Tag Archives: NZ Authors

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.

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Brian Falkner – Action from Go to Whoa!

Task ForceJust read the latest from Brian Falkner last night – Recon Team Angel Task Force. What a read! There’s no let-up from beginning to end. It is 2031, and the Angel Team are off on another mission behind enemy lines to try to save the world from the Bzadians. Their job? To prepare the way for a multinational task force to invade the alien homeland in the heart of Australia, now called New Bzadia. Things do not exactly go as planned, but the mission certainly leads to an exciting and unexpected ending. 

Well worth a read for those who like their reading full-on! If you’ve not caught up with this series already, look out the first book, Recon Team Angel Assault. And it seems there is a third to follow – Recon Team Angel Ice War – according to the following book trailer:

Mr F

Recon Team Angel: Assault – Brian Falkner’s latest

With this novel Brian Falkner joins the ranks of Robert Muchamore, John Marsden and Anthony Horowitz, and it promises to be the first of a series of full-on action/war thrillers for young adults.

Set in 2030, the world has been taken over by alien invaders, the Bzadians, who have gradually infiltrated to Earth from their dying planet since the 1940s, landing first in Australia, then gradually taking over the large land masses of Asia, Africa and Europe. All that stops their full world occupation is the determined resistance from the forces of North and South America, and New Zealand – in particular, Recon Team Angel, a multi-national group of highly trained and well-equipped teenage soldiers.

The action begins from the first page, and doesn’t stop. This is a real page-turner, and the sequels are bound to be just as action-packed as this first volume. Brian Falkner has created a mix of credible teenage characters, fast-moving plot, and high-tech war gadgetry which is sure to appeal.

Watch for the sequel (s)!

Mr F

Settlers’ Creek by Carl Nixon


Have just finished this thoroughly good read, from a fine writer. Settlers’ Creek reflects the current New Zealand situation and environment in a very believable way. Carl Nixon‘s story of the family tragedy, when Box Saxton’s teenage stepson commits suicide and his body is highjacked by his biological father for burial elsewhere, is most engrossing and fast-moving. Saxton, once a successful property developer, but then bankrupted by the economic recession, emerges as a strong and credible character as he takes action to deal with the crisis.

A fine read which should appeal to senior students and staff. Some of you will remember Carl from his visit to King’s College in our 2009 Literacy Week.