Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Underwater, by Helen Vivienne Fletcher, is an interesting read, but definitely not what I expected when I first found the book. This book is set from Bailey’s – the main protagonist’s – point of view and shows her experience at Pine Hills Resort. Pine Hills Resort – which is somewhere in New Zealand – is described as not being the kind of place where anyone can keep anything hidden at all. This is worrying for Bailey, because she has a lot of secrets and a lot of scars, all of which she’d like to keep hidden. Read more
The Traitor and the Thief
“It appeared no one in this new world he inhabited was quite who they seemed.” This is a quote from the steampunk adventure novel The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. I was inspired to read this book after meeting the author, also known as The Great Wardini, at Booktown in Featherston, and being his assistant while he performed magic tricks. The Traitor and the Thief is a great book with complex characters, exciting twists and many themes.
When 14-year-old orphan Sin is abducted off the streets, he finds a new life in Covert Operations Group (COG), composed of a group of teens training to stop a war. Read more
Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Helen Vivienne Fletcher’s self-published thriller Broken Silence is bursting with promise – unfortunately, it fails to hit the spot.
Set in present-day Wellington, Broken Silence introduces us into the world of 17-year-old Kelsey, a protagonist with a heavy weight on her shoulders. Trying to deal with a terminally ill mother, an absent father, and her abusive boyfriend Mike, Kelsey’s chaotic life conveys what it feels like to be a lost and confused teenager. The mayhem escalates when a mysterious caller gives Kelsey a hand out of her violent situation with Mike – by putting him into a coma. Read more
Kate De Goldi
Closed, Stranger by Kate De Goldi depicts the complicated friendship between Max Jackson and Andy “Westie” Westgarth. They are both entering their first year of university and must juggle relationships, school, and complicated home lives. The stress of all this often sees Max and Westie turning to drugs to forget their problems. Of course, this will have repercussions and leads to tragedy later in the novel which will inevitably change both of their lives forever.
The title, Closed, Stranger, refers to the term used to describe the practice of placing non-biologically related children with adoptive parents. Read more
Imagine you have no wifi, no technology, and rely entirely and solely on the forest, for your source of food, water and even how you bathe. This was the life of Egan Tucker: bathing in waterfalls, living in the bush and hunting for food, this was his reality. Nevertheless, he is a normal human being. Egan lives with his mother, who brought him to the forest when he was but a baby. Egan, growing up, was very determined and wanted nothing but to protect his mother. His mother had told him about the outside world and so he had begun to live in fear of it. Read more
The Traitor and the Thief
The Traitor and the Thief is a young adult fiction book by Gareth Ward, published by Walker Books Australia in August 2017, which won the 2016 Storylines Tessa Duder Award. The book is about a 14-year-old boy called Sin who steals on the streets of a steampunk Britannia. Sin is caught stealing and is offered a place in Covert Operation Group (COG) to train and become a spy. But Sin soon discovers that there is a spy in COG and must catch them before they can cause chaos.
The world that Ward has written is set in an alternate version of our world with a steampunk, James Bond twist. Read more
Moon Boy, by Kathy Sutcliffe, explores a coastal New Zealand town through the eyes of 16-year-old wannabe-receptionist Kat Bell. I’m guessing this novel has a time-span of about a year (start to finish), and in that year Kat experiences bullying, family changes, loneliness and more.
I truly had no idea what this book was about when I chose it. I had never even heard of the novel before. I picked it up and proceeded to read this blurb: “Kat and Eru are new in town and trying to find their way. Not easy when her mum’s in a relationship with his mum, and he’s not your usual sort of guy: Māori with the palest skin and blonde dreads and – strangest of all – no ears. Read more
Kate de Goldi
Sanctuary is both a heart-warming and heart-breaking story of first love, family and grief.
Written in the first person, Sanctuary is narrated by the fiery and sarcastic Catriona, whose distinct voice and dry humour perfectly convey the essence of what it means to be a teenager today. Catriona’s sarcastic and often hurtful remarks, like “one crybaby in the house is enough”, reveal a deeply flawed and complex character. It’s Catriona and Kate De Goldi’s other realistic characters who are the highlight of this book. All the characters have distinct personality traits which will remind the reader of someone they know who is exactly the same and, as a result, the characters come alive on the page. Read more
Restoration Day, by Deborah Makarios, is a fantasy novel set in the nation of Arcelia. It follows princess Lily, a completely useless girl who can’t traverse stairs without help, as she escapes from her safe haven and travels out into the world. Restoration Day is disturbingly predictable. It follows so many clichés and uses so many crutches that I felt I knew what was going to happen as soon as I started reading, and I did.
Lily is trapped in a castle for reasons neither she nor the reader is given. She believes her parents died winning a war 18 years ago, and never receives any human contact except for her guardians. Read more
J L Pawley
Recommended to me as a sci-fi thriller in which the author “actually knows how birds work,” J L Pawley’s debut novel, Air Born, is sure to be a high-flier in New Zealand YA fiction.
Air Born was originally self-published by the author under the title First Flight. It quickly became a Wattpad sensation, attracting over 1.5 million reads. After working with Pawley, it was published by Steam Press in late 2017. Since then, the book has been sold internationally and was recently released in Russian. It’s easy to see why the book took flight. Read more