The Iron Trial

iron trial

From two international powerhouses in the young adult genre, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, comes The Iron Trial- a gripping, magical adventure with just a hint of mystery (for added flavour). As a huge fan of both authors, I have been dying to get my hot little hands on a copy of this ever since I knew it existed! Waiting for it to be published was a killer, but it was definitely worth it.

The Iron Trial - the first book in the new Magisterium series - follows Callum Hunt, an almost ordinary 12 year old boy, as he faces a crossroads in his life- to be a magician or not?

For reasons I will let you discover for yourself (spoilers!) Callum's father, a magician himself,  despises magic and rarely uses it, warning his son away from it at every opportunity. As a "legacy" however, Callum must still face The Iron Trial to see if he is eligible to enter the Magisterium- a sinister, subterranean place where magicians learn their craft.

Deeply  suspicious of magic and anyone who wields it, Callum tries desperately to fail the tests and is shocked to find that he has been chosen to go to the Magisterium as an apprentice to none other than the greatest magician there!

Callum is a surly, reluctant hero, full of snarky teenage bravado, that will -in places- have you giggling like a mad person. Add in a hell-hound creature, almost dying a few times, some new friends, THE Enemy and you have an action-packed adventure that leaves you craving more as soon as you've finished.  (I filled my craving with Nutella...then read the book again!)

Now you're probably thinking that this sounds all very Harry Potter-ish, and in some respects you may be right- there is a magic-wielding teenager and a sort-of magic school- but that's where the similarities end. This book has a much darker, almost creepy, vibe. Think of it as the punk-rocking biker of the magical world and you've nailed it.

Read it. You know you want to.

 

Gone Girl

gone-girl-classicCome follow Gone Girl down a dark and twisting path...

This is the book-turned-film that everyone is talking about!

Meet Nick Dunne who, on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, discovers that his beautiful wife Amy has disappeared. AND he is the prime suspect. There are signs of a struggle in the Dunne household, and Amy's best friend confesses to police that Amy was afraid of her husband.

Told from interchanging viewpoints, taken from Nick's current experiences and Amy's diary, the reader is swept along on a whirlwind ride without knowing who to trust or what to believe. And then suddenly, halfway through the novel, the plot twists. In a shocking revelation all of the dangling threads fall into place, and the story transforms into a high stakes game of cat and mouse.

This is one of those books that I simply could not put down until I had finished. It kept me on the edge of my seat, rooting for the characters and not knowing what to expect next. The movie, released 2nd October,  is in the very capable hands of Ben Affleck and David Fincher (the Director of Fight Club and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), and I simply can't wait to see it!

 

The Maze Runner

maze runner thomas

Have you seen the trailer for The Maze Runner yet? Epic, right? Not only does it star the irrepressible Dylan O'Brien, of Teen Wolf fame (Stiles fans have been excited about this movie for a looooong time), but the action sequences look equal parts thrilling, awesome and terrifying. There's a lot of buzz around this movie- it's shaping up to be the blockbuster hit of 2014! But before you see the film, you need to read the book- because as all good movies are wont to do, The Maze Runner began life on a bookshelf.

Set sometime in the not-too-distant future, The Maze Runner is an exciting post-apocalyptic YA novel by James Dashner, centred around a young man Thomas. Waking up in a lift knowing nothing but his name, Thomas is introduced to his new world by a group of teenage boys calling themselves Gladers- a self-sustaining community of boys living in in a glade at the centre of a giant stone maze. A world where the walls move every night and terrifying creatures known as Grievers roam, the Maze is a place that Thomas knows he must escape.

Driven by a burning need to become a Runner- one of the boys who explore the Maze by day- Thomas works hard to integrate himself into his new society. Each morning the doors of the Maze open, and a group of Runners take off in search of a way out. Each day they return before dark, before the doors shut, lest they be caught in the Maze overnight- an event that no-one has survived.

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The Maze Runner is fast-paced, compulsive reading, managing to be both exciting and mysterious. The excitement comes from action sequences in the Maze itself, which is heart-pounding stuff, but the real reason it's so addictive is the mystery.

Who put Thomas and the rest of the Gladers in the Maze? Why are they there? Can they find the way out? IS there a way out? What are the horrors that live in the Maze and who created them? JUST WHAT IN THE BLAZES IS GOING ON AROUND HERE? And if there wasn't enough for Thomas and the Gladers to be dealing with, matters become even more complicated with the arrival of- gasp- a girl. And she seems to know Thomas. Who is she? Thomas doesn't know. The Gladers don't know. The girl doesn't even know, so good luck solving that one dear reader!

Fans of the Hunger Games and the Divergent trilogy will definitely fall in love with the page turning awesomeness that is The Maze Runner. But be warned dear reader- once you begin, you cannot stop reading- there are twists and turns right up to the last page! be prepared to kiss your sleep and your social life goodbye, for a couple of days at least.

And the best part? There's MORE books!
So get involved Gladers!

xxx Shoshana & Sarah (guest bloggers)

South of Darkness by John Marsden

17_south_of_darknessJohn Marsden, author of the Tomorrow Series and The Ellie Chronicles, is due to release his much-anticipated first novel for adults in November 2014. South of Darkness follows the life of Barnaby Fletch- a street urchin living in London in the late 1700’s transported to Australia for a petty crime.

Marsden paints a vivid image of Barnaby: a skinny, grubby youth scrabbling to survive amongst the sea of grey and smoke-stained buildings of London. Poverty, overcrowding and misery seem to abound and this innocent- yet worldly- waif is forced to commit minor crimes to simply exist. Amid the miasma of despair and hopelessness Marsden’s description of London evokes, the Church is held up like a bright white beacon of hope. It is here Barnaby retreats to for shelter, and occasionally, food.

What endears Barnaby most to the reader is his propensity to hope. Even though he believes himself to be worthless, he lives in perpetual hope that his circumstances will improve and endeavours to live as honest a life as he can. The reader ends up seeing him more as a Dickensian Artful Dodger than an Oliver Twist character, and his adventures seem that much more exciting when you imagine a cheeky grin at the end.

Ultimately 13 year old Barnaby gets himself transported to Botany Bay on the 3rd Fleet where he has been led to believe an idyllic life awaits. The reality of the situation is much harsher and Marsden aptly describes the overcrowding, starvation, and severe punishments that the convicts had to endure on the journey to their new home.

Incredibly descriptive, South of Darkness is a gripping tale of survival, hope and perseverance that will appeal to readers of all ages and lovers of Australian literature in general.

Be Comforted by Jamie’s Food!

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Unless you've been living under a bush you'll be aware that Jamie Oliver has multiple cookbooks and a show on Channel 10, 'Save with Jamie'. What you might not know is that he also has a new cookbook 'Comfort Food' and all I have to say is mm mmm it's finger licking good! The recipes are simple with great explanations and even come out looking like the pictures. Some of them do take a bit longer than others, but they are all definitely worth a try (especially the southern fried chicken on page 292). So far in my household we're up to the 6th recipe!

Out of all the recipes I have tried so far, the Pot Noodles (pictured right) were definitely the best! Saucy and spicy with the just the right touch of heat. Follow it up with the hummingbird cake and you're in heaven.

So go ahead, treat yourself! Your tummy, family and friends will thank you!  (and if you really want to count calories- all caloric values are listed in the back)