Review: The Wrong Boy

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Students who seek to read books similar to The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (John Boyne) and Morris Gleitzman’s Once series will not be disappointed in Suzy Zail’s The Wrong Boy. Australian born Zail is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, whose first person account features Hanna Mendel, 15, living with her family in theDebrecen Jewish ghetto inHungary. Hanna is a talented pianist and has dreams of being a famous musician like her idol, German pianist Clara Schumann. However, her dreams and that of her family, along with the dreams and lives of other Jewish families, are shattered by the Nazis.

When the Nazis arrive and close the ghetto, Hanna and her family, along with other Hungarian Jews living in the ghetto, are being “resettled.” A long and arduous train journey in a cattle car takes them to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp inPoland. Hanna, her mother and sister Erika are separated from her father. Life atAuschwitzis harrowing with Hanna’s mum becoming mentally ill and Erika slowly starving to death until they are taken away ‘somewhere’. But Hanna is chosen to be the camp commander’s (Captain Jager) pianist in his house and while there meets Jager’s son, Karl. The more time Hanna spends at Jager’s house the more she discovers about what is really going on atAuschwitzand the more she falls in love with Karl “the wrong boy”.

The Wrong Boy is a well-written novel that keeps the reader hooked until the end. With a fast-paced and vivid storyline thanks to Zail’s descriptive language makes Hanna and her family’s plight (and those of the other captured prisoners atAuschwitz) seem so real. This is truly a moving and compelling novel, yet is accessible for students from Year 7 onwards.

 

Mrs Morris.

 


Review: The Horses Didn’t Come Home

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The Horses Didn’t Come Home by Pamela Rushby is a beautiful story of loyalty and courage that highlights the bond between the Australian Light Horse soldiers and their horses. This Australian novel tells the story of the victorious cavalry charge at Beersheba in the Sinai Desert in 1917 during World War I, which is in contrast to the horrific events at Gallipoli.

The story begins with 16-year-old Harry and his family on aQueenslandproperty in 1914. Army officers arrive at Henderson’s Run seeking horses for the Light Horse regiments forFrance,England,Egypt and the Middle East. Harry and his friend Jack decide that they want to serve in the Australian Army as Light Horsemen. When Harry’s horse becomes lame prior to departure, Harry’s sister Laura allows him to take her beloved horse Bunty.

The story is told through two characters’ points of view – Jack and his sister Laura. Much of Jack’s story is told though letters to his family, even letters to Laura from Bunty informing them of his training and battles during his two year deployment in Egypt and the Middle East.

The book’s title pinpoints the story’s ending. The Horses Didn’t Come Home is an accessible and beautifully written historical war novel for students in Years 7-10. It is sure to provide readers with new knowledge and understanding about Australia’s Light Horse regiments during World War I and the infamous cavalry charge at Beersheba.

I highly recommend this book.

Mrs Morris.


Review The Blood Countess

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pandora englishThe Blood Countess is the first book in the supernatural Pandora English series by supermodel and crime author, Tara Moss, where the paranormal and fashion worlds meet. Moss does not disappoint her readers; she captivates and draws them into the enchanted existence. 19-year-old Pandora English, an orphaned, quiet, country girl with dreams of being a fashion journalist, accepts the invitation to live with her mysterious Great-Aunt Celia in New York City.

But not everything is as it seems for Pandora, nor is New York what she expects. For one, Pandora’s great-aunt’s gothic mansion is in a dark and misty Manhattan suburb, Spektor, that does not exist on any maps nor has anyone heard of it. Celia, formerly a Hollywood Golden Age fashion designer, is strangely young and vibrant and constantly wears a black veil.

After landing her dream job at the aptly named Pandora magazine, Pandora covers the launch of the miracle beauty cream BloodofYouth. Feeling ill-at-ease with BloodofYouth, Pandora sets out to find the truth about the miracle cream, but her search for the truth leads her to dark, unknown places.

The Blood Countess is a beautifully-written novel that kept me hooked from the first until the last page. It is not a vampire novel, but contains paranormal themes and human, superhuman, supernatural and mythological characters and elements of mystery, romance and action. It is an easy-to-read and accessible novel for both teenagers and adults without any exaggerated morbidity. Pandora’s first person narration reads as though she is talking directly to the reader.

The Blood Countess clearly establishes the characters and setting for future novels in the Pandora English series, in particular the mystery surrounding Pandora’s past. The sequel The Spider Goddess is due for release on December 1, 2011. The novel is bound to suit the ‘tastes’ of supernatural and vampire genre readers.

I enjoyed The Blood Countess so much that it is one of the best books I have ever read, even rivalling Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. I eagerly wait to get my hands on The Spider Goddess.

Mrs Morris.