Deltora Quest: City of Rats by Emily Rodda

city of rats.jpgTitle: Deltora Quest: City of Rats
Author: Emily Rodda
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: 1st June 2001
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: Lief, Barda and Jasmine — companions with nothing in common but their hatred of the enemy — are on a perilous quest to find the seven lost gems of the magic Belt of Deltora.

Only when the Belt is complete once more can the evil Shadow Lord be overthrown. They have succeeded in finding the golden topaz and the great ruby. The two gems’ mysterious powers have strengthened them and given them the courage to move on in their search for the third stone.

But none of them can know what horrors await them in the forbidden City of the Rats.

~*~

2019 BadgeArmed with the topaz and the ruby, Lief, Barda and Jasmine enter the City of Rats, where they face more dangers, and many more unknown threats as they seek out the next stone, a rainbow opal. But they must contend with rats, and people who live amongst rats who fear small, furry things, and will use this fear to attack the trio and Jasmine’s animal friends before they can get to the opal and slot it into place on the belt. The challenges they face will test them and their resolve as they work out what those living in the next realm fear and why, and what the consequences of their presence and actions will mean for those who try to stop them getting the opal. For a realm that has been under a dark power for many years, Lief, Barda and Jasmine are finding that the dark powers have created fears so deep, nobody knows who to trust.

In the third part of this series, the quest Lief and his companions are on is getting more dangerous, yet still remains age appropriate for younger readers, and has lots of excitement and action to keep them engaged and enthralled throughout. As an adult reader, I certainly am, and each book gets better and there is a sense that there is an unravelling mystery happening throughout that will be revealed at the end of the series.

Each book can be read quickly and devoured, or slowly savoured, depending on how you want to enjoy it. Having all six in one volume makes it easier to go from one to the other as I finish, and I am hoping to get through all of them soon – hopefully within the next few weeks or months, and then I can wrap up with a post on the entire series.

Lief, Barda and Jasmine are great characters – they are by no means perfect, and they do fight, like any trio of friends on a quest, yet they manage to pull through whatever disaster or troubles face them to complete the quest set forth for them by Lief’s parents, Jarred and Anna, so they can return the rightful ruler of Del to the throne upon their return.

Action packed books like this will have a long life, and be enjoyed for years to come by many readers. For me, it will sit alongside classics like Narnia and Harry Potter quite comfortably. Each series uses common themes yet they each have a unique style, character and plot that make them wonderful reads for lovers of fantasy.

Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears by Emily Rodda

lake of tears.jpgTitle: Deltora Quest: The Lake of Tears

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 1st April 2001

Format: Paperback

Pages: 120

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Lief, Barda and their unruly new companion Jasmine are on a perilous quest to find the seven gems stolen from the magic Belt of Deltora.

The golden topaz has already been found. But only when all the gems have been restored to the Belt can their land be freed from the dark power of the evil Shadow Lord. To find the second stone, the three heroes must travel through territory ruled by the monster-sorceress Thaegan.

Their journey is filled with treachery, trickery and danger, and at its end they must face the hideous guardian of the enchanted Lake of Tears.

~*~

Picking up soon after they have found the first stone for the Belt of Deltora, Lief, Barda and Jasmine are on their way to the Lake of Tears to discover the second one, and where they will meet the first of Thaegan’s children, Nij and Doj, who speak a strange, haunting backwards language that gives a false sense of security to the travellers, following a broken sign that is very misleading. This is just one more dangerous step on the adventure to reunite the stones of the Belt of Deltora. This time, Lief and his companions seek the ruby – and from there, the next five to complete the belt and restore unity to Del.

I’m zipping through these books rather quickly and am trying to review each one individually before writing a wrap up post for the whole omnibus series edition I have next to me so I can move onto the second and third sets in the series. Again, this is a fast-moving book, where Lief and Barda must quickly adapt to trusting Jasmine and her ability to help them navigate the land of Del to find the stones.

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Lief, Jasmine and Barda take charge from this book onwards, and we still haven’t met the future ruler of Del, presumably still in hiding with Endon and his wife, where those who tried to kill them sixteen years before cannot find them – I will be keen to see how this is uncovered later on in the series and where the next two Deltora Quest sets take us. The perils that Lief and his companions face are heart-stopping as they work to escape being eaten by Nij and Doj (or Jin and Jod as it turns out, once they realise the two are speaking backwards), and must then face the prospect of the rest of Thaegan’s children in later books.

This is a fun series, and filled with adventure, friendship and wonder. It is one that has been loved for over a decade, and will hopefully continue to be loved and read for many years to come, if my conversations with fellow readers are anything to go by, as well as the constant lack of it being out of the library when I was much younger. So I am experiencing it now for the first time, and the magic is having as big an impact on me as it would have done had I read it as a teenager or young adult. This is what makes a good book, in my opinion. One that can transcend age and time for all readers, and that will engage on many levels and entertain many.

I’m heading into book three, The City of Rats, and hope to have that review up soon.

The Forests of Silence (Deltora Quest #1) by Emily Rodda

Title: The Forests of Silence (Deltora Quest #1)

Author: Emily Rodda

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published: 2000

Format: Paperback

Pages: 120

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Deltora is a land of monsters and magic …

The evil Shadow Lord is plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands against him is the magic Belt of Deltora, with its seven gems of great and mysterious power. When the gems are stolen and hidden in dark, terrible places throughout the kingdom, the Shadow Lord triumphs and Deltora is lost.

In secrecy, with only a hand-drawn map to guide them, two unlikely companions set out on a perilous quest. Determined to find the lost gems and rid their land of the tyrant, they struggle towards their first goal — the sinister Forests of Silence.

~*~

Opening with the death of a king, and the ascension of his son to the throne, Deltora Quest opens with a bang, introducing Jarred and Endon – as friends first. Yet when Endon is made king in light of his father’s death, Jarred learns that there is more to the removal of the Belt of Deltora than the history books tell. When he tries to warn his friend, Jarred is forced to run, and it will be seven years before they meet again and uncover a nefarious plot to take over the kingdom.

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Fast forward sixteen years, and Lief, Jarred’s son, heads off on a quest with a former palace guard, Barda, to find the stones of the Belt of Deltora that have been flung throughout the land. Whilst seeking the first stone, a topaz, they meet Jasmine, Kree and Filli, who join them on their quest. But will Lief and his companions succeed?

The start of a promising series for children aged eight to twelve, I have come to this several years after it was published, having recently stumbled across the omnibus editions in the bookstores. For me, it was a quick read, but enjoyable all the same. Each character has strengths and weaknesses that enable the plot to move forward, and it is the start of an epic adventure series that will have readers of all ages enthralled.

Introducing readers to Jarred and Endon first leads into the quest that Lief goes on, and gives a much needed, brief yet important background to the story that is to come. Of course, the main story is about Lief and his quest across the next seven books, which I am looking forward to exploring as I read the rest of the series. A friendship forms between Lief, Jasmine and Barda as they venture through the Forests of Silence in search of the first gem. But whilst Lief and Barda know they need Jasmine’s help, with the state the kingdom has been in for over twenty years, they do not know who they can trust, apart from each other.

As they traverse the forests to uncover what they seek, and then had off towards The Lake of Tears and more dangers and uncertainty that lie ahead, the troupe will no doubt encounter more challenges, and become closer as they head off on a quest to save the kingdom and restore the rightful monarch to the throne of Del.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of these books and will review each novel on its own, and finally, a wrap up post for the entire omnibus once I have done this. Look for more exciting Deltora reviews from me!

A Wild Adventure (Ella and Olivia #21) by Yvette Poshoglian, illustrated by Danielle MacDonald

Ella and Olivia 21Title: A Wild Adventure (Ella and Olivia #21)

Author: Yvette Poshoglian, illustrated by Danielle MacDonald

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic Australia

Published:

Format: Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $7.99

Synopsis: Ella and Olivia are going to a native animal park! But are they prepared for their own wild adventure?

~*~

Sisters Ella and Olivia – aged seven and five and a half – are excited about their trip to the Wildlife Park with their family – Mum, Dad and baby brother, Max. They’re excited to go and see many native animals in the park and have a great adventure whilst they are there. They can’t wait to be able to cuddle a koala! But when they get there, the line is too long, so they go off on their bikes – and have their very own wild adventure.

I read this in my capacity as a quiz writer, and found it to be a charming story, good for kids who are starting to grow confidence to read on their own. It is a very short read but filled with fun and action for the younger audiences it is aimed at.

AWW-2018-badge-roseThe accompanying illustrations are adorable and complement the text wonderfully – this is book 21 in a series, and encourages readers to learn new things, and gain confidence in their reading – which is what good children’s and young adult literature should do for all stages and all reading levels.

Best suited to ages 5-7, but can be read by anyone interested and kids who made need simpler books to help boost their reading abilities.

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Book Bingo 13 – a book with non-human characters

Book bingo take 2

Book bingo Saturday again – round two, post thirteen of the year for the challenge. To mark off the non-human characters square, I have gone to a book I wrote a quiz for as part of my quiz writer job with Scholastic that fits the category of a book with non-human characters:

A book with non-human characters: A Home for Molly by Holly Webb, Beast World by George Ivanoff

Book bingo take 2 .jpg

A Home for MollyA Home for Molly is about a young puppy called Molly – who has been left behind at a beachside town by her owners and forgotten. She befriends two girls – Anya and Rachel, ad plays with them on the beach. When it comes time to go home, each girl leaves with her family, thinking that Molly belongs to the other. Molly’s search for a home, and Anya and Rachel try and help her – before their holidays end and they have to go home. Neither wants to leave Molly alone, but who does she belong to – or will she find a new home with Anya or Rachel?Beast world

A home for Molly is a sweet story, with a sweet ending and fits this category quite well. Molly’s perspective of her world is charmingly written, and I felt as small as Molly did when trying to navigate her world. Molly is an adorable character, and though the story is also about Anya and her desire for a dog and to help Molly, it fits into the category of non-human character quite nicely.

Of the many books I have read, this was always the category I knew I wasn’t sure how I would fill. Animals – I had a few ideas here, such as Paddington, Animal Farm, and a few that had peripheral animal characters. Other options would have been aliens, cyborgs or robots – I received one by George Ivanoff called Beast World that also fits into this category – which is a steampunk London ruled by animals in a world where humans are extinct, which is accessed through a portal and is part of a series – which I have also been writing quizzes for and hope to write on the last two books in the series which came out recently.

I chose these two books because animals were front and centre, and main characters the reader sees the story through rather than a peripheral character who are often seen through the lens of the human characters. Whilst these two books are not by Australian Women Writers, there are many others that will be. I’m not sure how I will fill some squares the second time around, but by ticking off what I can first, hopefully I will manage to wokr out the trickier ones.

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A Home for Molly by Holly Webb

A Home for Molly.jpgTitle: A Home for Molly

Author: Holly Webb, illustrated by Sophy Williams

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 126

Price: $12.99

Synopsis: On holiday at the seaside, Anya is excited when she meets a friendly family with children her own age — playing with them and their gorgeous puppy Molly is so much fun!

But when she returns to the beach the next day, she discovers the pup all on its own. Anya sets out to look for her owners. When she eventually tracks down the family, they’re very surprised. Molly isn’t their dog — they thought she belonged to Anya!

With her holiday drawing to a close, can Anya find Molly’s real owners?

~*~

Another adorable animal story from Holly Webb. Living at the beach, where many people come to spend their holidays, Molly is a stray, and will play with anyone who walks by her, hoping for a friend. When Anya and her family go to stay at the beach, Molly joins in with another family, Rachel, Zach and Lily – and Anya thinks Molly is their dog. So, when they leave Molly at the beach, Anya sets off to find out why they left her there and where they are. But, Molly doesn’t belong to them!

It is up to Rachel and Anya to find a home for Molly – but who will that be with?

I’m really enjoying my job as a quiz writer for Scholastic, I get to read a lot of fun books, and the Animal Stories by Holly Webb are always enjoyable. With A Home for Molly, I found it just as charming as the other books I have read, and just as enjoyable. Going between Anya and Molly’s perspectives, Holly has made it easy to follow, as well as fun and uplifting as Molly searches for a home, and Anya helps her.

As well as a very cute dog in search of a home, this book also has wonderful friendship between Anya, and the people she thought were Molly’s owners, Rachel, Zach and Lily, which was lovely to see and i think children of all ages who read this book will enjoy it.

As Anya searches for a home for Molly, I wanted to take Molly home myself – she was a very cute dog, and as all of Holly Animal Stories have a happy ending, this one was no exception, and will be loved by those who read it.

Other Worlds 2: Beast World by George Ivanoff

Beast worldTitle: Other Worlds 2: Beast World

Author: George Ivanoff

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Steampunk

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 26th February 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 203

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Xandra finds a key . . .
It opens a doorway . . .
She and her brother are sucked through . . .

Into a crazy world that looks like steampunk London. Except in this world there are no humans – only animals. Xandra and Lex encounter rhino police, armadillo housekeeping staff, rodent inventors and even a lion on the throne. Here humans are the endangered species!

Will Xandra and Lex survive Beast World?

The Other Worlds series: OTHER WORLDS

Find the key!
Open the doorway!
Enter the Other World! 

OTHER WORLDS is a new adventure series for kids aged 8 and up, with a sci-fi and fantasy flavour. It’s about mysterious keys that open doorways into other worlds. Each book is a stand-alone story with a new set of characters. But, for those who read the entire series, there’s also a thread running through the first three books that gets tied up in Book 4.

~*~

Continuing the Other Worlds series, Xandra and Lex Volodin are on a school excursion when they get sucked into a painting in the museum. Xandra’s wheelchair is left behind – and once in the new world, they encounter a steampunk London – where animals rule, and live, and where humans are relegated to myths alongside unicorns and Basilisks. Here, Xandra must explain her muscular dystrophy, and get help from Nikole Telsa, a coypu, who is an inventor, and Archie, a friendly llama, to foil a plan by a carnivorous tortoise in a world were even tigers are vegetarians. Lady Mimsy is after Queen Victoria – and Lord Grimsby is after her crown – so tigers can rule instead of lions. Whilst Xandra and Lex are in this world, they must work to stop Grimsby and Mimsy before they can go home, and back to their lives in their world.

Book two of the Other Worlds series, also one I wrote a quiz for, is so far my favourite of the series. I loved the steampunk world, and I adored Telsa and Archie – they were adorable, brave and worked with Xandra and Lex nicely. Like Perfect World, Beast World shows diversity and difference, and puts a spin on the way portal worlds are portrayed. This unique and fun story has animals in clothes as Lords and Ladies in a Victorian London setting, and uses the dynamics of the human world in the animal world to illustrate how different people will do anything to attain their goals. a fun story, and I hope other people enjoy it as much as I did.

I loved Xandra because she didn’t let her disability define her, but she still struggled with the constraints of it, especially once through the portal without her wheel chair. The exoskeleton she uses in Beast World gives her a freedom that the chair doesn’t, yet she shows that whatever she uses to get around, she’s just as capable as anyone else – a powerful message to send, and a fabulous character sending it.