Review – That Stubborn Seed of Hope

Human beings can be a tenacious breed. Our stubborn ability to cling to optimism often overrides unsolicited fear, which I guess allows us to fit in with the rest of the world’s species and, in short, survive. Brian Falkner artfully cultivates that seed of hope in a choice collection of short stories ideal for mid-grade to YA readers and beyond.

That Stubborn Seed of Hope Stories heralds what I hope is the first of more anthologies for children, depicting concise, gripping stories linked in theme and flavour. The tone of this collection is at times dark and sobering, sorrowful and desperate yet somehow also manages to leave the reader with a yearning to read on, to venture further into their own swamp of fears and to face those disquietudes with the help of another’s story.

Falkner addresses a number of fearful situations and occasions to dread with these stories: the fear of death, embarrassment, rejection, heartbreak to name a few. At times the obvious theme is enshrouded by a veil of less certain anxieties which combine to form complex and rich narratives. Continue reading Review – That Stubborn Seed of Hope

RECON TEAM ANGEL, ASSAULT – BRIAN FALKNER’S NEW BLOCKBUSTER

Recon Team Angel, Assault is the first in a trilogy by the master of action and suspense, Brian Falkner.

The year is 2030 and the world is at War with an Alien Race, the Bzadiens. The battle ground is earth.

Recon Team Angel, Assault (Book 1 in the trilogy) is a science/fiction paranormal for readers aged 14+. It stars an impressive list of 16 year-old characters trying to infiltrate the enemy camp inside the belly of Uluru, and save the human race.

There’s Lt Chisnall, his second-in-charge, Brogan Hunter, Price and Monster. They all have their special skills and talents. The problem for Chisnall is that one of his team is a traitor intent on sabotaging the mission.

In order to outwit the enemy, Chisnall and his team have undergone extensive training and a physical transformation to disguise them as Bzadiens. They’ve even learned the Bzadien language and customs.

But it just takes the smallest slip in detail to blow their cover, incur the suspicion of the enemy and bring on life threatening consequences.

Recon Team Angel has to blast and shoot its way into Uluru and once they’re inside, they make a shocking discovery.

The Bzadiens have been hiding a terrible secret, and their devious plan to destroy the human race has been going on a lot longer than people realise. It’s up to Recon Team Angel to put a stop to The Bzadien’s plans and save the human race.

Uluru makes a great backdrop for this thriller and the author is masterful in the way he weaves the setting into the plot.

Recon Team Angel is full of quirky characters and non stop action covering a five day mission that leaves you breathless.

Brian Falkner has paid a lot of attention to detail with everything from weaponry to clothing, food, sleep and technology. He has built a fascinating but believable world for the reader.

Recon Team Angel is a group of the most disciplined, highly trained, tech savvy, strategic teens I’ve ever come across – and that’s what makes these characters so impressive. They also have great human quirks that make them individual.

Can’t wait to read the next adventure of Recon Team Angel.

 

 

 

 

 

Inside a Dog

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Who would have thought that these words, uttered by the legendary Grouho Marx, would have gone on to inspire a website for young readers?

Inside a Dog was originally launched in May 2006 by the State Library of Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature. Since then is has hosted many ‘writers in residence’ on its blog, published hundreds of book reviews by teenagers and given birth to the Inky Awards. Its purpose is to encourage reading amongst young people and to promote Australian writers and their work.

Recently, the dog had a facelift. Actually it’s more than just a surface spruce-up and redesign. The new site has a lot of additional functionality, including forums, book clubs and teacher resources. I was lucky enough to go along to the re-launch of the site, hosted by The Age, on Tuesday 8 March.

As well as all the things you would expect at such a launch, speeches from people at the Centre for Youth Literature and The Age, and a tour of the website and its functions, this launch also included a key note speech from writer Bernard Beckett.

I’ve got to admit that I’d never heard of Bernard Beckett prior to this event. But I was seriously impressed by his speech. As well as being a writer, he is also a teacher, and he spoke about engaging students with reading. He talked about the importance of encouraging the enjoyment of reading, and he did so with passion, insight and a great deal of wit. All those attending received a copy of his latest book, August, which I have now placed in my must-read-soon stack.

So why am I telling you about the launch? It’s simply an excuse for me to encourage you all, be you young or young at heart, to visit the Inside a Dog website. If you’re a parent or teacher, browse through the reviews to see what kids are reading and the find out what they really think of books like Twilight and Harry Potter. If you’re a young person, register on the site and share your opinion of the books you are reading. And everyone should check out the Writer in Residence blogs. The current Writer in Residence is Brian Falkner, author of Brainjack and The Tomorrow Code. Past writers have included Daniel Ducrou (Byron Journals) and Nick Earls (True Story Of Butterfish).

It’s certainly not too dark to read inside this dog!

Tune in next time as J.E. Fison drops by on the blog tour for her latest Hazard River books.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

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September Book Giveaway

SEPTEMBER MAJOR GIVEAWAY

Let this month’s prize pack take you on an unforgettable journey – globe-trot with Joel Magarey, get lost among the desert elephants of Namibia, pig out in northern Spain. Relax and soak in William McInnes’ reflections on his father, and unleash your inner-child with the hottest children’s releases. The pack includes:

A Man’s Got To Have A Hobby by William McInnes SIGNED

Ivory Moon by Sally Henderson

Exposure: A Journey by Joel Magarey

Everything But The Squeal by John Barlow

Schooling Around: Robot Riot! by Andy Griffiths

Looking For Flavour by Barbara Santich

It’s Yr Life by Tempany Deckert & Tristan Bancks

Gone by Michael Grant

The Greatest Blogger In The World by Andrew McDonald

To go into the draw to win these books, just complete the entry form here. Entries close September 30, 2009.

Ivory Moon
Everything But The Squeal
Gone

SEPTEMBER FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

When you join our Facebook Group, not only do you become a part of one of Australia’s fastest growing online book groups, you also go into the draw to win prizes! This month, one lucky member will win a pack that includes:

The Pheonix Files: Arrival by Chris Morphew

Brainjack by Brian Falkner

Big Stories From Little Lunch by Danny Katz, illustrated by Mitch Vane

Scatterheart by Lili Wilkinson

Allie McGregor’s True Colours by Sue Lawson

Tales From The Labyrinth/The Stone Ladder by Peter Lloyd

Jetty Road by Cath Kenneally

Chinese Cinderella: The Mystery of the Song Dynasty Painting


Big Stories From Little Lunch


Scatterheart


Allie McGregor's True Colours


Tales from the Labyrinth / The Stone Ladder

A big thanks to our friends at Allen and Unwin, Black Dog Books, Hachette, Hardie Grant Egmont, Pan Macmillan, Random House, Wakefield Press and Walker Books for supporting our giveaways this month.