Tag Archives: robots

The Shadow Arts – Damien Love

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Bloomsbury

July 2021

Imprint: Rock the Boat

ISBN: 9780861540860

RRP: $14.99

A few months ago, Alex’s world changed forever. Now, just when it seems life is almost getting back to normal, his grandfather crashes back into the picture with grave news…Innocent lives –  even history itself – could be at stake.

Monstrous Devices was one of the most gripping and splendid debut novels I have ever read and I have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment. Let me say right now, it did not disappoint, and I have no qualms that any readers who have so far become engrossed in Alex’ adventures and the mystery of his grandfather, the tall man and the little girl and the battered tin robot will feel the same.

Like the first book this is a thrilling fantasy/adventure that is edgy and dark with some very unsettling evil villains and seriously creepy machines. I included the first in my pre-holiday book talking ‘best holiday reading picks’ to the Year 6 cohort and made sure I underlined that this is not a series for the faint-hearted or squeamish! Needless to say there was a clamour to be the one to borrow it – especially when I told them I had started this sequel and it was just as exciting. It is going to be such a pleasure to give this one a book talk when the new term starts.

Alex has been struggling to get back to ‘normal’ since the whirlwind adventure that blended ancient magical powers with chancy mechanized killing machines. His brief taste of the power that the mysterious tablet commands has taken hold of his thoughts and he has tried to learn to manipulate it. In a moment of danger, Alex’ grandfather re-appears, dapper and suave as ever, and once again the pair are off on a breakneck trip across Europe, this time to rescue their friend, Harry, unravel the mystery of the disappearing paintings and uncover the tall man’s plot to resurrect an ancient evil force. Their travels lead them to the depths of the Black Forest on the very eve of Walpurgis, and along the way Alex begins to piece together his family history, the true identity of the tall man, the connection of the little girl and most of all some of the strange and unfathomable secrets about his grandfather.

When his grandfather becomes unable to carry on, it is up to Alex to put together all the missing pieces, and harness all his powers to ensure the tall man’s plans, which could signal the end of the world as we know it, come to naught. In the process, he learns much about himself and his own resilience, not to mention empathy and intuition.

Beyond the reckless chases, the nimble escapes and the humorous interludes there is a deep theme throughout of the light and dark of human nature, the power of creation for good and evil and the wants and desires of those who seek power, of whatever kind.

Once again this is a triumph of well-crafted writing which will thoroughly captivate your readers from upper primary onwards. It will certainly be a book that your kiddos will want to debate and discuss post-reading so make sure you set time aside for that.

Highly recommended for readers from around 11/12 years upwards – but possibly not ones easily scared by flying sharp mechanical objects that are programmed to attack no matter what. I suggest you issue all loans with a sachet of table salt – just for good measure!

Monstrous Devices – Damien Love

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Bloomsbury Australia

May 2020

Imprint: Rock the Boat

ISBN 9780451478597

RRP $14.99

Firstly if Sid’s Franken-toys in Toy Story freaked you out a bit, you’re really not going to like the titular monstrous devices in this deliciously exciting and somewhat creepy debut novel from Damien Love!

Twelve year old Alex has a collection of old robot toys which his largely absent grandfather has bought for him over the years. When a new one, and definitely the most interesting of them all, arrives with a note that tells Alex ‘This one is special’ he is both delighted and intrigued. Until that is strange things start happening and Alex begins to suspect that seemingly innocuous tin robot might not just be special but possibly deadly.

Just as things seem to be spiraling into some bizarre and dangerous events, Alex’ grandfather turns up and leaving behind normal life of school bullies, but also friends and his mother, Alex and Grandad, a somewhat mysterious and eccentric old man, plunge into a sinister world of assassins, pursuit by both human and robot adversaries, high-speed chases, narrow escapes and ancient mystical secrets and feuds.

From Paris to Prague the pair, in tandem with an old friend, needs to outwit and out-outmaneuver their persistent and callous enemies as they try to destroy an ancient macabre creation that could potentially destroy the world.

This is not just impressive writing for a debut novel – Love writes with the ease and assuredness of a master whirling the readers into a truly gripping page-turner with high octane excitement and some seriously creepy villians.

Readers from around 12 years upwards will absolutely delight in this and like myself, wait for a next thrilling adventure. Highly recommended for your upper primary/middle secondary kiddos – another one for ‘book talking’ tomorrow!

House of Robots #1- James Patterson

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houserobots

Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780099568278

Published: 01/12/2014

Imprint: Arrow (Young)

Extent: 352 pages

RRP $15.99

There is no doubt that James Patterson must rank as one of the most highly successful authors of our times. His adult novels have always attracted huge readership and now he is simply tearing away with his books for children. I’ve now been lucky enough to review several and just love this new one, first in a series which upper/middle school kids will thoroughly enjoy.

Young Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez is one of those kids who is considered ‘different’ and always seems to be on the losing side of everything. He has a rather unusual family too. A mother who is a super-geek scientist building cutting edge robots and robotic devices, a dad who is a successful manga comic writer, a much loved little sister who suffers from an immune-deficiency condition and a whole house of very quirky robots.

Though the robots can make life easier in some ways, such as Mr Moppenshine keeping everything spick and span and Hayseed ensuring the garden grows plentifully,  the newest robot “E” is less than acceptable to Sammy. E is super smart and very pedantic and when his parents insist on E going to school with Sammy to undergo his final testing, Sammy is less than pleased.

Having to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous bullying and having E shadow him constantly creates great angst for Sammy. But just as E starts to make an impact on both Sammy and his schoolmates and teachers, there is a dramatic development when E is botnapped!!

Realising his somewhat unfriendly attitude towards E may have been partially responsible for E’s disappearance; Sammy is determined to track down the perpetrators of the cyber-crime.

With a very satisfying happy ending – not just for Sammy but for his entire family – when E is returned, rebuilt and restored to his original condition and intention, readers will enjoy the justice and compassion in this story.

Highly illustrated to the point of almost being a graphic novel, this will also appeal to the more reluctant readers and though essentially a ‘boy’ story, I foresee that girls will also enjoy the humour and action of this one.

Excitingly, James Patterson is planning a visit to Australia soon to promote his books, particularly those for children.  I am very much hoping to secure a blog Q&Q with Mr P.

Watch out for the upcoming collaboration with our own Martin Chatterton too.

Kick off your new year with this addition to the shelves – and watch the readers around 10-12 scramble for it!

Visit James’ website here and read more about his upcoming tour JamesPattersonTour- Media Release