Tag Archives: adventure

Book Review: Hunting Lila

What makes a novel good? The truth is, I don’t know. Obviously, an interesting storyline and great characters are part of it. But why do we like some books over others? Especially these days, when many young adult novels can be a little bit same same.

Well, in some respects, Sarah Alderson’s novel, Hunting Lila, fits into that same same category. Lila’s mother has been murdered and she’s living in London with her grieving father, as far away as possible from her beloved brother Jack and his best friend Alex – who Lila has been in love with since she was little. Lila also has the ability to move things with her mind, something she keeps under wraps until she is mugged, escapes London and lands back in Southern California with Jack and Alex. Jack and Alex are part of a secretive special ops force on the hunt for Lila’s mother’s killer – who just happens to ‘gifted’, just like Lila.

This is not the most unique narrative I’ve ever read, but it works really well. Alderson has a talent for keeping readers in suspense without annoying them, and she is equally adept at teasing out a love story. Mostly, I find love stories in teen novels a bit mushy, but I really liked the romantic tension between Lila and Alex. This book sits astride the YA/Adult divide; it’s adult in content but quite an easy read. Think Da Vinci Code, X-Men, John Grisham and you’ve got an idea of what Hunting Lila is all about.

I give it three and a half stars!

There is a sequel (called Losing Lila – catchy!) but this would work as a standalone novel if you can’t be bothered wading through yet another series. I highly recommend Hunting Lila as a great novel in which you can escape to a world of excitement and suspense.

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Film Review: The Hobbit

So. The Hobbit.

Let me start by saying that I’m a mammoth Lord of the Rings fan in general and I love love LOVED the first film trilogy. I also used to teach The Hobbit as an English text to Year 7 students. And I’ve been following The Hobbit production blog for the past twelve months.

Yep. You could say I’m a fan.

So did this movie live up to expectations? For me, yes. But for many others, no. If you expected more beautiful scenery, more exquisite costuming and sets and more epic battle scenes, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re expecting a deep and meaningful story about the triumph of good over evil, this film might fall a little short.

You see, the LOTR movie trilogy was based on three books – and there was plenty of story to go round. The Hobbit, by contrast, is only ONE book being broken into three films, and the story does feel a little stretched. Basically it goes like this: dwarves and Bilbo go on adventure, dwarves and Bilbo get into trouble, dwarves and Bilbo get out of trouble, dwarves and Bilbo get back into trouble, get out of trouble, etc, etc.  The moral that “small everyday deeds of ordinary folk keep the darkness at bay” is a great message and rings true throughout the film, but apart from that, The Hobbit is essentially a basic adventure story.

The famous brood of the lovely Richard Armitage’s face.

So what’s good about it? Well, there’s a real sense of fun and humour in this film. The dwarves (too numerous to name) are actually quite hilarious, as is Bilbo, and, on occasion, Gandalf.  I saw the film is both 2D and 3D and some of the scenic shots in 3D are a bit mind-blowing (and not great if you’re not a fan of heights).  I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m going to say that Richard Armitage (Thorin) is just awesome (if not more so) as Viggo Mortenson (Aragorn) was. Big call, but there it is. How that man can brood at elves when his character is only five foot tall and pull it off is a testament to…well….his face really. Armitage is a brooder from way back and he’s fantastic as the dwarf leader.

And yes, Gollum is back and just as amazing as he was in the first trilogy. However, his involvement in The Hobbit is very minimal – he only appears in one chapter at the start. This means it’s unlikely we’ll see him again in the coming films, but I’ll bet that Peter Jackson finds a way to wangle him into subsequent films for the fans.

All in all, I was really pleased with the film and felt it was totally worth the wait. Many people won’t like it because it’s hardcore fantasy and not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re willing to allow your brain to escape for the three hour running time, you’ll find that The Hobbit takes you on a magical journey.

Seen the film and want to read the book? We’ve got it in the library!

Two New Book Reviews

Hi girls,

I just read two interesting new books over the long weekend:

The Midnight Zoo – Sonya Hartnett

I won’t deny that this book is a little different! Two brothers, Andrej and Tomas, are travelling across the war torn countryside.  They have been separated from their

family, have seen their Uncle shot, they have to take care of their baby sister Wilma and above all – they must survive.   The two boys move through village after village; many whose people have scattered and whose buildings have been destroyed.  With no destination in sight, Andrej and Tomas arrive in yet another decimated town.  But this one is different; it has a zoo.  The people have fled, but the animals remain, locked away in tiny cages.  Now, this is were the novel becomes interesting – the animals can talk.  The boys listen to the stories of the animals as they talk about freedom and their longing for home.

This novel is an acquired taste.  Sonya Harnett’s language is just beautiful – if you ever want to read a novel that is rich in description, this is the one for you.  Some of the story is a little confronting (the parts where people are shot) and some of the story is just a little strange.  I kept asking myself: why are these animals talking? Where is this story going? I won’t give away the ending, because I’m still not sure about it myself.  I came away from this novel thinking about war, death and freedom; it certainly make you consider the effect of war on children and animals.  If you’re sick of the same old teen novels and are looking for something different, then I suggest you give it a try.  I get the feeling that this novel will mean different things to different people.

Trash – Andy Mulligan

Good old fashioned adventure books seem to be making a comeback these days, and I for one am pretty glad about that!  I used to read a lot of Famous Five type books as a kid, and ‘Trash’ reminds me a little of those stories.  The main difference, I guess, is the setting.  Raphael and his friends (the stars of the novel) are dumpsite kids, who have a rather miserable existence.  Their days are spent sifting through a rubbish dump, hoping to find items that will make them some cash.  When Raphael finds a mysterious bag containing a key and a wad of cash, his life changes forever.  He and his friends are drawn into an adventure that is dangerous and heartstoppingly exciting.

I really liked the way this book was narrated.  Each character took it in turns to have their say and the mystery was pieced together through these different perspectives.  The adventure that the boys embark on is made more interesting by the fact that you really feel like you want these boys to win.  They have such an ugly life and are so appreciative of the little things, that you can’t help but be drawn into their story.  And I must say, the ending almost made me tear up a little.  I would definitely recommend this one!

Both novels are available at the Nicholas Library.

Happy Reading! 🙂

Rick Riordan Strikes again!

I know there are many of you out there who love love LOVE the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan.  Did you know that he has just released the first of a new series?  ‘The Red Pyramid’ is the first book in the ‘Kane Chronicles’ – a series about Carter and Sadie Kane, whose father is a brilliant Egyptologist.

With the Percy Jackson books, Rick Riordan was all about the ancient Greek gods; with the Kane Chronicles, he explores some of the dark and mysterious Egyptian gods.  In ‘The Red Pyramid’, the Egyptian god of chaos, Set, makes an appearance. If you’re into all things Egyptian, then this is the series for you!

There is also a fabulous website devoted entirely to the Kane Chronicles, where you can download iPhone apps and wallpapers, get more information about characters and keep up to date with the latest news from Rick Riordan. Click on the screen shot below to access the site!

The Nicholas Library has ‘The Red Pyramid’ ready for you to borrow – why not pick up a copy today?