I was only nineteen
By John Schumann
Illustrated by Craig Smith

Allen and Unwin

The Vietnam war may be in the past but it can never be forgotten. It was, at the time a controversial war. Returning soldiers were not treated with the same respect as those of the World Wars.
This sophisticated picture book is Schumann’s song I was only nineteen, put into pictures for younger readers to help them learn about the tragedy of this particular war.
I love the scenes with the colours and tones that Craig Smith has used to take us right in to the jungle. We really are in the jungle with the soldiers. Careful use of sepia tones in some pages also bring in another dimension to the story.
There is much to offer in this book, much to pull apart and mull over. While I am not a huge fan of songs becoming childrens’ books (and there are plenty these days) I do think this one works very well.
There are some teacher notes available to help make the most of this book. I think upper primary all the way through to secondary school students could learn much from this book.
I could see classes broken in to groups – those in one group watch the trailer and listen to the music and another group reads the book on its own. I would encourage the students to think about their reactions, feelings and compare the group’s responses. Food for thought!

The last girl
By Michael Adams

“The end of the world happened quickly. The sun still shone, there was no explosion – just a tsunami-sized wave of human thought drowning the world in telepathic noise as everyone’s inner-most secrets became audible. Everyone’s thoughts, that is, except sixteen-year-old Danby.”
I think the idea of knowing what everyone else is thinking is so scary. Do we really want to know what our family, friends, colleagues or strangers are thinking about? In Adams book the result is insanity and violence and a very dangerous place and time to be living.
While Danby can hear the thoughts of everyone else no-one can hear hers. It is her only protection as she tries to rescue her brother and make her way through the different dangers to safety.
I am going to have to read this to find out if she succeeds. I may need to hurry especially as book 2 The last shot is out now.

Going over
by Beth Kephart

This is one of those times when I just have to talk about a book that isn’t even out yet – but is coming soon. Next month will be the release of what I think is going to be a great YA book offering something a little different.
Going over is set in Berlin in February 1983. It is a city divided by a barricade separating east from west.
Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of Kreuzberg in West Berlin. Stefan lives in East Berlin, in a faceless apartment bunker of Friedrichshain.
How will Ada and Stephan get together? What sacrifices will they make? Who will stand in their way? Will love win over?
This book brings in the realities of a life that once existed for many.
I love the short sharp chapters I have seen online and I am certainly looking forward to the release of this book.
The music in this trailer even has an 80′s vibe to it.

By Lorie Ann Grover

“Tiadone has been forced to live her entire life as a female accepted as male in her community in order to survive as a firstborn child. But when she needs to pass the rites of manhood, she finds the Creator may have use for her feminine traits after all.”

In Tiadone’s world firstborn females have no worth and are left to die. Passing as a male was her only hope but now the time has now come to defend her home and fight like other males. The reality however, is that Tiadone is a female with feelings that could unravel and ruin everything.

Looking forward to this book with a strong female character in a world of struggle and survival.

The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender
By Leslye Walton

“Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga”
I picked this book up out of a pile of new books at a local high school where I work part time, as it stood out from the crowd. It was the cover with its simple blend of blue and gold and such an enticing title and premise that made me want to read it there and then. However, I have to wait but I am hoping to be the first to read it when it becomes available.

Sixteen year old Ava is just your average girl except for the fact she was born with bird wings.
Wanting to understand more about her life and to be accepted by her peers Ava begins searching for answers. Her naivety leads her in to a heap of trouble. And then there is Nathaniel Sorrows who mistakes Ava for an angel and the consequences of that mistake.

“Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright but will things be different for Ava?”

Ghost Club
Book 1 : The new kid
Book 2 : The haunted school
Book 3 : A Transylvanian tale
By Deborah Abela

Deborah Abela has created another great series for children. We have had the wonderful series about secret agent Max Remy. Actually, I treasure the first book in that series, as it is personally autographed by Deborah from when she was here in Christchurch some years ago.
Now, we have ghosts and everyone knows I love ghost stories.
Edgar, Angeline and Dylan spend their time caught up in great adventures as ghost-catchers. Their latest adventure sees them going to a ghost club convention in Transylvania and I am sure it will be full of danger and excitement. I haven’t had a chance to read these yet but they are certainly on my TBR pile.

Sky Raiders
Book 1 in the Five Kingdoms series
By Brandon Mull

Brandon Mull just keeps writing more and more. Not content with all his other series he now offers us the Five Kingdoms, due out next month.
Great for those who love adventure, mystery, haunted houses and portals to other worlds. I’m not sure how he finds time to sleep with all the writing he is doing.

Cole Randolph and his friends discover more to a haunted house than they bargained for when they go out exploring on Halloween. Cole watches as his friends are whisked away through a portal to a mysterious place underneath the haunted house. He follows them ending up in a place called The Outskirts.
The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms which lie somewhere between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. While some people are born in the Outskirts and others have found there way there, there is one thing is for sure, once you are in the Outskirts, it is almost impossible to leave.
Will Cole manage to escape and will the unusual girl, Mira be able to help him find his friends and make their way home.

My New Zealand Story Canterbury Quake 2010-2011
By Desna Wallace
(That’s me)

I have been blogging about books, book trailers and doing reviews for quite some time now but this book is just a bit different. And that is because it is my first children’s novel and I can hardly do the review myself but the links below will take you to some reviews which are doing the rounds at the moment.
It is a very strange (but wonderful) feeling to see your own book for sale in the shops. For those reading this from New Zealand you all know that this month marks three years since the devastating earthquake here in Christchurch, which claimed 185 lives and destroyed our city centre, our historic buildings and thousands of homes. For those outside New Zealand this was one of New Zealand’s saddest, darkest and most tragic days in our country’s history. We have endured thousands of aftershocks, many of them very damaging. Many people were forced to leave Christchurch after being made homeless. Many have returned, many have not.
Living in Christchurch is not the same as it once was and it never will be the same. Thousands of people are still waiting for homes to be repaired or rebuilt. Roads all around the city are blocked off or surrounded by traffic cones as buildings come down, roads are fixed and the city is repaired. It will take years to see any real difference. But it is home. It is a city I love and a city I am proud of.

So from all this I have written a book of fiction based on the very real facts. In diary form and part of the New Zealand My Story series, I have told the story of 11 year Maddy, her family and friends and how this natural disaster has affected them all.





The last thirteen
By James Phelan

This is one of those series which builds on each book keeping you coming back for more.
Thirteen strangers and thirteen books. And just out now is Book number three. I know a couple of 12 year olds who are right in to this series so they will be ultra pleased. In fact their excitement is catchy and I am going to have to grab these books myself before anyone else gets hold of them.

For Sam, life has been turned upside down. No-one, including his parents is as they seem. He has had to endure a kidnapping and a race to save his own life. Everything is tied up to an ancient prophecy and at every turn, there is danger.
Sam is part of the last thirteen.They are a group of special teenagers who have the scary ability of dreaming dreams that come true.
It is this ability that puts them in desperate danger and leaves them on the run from an organisation who will do anything to catch them. It is up to Sam to find the group and save them all before it is too late. Short and sharp chapters but fast-paced action. But do start at the beginning. Don’t skip the order of the books.

Blood eagle tortures
Book 4 in the CRYPT series
(Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team)
By Andrew Hammond


This book has been on my TBR pile waiting for the holidays to read it and it was well worth the wait.
I love this series and have devoured each book. What makes this book great is that as readers we are let in to a little more of Jud’s past. There are still plenty of secrets and Jud has to navigate his past with his present. We also see more of the relationship building between Jud and Bex but I really don’t want to give anything away. I will say though, tension is building between them!!
Jud and Bex work for a secret division of MI5 where a group of gifted teens investigate paranormal events. They have met many horrible, nasty ghosts in their investigations and are always only just lucky enough to escape with their lives.
In this particular book, horror is unleashed when a lone diver discovers items that should have stayed buried forever and bodies begin to pile up. Gruesome deaths have the team all over the place looking for clues and answers to the ghostly horrors. And in the midst of all the horrors is someone with a face Jud just can’t place. There is more danger than just the ghosts if Jud’s secret is let loose.
I love the way the chapters are short, sharp and go back and forth between characters so that we sense the tension building and become privy to possibilities that leave us guessing.
However, I wasn’t prepared for the ending and have to say Mr Hammond, you need to hurry up with book number 5 because I am desperate to know what happens next.
I have posted the trailer for the first book in an earlier post but here it is again for those of you who may not have picked up this great series.

By Vince Vawter

Awards just announced by the Association for Library Service to Children highlight the best books for children. While I knew most of them one did slip by that I knew nothing about. Paperboy by Vince Vawter is a Newberry Honor Award winner which I have just reserved from the city library. (Have to wait in line as all copies are in use so that already tells me it is going to be good).
It is a story set in the summer of 1959 in Memphis. It deals with an 11 year old boy who is sensitive yet resilient. He needs to be, as he can barely talk without stuttering. Taking over his best friend’s paper round for a month he suddenly has to deal with people. How will he cope when he can’t even say his own name?
But life becomes dangerous when he has a run-in with the neighbourhood junkman. Not even his family are safe.
This book deals with the very real issue of stuttering and the impact it has on the lives of sufferers. I can’t wait to read this book.

The Timmy Failure books are wonderfully funny stories aimed at those children who love a good laugh and a good story. Easy to read and easy to enjoy, these books are ideal for young readers and students who struggle with reading or perhaps are reluctant and just need a sense of achievement by reading something which is not too daunting.
Timmy Failure runs a detective agency – sort of. His side-kick is a large polar bear called Total.There are a number of unique characters who either help or hinder Timmy in his adventures.
Heaps of illustrations add to the mix to provide a better understanding of Timmy and his companions. For children who enjoy the Diary of a Wimpy kid series, this is another winner. The first book has been a real success with readers at my school so I know the second book, due out in February, will also be a hit.

“Timmy is a detective who can take any mystery and make it more mysterious.” – Stephan Pastis

Timmy Failure : Now look what you’ve done
Book 2

Timmy Failure : Mistakes were made
Book 1

Machine Wars
By Michael Pryor

This upcoming book by Michael Pryor isn’t due to be published for a couple of months yet but as soon as I saw the trailer today I just knew I had to share it straight away. What a great trailer. Hooked me in immediately. With the robotic voices, the soundtrack and the graphics, this trailer is the whole package, including the atmospheric creepiness especially at the end. Very good trailer which certainly has me waiting for the release date.

“The Bourne Identity meets The Terminator in this fast-paced technothriller for boys aged 10 to 14″.

Bram’s mother, a high-level computer scientist has discovered that superintelligence exists and because it knows she knows, it is now out to get her. This superintelligence can control any machine connected to the net and will use whatever it can to gain control of the whole world. It will eliminate anything in its way, including Bram’s mother, who is already in hiding, and Bram himself.
For Bram and his friend Stella, that means not only trying to find his parents but being hunted by every machine in the world. Nowhere is safe. Nowhere!

Finally had the chance to read this much anticipated book and I must say I was not disappointed. Thank goodness for holidays and sunshine to sit back and read. Only one complaint and that is I have to wait for book two be published.

Veerle is 17 and living in Brussels with her mother Claudine. Her mother is somewhat losing the plot and Veerle is becoming more and more frustrated with the life she is living under her mother’s suspicion and paranoia.
The prologue opens with a punch when Veerle is just a young child and sees something she shouldn’t. Fast forward ten years and a chance encounter takes her down a new road when she investigates a light in an abandoned building. There she meets Kris who invites her to become part of the Koekoeken (cuckoos) a secret society who break into empty properties. Rather than steal or vandalise the properties, they fix things up. Just little things like latches. The society is so secret most members don’t know of each other or their real identities. Then the bodies begin to pile up. Somewhere there is a serial killer and slowly Veerle is starting to connect the dots. The Hunter is watching, waiting and Veerle and Kris are next on the list.
This is definitely different (in a very good way), to most YA books. This is thriller, mystery, murder and even a little romance all rolled together. It is very well written with just enough clues to keep you guessing and hanging out to read the next chapter. It moves along at a steady pace, building tension and suspense as the bodies pile up. As I was approaching the end of the novel I sneaked a moment at work to read when work was quite. My work mate approached me to say something and I jumped and screamed out loud. (We both got the giggles) but I was so engrossed in the story I was right next to Veerle urging her to run. I love the way the Hunter has chapters of his own where we become witness to the murders. Now I have to wait for the next book. Grrr!
Check out the trailer on an earlier post.

By Elizabeth Rose Stanton

Penspaper Studio

I trust your New Year celebrations went well and for those of you in New Zealand I hope you are soaking up the sun somewhere and finding time to read. I hope friends in the rest of the world are staying warm and out of the cold.
I am often asked where I find the trailers and books books I review. It is all about being pro-active. I follow people on Twitter, publishers on Facebook and of course chats with fellow librarians and book sellers. There is nothing so good as browsing in a bookshop and talking to the staff.
Well yesterday I discovered a name I had not heard of before but trust me I will be keeping an eye out for her work. Take time to check out her blog and website. The illustrations of her pig are delightful.
This new book is aimed at the very young and shows us that is okay to be different. Always a good topic.

Henny is different. As a chicken she should have wings but Henny has arms instead. That does not stop Henny at all. Henny accepts her life with all the grace and charm and humour that life offers even if it means doing things her way and not the same way as everyone else. The art work is just lovely. The faces of the characters tell us so much more. This is bound to be a hit with wee ones.