Saturday, 30 April 2011

Andrew Peters - Ravenwood - The Art of Building a Fictional World From Scratch


book cover of 

Ravenwood 

by

Andrew Fusek Peters
                               
Today is the launch date for a great fantasy adventure. This book has managed to find its way into some very lucky books shops slightly earlier than expected! As a big fan of all things fantasy, I managed to pick up on this book some time ago and believe that Barry, and the team at Chicken House, have published another winner in my opinion. See my review.

I would like to thank Andrew for taking the time out of his busy schedule to write this post. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading it as it's a good one - it gives a real insight into the world of writing, and a sneaky preview into the world of Ravenwood.


The art of building a fictional world from scratch........
Is fiction simply a kind of lie, albeit one that needs to be utterly convincing? This thought struck me years ago when listening to Michael Morpurgo talking  about the ‘who, what, how and why’ of creating a fictional world from scratch. This was in reference to his book, Kensuke’s Kingdom. If a boy is on an island, he asked, how did he get there? Why is he there? What does he eat? 

Beginning with a single idea and then answering these questions provides training for the imagination. And so to the world of my novel Ravenwood. Being a rather tall person (six foot eight and a half), I can’t think where I got the idea of an island covered in very, very tall trees! However, once I had found that initial spark, this was where the real work started. If a tree was over a mile high, how would my characters (who I call Dendrans - very like humans but with slightly longer fingers – useful for climbing and holding on) actually live up in the canopy without ever coming down to earth? This was my ‘who, what, how and why’ moment. It is all very well to create a world from an idea, but then you have to make that world work. The eco-system has to follow its own internal logic. All questions must be anticipated - the answers woven unobtrusively into the story. The lie must be believable, the reader enchanted.

So, to create this world I began with the basics: I grew excited about water (source of all life). Normal-sized trees have tiny capillary tubes called xylem that suck up water from the roots – they are about a millimetre across. This fact may be  rather dull and scientific by itself, but  what if the tree is a mile high? Suddenly these xylem turn into huge vertical, twisting tunnels that rise deep from the roots and up into the crowns of these massive trees. Here we have a source of water – tapped into by the Dendrans to create aqueducts (made from zinc and iron, mined by those who live deep in the roots underground), springs and cruckpools high above the ground. Ah, but what is a cruckpool? Once on a walk, I found a hawthorn hedge that had grown into a tree. Where the right angled branch stuck out of the trunk, there was a tiny, natural hollow about three inches across, filled with water. In my mind’s eye I was diving in and going for a swim! And in the world of Ravenwood, that pool is now twenty feet across and perfect for an early autumn dip!

How do the Dendrans who live up in the trees get about? The wonders  of carpentry and basic engineering  have been applied to the canopy – branches flattened out, joined and sprung together with cantilevered supports to form high woodways that criss-cross the whole wide-wood. What materials would be used for shelter? The giant leaves, each bigger than a full grown Dendran, when dried and tanned are stronger than leather and make excellent roofing material for houses.  Where would food come from? Giant platforms, angled southwards, are built between trunks. Soil is created from generations of Dendran sewage. (There are a lot of poo jokes in Ravenwood. I can’t help it. My ten year old son agrees that my sense of humour has never grown up!) This, along with composted leaves and mulch, transform into soil that fills the acres of scaffields to grow the crops to feed the population.

 Gradually, a picture of life high up in the forest emerges. And yet all the time, this is simply the backdrop to a very fast moving story – a plot against the king  who lives in Barkingham Palace (yes, plenty of puns too) .
So, the story. This is all-important. Having created a world from scratch, the author must not get carried away. The danger we fiction writers must avoid is too much description. The author has to know that the world works and must make sure the reader’s questions about how the world works are answered. However always above and beyond location, location, location is story, story, story. Story MUST come first.

With plot, the same rules of who, how, what and why apply. Who is the hero? Arktorius Malikum, known as Ark. Why is he running for his life along a branch in the opening chapter? Because he has overheard a plot against the king. What’s a fourteen year old sewage worker to do? Well, I can’t answer that question here. Only the book can. But I will tell you that information is danger: it’s the tight spring that is bound up with motive, that sets in motion all the events that follow. 

The art of good fiction, of the creative con artist – is to make the reader believe in this world, this story, this character. In Ravenwood I wanted to grab hold of the reader’s imagination and make each reader ‘root’ for Ark and his friends in their desperate quest to save the wooded, treetop country of Arborium.

Happy Reading!

Andrew Peters

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Darren Shan - Wants Your Blood - 1 Million Virtual Drops

Darren Shan's picture
   It's my duty,to tell you about this..............                                 
Do something amazing today...GIVE BLOOD...TO DARREN SHAN
To celebrate the release of the second book in the Saga of Larten Crepsley series, ‘OCEAN 
OF BLOOD’, HARPERCOLLINS CHILDREN’S BOOKS have teamed up with FIREBELLY, a creative agency specialising in the entertainment industry, to help teen horror author DARREN SHAN collect 1 MILLION virtual drops of blood from his dedicated followers.
Darren is thirsty for your blood, and here’s how he’s going to get it:
Simply donate a drop of blood to the virtual ocean with a click of your mouse and be in with a chance to win one of 1,000 prizes instantly. These vary from free wallpapers, to signed books, iTunes vouchers and iPod Nanos. If users are unsuccessful first time round, they have the chance to donate as many drops as they like in order to win an instant prize, so keep bleeding to win!
Once the 1 MILLION drops have been donated and the ocean is full, one user will win the top prize of an iPad 2 with all of Darren’s teen books pre-loaded and a personalised Saga of Larten Crespley book cover framed and signed by Darren.
book cover of 

Ocean of Blood 

 (Saga of Larten Crepsley, book 2)

by

Darren Shan         
What are you waiting for? It won’t hurt...much! Visit 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

+++Some Great New Books Published In May 2011+++

book cover of 

Virals 

 (Tory Brennan, book 1)

by

Kathy Reichs


May looks like a very well stocked month for some great reads. Whilst I have already read, reviewed and mentioned some of the amazing books to be published in May already on my blog, this list is of some of the more tasty books that I have just not mentioned . . . . . . until now! Anyway, I'm really looking forward to reading these next month. Are there any from the list that are already tickling your fancy?                                 


Kathy Reich - Virals - Published by Arrow -  12 May 2011

Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years.

With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.

On the run from forces they don’t understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology – and suddenly it’s clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It’s a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again…

book cover of 

A Monster Calls 

by

Patrick Ness
                                    
Patrick Ness & Siobhan Dowd -  A Monster Calls - Published by David Fickling - 5 May 2011
The monster showed up just after midnight.But it isn’t the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming... The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Costa Award winner Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final idea of much-loved Carnegie Medal winner Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel of coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

book cover of 

Found 

 (Magic Thief, book 3)

by

Sarah Prineas
                                        
Sarah Prineas - The Magic Thief:Found - Published by Quercus Publishing - 26 May 2011
Sneaking out of prison isn't easy, unless you are a thief, or a wizard. Luckily, Conn is both! Trouble is, once he's out, where does he go? His home is a pile of rubble since he blew it up doing magic. His master, the wizard Nevery, is furious. With a new order of exile, this time with a death penalty, Conn has never been in such a tight fix.

But Wellmet is in danger from an evil predator coming to destroy the city. Now Conn must set off on a quest to find something that will help him fight back. After an explosive experiment, he follows the call of his magic stone to a distant land. When Conn is swept away in the mouth of a magnificent Dragon, he is to face a power unlike any other... but is he a match for it and can he save his city, and himself, in time? 


book cover of 

The Deserter 

 (Bone World Trilogy, book 2)

by

Peader O'Guilin
                                                                           
Peadar Ó Guilín - The Deserter - Published by David Fickling - May 2011

The humans are weak and vulnerable. Soon the beasts that share their stone-age world will kill and eat them. To save his tribe, Stopmouth must make his way to the Roof, the mysterious hi-tech world above the surface.

But the Roof has its own problems. The nano technology that controls everything from the environment to the human body is collapsing. A virus has already destroyed the Upstairs, sending millions of refugees to seek shelter below. And now a rebellion against the Commission, organized by the fanatical Religious, is about to break.

Hunted by the Commission’s Elite Agents through the overcrowded, decaying city of the future, Stopmouth must succeed in a hunt of his own: to find the secret power hidden in the Roof’s computerized brain, and return to his people before it is too late.


book cover of 

Ghost Game 

 (Heroes)

by

Nigel Hinton
                              
Nigel Hinton - Ghost Game(Heroes) - Published by Heinemann - 27 May 2011
Danny and his Dad have barely begun unpacking their rented Victorian house when Danny feels the deathly chill of an evil presence. It's the last thing he needs after the recent deaths of his brother and mother. Increasingly terrified by freezing rooms, slamming doors and ghostly footprints in the carpet, Danny turns to the next door neighbour, a weird old woman who claims to have "The Sight". A haunting tale of terror unfolds as Danny must battle the malign forces in the house to free himself, and his family.



Thursday, 21 April 2011

++++Carloz Ruiz Zafon - The Midnight Palace - Book Review++++

                                       The Midnight Palace

  • Pages 281
  • Published by Orion Children's/Weidenfeld & Nicolson Adult
  • Date 9 June 2011
  • Age 12+
Lieutenant Peake pauses for breath outside the ruins of the Jheeter's Gate station knowing that he only has a few hours to live. Inside his overcoat he is sheltering two newborn babies - twins, a boy and a girl. Pursued by his would-be assassins, Peake runs at full tilt to the house of Aryami Bose, to whom he entrusts the children. In 1932 we meet the boy, Ben, and his group of friends the night before they are due to leave St Patricks orphanage. 


Their final meeting is due that evening but then Aryami Bose turns up at the orphanage with Sheere, Ben's sister, and tells them the story of the parents they never knew. Their father was an engineer and writer who died in tragic circumstances at the inauguration of Jheeter's Gate station. 



After having read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's first young adult book to be translated into English, "The Prince of Mist", I have been really looking forward to his next book. I had particularly high expectations for this book, as I had given his first book a glowing review. So far, within the author's native Spain, the four books that have been published have sold millions of copies. The next books to be published (September Lights and Marina) which I saw on a recent trip to Paris, are both expected to be published in 2012. Therefore, we have particularly nice treats ahead to read.

The book is set in the streets of Calcutta (May 1916). Seven children, who have had the fortunate advantage to be taken into care by Thomas Carter, spend time growing up in St Patrick's until they reach the age of sixteen. The group of children, who are one big family, form a secret club called 'The Chowbar Society'. This group meets each week, at midnight, in an old and ruined house which they have christened The Midnight Palace.

The story is shrouded in a secret past particularly for one of the children. As a result, this develops into a sinister and creepy ambience, which leads to an unexpected turn of events that leads them all into danger. This part of the story (told at the beginning of the book) sets the mood of the story. It develops into a riveting and intensive read from the very first page to the last. This book has an amazing blend of mystery, with some delicious bouts of terrifying scenes which will leave you feeling very emotional.

The traditional European feel, that seeps through this book, is a fantastic element that is rarely found within many books. Especially books that eventually manage to get published in the UK. However, this book has this quality, which comes from stories that have been passed down from generation to generation before finally being committed to paper. 

I really enjoyed this book. However, I did have a problem with the storyline towards the end of the book. Some of the characterisation of Jawahal, I feel, could have been enhanced by developing his role more as a 'real' character. This would have made his character stand out more and perhaps enhance the final ending. I have kept this comment slightly vague as I don't want to divulge too much of the story. Especially as I know that you will all want to read this book with fresh eyes.

Grab it, read it and even be scared by it, but love it even more. It's a literary delight for the young and old.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Andrew Peters - Ravenwood - Book Review

                                           book cover of 

Ravenwood 

by

Andrew Fusek Peters

  • Pages 392
  • Published By Chicken House
  • Date 5th May 2011
  • Age 11+
  • ISBN 9781906427467

Fourteen year-old Ark has the squittiest job on Arborium, the last forested island in the future. A poor plumber's boy, he unblocks toilets in the city where he lives a breath-taking, mile-high world carved out of the vast upper branches of a giant canopy of trees. Protected by a poisonous shield, he believes his forest kingdom to be the safest place on earth. But while at work, he over hears a plot between a powerful councillor of the island and a secret spy from Maw, a superpower of glass and steel, that intends robbing Arborium of its wood, a natural resource now more precious than gold Ark is plunged into danger and soon he finds himself on the run, fighting for his life. Together with new found friends, he must travel from the highest tree-tops to the darkest roots of Ravenwood to save his home and his people.

This year, there has been a distinct lack of magical/fantasy books that have been published. Within the UK, they are especially few and far between - perhaps this genre is now considered to be out of fashion or perhaps the current standard of writing (in this particular genre) is not considered high enough to be published. However, whatever the reasons, Ravenwood (thank goodness) has found enough light between the trees to grow into the hands of the public. Although I recognise that some readers may find this book hard to understand, for me, it leads to a tantalising rush of the imagination. 


The story has a secure footing in the reaches of a magical experience. It is a fantasy ride set high in the tree tops of a parallel world. This last surviving place is a mysterious world of people and creatures, who all go about their daily life secure in the knowledge and understanding of each other. That is, until one dark day . . . . . .


Ark Malikum, the main character of the book, reminds me of Mario. He finds himself well and truly knee deep in the brown stuff, when he happens to overhear a plot to destroy the city. As a result, an action-packed adventure begins full of danger, discoveries and new found friends. 


This book has a witty charm running through it. The author has cleverly woven wood-related themes through the story, as timely interjections, such as "buddy holly" and "totally conkers" which made me chuckle along the way. I was also able to appreciate the religious theme; giving the story a vivid past and enhancing the cleverly structured world of Aborium.  


The book is a really good read. It encompasses events such as unblocking drains to danger, within the blink of an eye. It includes everything that a reader needs to become hooked and is a great debut novel into the world of fantasy. The author has a talented craft to writing, by making the unbelievable seem very real - a definite magical language seeps from within.


The second book to be published in this trilogy is entitled "The Glass Forest" which will be published in August 2012.

Friday, 8 April 2011

+++ Will Hill - Department 19 Guest Post Day Five Blog Tour +++


I feel both privileged and honoured that Will Hill has requested a visit to this particular blog site as part of his brilliant Department 19 tour. Having written such an appropriate blog post for this site, I have been incredibly excited to be able to share this with everybody. 
As the author of the brilliant debut horror book 'Department 19', which is centred around the classical Victorian world of Vampires, I feel that this is one of the best books to be published this year.

I would like to thank both Will and HarperCollins for organising this blog tour and for choosing this site as one of the stops. 
                                                
Here is Will explaining why the North East has been a great inspiration for the setting of Dept 19. . . . . .


When I was seven years old, my mother and my stepfather and I moved from a tiny market town in Lincolnshire called Spilsby to Gateshead, the squat, grey city that faces Newcastle from the other side of the River Tyne. When I was twelve, almost thirteen, we moved again, to the only place apart from London that I’ve ever considered home.

On the north sea coast lies a small town called Tynemouth, which is lovely and sunny and full of surfers and holidaymakers in the summer, and freezing cold, grey and desolate in the autumn, winter and spring. I spent endless long, dark afternoons beneath the cliffs that separate the town’s long beach from the bay beneath its priory, on a vast, uneven landscape of rocks and freezing pools. It was where my friends and I would hang out, where we could be pretty confident of being undisturbed; the rocks were treacherous underfoot, and the cliffs were overhanging and crumbling. We huddled in the caves at the feet of the cliffs, shivering as the wind blew hard off the open sea. For a teenage mind that was reeling from its first exposure to Clive Barker and, particularly, Stephen King, it was a fertile breeding ground.

My parents and I would holiday in Northumberland, in places that feature in Department 19 and its sequel – Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, old, wild places full of history, much of it violent and frightening. Castles stood along the coast, staring out at waters that are grey and calm now, but that once held the constant prospect of danger. 

Down the coast in north Yorkshire, the fishing town of Whitby stands proudly as the place where Count Dracula first landed in England, leaping down onto the sand in the shape of a dog, leaving behind him the empty Demeter, its crew missing, apart from the captain, whose body is lashed to the helm. Inland from that legendary place lies the vast, otherworldly radar complex of RAF Fylingdales; the enormous ‘golf balls’ that were visible from miles and miles away when I was a child are now gone, but the place still feels secret, and spooky. It was no surprise at all to me when I realised I was going to place the Northern Outpost of Department 19 there.

When I started writing Department 19 I knew where it started (the Prologue and the first three chapters were the first things I wrote) and I knew how it was going to end. Well, that’s not absolutely true – there were aspects of the ending that didn’t occur to me until later. But what I absolutely did know was where it was going to end. It was always going to be Lindisfarne.

I only visited the small tidal island a couple of times when I was young, but that was more than enough to capture my imagination. I couldn’t get my head around the idea that the causeway that links it to the mainland was submerged for long periods of each day; the sense of isolation, of being cut off from help, which I would eventually have the villain of Department 19 exploit so cruelly, was palpable, even then. I changed the geography of the island, which is one of the most beautiful, picturesque and friendly places you could ever visit in real life, and rebuilt the monastery that had once stood there to suit the horrors that I knew were going to take place there. 

Lindisfarne had seen horror before. The Viking raid of 793AD was described as follows by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria. There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and on January 8th the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne.

More than a thousand years later, I wanted to bring that fear, that sense of the unnatural, of invasion by the unknown, back to the small island that loomed large in my imagination when I was a child. It doesn’t deserve what happens to it in Department 19, but the world isn’t a fair place. 

It’s dark, and cold, and there are monsters. Here is my Book Review

                                                                                                                            

Thursday, 7 April 2011

John Connolly - Hell's Bells Samuel Johnson v The Devil Round II

book cover of 

Hell's Bells 

(The Infernals) 

 (Samuel Johnson vs. the Devil, book 2)

by

John Connolly

Samuel Johnson - with a little help from his dachshund Boswell and a very unlucky demon named Nurd - has sent the demons back to Hell. But the diabolical Mrs Abernathy is not one to take defeat lying down.

When she reopens the portal and sucks Samuel and Boswell down into the underworld, she brings an ice-cream van full of dwarfs as well. And two policement. Can this eccentric gang defeat the forces of Evil? And is there life after Hell for Nurd?

Published - 12 May - Hodder & Stoughton, 2011


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mr Ripleys 100 Great Books To Read In A Life Time.......

                                               book cover of 

Tintin in the Congo 

 (The Adventures of Tintin, book 2)

by

Hergé

This is a list of books, both new and old, of some of the best books that I have enjoyed reading over the years. These aren't in any order of preference and I have deliberately only chosen one book by each author. I'm sure that there will be many books that I have missed and there'll be some titles that you feel should have made it that I haven't referred to. Therefore, this is your chance to leave a comment and let me know what you think should be added to the list and what you have enjoyed reading over the years.


1. J.R.R Tolkien - Hobbit
2. Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time
3. Arthur Ransome - Swallows And Amazons
4. Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
5. Marcus Zusak - The Book Thief
6. Philip Reeve - Mortal Engines
7. Louis Sacha - Holes
8. Darren Shan - Lord Loss
9. Philippa Pearce - Tom's Midnight Garden
10. Robert Westall - Scarecrows
11. Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl
12. E. Nesbit - The Railway Children
13. Charmian Hussey - The Valley of Secrets
14. Chris Wooding - The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray
15. Elizabeth Laird - Garbage King
16.  P.L Travers - Mary Poppins
17. Mark Lamb - Farperoo
18. Terry Pratchett -  Going Postal
19.  Julia Donaldson - Gruffalo
20. Cornelia Funke - Ink Heart
21. Brandon Mull - Fablehaven
22. Jonathan Stroud - The Amulet of Smakand
23. Kazu Kibuishi - Amulet:Stonekeeper
24. David Almond - Skellig
25. Robin Jarvis -  The Dark Portal
26 Brian Jacques - Salamandastron
27. Dean Vincent Carter - The Hand of the Devil
28. Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell - Stormchaser
29. Angie Sage - Magyk
30. Frances Hardinge - Fly By Night
31. Maurice Sendak - Where The Wild Things Are
32. Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
33. Frances Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden
34. Philip Pullman - Northern Lights
35 J.K Rowling -  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
36. Joseph Delaney - The Spooks's Apprentice
37 Blue Balliett - Chasing Vermeer
38. G.P Taylor - Shadowmancer
39. Christopher Paolini - Eragon
40. Michael Malloy - The Time Witches
41. Anna Dale - Whispering to Witches
42. Dale Peck - Drift House
43. Eoin McNamee - The Navigator
44. Catherine Web - The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle
45. Julia Golding -  The Diamond of Dury Lane
46. Eleanor Updale - Montmorency
47. Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
48. Enid Blyton -  Five on Treasure Island
49. Richard Adams - Watership Down
50. Ian Fleming - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
51. Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels
52. Leon Garfield - The Ghost Downstairs
53. Jules Verne - Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea
55. Mary Norton - The Borrowers
56. John Boyne - The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
57. Garth Nix - Sabriel
58. Scott Westerfeld - The Secret Hour
59. Anthony Horowitz - Raven's Gate
60. Anthony Browne - Tunnels
61. Trudi Canavan - The Magician's Apprentice
62. Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams - The Highfield Mole
63. Charlie Higson - The Enemy
64. Lewis Carroll - Alice in Wonderland
65. L.Frank Baum - The Wizard of Oz
66. Kenneth Grahame - The Wind In The Willows
67. Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island
68. Ursula Le Guin  - The Tales From Earthsea
69. Rick Riordan - Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief
70. P.B Kerr -  Children of the Lamp:The Akhenaten Adventure
71. Sam Enthoven - The Black Tattoo
72. Adam Gopnik - The King in the Window
73. Linda Sue Park - A  Single Shard
75. Isobelle Carmody - Obernewtyn
76. E.E Richardson - The Devil's Footsteps
77. F E Higgins -  The Black Book of Secrets
78. Derek Landy - Skulduggery Pleasant
79. Steve Augarde - The Various
80. Patrick Carman - Atherton House of Power
81. Joanne Harris - Runemarks
82. Mark Walden - H.I.V.E
83. Michael Grant - Gone
84. Tom Becker - Darkside
85. Zizou Corder - Lion Boy
86. Michelle Paver - Wolf Brother
87. Liam Hearn - Across the Nightingale Floor
88. Gareth Thompson - The Great Harlequin Grim
89. Rudyard Kipling - Jungle Book
90. J.M Barrie - Peter Pan
91. Lemony Snicket - The Bad Beginning
92. Susan Cooper - Dark Is Rising
93. Suzanne Collins -  The Hunger Games
94. Henry Chancellor - The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn
95. Tove Jansson - Moomin's
96. Alan Garner - A Bag of Moonshine
97. Herge -  Tin Tin in the Congo
98. Justin Richards - The Death Collector
99. W E Johns - Biggles Learns To Fly
100. Stuart Hill -  The Cry of the Icemark

Friday, 1 April 2011

M.G Harris - Joshua Files:BK 4 Dark Parallel - Book Review

book cover of 

Dark Parallel 

 (Joshua Files, book 4)

by

M G Harris
                                
  • Pages 388
  • Published by Scholastic 
  • Date 7 April 2011
  • Age 11+
  • ISBN 9781407111032
One boy. One deadly prophecy. One heart-stopping adventure. This is how the world will end: on 22 December, an electromagnetic pulse will blast through the atmosphere. Technology will fail. Civilization will fall apart. The key to survival lies in a secret Mayan book, protected by Josh and an ancient society. But someone has altered time. To put it back on track, Josh must unravel history itself and face the dangers of a dark, parallel reality. 


We are now on the fourth of Joshua's amazing adventures, with this epic time travel escapade being my favourite, so far. All of the stories feel very fresh, as different worlds and adventures are explored in each book. Whilst there is a little bit of story recapping in each new story (from the previous book) it is just enough to pull the story together. Therefore, if you happen to wander into this book before having read any of the others, you will still have a clear understanding of where the story is and what has happened beforehand.


This is another great action adventure which is oozing with Mayan culture. The book incorporates some amazing places, which Josh and Ixchel visit whilst time travelling from place to place, in order to save the world from the scrupulous villains of the Sect of Huracan. The Snake Kingdom is a particularly amazing historical and mythical place, it is written with such colourful and vivid imagery, that it will leave you breathless. I would have loved to have stayed longer and encountered this place over many more pages but instead, for me, this felt like a very brief encounter.


I really loved the turbulent history between Josh and Ixchel, who is such a great feisty and strong female character. She manages to hide her emotions and true feelings incredibly well. In fact, I found myself wanting to scream at them both,  as I wanted them to tell each other how they felt. However, this tension continually bubbled throughout the book and kept me frustrated until it was finally resolved.


In short, this is another great adrenalin rush of action that will leave every reader wanting more.  A joyous and compelling teenage read like no other. The pace of adventure will leave you feeling mildly exhilarated whilst gasping for breath. The question is, what will happen next to Josh and his friends?  




Will Hill - Department 19 EXPOSED (The Truth Is Out There....)

NEWS: SECRET GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT EXPOSED
A Downing Street spokesman was today forced to admit to the existence of a secret department within the British government. Rumours about Department 19 have been in circulation for many years, but previous governments have consistently denied its existence. Publication of a “tell all” book today by HarperCollins, which exposes the inner workings of the highly classified department, led to the government’s admission. The book, believed to have been written by a former employee of the organisation, under the pseudonym Will Hill, is called simply Department 19.
According to the author, Department 19’s brief is to investigate supernatural occurrences. Staffed in part by former Special Forces operatives, they are equipped with hi tech weaponry including ultraviolet light pistols, pneumatic guns and advanced explosives. The government spokesman would not confirm the particulars of the work that these special operatives are currently engaged in, but there are suggestions that an unexplained explosion off the north east coast last week can be traced back to Department 19.
Asked whether the Department 19 operatives were trained to track and capture or destroy supernatural beings, including vampires, the spokesman said “I could not possibly comment”.


For more information on www.department19exists.com