Sunday 20 November 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title:                The Scorpio Races
Author:           Maggie Stiefvater
ISBN:              9780545224901
Publisher:       Scholastic
Published:      October 2011
Age Group:    Young Adult


 It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

My Thoughts:

I am in two minds about this book. The horse lover in me thought it was fantastic, especially considering it is not easy to find horse related novels for young adults or adults. Overall though, I was mildly disappointed. It was not the adventurous page-turner that I was hoping for. In fact most of the novel was just setting up for the race and to be perfectly honest if it wasn't for the fact that  love horses I probably would have stopped reading before I got to the race.
Written in the same alternating point of view that gave her Wolves of Mercy Falls so much depth, with some gorgeous descriptions thrown in makes the slow pace easier to overcome.  
I recommend this book only to the serious horse lover who is looking for a nice gently paced read.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J Bick

Title:                Ashes
Author:           Ilsa J Bick
ISBN:              9780857382627
Publisher:       Quercus
Published:      September 2011
Age Group:    Young Adult


 Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents' ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who has changed... Everyone still alive has turned - some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh). Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom - an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home - and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse. This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to find food, shelter, while fighting off the 'Changed' and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped.

My Thoughts:

The first thing that comes to mind about this book is the fantastically described zombie scenes. Lots of blood and gore, as to be expected from a zombie novel. As the story progresses we get a bit of respite from the creepiness, to point where it almost felt like I was reading a completely different book altogether, but surprisingly despite the change of pace the novel still seemed to flow really well only to take another turn and suddenly there is an unexpected cliffhanger ending that left me 'hungry' for more.
The main characters were likable and flawed. Alex is a strong and courageous character who is very self sufficient, perhaps a little to knowledgeable about wilderness survival for someone of her age who has a been receiving treatment for a large brain tumor. Ellie is a major pain but really she is just a typical eight year old and a terrified and confused one at that. Tom is highly skilled and  mysterious.
I am eager to discover the fate of Tom, Ellie and Alex. This book is a good start to what I hope will become a great series.

Friday 4 November 2011

A Waltz For Matilda by Jackie French

Title:               A Waltz For Matilda
Author:           Jackie French
ISBN:              9780732290214
Publisher:       Harper Collins
Published:      2010
Age Group:    Young Adult, Historical Fiction


In 1894, twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums to find her unknown father and his farm. But drought grips the land, and the shearers are on strike. Her father has turned swaggie and he′s wanted by the troopers. In front of his terrified daughter, he makes a stand against them, defiant to the last. ′You′ll never catch me alive, said he...′

Set against a backdrop of bushfire, flood, war and jubilation, this is the story of one girl′s journey towards independence. It is also the story of others who had no vote and very little but their dreams.

Drawing on the well-known poem by A.B. Paterson and from events rooted in actual history, this is the untold story behind Australia′s early years as an emerging nation.

My Thoughts: 

Jackie French truly does have a way with words. She has delighted readers of all ages for many years and this book is simply superb as many have come to expect from this much loved Australian author.

One cannot help but be inspired by the strength and determination of Matilda as she leaves the only home she has ever known and ventures out into the outback in search of her father and a better life. The joy she finds is sadly cut short when her father dies in an attempt to escape the Troopers, leaving Matilda the owner of her fathers' small farm. Matilda refuses to give up on her fathers dreams for the farm and puts her heart and soul into the property. Along the way she experiences friendship, love and loss, as she fights for, not only her rights, but also the rights of her friends.

This book sends strong messages of the importance of equality and the importance of not giving up. With a descriptive writing style the reader feels as though they have been transported to the Australian outback and can feel the burning heat of the sun on their skin, smell the sweetness of the Australian bush, hear the gentle hum of the insects and see the beautiful golden, sunburnt country stretching out before their eyes.

A beautiful, historical tale that will be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.