Zeustian Logic

Author – Sabrina Malcolm34105776

Age – 10+

Tuttle is holding everything together – at least he’s trying to. His dad was a famous mountain climber who didn’t return from his last expedition. The only thing that did return was news that Tuttle’s father left his client alone on the mountain to die.

No-one really knows what happened, but living with this news and their loss is hard. Mum spends too many hours alone in her room or asleep, leaving Tuttle to look after his little brother Fen who also spends most of his hours alone in his room.

Tuttle’s one escape is the stars. He spends a lot of his leisure time at the local observatory or trying to look through his own telescope from home. Trying, because the boy next door spends all his spare time tinkering with his car, revving it loudly and flooding Tuttle’s back yard with light from the shed.

Tuttle’s frustration and worries escalate with all that lays on his shoulders. And now there’s a snooping reporter and social worker to deal with. Can he hold his family together?

Fans of astronomy and myths and how they are connected will enjoy this story about this grieving family. The friendship between Tuttle and his mate Attila is humourous as they ‘bounce’off each other, together and online, and Tuttle’s inner turmoil is well written. Authentic kiwi fiction.

(NZ, New Zealand, Kiwi, Astronomy, Grief, Myths, Family, Friendship, Bully)

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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)

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)

Changing Gear

Author – Scot Gardner39858219

Age – 15+

Merrick is 18 and there is only 2 weeks left before his final exams and the end of his school life. He has always been a good student, but lately his school is concerned that he’s ‘lost his mojo.’

Merrick is struggling with the loss of his grandfather to a sudden heart attack. Grandad taught him how to surf, and how to cope with both his parents remarrying and giving him several stepbrothers/sisters, all the while giving Merrick gems of wisdom along the way.

One morning Merrick makes a sudden decision to get on his beloved motorbike (he calls Brunnhilde) and just ride, leaving behind his friends, study and blended family. On his journey he meets Victor, an old, bearded, homeless man, a girl called Felicity, a dog with no name and…himself.

This is not just another ‘road-trip’ story. Merrick is grieving for his lost friend and mentor – his grandfather. He’s trying to figure out where he fits in his family, what the future might hold and how to deal with its expectations of him. He learns about relationships; no matter how long or fleeting, his habits that seemed entrenched and necessary but are not, and what’s important to him. The banter between Merrick and Victor is brilliant, the journey both inner and outer – superb.

(Road-trip, Relationships, Quest, Friendship, Grief, Motorbike, Australia)

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)

 

Fragments of the Lost

Author – Megan Miranda36360076

Age – 13+

Jessa loved Caleb Evers. He was sweet, funny, good looking and attentive. But now he’s gone. The last time she saw him was on the sidelines of her cross-country competition. They say he left upset. They say the accident is all her fault.

Caleb’s mum can’t face packing up his room and asks Jessa to do it. Each thing she packs brings back a memory of their time together. A photo. A piece of clothing. A letter opener. But the more she packs up, the more she finds. Some things don’t add up, and his mum is acting weird.

Caleb’s best friend Max is grieving too. He was with Caleb and Jessa so much that he has become a close friend of Jessa’s. But how close? Should she feel guilty? Between them they discover things that were supposed to be hidden. Things that will change everything.

Another fantastic read from Megan Miranda. She weaves the intrigue and mystery throughout her books to such a point, I can’t read fast enough. This book took a bit more time to get into, but once I was in there, there was no chance I was going to leave it alone.

(Family, Secret, Grief, Relationship, Love, Intrigue, Accident)

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)