Trailer for “The Giver” movie

The film is based on Lois Lowry’s  young adult novel is almost here. The trailer for the The Giver is a modern classic. It won the 1993 John Newbery Medal and was the 1993 Honor Book on the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award (Fiction)

The setting at first seems to be in a utopian society but gradually it begins to appear more and more dystopian. The poignant story is centred around 12-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colourless, world. At the Ceremony of the Twelves all the children in that age group are ‘assigned’ to their future role in life. The roles are carefully chosen by the Committee of Elders and based on their temperaments. It is expected that each child will live a productive life for the benefit of the whole. It is a world that encourages conformity which is seen as the path to contentment. Everyone is expected to be happy about their lot and fit into this life. This is a society which is free of pain and chaos but is also devoid of emotions and feelings. There is no place for love, joy, guilt or remorse or any other human emotion and freedom of choice and individuality are unknown concepts. Once someone becomes unproductive, for what ever reason, they enter the housing for the aged for a short period before being ‘released’.

Jonas is horrified when he believes that he has been passed over at the assigning ceremony but he is named as the Receiver. This is a position that is offered rarely and he knows nothing about it. He life changes as he begins his apprenticeship. He learns that the Receiver is the custodian of all memories in their community. The Receiver alone understands about colour, emotions, weather and, more importantly, individuality. The old Receiver is now The Giver and, as he transfers more and more memories to Jonas, Jonas begins to understand what the community has lost when they are so protected against pain, it also deprives them of joy.  As the Receiver of Memory he also begins to understand some of the other dark secrets behind his fragile community. It is a great book and I hope the film does it justice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNNugNe0Wo

John Flanagan on his Ranger’s Apprentice series

These books are well-loved and the final book was a fitting end to the series and Will’s story.

John Flanagan has often answered questions about his books via YouTube. Below are two recent videos offer some insight into what he is thinking and answer a few of the questions fans are asking. I will use them in our library next year to remind our readers about the books/series.

The first short video was done in answer to why he finished the series

And will there be a movie?

Russian Roulette: a prequel to Alex Rider series

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 RouletteRussian 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.
Website: http://www.alexrider.com/Home

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Time for reading

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 (Ranger's Apprentice, #12)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 RefusalDick 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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The Royal Ranger: the last Ranger’s Apprentice story

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.
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