Tag Archives: Fantasy

Who are you and what is real?


Quite by chance I have read a series of books recently which, whilst all being very different, have all had a spooky continuity. They have all asked questions about reality and identity, and involved stories about people trying to find themselves and get back home.

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 3.50.36 PMThe first book,  Nowhere Boys by Elise McCredie,  is based on an Australian television drama series [by Tony Ayres and Beth Frey] that won the Australian Film Institute Award for best Children’s Television Drama in 2013. It is a fantasy adventure about four very different teenage boys who spend a night in the bush when a school excursion goes wrong. But when they return home, they discover that they are trapped in a parallel world where no one recognises them and they no longer exist. What has happened? Is it magic? Is it demons? Why has this happened? and how are they going to get home?

The second book, Flip is Martyn Bedford“s first young adult novel [although he has published five novels for adults]. Flip is a much more intense psychological thriller about a boy called Alex who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped in the body of someone else; this person shares the same birthday but nothing else. He lives in very different part of the country, he has a sister not a brother, he is popular, he is good at sports and he has lots of girlfriends. Alex knows that at his core he is not Philip, or Flip, but where is his “unique inner essence”,  is he really a “psychic evacuee” and how can he return to his family?

The third and final novel I read was More Than This by Patrick Ness. It has been described as a “tense thriller” about “love and survival.” Our copy in the library has a lovely message at the front of the book from the author especially for Australian and New Zealand readers! In it he explains that this book started as an idea in his head whilst he was in our “part of the world”. More Than This begins with Seth drowning; then he wakes up. Where is he? Is he in hell? Is he dreaming? Is he living in his imagination? Little by little we find out about Seth as he tries to reconcile his past with his present. I wont spoil your delight of discovery by telling you any more, but I would say that this book is perhaps the most demanding and challenging  read of the three.

Mrs H.

Love, Fantasy and Magic

Winning YA novels

Love, fantasy and magic are the common themes between two of the winning categories of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults announced last night – Best Young Adult Fiction and Best First Book. For a full list of all the winners see here.

The Best Young Adult Fiction prize went to Elizabeth Knox for Mortal Fire, described by Paula Green as “a story of love, desire, friendship and teenage turning points, yet it is much more. It is also a story of politics – the lengths a community will go to stop a hydro dam flooding their precious Zarene Valley. It is a story of outsiderness, whether through the colour of one’s skin, abilities or bloodline. Above all, it is a story of trust.” She goes on to say that “Knox writes with such a graceful hand that the story (despite its mist, steam and smoke) reverberates with exquisite clarity.”
The Best First Book award went to R.L. Stedman for A Necklace of Souls, a book that won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2012, and already has an average rating of 3.83 stars (out of five) on Goodreads.

Rachel enjoyed researching for A Necklace of Souls and surprisingly “read a lot of books about things like knife fighting and breadmaking” in the process, which she recorded in the form of a research board on Pinterest. Last year when she was asked what was the best thing about being a writer, she replied, “You get to write :). Most writers seem to really like finding out new things. I think most writers are little like ‘fact magpies’ we get to learn new stuff every day and we can call it ‘research.’ For example, through writing A Necklace of Souls, I learned a lot about knife fighting. I read a whole lot (and watched a lot of you-tube videos) about Kali knife fighting, which is from the Philippines. And I know how long an English longbow is – over seven foot. That is taller than most men. Do you know, if you use a long bow a lot, the bones in one arm grow heavier than the other? Skeletons of archers have bigger left arm-bones than the right. That is why writing is so cool, you get to learn random stuff every day. (Makes you good in quizzes, too!)”
Mrs H.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Pond at sunset - medium

Pond at sunset by Michael Loudon

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is an intriguing mystery that started life as a short story commissioned by Jonathan Strahan and grew into a novel. It begins with a man returning to the place where he lived as child, and continues with his childhood memories as he relives a series of unhappy and sinister events. Did they really happen, or was it all boyish imagination in his head?

As a seven-year old he is a self-reliant boy but he has no friends and spends much of his time reading. Does he have an overgrown imagination? We learn that as an adult he “makes art”.

” Growing up, I took so many cues from books. They taught me most of what I knew about what people did, about how to behave. They were my teachers and my advisers. In books, boys climbed trees, so I climbed trees, sometimes very high, always scared of falling. In books, people climbed up and down drainpipes to get in and out of houses, so I climbed up and down drainpipes too……”

I enjoyed the shadowy atmosphere in the book and the descriptions of very normal events perhaps turning into something very supernatural and magical.

Read the book and discover what you think.

These are a few podcasts which you might enjoy. The discussion between Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman includes the books they enjoyed in their youth, the role of fantasy in their work, and their experiences with religion amongst other things.

Mrs H.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Definition of enclave: A distinctly bounded area enclosed within a larger unit

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games series you may find this book is one for you. It starts with a group of young people living a hard life in an enclave underground. The enclave has its own rules for survival where everyone has a job to perform. Deuce and Fade are both trained hunters who provide food for everyone to eat and defend the enclave against the freaks; zombie-like monsters who roam underground. One day they find themselves expelled from their home and doomed to go Topside –  what will they find, what will they do, and will it be safe?

Ann Aguirre is an American author who, amongst many other things, loves action movies and Dr Who. She wrote this futuristic book following some research which included reading an article about science and zombie attacks if there was to be a battle between zombies and the living, who would win? and thinking back to what happened after Hurricane Katrina.

I found it very easy to read and now I can’t wait to read the next in the Razorland trilogy called Outpost. The third and final book Horde, will be published later this year.

Want to read more about Ann Aguirre and her writing? See her blog

Mrs H.

The Mortal Instruments in the library and in our virtual library


This seems to be a series of books that splits readers apart – they either love it, or hate it. In order not to spoil any of the surprises I wont tell you what it is about, or link any reviews, I’ll just say read it and find out for yourself.

Opening lines of the City of Bones by Cassandra Clare:

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest. He stared down at the boy in the red zip-up jacket and shook his head.”You can’t bring that thing in here”.

Mortal Instruments series

  1. City of Bones
  2. City of Ashes
  3. City of Glass
  4. City of Fallen Angles
  5. City of Lost Souls
  6. City of Heavenly Fire (scheduled for 2014)

The Prequels  – The Infernal Devices series

  1. Clockwork Angel
  2. Clockwork Prince
  3. Clockwork Princess

The Sequels – The Dark Artifices series ( not until 2015)

  1. Lady Midnight
  2. Prince of Shadows
  3. The Queen of Air and Darkness

The Bane Chronicles series (2014)

This is a collection of ten short stories centred around Magnus Bane. They are being released in eBook format in the States leading up to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie (out on August  23 2013). All ten stories will be followed by a single print edition in 2014.

Don’t forget you can download an eBook version of The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series from our eBook collection here.

Cassandra Clare website

Cassandra Clare Blog

Mrs H.

Student Picks: The Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks

The Blinding Knife Book Two

The Blinding Knife
Book Two in the series

Title: The Blinding Knife

Author: Brent Weeks

What is is about?

This is the second book in the award-winning Lightbringer Series, which is about a magical world of light drafting. A drafter is someone who can shape or harness light into physical form. The colours drafted are also very important as they influence character behaviour and personality, virtues and vices. Gavin Guile is dying. He’d thought he had five years left – now he’s got less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son and an ex-fiancee who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin’s got problems on every side. As he loses control of his magic, all magic is running wild, threatening to destroy the Seven Satrapies. The old gods are being reborn. Their army of color wights is unstoppable, and the only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.

What did you think of it, and why did you pick it up?

I thought it was a really good read, despite being a long one. It is worth sticking with it because the author, Brent Weeks, has created a fascinating world. It is a deep story full of different characters, which gives you an insight into what it is like leading up to, and during a war. I enjoyed book one, The Black Prism, which set up the location and the characters , but I found book two even  better. It has a character list and a glossary of all the terms used  because Brent Weeks has invented a new language which is interesting.

Star Rating:  * * * * * (Yes,  that’s 5 stars out of 5!)

Who would enjoy reading this?

This book is suitable for Young Adults, I would suggest Years 12 and 13.

Book One

The Black Prism

And if you still want to know more, see this trailer.

Raymond Ke Year 13

Author of The Spook’s Apprentice visits New Zealand

The Spook's Apprentice books in the library

The Spook’s Apprentice books in the library

Joseph Delaney is a retired English teacher from Lancashire, England. He has been to Christchurch and today he is in Whangarei. He is here to talk about his work and the latest terrors to be faced by Thomas Ward, the young apprentice at the heart of The Spook’s Apprentice series. He’ll also speak about The Seventh Son, the movie based on his novels, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore. The film directed by Sergei Bodrov is due for release October 2013.”

Last year Joseph Delaney wrote on his blog: “On April 30th (2012) I visited Vancouver, Canada, to watch the film of ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’/ ’The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch’ being made. The film is called ‘The Seventh Son’ and it is a good choice. After all you have to be a seventh son of a seventh son just to be eligible to become a spook’s apprentice.”

” It will differ from the first book somewhat. All films are adaptations and make changes. But I am convinced that it will be a great film. I’m looking forward to it.”

To read more on Joseph Delaney’s blog click here

Mrs H.

I Am Number Four

Yes, we have the book!

Read it , using this “Browse Inside” link before you see the film, which has not had the best of reviews.




Here’s a book trailer:

Here’s the first official film trailer:

And here's the second: