Saturday, 25 September 2010

Charlie Higson - The Dead - Book Review

                                    jacket image for The Dead by Charlie Higson - large version


Are you ready for the next book?

The Enemy is back - this is the second book in the series. Although, this book starts about a year before the events actually took place in book one. Therefore, anyone who would like to begin to read this amazing series can actually start with this book and not feel lost! 

The book begins with an entry into the world of the living dead. Most of the adults are either dead or infected with a killer virus that affects anyone, and everyone over the age of fourteen. However, a group of children, who are immune to the virus (due to their age), can be found hiding in a classroom. They are hiding from their teachers, and in some cases their parents who have turned into flesh-eating monsters. At the start of the book the fight for survival appears to have a light-hearted and playful theme to it - a similar outlook to that in the first book. However, as the story unfolds the tone becomes deadly serious and really shows the emotional torment of the characters. In fact, there are many moments of poignant reflection for the children, as they have to stop being children and grow up quickly in order to survive.


Charlie has weaved many famous landmarks into this story; developing and creating a greater sense of realism. He has also injected far more gory details into the story than in the first book. This is in an attempt to scare you out of your whits, but on a much bigger scale! The scene at the Oval cricket ground is very graphic, both in its delivery and imaginative creation. It provides a very memorable moment in the book - very thought provoking and captivating to read. 

Another great section within the story, is when the author really gets inside some of the "Sicko's" (Zombie) heads. He writes from within their demonic brain and expresses their evil personality - a clever and interesting perspective, which developed into an aspect of the book that I really loved. 


All in all this is another top book from Charlie and is one to be read by all fans of this ever popular genre. We should see the story joining up to a third instalment of mayhem.


Let us know your favourite books within this genre - we'd love to know your thoughts.


About the Author
Charlie Higson is a well-known writer of screenplays and novels, and is the author of the phenomenally successful Young Bond series. He is also a performer and co-creator of The Fast Show and Radio Four’s award-winning Down the Line series, which was recently made into a popular BBC2 sketch show, Bellamy's People. Charlie is a big fan of horror films and is now hoping to give a great many children sleepless nights with this series.




Wednesday, 22 September 2010

++++ U.S book picks for the month of October 2010+++

                            The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy (Hardback))


James Dashner - The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner Trilogy) - Published by Delacorte Books  - 12 October 2010
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?



                             Empty
Suzanne Weyn - Empty - Published by Scholastic Press -  1 October 2010
It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be.
Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.
Teens like Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.
                  
                              The Goblin Gate
                        
Hilari Bell - The Goblin Gate - Published by HarperTeen - 12 October 2010
Jeriah's brother, Tobin, is in terrible danger.
He's willingly crossed over to the Otherworld with a hedgewitch named Makenna and her legion of goblins. What Tobin doesn’t know is that the Otherworld is a perilous dimension that leeches magic from those who have it—and life from those who don’t. In order to save his brother, Jeriah must find a way to open a mystical gate between the worlds.
Searching for the key to rescue Tobin from the clutches of the Otherworld, Jeriah is thrust into a tangled web of political intrigue as he uncovers a dangerous secret that could change the fate of an entire kingdom. Now he must get help from the very beings he’s been taught to hate—the mischievous goblins. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for Tobin. . . .
Hilari Bell’s enthralling fantasy adventure tests the bonds of magic, love, and loyalty in an unforgettable follow-up to The Goblin Wood that will leave readers breathless as they race to find out what high-stakes consequences await its hero.

                             Enchanted Ivy
Sarah Beth Durst - Enchanted Ivy - Published by Margaret K McElderry - 12 October 2010
What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.
When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.
A dreamwalker who has lost her way. A shape shifter who fears his own dark power. A fire herd punished for his magic. Can these three teens keep the human world of Noor and the magical world of Oth from splitting apart?
                             The Dragons of Noor
Janet Lee Carey - The Dragons of Noor - Published by EgmontUSA - 12 October 2010
The ancient trees of Noor are dying. If the blight kills the last azure trees whose deep roots bind the worlds, the bridge between Noor and Oth will split apart forever. Already as Hanna, Miles, and Taunier sail to the source of the blight, the rent between the worlds is widening, and magic is going out of Noor. The quest deepens when a strange wind blows across Noor stealing young children, and Hanna is powerless to protect her younger brother from the stealing wind. The Three journey east to the azure forests of Jarrosh. East to the dragon lands. East to the place where the wind-stolen children were taken. In Jarrosh, among dragons, the Three will be challenged to discover their hidden powers. Each of them must break beyond the boundaries of self to discover the ancient magic joining all to all.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A.G Taylor - Alien Storm - Book Review


Alien storm
                                           
                  
                                        
No spoilers are to be found in this review (I hope), so that you can still enjoy the book in full.


This is the second book, from one of the best new series to date, in my opinion. It's a fantastic sequel to the author's highly acclaimed debut book, Meteorite Strike. It's listed as X-Men meets Heroes - a sci-fi, adrenaline-fuelled adventure which is full of children with superpowers and some really nasty bad guys (in need a good kicking!). It is an actioned packed, page cruncher with just the correct number of pages for the plot, and what a plot it is. . . . .

The book takes you on a sci-fi
 technological rampage that has you engaged right to the very last word. The superpowers of the characters are very visual and totally memorable. In fact, they give the story some of the best action scenes in the book which are normally only found in the best comic books.

The story starts with the children in hiding from Major Bright and the military operations of H
IDRA (a continuation from the first book). However, the story has a sub-plot based on a new boy. He has superpowers, which Andrew cleverly weaves into the story, to gather momentum and pace. He builds the story into an epic read, with the aid of a Mysterious Russian billionaire, who lures the children to his amazing home - an incredible building for the super rich. Great imaginative characters have been used in this book, one of my favourite is the Robowulf, who has a major part towards the end of the book.

I had a real storm reading this book! But when I turned to the very last page, it was a shock to find that there were no more pages left. I was truly disappointed, as I wanted to continue existing in the world that the author had so skilfully written. However, there is a real cliff-hanger at the end of the story - just perfect for setting up a great epic start to the next book in the series.

Book published by Usborne Publishing 26 November 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson - The Familiars:Animal Wizardry - Book Review

The Familiars: Animal Wizardry

Book Review

This is the first book that has been written by the screenwriting duo, Adam and Andrew. It is a magical book, written with the 'big screen' in mind. In fact, even as I write this review, an animated movie of the story is being made by  Sam Raimi and Sony Animation. The fast pace and short, sharp bursts of action should, in theory, transfer well to screen.


I have already read some reviews that are comparing this book to Harry Potter, and I find this remark all too familiar. Whilst the book does share some similarities such as Wizards, magic and fantastical beasts, a lot of these ideas are now well used subjects/concepts. Especially as each book is often trying to become the next 'big' hit.

This book does have a very good feel factor to it. In fact it is a great book for adults to read with, or to their children, as it will keep everybody engaged to the end. This is especially true in the way the story is told. In this case, through The Familiars, who are magical animal companions that develop a bond with an apprentice wizard. Aldwyn the ally cat, Gilbert the tree frog, and Skylar the blue jay take the reader on an epic adventure to save their wizard friends using their special abilities, of course. But only after they have been kidnapped by the evil queen - perhaps this is not very original, I know. However, it's through a mish mash of some new and traditional ideas that everything is eventually pulled together.

The one aspect that actually lifts this book, is the fast interaction that takes place between the animals. It makes you want to look out for them, and does actually pull a little at your heart strings. The way Aldwyn battles the tough streets, whilst being chased by an animal catcher, has a remarkably similar dark undertone to that of the child-catcher from another well known book/film. Skylar with her mood swings, and Gilbert, who carries the shame of his family are both great and compelling characters within the book. However, the best part of the book for me was the journey to Daku, to meet the tree frogs (Gilbert's family). This was a great slice of memorable reading and felt entirely original, pulling me into the enchanted world that I so wanted to visit. 

This book is fun, quick and easy to read. It is written in the style of a Disney film with magical, action-packed scenes. These have all been well written and of course, finish with a happy ending. The next book to be published in this trilogy is 'Secrets of the Crown' and should be published in September 2011. In the meantime, I am certainly looking forward to seeing the animated film of 'The Familiars' at some point in the very near future.

Book published by HarperCollins U.S and U.K - Early and late September 2010 


                


Sunday, 12 September 2010

++New Book Picks For October 2010++

                        Blood Ransom
Sophie McKenzie - Blood Ransom - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's -  1 October 2010
Book Synopsis:
Clones Rachel and Theo now live thousands of miles apart. They keep in touch, but things just aren't the same. When Rachel discovers that evil scientist Elijah is still working in secret for a section of the government and about to murder Daniel, she sets out to rescue the little boy, but her plans backfire with disastrous consequences. Across the Atlantic, Theo becomes suspicious when Rachel misses their weekly internet chat. He discovers a report online saying she's killed herself and travels to Scotland to find her, certain that she has been kidnapped. A clue leads him to Elijah's mysterious clinic, where the sinister Aphrodite Experiment is underway. But what is Elijah really planning? Why does he need to track Rachel down so badly? And will Rachel and Theo be able to pay the ultimate ransom that he demands?
                        The Search for WondLa
Tony DiTerlizzi - The Search For WondLa - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's - 1 October 2010
Book Synopsis:



Eva Nine was raised by the robot Muthr. But when a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary she called home, twelve-year-old Eva is forced to flee aboveground. Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her. She knows that other humans exist because of a very special item she treasures ~ a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot along with the strange word "WondLa". Tony DiTerlizzi honours traditional children's literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child's wish for a place to belong.


                              
Scream Street 9: Terror of the Nightwatchman


Tommy Donbavand - Scream Street 9:Terror of the Nightwatchman - Published by Walker books - 4 October 2010


Book Synopsis:


Luke and Resus are woken with the news that Cleo has been kidnapped.  Following a trail of gloopy green goo, they find themselves in a dense jungle where they must try to rescue their friend from the clutches of the terrifying Nightwatchman – a shadowy creature who feeds of the fear created by bad dreams.  The trouble is, they’ll have to go inside Cleo’s worst nightmare – and face their own – if they stand any chance of saving her.

                        

Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero



Rick Riordan - The Heroes of Olympus|:Lost Hero bk 1 - Published by Puffin - 12 October 2010

After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp
HalfBlood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own:
Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall. 
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death. 
Now, in a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they’ll need the help of some familiar demigods.





Thursday, 9 September 2010

Annemarie Allan - Breaker - Book Review - Floris Kelpies Books

                    Breaker (Kelpies)

This is the second book that I have read by this author - the first being the author's debut book Hox ,which was shortlisted for the Royal Mail Awards. Both books have been really enjoyable as they've been written in a traditional and exciting way, full of adventurous escapades.

'Breaker' is a really fun read, aimed at the 8-12 audience and will appeal to both boys and girls. It is based on an environmental disaster, but has a dose of magical appeal through an eccentric professor and a set of twins, who have moved to the coast in North Berwick. The plot unfolds with an air of mystery that keeps you on your toes. The colourful characters are a joy to follow; the sense of community spirit is portrayed well throughout the book pulling the story together. 

The best part of the book, without spoiling any of the story and giving anything away, is the underwater adventure. Again this is told through a wonderfully detailed way - I could read the pages over and over again as I was lost to the world of the sea.......

Book published by Floris Kelpies Books

Book Synopsis



Tom and Beth are not happy when they move to North Berwick and find themselves facing a rainy, windswept beach, a house that’s falling to pieces and a school full of strangers. When they meet Professor Macblain, with his weird and wonderful inventions, little do they know that he has a secret: not only is he a thief, but he has stolen the one thing that can save the Firth of Forth from environmental catastrophe.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Barry Hutchison - Invisible Fiends:Raggy Maggie - Book Review

                               

This is the second book, within the Invisible Fiends series to be unleashed on readers and in my opinion is the best one, so far. I can't help but think that Barry's childhood must have been a traumatic one, in order for him to create such scary fiends as these! His first friend spawned into Mr Mumbles, the scary man with the stitched up lips, something you don't come across and see everyday, at least I don't.

The second fiend is introduced as the new character in this book. She's a very scary, 5 year old girl, who I would definitely not mess with. One of the creepiest things about her relates to her evil-twisted doll - Raggie Maggie, the porcelain headed one, who has a face that wouldn't stop the devil. But she is the star of the show by far. I can guarantee that you'll never look at a doll in the same light, ever again.

The prologue suggests some interesting times ahead and sets the tone for the story - that of blood, blood and more dripping blood. This book is packed to the rafters with non-stop action, based around a terrifying pursuit, as Caddie and the scary doll are from the DARKEST corners. They are set to "wreak havoc" in the world as we know it but to Caddie "it's all just a game," which she says with a wicked giggle - it's a game of hide and seek or worst still, a game of death. A game that involves Billy, a horrible schoolboy bully and his little invisible friend Raggie Maggie, who is back and wants to play. Kyle needs to find where Billy is hiding or Billy will die ...

The book is fast paced, with a much clearer vision (in my opinion) delivered by the author. It still has its wacky moments, through the dino-beast, who has a small but important cameo role to play. However, the more you read the more a shiver runs down your spine, as the author has you gripped to the very end of the story. The particularly clever aspect about this book, involves the way the author injects humour and small bouts of laughter between Kyle and his sidekick, Ameena. This helps to balance out the sheer terror so that you can just about finish the book in one piece. 

The psychological aspect of this book works well for me. Different types of readers will interpret this in their own personal way, giving the book a wide appeal - if they can pluck up the courage to turn the pages! Barry is definitely gaining a well deserved reputation within this genre. I can see him making quite a name for himself, the more books he manages to get published. His unique style and amazing ability to tell a great story, has you running from the darkest corner of the room, always looking nervously over your shoulder.

Do your toys move?

"Peek-a-boo..."

The next book to look forward to is "The Crow Master", which is due to be published in February, next year. For More information on the author and his books check out Invisiblefiends.com

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Cherie Priest - Clementine - A Novel of the Clockwork Century - Book Review

                                      Clementine
I first came across Cherie's writing after reading 'Boneshaker', which I really loved. Apparently, I'm not the only one who did, as it has been nominated for a Hugo award, which I believe is well deserved . Therefore, I had to get myself a copy of her new book, so I pre-ordered one well in advance from the publisher - Subterranean press in the U.S. I was delighted when I finally managed to get my excited little hands on one.  


The first thing about Subterranean press is that they, in my opinion, publish some of the best books which have been written by exceptionally great writers. The finished copies are extremely well put together, and at times, could be described as an object of beauty.

If you are able to, I would recommend tracking down this book. However, it is written for the older reader, and at times, contains some strong content. 

The book has a mild Steampunk theme but not as much as in 'Boneshaker'. It is written in the same vain but is much shorter in page content and with less detailed background content. The storyline is compact, keeping the reader focused on the story of the main characters. One of these is Maria, who is a triumph within the book. She's a great feisty female, that no-one wants to mess with, but she's a very enjoyable character to read about. However, I would have liked to have a read a slightly longer book, so that Cherie could have explored the world she really loves to write about in more detail. This would have given the extra edge that fans of this genre so long for. Perhaps they will find this within her other book 'Dreadnought', which will be published later this month, through Tor Books.

The book is definitely another great read. Cherie delivers another fantastical book, bringing adventures full of wild imagination to the forefront. A rush of air blows through your ears, as the airship battles are unleashed on the unsuspecting reader. Another great Steampunk adventure that packs a punch on paper.

Another book you may like is John Scalzi - The God Engines - Published last year.


Book Synopsis:
Maria Isabella Boyd's success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty...she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn't pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials--essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.

Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who's been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.

And now it s Maria's job to go get him.

He's dangerous quarry and she's a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice.

And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Cornelia Funke - Reckless - Book Trailer & Reading - Published 14 September




Book Synopsis
For the first time in his life, Jacob Reckless is afraid. For years he's stolen across to another world. A dark enchanted place he's loved for its treasure, secrets and dangers. Until now. Will, his younger brother, has followed him with terrible consequences: The boy will turn to beast; the girl he loves will break her hert and chaos will rule forever, unless Jacob can spin a fairytale to save them.


Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books and Sqeakybooks for book review.




About the author

Cornelia Funke is the hugely successful author of the Inkheart Trilogy, The Thief Lord and a whole host of other popular children's novels and picture books. She was born in 1958 in the German town of Dorsten. After finishing her studies, Cornelia worked for three years as a social worker. For a while she illustrated books, but soon began writing her own stories, inspired by the tales that had appealed to the children she had worked with.
During the late 1980s and the 1990s, she established herself in Germany with two children's series, namely the fantasy-oriented Gespensterjäger (Ghosthunters) and the Wilde Hühner (Wild Chicks) line of books. Her international break-through came with the fantasy novel Dragon Rider (1996), which stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 78 weeks, and was continued with The Thief Lord (2000, translated into English in 2002), which immediately climbed to the #2 position of the New York Times bestseller list, stayed there for 19 weeks and sold 1.5 million copies.