs? How could someone so weak return unscarred when bigger, stronger, better trained children and teens do not?

She is labelled a traitor – someone who has made a deal with the S’dhe in order to survive. There are now government agents searching for such traitors, and they will find them at any cost.

Something terrible is happening to Ireland. More terrible than The Call itself, with nothing to stop it.

Told in different viewpoints of Nessa, Anto, and others from the survival school Nessa attended, there is action at every turn, choices to make or believe and survival an even thinner thread than before.

Be careful what you promise, and who you promise to, as they are assembling out there, and coming for you….

(Fantasy, Violence, Fairy Folk, Legends, Myths, Ireland, Love, Friendship, Courage, Trust)

Cuz

Author – Liz van der LaarseCuz - Liz van der Laarse

Age – 10+

River is enjoying catching up with family, even though his uncle reminds him so much of his absent father. He’s also reminded how close his cousin Huia is to their Nan, who has taught her their Maori language, customs, protocols and medicine for much of her life.

Her knowledge is annoying, but he puts his grumbles aside when offered a trip on her dad’s trawler. They soon enjoy each other’s company and he relaxes, thinking about what it would’ve been like to have his own dad around through his life.

Then the unthinkable happens. Icy ocean. Remote beach. Isolation. Freezing rain, no food, shelter or communication. They are on their own.

Along with River’s strength and determination, Huia’s knowledge is now the only thing that could save them. Is his uncle still alive? Is anyone looking for them and if so where will they be looking?

Like Hatchet, Cuz is a story of survival, strength, courage and determination. It’s also more than that – a tale of family connections through past generations, to the land and nature who will provide if you know her secrets. 

Cuz is a New Zealand story which will be enjoyed by both kiwi and international readers alike. In the back of the book is a section on the plants etc that River and Huia rely on for their lives. Cracker Kiwi fiction!

(Kiwi, NZ, New Zealand, Survival, Courage, Determination, Cousins, Family, Action, Journey)

When The Mountains Roared

Author – Jess Butterworth38210965

Age – 9+

Ruby knows there is something wrong as soon as she gets home one night. But she never imagined the changes that are about to happen in her life.

Within hours she is escaping Australia and travelling to India with her father, grandmother, family dog and a smuggled baby kangaroo.

How can they do this to her? She is angry at her father for making this choice for her, but soon learns to love the mountain they are to live on. She makes a friend, photographs the wildlife and helps refurbish a run-down hotel with her family.

But strange things are happening on the mountain, and the local townspeople claim that it is haunted by an angry goddess. Will anyone ever want to work in their hotel, let alone guests come to stay?

Ruby becomes protective of the mountain, particularly the leopards that prowl the undergrowth. When she sees men behaving suspiciously she wants to know what’s going on.

Much of this story was written based on the author’s own experiences as a child in India. Ruby is a well-drawn character still dealing with the loss of her mother in a car accident, which has triggered other fears she must overcome. Her friend Praveen gives a young, girl-boy friendship and an environmental theme builds around the endangered leopards.

(Leopards, Endangered animals, India, Grief, Friendship, Courage, Family, Poaching)

 

Wedlock

Author – Denis Wright                   KIWI!
Age – 13+

Lucy (Lucinda) and her friend have noticed the creepy guy following them and the strange lady’s ramblings at the bus stop, but being kidnapped from the school play is the last thing Lucy expected. She wakes in a small room to be told she is the chosen one. She is to marry their leader and have his child who will be the next Jesus for the world.

She fights for her freedom, thinking about how her father and grandfather will be coping – not knowing how or where she disappeared to. She has seen glimpses of newspapers where she fills the front pages.

The weeks pass and although she doesn’t admit it to herself at first, she is relaxing within the group of people who took her. She is beginning to believe what they say. Life seems so much easier with others making the decisions. But as her wedding looms nearer she has to make a choice. Stay or escape?

 Lucy is already dealing with the way she looks, drawing attention from guys at school and men her father knows. Girls are jealous of her looks and she is a caretaker for her alcoholic dad and aging Poppa, so the calm of the cult soothes her, finally making her a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. A believable character within a NZ setting and a religious cult.

(New Zealand, Cult, Kiwi, Stockholm Syndrome, Kidnap, Family)

Where the World Ends

Author – Geraldine McCaughrean33148519

Age – 13+

Quilliam (Quill) is kissed goodbye by his mum, never knowing he will never see her again. He and 8 other boys and 3 men from his village are about to travel by boat and be dropped off on a group of tiny islands which are nothing more than rocks jutting out of the treacherous ocean around them.

These rocks are sanctuaries for gannets, puffins, storm petrels, fulmar and guillemot – birds that provide feathers for bedding and clothing, oil for medicine and fires, and meat for the approaching harsh winters. The boys and men work hard, scaling the rocks, slippery with bird droppings and seawater that relentlessly thrashes against them.

When the boat doesn’t arrive to pick them up, they aren’t worried. They carry on with their work, believing it will be out soon and they might as well make the most of the ‘harvesting’ of birdlife. But when it hasn’t arrived a week, a month, several months later, they begin to despair for their lives. The bird carcasses that they’ve collected for their family’s winter are soon dwindling and conflicts between them building. Have they been forgotten?

This story is based on a true story set on a cluster of islands and sea stacs called St Kilda. A group of men and boys were left to kill as many birds as possible to pay rents to their landlord and supply food and supplies for the coming winter in 1727. They were left there for 9 months only to be finally picked up and taken home to their village where something even worse had befallen their families. Despite the harsh setting, the author’s use of language makes this story almost beautiful.

(Historical, Courage, Friendship, Growing up, Religion, Insanity, Island, Sea Stac)

 

 

Break Your Chains (The Freedom Finders – 1)

Author – Emily Conolan39890850

Age – 9+

It is 1825. You are a young Irish girl who has lost her Ma to small pox and your father to English gaol. He was an Irish rebel and you fear you will never see him again. But now living on the harsh streets of London, you face life and death decisions every day.

You are given a secret treasure for helping a wealthy lady, but have to try and avoid gaol yourself. You make a dear friend but have to choose whether to leave her behind or escape.

But then there is months of travel on a thunderous ocean. Will you survive or die in the bowels of a ship with hundreds of others?

This is a Choose Your Own Destiny book like none other I’ve read. The 1st book of four in a new series, you live the life of a poor Irish girl in the early 19th Century, making decisions that will impact not only your life but others you meet on your journey. It reads just like a novel, but with choices to make that lead you further.

If you wish you can read more about the time in the Fact Files at the end of the book. eg. Smallpox, Prisons, Pickpockets, Child Labour and Tasmanian Aboriginals, before you make your decision. I perished a few times before I reached the end. Look out for other titles in this series. Loved it!

(Historical, 19th Century, Victorian, London, Pickpocket, Irish Rebel, Van Dieman’s Land, Convict, Choose Your Own Adventure, Choose your Own Destiny, Pick-a-path)