Tag Archives: Supernatural

The Supernatural Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Australia

September 2021

ISBN: 9781761043635

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

Here is the third in George’s Survival Guides and it’s not just in our house that each has been so anticipated. This one is totally going to tick boxes for a lot of your readers – and dare I say it, the geeky, the preppers, the curious, the sceptics and the ones who just love weird. In fact, kiddos that would feel very comfortable meeting George himself for a good chinwag as he is so adept at putting the Style into eccentricity – and that is totally a compliment! I couldn’t get the Human Body Survival Guide away from the Kid and this one will be even more firmly held in her grasp (or at least bookshelf). Not for nothing, has she faithfully absorbed the X-Files and anything else supernatural she can find – although I have to say, our foray into ‘yeti sighting’ territory around Noosa and the information that there were serious ‘spotters’ did make her laugh a lot!

George tackles all things spooky in this new guide from UFOs (oh yeah, Roswell rocks!) to Nessie, ghost-busting to spirtualism, the power of the mind and ‘other random weird stuff’. In other words, there is something to intrigue and fascinate just about every reader, no matter their preference in freakish encounters, events or experiences.

I have done a very successful unit of work with Year 8s exploring cryptozoology so this is not just a topic or, indeed, a book just for a primary audience (clearly the Kid confirms that). I have successfully recommended the two previous books to reluctant boy readers, who have come back for more (so come on George, I’m going to need more than three please!).

I’m still dipping in and out of it – which is definitely part of the huge appeal of these books. The design of information being well broken up into fact boxes/files, diagrams, tables, snapshot case studies, dot point lists and ‘post it’ notes is a complete winner and ensures accessibility for any reader. And the cleverness of each book being a different colour theme (yellow, then orange, now lime green) is inspired (plus they look really stunning on your bookshelf -or would if they stayed there long enough).

Love it – a LOT! and I highly recommend it for your readers from curious 8-year-olds up to…well, adults really.

Thanks for another cracker George – I did promise I would write this wearing a foil helmet for protection and then discovered, I’ve run out! I’m a bit anxious that this will not be a secure alternative – please advise!

There’s a Ghost in this House – Oliver Jeffers

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Harper Collins Australia

October 2021

  • ISBN: 9780008298357
  • ISBN 10: 0008298351
  • Imprint: HarperCollins GB
  • List Price: 29.99 AUD
The name Oliver Jeffers has long since become synonymous with innovative and stylish picture books with not only loads of kid appeal but, in equal measures, adult appeal. In fact, my library tech, after seeing this book in processing for our collection, commented ‘I want one for myself, I love it so much!’.

Without doubt books for young readers which invite the children to become part of the whole experience of text and illustrations are far and away the most popular in any setting, in my experience – just think, Herve Tullet, Beck & Matt Stanton, the simplicity of Spot or the stories within story of The Jolly Postman. Add to that fun, the joy of being in on the secret – that which is hidden from the character/s in the book itself and now, you are getting close of why this new picture book is going to make your little kiddos lose their minds with the fun and excitement of discovering theghosts in the spooky house.

A little girl lives in a gloomy atmospheric house, beautifully rendered in mixed media illustrations. She knows about ghosts because she’s heard of them but doesn’t know what they might look like or if they are even real. Some people say they are covered in white sheets…….or at least are white with sort of black holes for eyes. Do they hide in corners or under couches? Where would you look if you wanted to find one?

Cleverly interspersed are transparent tracing paper pages which turned back onto the illustrated spread, reveal the spirited spirits who are taking such mischievous delight in hiding from the protagonist.

I showed this to the too-cool-for-school teenaged Kid this morning and even she exclaimed ‘Oh that’s so cool and fun!’.

So take it from me, this one is a winner – and you may well need at least two copies as it’s going to be in high demand! Highly recommended for some fun and laughs, for readers from around Prep to Year 2 or 3.

Bahahaha! Love this promo!! Well played Oliver Jeffers!!

Oddity – Eli Brown

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Walker Books

May 2021

ISBN: 9781406389272
Imprint: Walker
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS

Australian RRP: $18.99
New Zealand RRP: $21.99

I read this well over a month ago and have been talking it up big time to my readers, especially my ChocLit group but hadn’t yet written the review. Not because I didn’t absolutely love it but because, really, it is so completely unique in my experience that I have struggled to know exactly how to describe it.

It is a thrilling mixture of gothic fantasy, adventure, thriller, and supernatural (so try putting it into a ‘genre’ – arggghhh!) with characters the like of which you have never yet encountered and a plot that is utterly original, quirky and gripping.

Clover Elkin has been raised by her father, a gentle physician originally from Prague, following the loss of her mother in a freak accident when Clover was just a baby. When her beloved father is murdered by ruthless and cruel bandits, he charges Clover with the protection of the most magical Oddity of all. Clover knows a little about Oddities. She knows her mother studied these strange objects and has read some of the few journals about them that she has come across. Oddities are seemingly everyday objects but have mysterious powers of their own, almost impossible to control or direct: an ice hook that when thrown into a lake has kept that body of water frozen for decades, a teapot that, when tipped, keeps pouring endlessly, a rag doll that is animated when roused and has the strength and fury of a titan. All of these are objects which have been highly sought after by collectors and their powers used or abused over eons.

In this alternate 19th century history the Unified States still suffers from the horror of the Louisiana Wars and Napoleon’s enchanted army, and, in many ways, is as lawless as any old West frontier town of long-ago matinee movies. Clover must make her own way to find the answers she needs about her parents, her own history but also this one special Oddity in particular. Along the way she encounters some of the strangest (and frankly, at times, creepiest) characters some of whom prove to be allies and others unscrupulous enemies including a young girl who travels with a deadly snake and her medicine show, a talking rooster who is a decorated army general, a sinister man with a hat that collects secrets, and the nightmarish ‘Seamstress’.

This is dark and scary but at times also funny and warm. I read it eagerly, eating up every word, adventure and character in what is one of my best reads so far this year. I feel I cannot do it justice by merely writing this small account so I urge you most strongly to pick it up and read it. You will not be disappointed I promise.

I am giving it my highest recommendation for discerning readers from around 12 years upwards. I have readers of my own lining up to read it and predict it will be in high demand in our library.

The Seven Keys – Allison Rushby

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Walker Books Australia

July 2019

ISBN: 9781760650797
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

 

I absolutely loved my first introduction to Flossie Birdwhistle in The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery and was so excited to read her next adventure, though I’ve had to wait a while. Let me say right now, it was worth the wait. Allison Rushby has once again transported us not only in time but also dimension as we enter the twilight world where Flossie has such a huge responsibility.

It’s now seven years or so after the war in which Flossie played such an important role. The help she had from her nemesis Hugo Howsham, who was a temporary ally, has almost been forgotten. Indeed, now it seems far away when Hugo manoeuvres himself into a position of power by acquiring three of the cemetery keys, his own and two more. He’s not just after Flossie’s key but is determined to master all seven for the seven cemeteries in the ring around London.

Flossie feels overwhelmed and has little idea how she can possibly outsmart and outplay Hugo particularly when the rest of the turnkeys seem to be feeling very resentful of her ineptitude over the key dilemma and the revelation of her secret association with Hugo in the past.

But this determined guardian of her departed is not alone. Her reunion with her much-loved maid Daisy laid to rest in another graveyard, the support of her older sisters who now rest in her care, her Advisor Hazel and eventually the rallying of the other Turnkeys enable her to thwart the despotic Hugo’s plans, at least for the time being, and further to ensure the safety of her mother, her only living relative.

These are just the most marvellously imaginative narratives filled with historical and geographical information about the London of the past and its society.  There has not been one reader in my library to whom I have pressed the first book upon who has not come back thoroughly hooked and wanting more. I am well pleased I will be able to recommend this second as highly.

Certainly we will now be waiting for the further adventures of Flossie who no doubt will need to once again engage all her skills and the combined talents of her twilight friends to block any dangers to her resting charges.

Simply splendid for readers from around ten years upwards.

Orphan Warriors: Children of the Otori #1 – Lian Hearn

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9780733641213.jpg

JAN 28, 2020 | 9780733641213 | RRP $32.99

Hachette

It’s been quite some time since I first read the Tales of the Otori series  but Hearn’s skill as a storyteller has certainly not diminished – witness the fact that I read this over four nights because it is so utterly compelling, just as the original saga was.

The long and bitter feuds between the Tribe and the clans have created much devastation and one significant outcome is the many children left orphans either as the result of their parents’ deaths in battles or as ‘honour’ demands.

The central character of this first in the new series is Sunaomi who along with his younger brother Chikara are the surviving children of Arai Zenko who, with his wife, was condemned as a traitor. The boys have only escaped death themselves as their aunt Kaede has interceded with the tyrant Lord Saga and promised that the boys will enter the monastery at Terayama as novice monks, never to leave it.

Sunaomi chafes against the dull routine of the monastery, though his teachers are kind, having been raised to be a warrior. But despite this he is also the grandson of Muto Shizuka and owes allegiance to the Tribe. At the monastery he begins to experience strange visions and events over which he seems to have no control. He also encounters Hisao, an angry young man, who is revealed as a ‘ghost master’.

Sunaomi is not destined to remain in obscurity within the monastic confines however and is taken from its security on the command of the Lord Mizuno and it is on this journey that he also meets Masao, the grandson of the erratic and cruel Saga, as well as many others.

As with the original tales there is a wide cast of characters and one must give full attention to the reading so as not to become confused but it is very much worth it as the riveting medieval fantasy unfolds.

Not for the faint-hearted as there is violence, intrigue and supernatural themes which all combine to make this one of the most commanding reads for young adults whether they are or are not familiar with Tales of the Otori.

It is thrilling and exciting for both genders as there are plenty of strong and vibrant characters of both sexes who demonstrate much courage, loyalty and intelligence as well as their own individual gifts.

Highly recommended for able readers from around 12 years upwards.

[and now I’m straight onto #2 Sibling Assassins!]

The Turnkey – Allison Rushby

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turnkey

ISBN: 9781925126921
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
March 1, 2017
Australian RRP: $16.99

More mystery and history and another great read following my last post. Clearly a talent for beautiful writing and an interest in history runs in this family!

In this gripping story the mystery and history are wrapped up in a spooky supernatural plot. Flossie Birdwhistle is twelve and the youngest turnkey in living (or not living) memory. A turnkey is the guardian and keeper of a cemetery and Flossie’s responsibility is huge given that she is in charge of one of London’s oldest and most well-known graveyards, Highgate.  As such she must ensure that those in her care must be kept safe and undisturbed in their eternal rest.  Difficult at any time, during World War II, with London being blitzed beyond comprehension Flossie’s task is even greater.

This charge becomes even more complex when Flossie comes upon the ghost of a German soldier who appears to be carrying a strange object. Her suspicions aroused, Flossie begins to investigate and before too long is embroiled in a very sinister plot which threatens not only her cemetery but her country at large.

Fascinating and intriguing, this is a novel that will be loved by readers from around 9 or 10 years old.

How marvellous to read two fabulous novels both with such unusual plots and such strong ‘Mighty Girl’ protagonists in just a few weeks!

Highly recommended for your library shelves – and yourself!

Geis: A Matter of Life & Death – Alexis Deacon

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781910620038
Imprint: NB NOBROW

Release Date: September 1, 2016

Australian RRP: $29.99
New Zealand RRP: $32.99

geis f ‎(genitive singular geisenominative plural geasa)

  1. a solemninjunction, especially of a magical kind, the infringement of which led to misfortune or even death
  2. atabuspell or prohibition

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/geis

This is going to tick a lot of boxes for quite a number of your readers. Firstly, it is yet another sumptuous graphic novel I have had the pleasure of receiving recently. Secondly, it is supernatural AND historical AND fantasy.  Finally, it is the first in trilogy so readers who love the continuation of a saga will really go for it.

The matriarch chief/ruler of an island lies dying and has no natural heir.  She summons her strongest magic ever.

“One of you I will spare. For the rest I claim you all! Your hearts will beat to feed my magic, your bodies will be shells for my puppets and my slaves, your minds will be shattered and broken.”

Fifty souls are called in the night for a contest that will determine the one worthy of taking her place.  This is a trial like no other and begins the first task.

This is another first novel and I predict the start of an amazing career for Alexis who graduated in 2001 from the University of Brighton with a first class Honours in Illustration.

Definitely a name to watch – this is highly recommended for readers from Upper Primary onwards.