Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two rollicking adventure stories for boys

Jock Logan and the Sea Devil by Brent Leslie, published by Brent Leslie

Hills of Gold by Brent Leslie, published by Brent Leslie

The first book was published in 2012, and the second in 2014. The author is an Auckland journalist, magazine editor and writer. Brent has written several books for younger children as well as these two for young adults. I enjoyed the first novel (though it’s not really a YA story - the hero is only 12), which is set in 1917 and focuses on Jock Logan - he’s sailing on a scow that’s hijacked by the notorious Count Felix Von Luckner and his crew. I liked it because the focus stays on young Jock throughout the story, it’s full of action and suspense, it’s written in an easy, readable style, it contains some interesting historical material, and it’s based on fact. Good cover, too.

"... a high standard of both writing and production...a cleverly woven blend of fact and fiction as a young boy's tale of adventure; fun and easy to read" – Ashton Wylie Awards judges (2012).
For the second book, the author combines two plot strands - one focuses on a gold-mining family with difficulties, set in Waihi in 1912; the other focuses on their adult uncle who’s a gold mine engineer in Russia sent there to quell the unrest amongst the peasant mine workers. His character was inspired by a forebear of the author.
Author/reviewer Lee Murray says: "With vocabulary and style appropriate of the day, and covering issues such as developments in women’s suffrage, the union movement, prohibition, even transport technology, Hills of Gold provides a colourful, and terrifyingly accurate, snapshot of the period. I expect history and social studies teachers will be grabbing for this novel as Leslie has a way of bringing the past to life, making Hills of Gold both an entertaining and provoking addition to the curriculum. Leslie is a wonderful story-teller: history should always be this fun." The full review here.

Buy from all good book stores or directly from Brent Leslie: email
ISBN 978 0 473 19610 3 Pb  $24.95
ISBN 978 0 473 26383 6 Pb $24.95

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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