Friday Brown, by Vikki Wakefield

They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown.

Friday Brown is on the run. Her mother has died, and Friday is all alone in the world – unless you count the grandfather she doesn’t know. She heads to the city in search of someone, or something, to make her whole again. She befriends a strange boy called Silence, who deosn’t speak and soon she is part of a new family. Or is she? In a squat controlled by a girl called Arden, Friday learns about life on the street, and about herself.

When Arden takes her group to camp in an outback ghost town, Friday’s time on the road with her mother is useful, though it may also be her undoing.

Friday Brown is a breathtaking young adult read. The pages are populated by fascinating, complex characters – troubled teens each with their own strengths and their own terrible secrets and set against two detailed landscapes – the inner city and a deserted outback town. Partly a thriller, this is so much more, with heartbreaking twists and turns.

Friday Brown

Friday Brown, by Vikki Wakefiled
Text Publishing, 2012
ISBN 9781921922701

Avaialable from good bookstores and online.

The Crystal Code, by Richard Newsome

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The Crystal Code

No doubt those who have been following the Billionaires series have been eagerly awaiting the newest adventure, The Crystal Code (Billionaire Series). Readers will not be disappointed. It has all the action, humour twists and turns of the other novels.

Gerald Wilkins, the world’s youngest billionaire, is all set for a great snowboarding holiday with his friends. But as we would expect, that is not quite what happens, when evil enters the scene in the guise of Sir Mason Green who has escaped from prison.

In this novel Newsome has introduced some new characters including Felicity, Gerald’s new girlfriend and a situation that does not sit well with Ruby.  And then there is Tycho Brahe, how does he fit into the picture?

It seems wherever Gerald goes danger follows. This is good, escapist fun and adventure with a snowmobile chase, fights, kidnapping, secrecy, an empty grave and a mystery as well as inventive ways Gerald and his friends have of getting out of scrapes. Unbelievable at times, yes, almost like a James Bond for pre teens, but that’s half the fun.

It has humour that is just off centre enough to appeal to children as well as a few pearls of wisdom thrown into the mix. Fans of the series will lap it up and those who haven’t read the earlier books will no doubt want to g back and read the rest. Good fun that could equally be enjoyed by anyone young at heart.


The Crystal Code

Book 4 of the Billionaire Series

By Richard Newsome

Text Publishing, 2012


RRP $16.99

ISBN  9781922079039

The Billionaire’s Curse and The Emerald Casket, by Richard Newsome

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

The Billionaire's Curse (Billionaire Series)

In 2008 The Billionaire’s Curse was the winner of the Inaugural text prize for children’s and young adult fiction. It’s easy to see why. It is very readable with a plot that I’m sure would appeal to most young people.

What would you do if your suddenly became a billionaire? When his great aunt dies and leaves all her wealth to 13 year old Gerald, she also leaves a letter asking him to find whoever it was who murdered her. Now that he is her heir, Gerald’s life is also in danger. But he is not alone thanks to the new friends meets at the museum.

Together Gerald, Sam and Ruby set out to try and discover who stole the world’s most valuable diamond, as well as who murdered Gerald’s great aunt and is now seeking to get rid of him. The trouble for Gerald is to know who he can trust, especially among the adults.

This is a story with plenty of action, drama and suspense the humour and characters like Constable Lethbridge who scratches his bottom with a plastic fork, will have children laughing as they turn the pages.

The Emerald Casket (Billionaire Series)

The second book in this trilogy The Emerald Casket has already been published. It takes Gerald Sam and Ruby on holiday to India. There they have to save another friend Alisha, from a deadly cult. As well they hope to find the emerald casket. But of course there are those like Sir Mason Green who stand in their way.

Each of the books is very readable and action packed. Children from 8-12 years old  will lap them up.

The Billionaire’s Curse
ISBN 9781921922756
The Emerald Casket
ISBN 9781921922763
By Richard Newsome
The Text Publishing Company
Paperback RRP $19.95

All I Ever Wanted, Vikki Wakefield

Rules for life.

It’s easy.

Happy pills. At best you’re a dancing queen with a direct line to God; at worst you can fry your brain.

Thirty bucks each, retail. they come wrapped in a brown-paper package that fits in your bike basket. Plain view is good because a backpack on a Dodd is asking for an illegal search by a cop.

I pick up the package from Feeny Tucker, a small man with a face like a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces have been pushed together to make them fit. He has a caveman’s brow and a cute, flared Barbie-doll nose. His lashes are long and pretty, his mouth thin and cruel. A thick neck, a pianist’s elegant hands and a strange floating grace like a cartoon maitre d’. Dr Frankenstein could have put him together out of spare parts.

Mim’s mother and older brothers are drug dealers. She lives in a tough part of town, with ferocious dogs, angry men and grumpy old women. Her brothers are in trouble with the police, and her mother seldom shifts from the couch. Her relationship with her mother is extremely adversarial. As Mim approaches her 17th birthday she fervently wants to avoid being sucked into the same life. But perversely, the closer she gets, the harder it seems to be. Her best friend is changing, new friends are not what they seem and the rules she had drawn up for keeping her life on track seem to be the ones she now can’t help but break. She’s in trouble and it’s getting worse. It seems inevitable that she’s going to be stuck in this life forever.

All I Ever Wanted   is an un-put-downable novel. From the beginning, Mim is so likeable but scratchy that it’s impossible not to cheer her on, particularly when it seems like she must fail. Everything seems to be stacked against her, but she never gives up trying. Along the way, she discovers that impressions can be misleading, whether first or second or more. The more her carefully-constructed world begins to crack and tumble, the more she realises that her judgements of people and events have been limited or just plain wrong. It’s difficult to imagine feeling empathy for the prickly daughter of a drug-dealer from the wrong side of town, but Vikki Wakefield does a tremendous job of presenting a likeable character and forcing the reader to put aside any preconceptions…much as she forces Mim to put aside hers. Highly recommended for mid- to upper-secondary readers.
All I Ever Wanted

 All I Ever Wanted, Vikki Wakefield
Text Publishing 2011
ISBN: 9781921758300


review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Girl Saves Boy, by Steph Bowe

I was imagining him. There was a real, flesh-and-blood boy drowning in the lake. No illusions. No hallucinations.
… I couldn’t let this boy die as well.

When Jewel sees a boy drowning in the lake, she is instantly reminded of her brother’s death, and is determined not to let this boy drown, too. Jewel has recently returned to her childhood town, trying to keep her own head above water following the recent death of the grandparents who have raised her since her brother’s death eight years before.

Sacha, the boy Jewel saves, isn’t sure he wants to be saved. Not yet over the death of his mother, he has just been told he has a terminal disease. Oh, and made the discovery that his father is gay. In or out of the lake, it seems he’s going to drown regardless.

Girl Saves Boy deals with a heap of issues, most predominant that of teens facing the death of loved ones, and their own mortality, but does so in a warm, engaging story which will have readers alternately laughing, crying and sighing at its beauty. The subject matter could be heavy, but Bowe balances the tale adeptly.


Girl Saves Boy

Girl Saves Boy, by Steph Bowe
Text Publishing, 2010
ISBN 9781921656590

This book is available from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

This is Shyness, by Leanne Hall

The bouncer stares at my ID, his expression murky, his face tinted purple by the neon sign above us. I rub my bare arms. The temperature must have dropped five degrees in the last few minutes.
Neil hovers behind us, just inside the swing doors. He’s still wearing his work shirt, and everything about him is limp and sweaty. He twitches as if he’s about to step in and say something. I widen my eyes, trying to send him a telepathic message. Leave it to me. I have this under control.

This is Shyness is a novel in a night, where a boy named Wolfboy takes a girl called Wildgirl on a ride through the darkness. They meet in a pub. Not so unusual. Except she is underage and he howls. Then they cross the tracks to where he lives, where the sun doesn’t rise. In the endless night, they both run away from their usual lives. They take turns in the decision-making, but share the consequences of the decisions, good or bad. They meet musicians, agents, black marketeers, tarsiers, Kidds and more. Wolfboy and Wildgirl alternate between caution and bravado, a combination that gets them into and out of trouble. Because trouble is what they encounter most.

Shyness is a suburb where things are different. The darkness is a recent thing, but it’s getting worse. Both Wolfboy and Wildgirl have secrets which slowly emerge as they learn to trust one another. There’s a hint of the developing werewolf in Wolfboy, but only a hint. Adults, one in particular, are interested in finding out just what makes Wolfboy tick. ‘This is Shyness’ is told in first person, from alternating viewpoint of the two main characters, although not always chapter-about. Wildgirl wants to forget, even temporarily, her life. Wolfboy is trying to hold on to memories, closing himself down on them. Their night together – like no night imaginable – gives both the seeds of perspective, and the tools to move on. Recommended for mid-secondary readers and beyond.

This is Shyness

This is Shyness, Leanne Hall
Text Publishing 2010
ISBN: 9781921656521

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Emerald Casket, by Richard Newsome

Alisha was chatting to a storekeeper and stuffing something she’d bought into her bag. She lifted her head and turned towards Gerald. A broad smile burst across her face and she waved.
Gerald grinned back. He could understand Sam’s infatuation.
Then a figure clothed entirely in black emerged from the sea of people. In a second, Alisha was grabbed by the upper arm. There was a brief struggle. Then she disappeared.

Gerald is only just getting used to being a billionaire, having inherited his aunt Geraldine’s fortunes, when he and his friends Ruby and Sam are invited to holiday in India with Alisha Gupta. But they haven’t been there long when it seems adventure is determined to follow them. Gerald and his friends are followed and repeatedly attacked by the members of a cult who want to kidnap Alisha. Gerald is horrified when he realises there is a connection between this cult and his own family. But nothing is more horrific than when his old foe Sir Mason Green reappears. Will he survive to enjoy his newfound wealth?

The Emerald Casket is the second title in the Billionaire trilogy and sees Gerald and his friends in a desperate race to find the Emerald Casket – the second of three such caskets before Sir Mason Green. There are lots of twists and turns in an entertaining blend of adventure and humour. Readers who have not read the first instalment will find enough information to pick up the story, though would enjoy it best sequentially.

The Emerald Casket (Billionaire Trilogy)

The Emerald Casket , by Richard Newsome
Text Publishing, 2010
ISBN 9781921656453

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.