Tag Archives: Adventure

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Overview
Over Sea, Under Stone | Book by Susan Cooper | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

Title: Over Sea, Under Stone
Author: Susan Cooper
Series: Dark is Rising #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Camelot, Fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 27th – 28th January 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: McElderry Books
Year: 1965
5th sentence, 74th page: But they seemed to go for the books, and I can’t vouch for those.

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Synopsis

All through time the two great forces of Light and Dark have battled for control of the world. Now, after centuries of balance, the Dark is summoning its terrifying forces to rise once more – and three children find themselves caught in the conflict.

Simon, Jane, and Barney, on holiday in Cornwall, discover an ancient map that leads to a grail: a vital weapon for the Light’s fight against evil. The search for the grail becomes their quest, and they risk their lives in a race against sinister human beings who serve the dreadful power of the Dark.

Thoughts

I bought the box set of Dark is Rising ages ago. Partly because it was on sale, but I also have a tv series based on this series and I’ve heard good things about it. But then, because the covers of my versions aren’t the most attention-grabbing, I kind of kept forgetting about them. And wow, am I kind of regretting that fact. This book was wonderful and intense and seriously, wonderfully enjoyable. Most definitely a great start to a series. One that I plan on reading more of in the (hopefully) near future.

In the past year I’ve started to find and enjoy some Camelot stories. I don’t know a lot about Arthurian lore, not anything that isn’t seriously mainstream. But it’s definitely something that I’m beginning to enjoy more and more. A theme and base that is used beautifully in this story. The whole tale is about the search for the Grail. And I’m getting some serious King Arthur vibes from Simon. There was also that nice little crumb at the end of the story about Merlin which I’m really looking forward to unpacking…

From the moment you open this book, you are pulled into this great adventure. As a child, I might have even tried to solve the little riddles and clues that are riddled throughout the novel. But, as an adult, it was just a lot of fun to be pulled along on this adventure. This unexpected journey that takes you all over the countryside pulling you into a story that you won’t forget anytime soon. One that had me smiling and gleefully turning to the next page again and again throughout.

This is a fantastic, wonderful and very, very enjoyable adventure story. One that has introduced me to a whole new world that I can’t wait to sink further and further into. I love that although the battle is over in this story, you can feel all the hints and horrors of the war to come. And now I can’t wait for the next mystery to be revealed!

<- More Susan CooperThe Dark is Rising ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

Overview
Image result for terra nullius claire g coleman book cover

Title: Terra Nullius
Author: Claire G. Coleman
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, DystopiaIndigenous Australians, Science fiction
Dates read: 17th February – 1st March 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: If only they would stay put – stay in the camp they had established for utterly mysterious reasons of their own – he would find it easy to beat a path around them and back to the road.

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Synopsis

‘Jacky was running. There was no thought in his head, only an intense drive to run. There was no sense he was getting anywhere, no plan, no destination, no future. All he had was a sense of what was behind, what he was running from. Jacky was running.’

The Natives of the Colony are restless. The Settlers are eager to ahve a nation of peace, and to bring the savages into line. Families are torn apart, re-education is enforced. This rich land will provide for all.

This is not Australia as we know it. This is not the Australia of our history, This TERRA NULLIUS is something new, but all too familiar.

This is an incredible debut from a striking new Australian Aboriginal voice.

Thoughts

I figured this would be a pretty good and intense book – it’s apparently won quite a few awards. Plus, Coleman is an Indigenous Australian woman. So she was probably going to write about things and topics which I am constantly trying to find out more about being a white Australian woman and all… I DID NOT realise how intense this was going to be… or how unforgettable. And well, kind of life changing.

For the first half of this book, I didn’t really get how this was a science fiction story. It honestly just felt like a retelling of the horrors that Europeans enacted upon Indigenous Australians. There were the Natives and the Settlers and everything they did was exactly what the first settlers did to our First Nation Peoples. There was nothing really fantastical about that. Mostly, it just gave a face and a personality to some really horrendous acts. But then you get to the halfway point… and everything changes.

I love that the beginning of this story feels very human, very typical and very expected. But then you reach that turning point, when the quotes start to talk about alien life forms, future dates and interplanetary colonisation. Suddenly the horrors are inflicted upon all humans. Racism seems incredibly stupid when the entire human race is fighting for survival – our differences apparently just aren’t so bad.

This is a book that everyone should read. It has a potent message, and a great storyline. It is especially important for Australians – we need to acknowledge and accept our past, so that we can find a way to begin to heal the wrongs of the past. It isn’t the kind of book that you will read through insanely quickly. At least, it wasn’t for me. Rather, it is the sort of book that you will mull over and consider as you digest it. Giving yourself time to absorb and understand the intensity of what Coleman is trying to say.

<- More Australian authorsMore Indigenous Australian ->

Image source: Hachette Australia

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for american gods book cover

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Mythology, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th – 12th August 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Headline
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: The men said, ‘We are far, far from our homes and our hearths, far from the seas we know and the lands we love.

Synopsis

IS NOTHING SACRED?

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plant, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

Thoughts

I knew that reading a Neil Gaiman story would be an adventure. This is the third novel that I’ve read by him, and every single time they’re intense, fun and completely off-kilter. The fact that this is my first really adult book by him just made it all the more exciting. And that much easier to just completely devour it. Especially at a time when I was getting a little overwhelmed and upset by everything else going on around me. It was kind of a perfect, twisted, world to float away in.

This is one of those novels that you will pick up nuances again and again as you read it. I spent a lot of the time on this, my first read through, trying to figure out which pantheon many of the old gods were from. Trying to figure out just who Mr. Wednesday was and what his motivations for hiring Shadow were. I didn’t spend as much time intrigued by the new age gods… which I think I will notice more next time.

I had kind of expected a bit of a romantic spin to this story when Shadow focuses on his wife so much at the beginning. It really isn’t even remotely romantic, and the relationship between Shadow and his wife turns a bit… well, weird. And, well, deeply disturbing in parts. Which is of course what I loved about this story – it made me kind of uncomfortable for the majority, and deeply disturbed at other moments. Not just in the storyline – but also with the message and themes that Gaiman is imparting throughout the story. It’s not supposed to be a happily ever after, comfortable story – it’s one that should really make you sit back and think about the choices you make in life, and just what it is that you worship.

American Gods is one of those stories that will stand the test of time. It discusses the battle that everyone must face at some point in their lives – old versus new. Which is better? Which should we worship? Are either of them actually any better than the other? As someone who is fascinated by ancient mythologies, but tends to live solidly in the real world, this is the perfect theme to follow – after all, it’s an internal discussion I often have too.

 <- Adventures in the Dream TradeAnansi Boys ->

Image source: Amazon

Through the Tiger’s Eye by Kerrie O’Connor

Overview
Image result for through the tiger's eye book cover

Title: Through the Tiger’s Eye
Author: Kerrie O’Connor
Series: Telares Trilogy #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Australian authors, Fantasy
Dates read: 11th – 17th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘We’ll cook dinner, Grandma,’ said Lucy.

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Synopsis

Just then T-tongue decided to take matters into his own paws. He sniffed the air, barked, shot across the floor of the pit – and disappeared.

Lucy and her little brother Ricardo follow their puppy and the mysterious, golden-eyed Tiger-cat into a secret tunnel leading to a foreign country – a country where children are held prisoner in the jungle.

Lucy still didn’t understand anything and it still felt crazy, but suddenly it was also simple; if Rahel was going to risk rescuing the little girl and the other kids, then Lucy had to help, even if she didn’t have a clue how.

Thoughts

This was the second time that I read this book. But, the first time was when I was in early high school, and it has honestly been boxed up ever since. Which is sad, because this reread reminded me how much I truly love this story. It is fun, interesting and powerful. It is based around Australia (which is always a bonus in my book) and centres on siblings that aren’t all love and roses towards one another. Because let’s be honest, there are no siblings who always get along and never fight…

I love the idea that Lucy and Ricardo are able to travel to another reality / country on a regular basis and meet other children their age. But, they are experiencing entirely different things. The children in Telares are victims of war who don’t act like victims. It drives home how truly lucky we are to live in Australia and to have grown up here. Not only does this make the story fantastic with a great message, but it also highlights the differences between peoples’ experiences across the world. We should be grateful for our good fortune a little more often, and this story is a poignant reminder of that.

This story is a great mix of young adventure, the ties of family and reminders of how we should never take for granted what we have. It is a great way to reconsider what people in war-torn countries are truly experiencing. Without the brutality that some adult-orientated books highlight. This still has that beautiful innocence that can carry a message, but not use shock and horror tactics.

 <- Angel’s Elephant ReviewBy the Monkey’s Tail Review ->
Image source: Allen & Unwin

Battle of the Heroes by Kate Forsyth

Overview
Image result for battle of the heroes kate forsyth book cover

Title: Battle of the Heroes
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: The Impossible Quest #5
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Dates read: 20th February 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: They were smelling here and there, their acute sense of smell blunted by the stench of bat droppings.

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Synopsis

Do not lose faith. Remember the words of the story, remember the words of the spell…

Quinn, Sebastian, Elanor and Tom have defeated the black witch Githa and found the last crucial piece of the prophecy – the sea-serpent’s scale. But time is running out. Back now at Wolfhaven, they search desperately through the castle crypts for the sleeping heroes who they hope will save them all… before the dark moon rises and they lose everything.

Thoughts

This is a great ending to a really fantastic series. It ties up all of the lose ends and follows the same level of cuteness that I’ve loved throughout the rest of the storyline. Yet, where most of the finales I’ve read have involved a lot of exposition to tie up all of the lose ends, this ending doesn’t. The vast majority of this story is taken up by the battle.

Battles are hectic, chaotic beasts. Forsyth is able to describe this perfectly by continuously jumping between her four leads. You never get a full sense of what is happening to them and follow an incredibly jumpy timeline. Which of course adds to the stress and wonder at what’s happening and makes it far more difficult to put down the book. Every time I think that I’m getting a handle on what is happening to one character, it jumps to another.

The four heroes that have been the goal throughout the entire story are finally revived, but they’re barely viewed throughout. Which works well. Although the adults are supposed to be the “heroes” it is the four children that the story revolves around that are truly important. And the parts that they accomplish throughout the final fight which really help to win the day.

I love this final book, and I loved this whole series. It is just so easy, cute and fun. And a great reminder that different types of people are able to save the day, no matter what form they take, and how old they are.

 <- The Drowned Kingdom ReviewEscape from Wolfhaven Castle Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

The Drowned Kingdom by Kate Forsyth

Overview
Image result for the drowned kingdom kate forsyth book cover

Title: The Drowned Kingdom
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: The Impossible Quest #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Dates read: 18th – 20th February 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: The clap of thunder was so loud it deafened them all, leaving their ears ringing.

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Synopsis

I’ve heard of a kingdom that was flooded and drowned… and that is where the sea-serpents live…

Quinn, Sebastian, Elanor and Tom have found a dragon and conquered the dreaded Beast of Blackmoor Bog. Only one item remains on their impossible quest – the scale of a sea-serpent.

Now they must journey to the drowned kingdom, where they will face their deadliest challenge yet. And there they will uncover the truth behind all that has happened… the truth that will change everything.

Thoughts

The Drowned Kingdom pulls together all of the little story threads that have been slowly released throughout the first three books of the series. The interconnectivity of the characters, the plots that span a lifetime. It is all revealed. But not completely. Just tied in well enough that you know the final reveals and the completion of the tapestry which Kate Forsyth has created will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I really enjoy the thematic ties to the four elements throughout this series – and this one is completely about water (in case you didn’t get that from the name). Even the moments when they revisit their old home to see what is happening take place amongst the mist and the moisture. There is a sense of completely surreal beauty about this story that worked really well with the water theme and the idea of lost memories and tragic pasts. It all tied in neatly to the secrets revealed.

Quinn has been my favourite character so far. A foundling, someone with a bit of mystery to her and a witch. I love that she spends the entirety of the storyline without shoes on, connecting with nature and spouting riddles. There’s something about this that I’m in love with – probably the idea that this is the kind of character that I would have loved to be this way as a child.

 <- The Beast of Blackmoor Bog ReviewBattle of the Heroes Review ->
Image source: Booktopia

The Beast of Blackmoor Bog by Kate Forsyth

Overview
Image result for the beast of blackmoor bog kate forsyth book cover

Title: The Beast of Blackmoor Bog
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: The Impossible Quest #3
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Dates read: 16th – 17th February 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Elanor dressed and plaited her long golden-brown hair, then went across to the door.

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Synopsis

The dragons are long gone. This beast is something else – something huge and black and hairy…

After escaping the bog-men in the wilds of the Witchwood, Sebastian, Quinn, Elanor and Tom journey south on their impossible quest.

Sebastian and Elanor seek help from Crowthorne Castle, but both allies IandI enemies will reveal themselves. Tom and Quinn venture into the mysterious moors… where a hideous beast lies waiting.

Thoughts

In all of the Kate Forsyth books / series that I’ve read, one of my favourite things has always been the character development. Even in series such as The Impossible Quest, which is aimed at youngsters, as the stories grow, so do the children. And I think that (at least so far) The Beast of Blackmoor Bog shows the most growth. Especially in the two boys.

Where Tom and Sebastian are constantly bickering in the proceeding storylines, they settle down a lot in this novel. Partly because they aren’t actually with each other throughout the majority of the story. But even then, there are a few moments of acknowledgement of the fact that they are friends and need to stop niggling at each other. From jealous enemies to grudging respect and friends, they are able to show this a lot throughout the split storyline in this story.

The structure of the creatures tamed so far in this story reminds me a lot of the four elements. And I really enjoy the fact that each novel, whilst incorporating the ensemble, has a slightly larger focus on a different character.

I might be an adult, but I still loved this story. It’s one that will stay on my shelf for an easy reread again and again and again.

 <- Wolves of the Witchwood ReviewThe Drowned Kingdom Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Lily-White & the Thief of Lesser Night by C. S. E. Cooney

Overview
Image result for mad hatters and march hares ellen datlow book cover

Title: Lily-White & the Thief of Lesser Night
Author: C. S. E. Cooney
In: Mad Hatters and March Hares (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: AdventureFamilyWordplay
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tor
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: I’ll make sure of it – if I have to conjure one up myself!

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Synopsis

Lily-White and her sister Ruby-Red have some unusual gifts and a talent for mayhem. When someone starts attacking the Cheshires, they find out how they can embrace this and find a bit of adventure of their own…

Thoughts

I felt like this short story was a kind of prequel to the rivalry that seems to feature throughout many of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland retellings. At a young age, sisters Lily-White and Ruby-Red already have an intense rivalry. And although they get along famously within this story, there are the seeds of discord in all of their interactions… and on completing this story, there was kind of an uncomfortable feeling that lingered, making you think of the future of the two queens…

As an origins story, this not only covers the beginning of tensions between the sisters – but why there is just one Cheshire cat, and how the vorpal sword came about. I love how Cooney is able to build upon the ideas that are laid out in Carroll’s work, but still make it entirely his own. The complex wordplay is still there, as is the tripped out and intense worldbuilding and this great sense of wonder. I look forward to reading this story again and again and again, just like the stories that inspired this short story.

 <- My Own Invention ReviewConjoined Review ->
Image source: Bookdepository

Wolves of the Witchwood by Kate Forsyth

Overview
Image result for wolves of the witchwood book cover

Title: Wolves of the Witchwood
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: The Impossible Quest #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AdventureAustralian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Tom blinked and his vision swam.

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Synopsis

I know every hidden path through these woods. Trust me. There is no griffin in this forest.

Hunted by Lord Mortlake, Tom, Quinn, Elanor and Sebastian flee for cover. The unicorn leads them into the darkness of the Witchwood where the wolves howl. Can Wilda the witch be trusted?

Danger surrounds, but there’s not time to lose. The four unlikely heroes must find the griffin, dragon and sea serpent before it’s too late.

Thoughts

After finding the unicorn, the four young heroes on their impossible quest set off to find a Griffin. I love the mixture of fantasy and growing up that are intertwined in this journey. Even though this is only the second book in the series, the four children have already begun to accept each other for their strengths and flaws – the bickering has already almost stopped.

Something about this story that I love is the fact that the main characters who bicker and fight are the two boys – the girls (who, let’s be honest) are often cast into the “bitchy” roles towards one another don’t have any of these issues. Actually they quietly and quickly accept each other from the very beginning.

Wolves of the Witchwood, for an adult, is an incredibly easy, breezy and simple read. I spent a few nights reading it before bed when I needed to switch off, but was too tired to actually concentrate on anything. It’s the perfect addition to your shelf for those people who like a quick, easy read. Or the perfect addition to a children’s shelf.

 <- Escape from Wolfhaven Castle ReviewThe Beast of Blackmoor Bog Review ->
Image source: Kobo

Escape from Wolfhaven Castle by Kate Forsyth

Overview

Escape from Wolfhaven CastleTitle: Escape from Wolfhaven Castle
Author: Kate Forsyth
Series: The Impossible Quest #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: AdventureAustralian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: Elanor screamed.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Tell your lord to beware, the wolves smell danger in the wind…

Wolfhaven Castle has been attacked, and only four escape capture… Tom, trained to scrub pots, not fight; Elanor, the lord’s daughter; Sebastian, a knight in training; and Quinn, the witch’s apprentice.

Somehow, if they are to save their people, these unlikely heroes must find four magical beasts from legend. But first, they have to make it out of the castle alive…

Thoughts

This is a beautifully easy, fun and light-hearted book. With enough of an adventure-based storyline to make you reluctant to put it down. At least as an adult. I’m sure if this was around when I was a child, I would be far more involved in the storyline and think it was a more intense literary experience than I do as a more widely read adult.

I like the four young adults in this story – they’re on the cusp of adulthood and finding their own way. But there is already a sense of comradery and togetherness that works from the very outset. Each of the four is given their own gifts (literally and metaphorically) and although there is just an inkling in the first of The Impossible Quest, there are hints that these are going to develop in so many ways.

This is a pretty typical young adult, coming of age adventure story. Which is why it’s so lovely. Forsyth has an amazing way with words and this helps to spin a vivid and intriguing storyline. Partner this with that beloved simplicity of the genre and the idea that both fate and courage play a part… and Escape from Wolfhaven Castle is a great introduction to a new world and an epic quest.

 <- Battle of the Heroes Review Wolves of the Witchwood Review ->
Image source: Booktopia