Posted on October 24, 2013 by Rhondda
A surprising novel as I did not expect another book that related to the Alex rider series but this is a welcome addition. I have only just finished and I have boys eagerly awaiting it.
I love the proliferation of good series for young adults, specially for boys. Many of our boys are not really adventurous (or great readers) and when they find a book they like, they would rather re-read it than take a chance on a new book that they might not like. Series make it much easier for me. If I can help them find a series they like they (and I) are very relieved. A few books they feel they have a connection to. After they have read a series, we go to the “if you liked…., you might like……” approach.
My idea is to get them into the habit of reading and reading books that they enjoy. It is slow but with little steps we aim to increase their positive reading experiences.
Russian Roulette by Anthony Horowitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was surprised to find this book. I enjoyed the Alex Rider series and thought like many others that it was finished which was the cause of much sadness for many of my students.
In a way it is a prequel to the Alex Rider series. It was fascinating to discover how the Alex Rider’s biggest enemy, the Scorpia assassin Yassen Gregorovich, came to be the man we encountered in the Stormbreaker. It was fascinating to see this character as a boy. We learn how brutally Yassen’s (born Yasha) family and childhood was ripped away. We see how he is forced into one difficult situation after another. He has to make many decisions that eventually lead him to be that character in the Alex Rider series. It is interesting to compare Alex and Yasha as boys. The characters are very similar but their circumstances drive them in completely opposite directions. It does however make the reader see Yassen in a different light and we fell some empathy this contract killer. In Russian Roulette the connection between Yassen and the Rider family is explained and why Yassen does not kill Alex when he had the chance at the end of Stormbreaker.
This was a good book and a must-read for all the Alex Rider fans.
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Posted on September 30, 2013 by Rhondda
I have had time to sit and read in the last 2 days. I have really enjoyed just reading for fun and the books I have been reading have immersed me totally in their worlds. Of course I have to keep up with my YA reading but John Flanagan created a terrific story for his final book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The latest Felix Francis book was the best one by him yet and, as I lived in England for a while and have always had an interest in horses, it was another book I could connect with and enjoy in a number of ways.
I also have the latest Phyrne Fisher Murder and Mendelssohn (#20) on my kindle and I am currently almost 1/2 way through it. The ABC television series is enjoyable but the books are so much better. Then there will be more YA reading in the latest Young Sherlock Holmes book – #6 Knife Edge- by Andrew Lane, another series I have enjoyed, as well as finally reading Itch Rocks by Simon Mayo.
I have also started reviewing the books I finished on LibraryThing and GoodReads
The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In book 12,”The Royal Ranger”, the saga turns full circle. This time it is Will who has to take on an apprentice. The book begins with Will suffering from an immense tragedy in his life and seeking revenge for his hurt. His friends are very worried for him and believe that the right apprentice just might help him recover his equanimity. John Flanagan does not disappoint in his final addition to this series. Will has become a master and has definitely learned enough to become a teacher himself but how will he take the suggestion? Will agrees however but taking on an apprentice is not easy and there are many challenges both Will and his apprentice must meet.
There were many small things in the story that harked back to the first book in the series when Will was an apprentice to Halt and it is a fitting way to farewell all the characters that readers have come to know and love through the RA stories.
The book is filled with action, humour and tragedy and there was plenty of natural dialogue throughout the story and some of reactions of the characters made me laugh.
Series website: http://www.rangersapprentice.com.au/
There is also enough in the book to sow the seeds of ideas for a new spinoff series to the Ranger’s Apprentice books. Could this happen?
Dick Francis’s Refusal by Felix Francis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Felix Francis wrote 4 books with his father and “Refusal” is the fourth he has written as the sole author. In this novel he brings back a character from his father’s previous books, Sid Halley, who was a well-respected private investigator and ex-jockey.
Sid Halley has retired from the PI business for the sake of his family and is now working as an investor and telling himself that his life is satisfying. He is living with his wife and daughter in a country village near his ex-father-in-law. So when an official from the British horse racing industry asks Sid to investigate what looks like race fixing, he refuses. When that person is later found dead the next day, after an apparent suicide, Sid becomes more interested but is still unwilling to get involved. When he gets a threatening phone call that demands he sign off on a report indicating that everything in racing is fine and his young daughter is temporarily kidnapped, Sid decides he has to get involved. The villain throws more and more trouble Sid’s way but he stubbornly perseveres. He knows that the only way his family will ever be safe is for him to work out how to beat the villain who is causing all the trouble, without bringing down his beloved racing industry in the process. Most of his old colleagues have moved on and are no longer available to assist him but Chico Barnes is still around. He is a great character and is again very helpful to Sid as the two of them investigate the leads to come up with a plan to end the threat to Sid’s life, his family and the British racing industry.
The story was exciting and moved at a fast pace and there were a few unexpected plot twists. The villain looked to be untouchable, Sid Halley was as courageous and obstinate as he always was as he fought for justice and there was a fitting ending to the story.
So far this fourth book by Felix Francis was the most enjoyable read for me
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Posted on September 5, 2013 by Rhondda
The Ranger’s Apprentice series has been a favourite in our library since we bought our first copy of book 1 in 2004. Finally John Flanagan has written the final book about Will and his friends.
Entitled “The Royal Ranger”, the story will take place 16 years after the last story and Will has known tragedy since we last joined him on his adventures. John Flanagan stated in an interview that the final book of the series will tell the story of Will’s first apprentice.
The publisher’s description: After a senseless tragedy destroys phis life, Will is obsessed with punishing those responsible – even if it means leaving the Ranger Corps. His worried friends must find a way to stop him taking such a dark path.
It is Halt who suggests the solution: Will must take an apprentice. The candidate Halt has in mind surprises everyone – and it’s a request Will cannot refuse.Training a rebellious, unwilling apprentice is hard enough. But when a routine mission uncovers a shocking web of crime, Will must decide where his priorities lie – finishing his quest for revenge, or saving innocent lives?
You can read an excerpt
from the Random House site. I am looking forward to reading this adventure when it is published Oct 1st although it is always bittersweet when a series you have enjoyed comes to an end.
Below is the 2013 book trailer for the series.
Filed under: literature, Reading | Tagged: Australian literature, children's literature, John Flanagan, Ranger's Apprentice, YA literature | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 28, 2013 by Rhondda
How do we adults know what are the most loved children’s books today? In our library I can get statistics on what the boys have borrowed from us but there are quite a few who buy (yes some still buy) their favourites. I can read the top-selling lists but books are often bought by parents, grandparents, etc. Do the “kids” “love” these books? Often the books that win the CBCA awards are not the books chosen by the young people themselves. The Yabba awards and the Inky Awards attest to this. I can get also a feel for what they are reading by talking to the ones who visit us but these two awards try to tap into the thoughts of the young people who are reading.
The YABBA awards are an annual children’s choice book award. There are 4 sections: Picture Story Books; Fiction for Younger Readers; Fiction for Older Readers; Fiction for Years 7 to 9. Young people annually nominate Australian children’s fiction books that have been published in the last ten years to create a short list. This list is published then everyone can read books from the YABBA short lists. The favourite books are voted for by a specified date in October, (often International Children’s Day). The winners are announced at the award ceremony where authors and illustrators receive YABBA citations presented by some of those very young people who have voted.
During Term 1 each year children across Victoria are asked to recommend their favourite Australian books to other children by nominating their four favourite Australian titles.
All nominations are collated and the 10 books with the most nominations in each of the award categories are the shortlisted books for that year. Students are then encouraged to read as many of these books across Term 2 and Term 3 that they can.
All this reading is leading to each student rewarding their very favourite book during the voting process in early Term 4.
Fiction for Year 7-9
Fiction for Older Readers
I also like the idea of the Inky Awards.
The Inkys are international awards for teen literature, voted for online by the readers of insideadog.com.au, and named after the site’s wonder-dog, Inky. There are three awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, the Silver Inky for an international book,. The Inky Awards are for fiction, poetry, and/or anthology books or graphic novels, and can be a work of joint authorship or editorship. The voting is on-line and open between 26 August – 18 October and anyone aged 12-20 can vote for their favourite.
In 2011 the following post and infographic was created to try to understand some of the trends in the children’s books world. I find the timeline interesting and some of the things in the infographic would be a good way to start a conversation with younger readers.
“We have created a both fun and informative infographic, “The Most Loved Children’s Books.” In it, we have recounted our favorite books as a way to celebrate children’s literature throughout the years.”
Via MAT@USC: Become a Teacher
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