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29 December 2007

While I Live (Ellie Chronicles #1)

The Ellie Chronicles follow the Tomorrow Series by John Marsden. The first of the Ellie Chronicles is While I Live.

A peace settlement has been reached, but in the process Australia has lost almost half of the country to the invaders. But all Ellie cares about is getting back to normal - living on the farm with her parents (and her new adopted brother), going back to school, and being able to eat regularly.

There are rumors of border raids, which doesn't at first concern Ellie although their land in on the edge of the Australian territory. Then one day while hiking with Homer and Gavin, she hears shots.

And with that sound, her world is turned upside down again. She will have to cope with more loss, learn to run a farm on her own, raise Gavin, somehow finish school, and convince the court to appoint Homer's parents as her guardians. And those skills she learned during the war might be put to use again.

Marsden, John. (2007). While I Live. New York: Scholastic.

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21 December 2007

Tomorrow Series, Ellie Chronicles - John Marsden

The Tomorrow Series

I feel I haven't given John Marsden's Tomorrow series the due it deserves. It is hard to write enough to explain the story without giving any of the key points of the plot away. Marsden does a great job of telling an engaging story and including the pain, fear, and triumph of a band of teenagers fighting a war for their country - Australia.

Ellie Linton and her friends - Fi, Homer, Lee, Corrie, and Kevin - convince their parents to let them go camping over school break, skipping the Commemoration Day festivities. They are gone for five days to a camp site deep in the bush.

When they return, first to Ellie's place, her parents are missing and all of the animals have died. They check each kid's home on the way into town -Wirrawee. And each looks the same. No sign that anyone returned from the Commen Day fair at the Showgrounds.

Once they get into Wirrawee, they begin to see evidence of soldiers - and not Australian soldiers. Ellie and her friends know instinctively to keep hidden. They collect supplies and head back to their camp to decide what to do.

After realising that they are on their own, the group decides to do what they can to fight back. And for the seven books of the series, the group of friends sneak, fight, scavenge, hide, run, sabotage, and find out what is important in life - at a time when so much has been stripped away from their normal way of life that they took for granted for so long.

This is an intense look at war through the eyes of Ellie as she writes about her experiences through the invasion of her country. It is well written, with many lessons to teach.

"It seems like suffering's the only time we can see what's essential. If peace ever comes back I'm making a vow: I'll design myself special glasses. They'll block out whether people are fat or thin or beautiful or weird-looking, whether they have pimples or birthmarks or different coloured skin. They'll do everything suffering's done for us, but without the pain. I'm going to wear those glasses for the rest of my life."

The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden:
1 - Tomorrow, When the War Began
2 - The Dead of Night
3 - A Killing Frost
4 - Darkness Be My Friend
5 - Burning for Revenge
6 - The Night is for Hunting
7 - The Other Side of Dawn

The Ellie Chronicles

This series is followed by The Ellie Chronicles. The war has ended in a peace settlement that has left many people who used to spread across the continent of Australia, crammed into only part of the land. All Ellie wants is for life to get back to normal - living on the farm with her parents, feeding animals, going to school... However, it looks like the story has some other plans for her. She may yet need the skills she acquired in the war to protect her family farm.

The Ellie Chronicles:
1 - While I Live
2 - Incurable
3 - Circle of Flight

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20 December 2007

The Other Side of Dawn (Tomorrow Series #7)

The Other Side of Dawn is the seventh and final book in John Marsden's Tomorrow series.

In this final installment of the Tomorrow series, Ellie and her friends are separated. They are still trying to do what they can for the war effort when things go wrong. Without the support of her friends, Ellie feels lost. If she has learned anything, it is how important friends and family are in her life.

The final push by New Zealand begins and will end the war in one way or another. How will it come out? Will Ellie ever see her friends again? Where are her parents? And what will become of everyone once the control of the land is decided?

Marsden, John. (2002). The Other Side of Dawn. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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17 December 2007

The Night is for Hunting (Tomorrow Series #6)

The Night is for Hunting is the sixth book in John Marsden's Tomorrow series.

As amazing as it is Ellie and her friends are still making it on their own in the war. They have been hiding in town for a while and are about to head back to their camp - the only place they feel safe anymore.

But this time they will not be going alone. They have added a few members to their group. The trip back over Tailor's Stitch and into Hell will be the most frustrating trip so far.

At this point, Ellie and company should probably lay low as long as possible. There may be soldiers still looking for them from their last mission. They may not leave camp for any reason other than to get food.

Marsden, John. (2001). The Night is for Hunting. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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15 December 2007

Burning for Revenge (Tomorrow Series #5)

Burning for Revenge is the fifth book in John Marsden's Tomorrow series.

By this point it seem like torture that the series is continuing - not because of the story line which is still riveting - but because Ellie and her friends need a break! Of course, for a realistic series the war couldn't be neatly wrapped up so soon.

Obviously Ellie and her friends are still doing what they can against the invaders. The more they do, however, the higher the risk for them to stay around Wirrawee. So, after a rest in their camp, they decide to head for the other side of the mountain. They don't have an exact plan yet, but it is better than sitting around waiting.

They get into a situation that they can only see one way out of - and that way leads to a surprise - a surprise that could be the most dangerous thing they have had to face so far.

Marsden, John. (1997). Burning for Revenge. New York: Scholastic.

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14 December 2007

Darkness Be My Friend (Tomorrow Series #4)

Darkness Be My Friend is the fourth book in John Marsden's Tomorrow Series.

Ellie and friends have been safely removed from the war. However, they are now asked to go back and guide soldiers into Wirrawee.

Each risk they take increases the odds of things going wrong. The deaths are starting to add up and Ellie is having a harder time convincing herself to keep taking risks where there are professional soldiers to do the job.

But once again the friends find themselves in the thick of it, running and hiding for their lives.

Marsden, John. (1996). Darkness be my Friend. New York: Scholastic.

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12 December 2007

A Killing Frost (Tomorrow Series #3)

A Killing Frost is book three of John Marsden's Tomorrow Series.

Ellie and her friends are still surviving on their own. After recovering from their last attack on the enemy invaders, they have been laying low in their camp. But it is time to do something. The longer they sit around, the more boredom and depression set in.

One of them mentions that they ought to have a look at Cobbler's Bay. It is the bay that the enemy is using to supply the entire area.

On the way to the bay they get a surprise. Colonists have started to move into the abandoned farms. And Australia prisoners are being turned into farm slaves. As they are passing one farm they recognize a friend. Can they help him escape? If they can, it would not only give them someone else to talk to, but he would have information on their families, who are still being held in the Wirrawee Show grounds.

Marsden, John. (1995). A Killing Frost. New York: Scholastic.

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The Dead of the Night (Tomorrow Series #2)

The Dead of the Night is the second book in John Marsden's Tomorrow Series.

After surviving a few months on their own, Ellie and her friends are trying to figure out what to do next. There last attempt to strike a blow to the enemy was a success but they lost a friend that night.

The plan is to go into town and break their friends out of the hospital. They should have had time to recover by now. But when they get into town, much has changed.

Now that the enemy is settled, it is a wise idea to find a back way out of their camp. So most of the friend set off down the river to see if the way is passable. What they find is a camp of other resisters. But when they arrive, in spite of their efforts thus far, they are treated like children.

At first it is nice to let the adults take over, but how long can they just sit there waiting for something to happen. This group thinks they are heroes but their attacks have not been nearly as successful as those of Ellie and her friends. Will they be able to sneak back out of the camp and away from the adults?

Marsden, John. (1994). The Dead of the Night. New York: Scholastic.

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10 December 2007

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow Series #1)

Tomorrow, When the War Began is the first book in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden.

Ellie and her friends go camping for a week and when they return, their country (Australia) has been invaded.

"When we set out on our camping trip, we had no idea that we were starting out on the greatest and saddest adventure of our lives. We had no idea we were going to be together, not just for a week but for a time that we couldn't measure. There we were, lying about in the bush, eating and sleeping and talking, and without our even knowing it, a rush of enemy soldiers had overrun our country."

Now Ellie and her friends have to decide whether to hide until the war is finished, try to free their families, or fight back in any way they can.

In this first book, the friends set up camp where they had been camping for fun the week before. They must find out how to ration their food because they do not know how long they will be there. Any food or supplies brought from town come at a price. The soldiers will shoot on sight if they are seen.

Marsden, John. (1993). Tomorrow, When the War Began. New York: Scholastic.

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07 December 2007


Laurie Halse Anderson is the queen of teen angst. Not to take anything away from her book Speak, which was extremely powerful, but Twisted might be the best book I have read dealing with teen emotions in a crisis.

Tyler Miller grew up being a geek. No one noticed him unless they happen to be beating him up. But over the summer he filled out. It probably had something to do with the hours of community service and digging holes for a landscaping service to pay off the damage that he did to the school. Now people at school notice him - he is not sure if it is because they saw him driven away in a police car or, as his sister says, because he is now a hottie.

With his new reputation he has the respect of some classmates - the bullies don't pick on him much anymore. But, when a crime is committed against a fellow student, he is the first one to be blamed.

Anderson does a phenomenal job of capturing the desperation of being a teen. I wish I had read Twisted when I was one; it proves that no matter how bad it gets, you still have choices.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. (2007). Twisted. New York: Viking.

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06 December 2007


In Godless, by Pete Hautman, Jason is struggling with the religion his parents have assigned to him. They are Catholic, but he is not sure what he is, or if he believes at all. Really, since you can't prove otherwise, how do we know that the water tower is not God?

It is the highest structure in the land. People need water to live. And no one can prove it is not God. Jason gatherers friends into his new religion - worshiping the ten-legged One. They call themselves Chutengodians.

But as Jason soon finds out, it is easier to start a religion than it is to control one.

Hautman, Pete. (2004). Godless. New York: Simon Pulse.

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05 December 2007

The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall is yet another Anne McCaffrey book about life on Pern. This one is a collection of stories that fill in the blanks between some of the other books.

In The Survey: P.E.R.N. we finally find out how the name got its name. The first humans ever to set foot on Pern spend ten days determining whether the planet is fit for human settlement.

The Dolphin's Bell is the story of the escape from the Southern continent with the volcano erupted and covered the original settlement in ash and lava. The dolphins brought from Earth play a great part in the escape.

The Ford of Red Hanrahan is the settling of Ruatha Hold.

The Second Weyr is the founding of the second, third and fourth weyrs when the number of dragons got too large for Fort.

Finally, Rescue Run is the story of what happened when the emergency message that was sent in the ninth year on Pern is intercepted by a ship - almost 50 years later. The team that lands on Pern is headed by Admiral Benden's (the leader of the settlers journey to Pern) nephew.

Although I don't normally like stort stories (they end right about the time they get interesting) this is an intersting chronicle of what happened between the other novels about Pern.

McCaffrey, Anne. (1993). The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall. New York: Del Rey.

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