Thursday, 30 May 2013

Book Review: Sam Hepburn - Chasing The Dark + Book Trailer

                                       

I was looking for something to read in this genre when this book popped through the post - I'm really glad that it did. The title of the book perfectly captures what's in store for the reader. This is a brilliant new crime-mystery story told through the eyes of a teenage boy looking for answers as to the death of his mum. 

Joe's mum is killed in a hit-and-run car crash, along with someone that he's never heard of before. Angry and alone, Joe takes his dog for a late night walk. He finds himself at the gates of an empty mansion; a house of glass belonging to an old movie star. And it's here that Joe unlocks the dangerous mystery of what happened that night. 

The author has been inspired by an eclectic mix of Dickens' Great Expectations, the famous Lord Lucan mystery and the opening of the KGB files back in 2009. These have been used to great effect and lend a sense of mystery and possibilities to the story. An exhilarating tale is told in the style of Lord Peter Wimsey from the detective adventures by Dorothy L Sayers. I have to say that this diverse mix of ideas and inspirations really make this story quite unique.

This book has a fast paced nature to it - the story unfolds the mysteries that Joe faces as he heads further into this dangerous adventure. It is layered with unexpected twists - just when you think that you've got the story sussed you have to think again. One of the strong points of this book includes the host of very interesting and varied characters that will have you gripped from the start until the very end.

The main characters are Yuri, a scary ex-contract killer with a heart of gold and a secret stash of emeralds. Norma Craig, an old movie star with a secret or two, Joe Slattery and his sidekick terrier called Oz. The all important bad person is the mysterious character know as Vulture, a Russian spy, who wants to eliminate her previous history at all cost. If that's not enough, then there are many secondary characters to keep you company along the way.

This book will take you slowly down the darkened path of murder, espionage, the London crime culture and a secret family past. There are many hidden secrets that will make you want to uncover the answers for your very self. It is a gripping read for the 11+ market - a book for both boys and girls who have adventurous spirits. It is very well written and is full of ideas which are deliciously dark and sometimes brutal. These have all been told through the modern day perspective which also pull at the heart strings.  

I would love to read more books like this as it was an absolute pleasure and delight. This is another great book from such a diverse author who also writes under the name of Sam Osman. 

Published by Chicken House - 6th June 2013. Age 11+ - ISBN: 978 1 908435 68 2

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

One To Watch: Monument 14 - Sky On Fire by Emmy Laybourne

                                         

Overview

Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.
Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .
Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . . .
  • Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
  • Publication date: 28/05/2013
  • Pages: 224



Monday, 27 May 2013

Samantha Shannon - The Bone Season - Book Trailer Release



Bloomsbury have launched the trailer for The Bone Season, the first book in a dazzling new fantasy series being published on 20 August this year. The book is already being developed for film by Andy Serkis' The Imaginarium Studios. Samantha is a 21 year-old currently completing her finals at Oxford University. A selection of some of amazing advance quotes follow:

'Truly extraordinary and thrilling.' Andy Serkis
'A new breed of women authors are claiming fantasy as their own. Leading the charge is Samantha Shannon.' Harper's Bazaar
'A dark and exquisitely rendered fantasy unlike anything out there. The Bone Season is a must read.' Kami Garcia, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series

'Samantha Shannon has a hugely inventive talent and an imagination with seven league boots. She's hit the ground running.' Susan Hill 


Friday, 24 May 2013

Book Review: The Boy with 2 Heads By Andy Mulligan - Published by David Fickling


I have to say that once again Andy Mulligan has written another outstanding story. It is slightly different to his previous books as he tackles some really quite serious day-to-day life issues in this one. It's a really gritty perspective of life told through the eyes of a group of children. They all have their own individual story to tell which is weaved seamlessly into one fantastic story.

Richard is a normal boy until a lump starts to grow on his neck. At this point, his life changes forever. He wakes up to discover that he has grown another head - a breathing and talking head. Known as Rikki this additional head is rude, rebellious and very difficult. This idea, at this point, could have easily gone wrong as both Richard and Rikki's dialogue could have been read as one voice. However, I believe that Andy has got the balance just right by giving them their own clear narrative which is psychologically gripping and very intense in some places. 

This is a very clever and original idea. It is a poignant and heart-warming story about life and all the hardships and troubles that this can bring e.g growing up, unfairness in the world etc. These are all dealt with and addressed in their own unique way which makes it a fascinating and brilliant read. Each character has to cope with the complexity of life and learn to deal with their own circumstances. This is all told in a very skilful way.  

The backdrop of school life brings a large slice of reality and realism, but there are still some small elements of fantasy which give a balance to the story.

The book has so much going for it; one moment it is serious and the next it's humorous. However, there are also a lot of dark and horrifying moments in the book. These will set you on the path of moral thinking.  As an adult, I also gained a great sense of feeling as to what is was like to be a child again which was very interesting.

The ending is very unexpected and well thought out. It may shine a light down a dark tunnel but I shall say no more! This book is an entertainment extravaganza from the first page to the very last. It is a thought provoking read that will stay with me forever. Another blinding story from Andy Mulligan, which delivers the unexpected with superb imaginative qualities. I believe that he is one of the best storytellers around.

Published by David Fickling Books (6 Jun 2013) - Age 12+

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Press Release: COMPETITION TO MAKE NEW CHARLIE HIGSON BOOK TRAILER FOR - THE FALLEN

                                      


                   Competition launches to make official trailer for
                    Charlie Higson’s new zombie book, The Fallen




With Penguin Books and the BFI

Penguin Books have joined with the BFI (British Film Institute) to launch a unique film making competition ahead of the release of The Fallen, the fifth book in Charlie Higson’s best-selling zombie series, The Enemy.
Open to anyone of any age - whether they are fans of the books, budding film makers, or just huge zombie fans - the competition offers the chance to make the official trailer for The Fallen, published on 12 September 2013.
Previous trailers for the series have had more than 100,000 combined viewings on YouTube and Charlie Higson has played a pivotal role in each of them.  He starred in the first and wrote and directed the latest trailer which was the publisher’s most ambitious trailer for a book ever.

Charlie Higson launches the competition with a twitter Q&A today, 22 May 2013, at 8pm BST.  The deadline for entries is midnight on Friday 23 August.
There are three categories in the competition: under 16s, 16-24s and 25 year-olds and over.    Charlie Higson will choose a winner from each category alongside a judging panel from Penguin Books and the BFI.   An overall winner will be chosen as the official trailer for The Fallen, and will be announced by Charlie at a Future Film event inspired by the BFI’s forthcoming Gothic season at BFI Southbank on Saturday 7 September.

The overall winner will become the official trailer, but there will be prizes for all winning entries.  The 16 – 24s winner wins a mentoring experience with IdeasTap and the winner of the over 25s category will have the chance to speak to industry specialists at the BFI Film Fund.  Each category winner will get £350 vouchers for film making equipment, BFI Membership, signed copies of The Enemy series and a ticket to the BFI Future Film event on 7 September.

Charlie Higson comments, “We want you to make the trailer for The Fallen.  It doesn’t matter how you make it or what equipment you’ve got, whether you’ve got a 3D 35 mm camera or just your phone.  What we’re looking for is great ideas, imagination, loads of atmosphere and plenty of gore.  The winning film will become the official trailer for my next book which means it will be seen by thousands of people all over the world.  Not just that, there will be money can’t buy prizes for the runners up.  If you’ve ever dreamed of making your own zombie movie, now is your chance.”

The BFI comments, “This competition offers aspiring filmmakers of all ages a great opportunity to practice working to a brief and the BFI is thrilled to be able to help provide some of the prizes on offer from BFI Membership to invaluable career advice from the BFI Film Fund”

The Enemy series is set in a post-apocalyptic London after a mystery illness attacks everyone over the age of fourteen.  Some survive, but those that do face a more terrifying fate – they turn into hideous zombies with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Children form gangs and attempt to survive in an unrecognisable world where there are dangers around every corner.
Further details including information on how to enter and a brief story arc to be used as a narrative guideline, can be found at www.the-enemy.co.uk.   


The Fallen is published by Penguin Books on 12 September 2013 at £12.99

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Jonathan Stroud - Lockwood & Co Book Covers - What's Your Favourite? Vote Now...


UK Book Cover - Published By Doubleday Childrens (29 Aug 2013)


                                 

German Book Cover Published By cbj (11 Sep 2013)

                              

US Book Cover Published By Disney Press (17 Sep 2013)

Click here to vote - Only takes two seconds......... 


When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.
Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Guest Post: Marcus Alexander - Keeper of the Realms/ Who Is Charlie Keeper? Graffiti a Road to Publishing.

Thank you so much Marcus for taking the time to put this guest post together.  It's definitely one the best that I've read to date - it really had me gripped.  I hope it has piqued your imagination to read this great magical fantasy series.   

Over to Marcus.......   
I knew I didn’t want an agent and I knew the chances of me going the traditional route weren’t good so I decided to self-publish my first book with the intent of proving its commercial viability. It worked and I eventually got signed to Puffin but it wasn’t an easy ride. The two biggest hurdles I found with self-publishing were distribution and marketing. Both were painful obstacles and to be honest, if I had any hair left on my big bald head, I would have pulled it out. But as word got out and the reputation of the book started to grow Charlie Keeper themed graffiti began to appear around London and that unusual occurrence, perhaps more than anything, changed everything.
                                       

Tags, throw ups, poster boards and pieces began to appear in Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill, Camden and Vauxhall. The graffiti came in a mix of styles some great, some good and some that were er…discordantly messy and poorly thought out. But it was a huge boon, more people began to take notice, sales grew and reviews followed.
And I think that of all the factors that helped me get signed I think the graffiti was one of the larger elements that saw the self-published book ‘Who is Charlie Keeper?’ get converted into Puffin’s Keeper of the Realms fantasy series.
                                

I’m a huge fan of graffiti. I was struck by the imagery of its slick graphics and twisted calligraphy from a young age. As much as I love London and all the funk and flavour that comes with it, it would be a struggle to call it a beautiful city; the sky is often overcast and for some bizarre reason city architects have a fetish for building with materials every bit as grey as the sky so for me, a splash of graffiti has always come as a welcome delight – eye candy amidst a sea of urban blandness.
However I can appreciate how many people hate graffiti, there is after all a lot to dislike about it. You get thoughtless graff artists who piece up private homes, places of worship and blemish the few genuinely beautiful buildings there are in London. And then there’s the endless sea of scribbled tags that you find in every borough. You’d have to be wearing the most warped glasses to find these attractive. I find all of these examples only add to the dreariness of the city and do little to promote the potential of the artists involved. But on the flip side you get amazing works of art that are well thought out and delivered with such style and grandeur that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Pieces of art that not only scream with flavour but adds not detracts to the neighbourhood and it is graffiti like this, something that gives not takes, that I’d be thrilled to see more of.
                                                           

As much as graffiti is frowned upon I think it should be encouraged. It is a powerful tool and an amazing form of self-expression. It’s a multi-million dollar industry too. The artists at the top see their pieces sold for big money, there’s the spin-offs too; the clothing, the options for marketing, advertising, backdrops for MTV videos, fashion – the list goes on. And for those with sharp minds it’s a great lifestyle that offers a chance to be independent, be creative and potentially financially stable too. (I appreciate that the mention of money is a shallow argument and that art should be done for passion and not pocket but the backing of money to the industry validates its potential).
I’d love it if more councils offered legal walls and welcomed new talent. If young artists were given the opportunity to produce beautiful and responsible pieces of art it would be a win-win situation. Unused, concrete eye-sores could be given a make-over and artists would get a chance to practice their skills. There’s also an opportunity for education with legal walls too. Young artists could be taught the value of a great piece versus the destructive elements of thoughtless tags and Londoners averse to outsider art could be encouraged to see graffiti less as an act of vandalism and something that is to be valued and admired.
Graffiti. Love it.
Check out London Vandal for a list of legal walls here:http://www.thelondonvandal.com/2013/05/legal-graffiti-walls-london/


                                   

Friday, 17 May 2013

New Children's Books Published In June 2013 - UK Post Three

                                    

Amy McCulloch - The Oathbreakers's Shadow - Published by Doubleday Children's (6 Jun 2013)

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.
Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all - not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.
Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.
                                   

Ali Sparkes - Out of This World - Published by OUP Oxford (6 Jun 2013)
Tyrone Lewis is messing about in the woods, trying to keep out of trouble, when he stumbles upon something weird ...a glowing lump of rock or metal or something. Whatever it is, it gives him an amazing power. Which is cool at first, until Ty's new powers start attracting attention, and soon he's being followed by two sinister agents who seem intent on 'collecting' him. But Ty has no intention of letting that happen. So now he's got to RUN ...
                                   
   
I. M. Strange  - Welcome to Weirdsville: Happyland - Published by Atom (20 Jun 2013)
On Toby's eleventh birthday, he and his friends get a mysterious invitation to Happyland, the abandoned funfair in town. It's too good an opportunity to miss, even though the place gives them the creeps.
What they find there is more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. Getting in was the easy part. Surviving long enough to escape will be much harder.
Once upon a time Happyland was filled with laughter. Now it's filled with fear.
                                     

Eleanor Hawken - The Blue Lady - Published by Hot Key Books (6 Jun 2013)
Fourteen-year-old Frankie Ward is used to being the new girl at school, but even she is unprepared for life at St Mark's College. Finding herself isolated from the rest of the girls, Frankie is drawn to flamboyant and dramatic Suzy, who captivates her with stories of 'The Blue Lady' - the ghost of an ex-St Mark's pupil who died in mysterious and tragic circumstances. One night Suzy persuades Frankie to help her contact The Blue Lady via an Ouija Board - and the girls unleash a terrifying spirit who seems set on destroying not only their friendship but Suzy's sanity. Determined to rescue her friend, Frankie enlists the help of Seth, a mysterious and alluring boy from sister-school St Hilda's. Seth is as interested in St Mark's past as Frankie - but does he have as many dark secrets as the school?
                                   

Thomas Taylor - Dan and the Caverns of Bone - Published by  A&C Black Childrens & Educational (6 Jun 2013)
Dan can see ghosts. See then, speak to them, and sometimes help them...for a price. In his second adventure, Dan is on a school trip to France when he gets mixed up in skulduggery down in the Paris catacombs. Can Dan save the living, help the unquiet dead, avoid getting himself killed - and do it all under the eye of an enraged French teacher? Brilliantly dark humour.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Publisher News: Strange Chemistry Signs Danielle Jensen


                                  


Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books, is delighted to announce the signing of Danielle Jensen, in a three-book World English Rights deal concluded by Strange Chemistry’s editor Amanda Rutter and Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency.
The first of the three books is called Stolen Songbird and will be published by Strange Chemistry in early 2014.

About Danielle Jensen



Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.
Danielle can be found on her website danielleljensen.com as well as on Twitter @dljensen_

About Stolen Songbird
For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy...
Trolls are said to love gold. They are said to live underground and hate humans. They are said to be evil.  When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and sold to the trolls, she finds out that there is truth in the rumours, but there is also so much more to trolls than she could have imagined.
Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus, the city she hadn’t even known existed under Forsaken Mountain: escape. But the trolls are inhumanly strong. And fast. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.
But something strange happens while she’s waiting - she begins to fall in love with the handsome, thoughtful troll prince that she has been bonded and married to. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods - part troll/part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.
As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter from Goshawk’s Hollow. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Book Review - Ian Johnstone - The Bell Between Worlds (The Mirror Chronicles) - HarperCollins

                                            

This book is definitely the bell of the ball - it's taking fantasy literature literally by storm this year. It is a book that, in my opinion, should certainly see Ian's name in the fantasy hall of fame

After flying through the first chapter I had a tingling feeling that this book was going to be really special and I was not wrong. The more that I read, the more I became totally immersed in an amazing world of painted words - it is a story that's breathtaking and an absolute joy to read. I feel that it will be a book that you will reflect on for the rest of your life. Just like when you first read the Hobbit or Sabriel or took your first stroll along the story path of Terry Pratchett. It's a reading journey that will take you to another world and one that you will remember for a very long time. Fantastically exciting to read, but you may feel a great sense of loss when it has ended, as I did. 

Sylas Tate leads a lonely existence since the death of his mother - it is not a happy life. However, an figment of his own imagination draws him to a strange shop called The Shop of Things. There he has an encounter with an even stranger owner, Mr Zhi, who from that point onwards whips the story up into a thrilling, action-packed ride. The tolling of the giant bell draws both him and the reader into another world known as the' Other'. Here he discovers that, not only does he have an inborn talent for the nature-influenced magic, but that his mother might also have come from this strange parallel place.

Meanwhile, evil forces are stirring and an even more astounding revelation awaits Sylas regarding the true nature of the Other. As violence looms and the stakes get ever higher, Sylas must seek out a girl called Naeo who might just be the other half of his soul – otherwise the entire universe may fall…

This story is beautifully written and captured through fantastic imagination. Ambitious in its telling, it is has a whole host of characters that you will fall in love with. Humour and humanity, compassion and despair, dark and light - all are classic attributes found within this story. It will leave your senses and emotions running on autopilot whilst the timely action sequences will leave you in awe. 

One particularly fantastic part of the story can be found in the chapter entitled 'Nature's Song'. It is told like a classical symphony with the conductor controlling the elements to the tune of Antonín Dvořák's "New World" Symphony. This is the best chapter that I have read in a very long time - magical, vivid and exhilarating. It was so good that I actually read it twice and enjoyed it equally as much the second time. 

Half of your soul is missing. The lost part is in the mirror. And unless Sylas Tate can save you, you will never be whole again.

This is a debut epic masterpiece which is due to be published in June.  Quite simply, it is possibly the best book that I have or will read this year. I really can't wait to see what comes next....


Monday, 13 May 2013

New Books: Published in June 2013 - US Post

                                  


Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson - Starbounders - Published by HarperCollins (June 4, 2013) 
Zachary Night can’t wait to start his top-secret Starbounders training at Indigo 8. But he’s barely started learning the skills he’ll need to protect the galaxy when a space mission goes wrong. Zachary and his friends are accidentally sent to the front lines of an intergalactic skirmish, and they quickly discover a plot to destroy Indigo 8. Piloting a space ship under attack, they must get back to earth before the training center—and the planet—is annihilated.
                                   


Maile Meloy - The Apprentices - Published Putnam Juvenile (June 4, 2013)
Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam.
But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she's in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.  
Acclaimed author Maile Meloy seamlessly weaves together magic and adventure in this breathtaking sequel with stunning illustrations by Ian Schoenherr.

                             


Polly Shulman - The Wells Bequest A Companion to The Grimm Legacy - Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (June 13, 2013)
Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!

                                

John Kitchen - A spectre in the Stones - Published by Thames River Press (June 1, 2013)
Lloyd Lewis is moving to yet another children's home, but this one is different. It seems to be cast in an unremitting, sunless winter. The staff and children are surly and aggressive, and he soon discovers why: Sarson Hall is gripped in a curse. There are poltergeists creating constant disruptions and, in the cellar, a terrifying ghost. Lloyd’s survival has always depended on his fighting spirit, and he sets about confronting the mayhem surrounding him. In his quest to remove the curse, he finds he possesses a rare power, which leads him to link what is happening to a nearby ravaged stone circle. But can he do anything to remove the curse from Sarson Hall, and can he bring peace once more to the old building and its occupants?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Stuart Webb - Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth - Book Review


After self publishing two great books on his own, Stuart has now finally been rewarded with the opportunity to write a book for the publishing company Seven Arches Publishing.

This is a long standing and well received series of books that has gained many avid readers along the way. This is the tenth book in the series, but this book is uniquely different to the rest. The publishers ran a writing competition to decide the setting and some of the ideas within the book. The overall winner was William Johnson who wrote about the fantastically grand Chatsworth House. However, Stuart also expertly wove other ideas and elements into the story making this a true collaboration in parts. 

I have to admit that I hadn't read any of the previous books in the series, but I had no problems picking up this book and engaging with it. Don't worry if you're in a similar position as it reads like a stand alone book. It provides a great slice of historical, time travelling fantasy that all readers will really engage in. At the heart of the story is the fantastic setting which is written with passion. The extensive knowledge and research that the author has enagaged with provides an accurate account of place, time and events. It really does enhance the story with a particularly realistic and believable presence. 
Jenny, whose brother Danny is an experienced time traveller, is recruited without Danny knowing by the rogue operators. Her life is in danger when she goes back in time to the beautiful mansion at Chatsworth. Jenny's secret missions set her on course of danger and mystery - on the way she meets a very famous person who is locked up in Chatsworth House. It is an amazingly fast paced and action packed adventure that all children from the age of 9+ will enjoy. However, it is also interestingly educational as the reader will learn many historical facts.

The characters are very memorable. There is a dark element to the story which is threaded throughout giving the story a hidden depth. I was engaged until the very end of the book and actually felt rather disappointed when I came to the end of the book.

In my opinion Stuart has written a really good book - I expect that the other books in the series are also written to the same high standard. If you would like to know more about the book or perhaps the route to becoming published, then check out Stuart's guest post that he has kindly written. Read Here.

If you would like to check out the publisher's website for this book, the other books in the series or other books that they have published for children, then click on the following link. http://www.sevenarchespublishing.co.uk/ 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Guest Post: Stuart Webb - Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth (Getting Published)


It’s a funny old world - just when I’d given up chasing publishers for a book deal, I found that one was hard on my heels, contract in hand…

For six long years I knocked on every publisher’s door I could find, searching for someone to love and nurture my first children’s novel, Aurora’s Tears, and then my second, Lyme Hall. Although I had a number of near misses (and gained an agent) along the way, eventually I ran out of people to pester. 

Then I found myself faced with a difficult choice: should I self-publish or concentrate on my next novel? It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, as there’s not only the obvious cost implications of self-publishing, but there’s also the impact on your life in general. When you already have a full time job (in the aerospace industry, in my case) it’s hard to take on another role as editor/proof reader/cover designer/sales and marketing manager for your latest book, whilst making sure you still have an hour or two left for your family. 

Backed by a supportive and understanding wife and daughter, who stood behind me all the way, I elected to self-publish both Auroras Tears and Lyme Hall. Fortunately, the books sold well, with positive feedback from all who read them, encouraging me to start on my next novel.

It was whilst I was working on my third book that there came a knock on my own door. It was a publisher, which bizarrely is based in my home town of Stockport, saying that they’d read a copy of Lyme Hall, liked it, and wondered if I’d consider writing a book in their Time Traveller series. The rest, as they say, is (quite literally) history. My book, Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth, is the 10th book in the series, the previous books having been written by an assortment of other authors. 

Although it’s part of an existing series, the book can be read as a standalone novel. In fact, the plan is that I’ll continue with my character, Jenny, and develop a sort of ‘series within a series’.

The setting for the book, and part of the historical action, was actually the result of a competition Seven Arches ran, asking children to suggest the location of the next Time Traveller book. The winner, William Johnson, suggested Chatsworth House, in the time when Mary, Queen of Scots, was being kept a prisoner there. So, I used the winning suggestion and wove a little fiction around the real historical events at Chatsworth.

The series is aimed at 8-12 year olds, but I’m sure, from my own personal experience as an avid reader of children’s books, it will also appeal to ‘more mature’ readers. 

Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth was published in March, and we've already secured a number of signing events, including one in the departure lounge at Manchester Airport – as I said, it’s a funny old world!

Thank you Stuart for the very interesting guest post. I hope that you will all support his book. If you're not already convinced then my book review will follow at the end of the week, so keep an eye out for that......

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Four New Children's Book Picks - June 2013 - UK Post Two

                                          



Nigel McDowell - Tall Tales From Pitch End - Published by Hot Key Books, 6 June 2013
Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.

                                        

Philip Ardagh & Axel Scheffler - The Grunts All At Sea - Published by Nosy Crow, 6 June 2013
Mr Grunt's a man with a mission. He has to get a Person of Great Importance (or POGI) to someone called Mrs Bayliss by the twenty-fifth. Alive and well. And he can't tell anyone more than that, not even his lovely wife, Mrs Grunt, because there will be people trying to snatch the POGI and so the POGI must be transported in secret. It's an exciting adventure, but what interests Mr Grunt most are the silver coins he's been promised at the end of it. The Grunts' stolen son, Sunny, has a few questions. Who is the big-earringed cyclist? Why does the POGI have to wear a barrel all the time? Is Rodders Lasenby a lovely person or simply the rudest man on the planet? And how long will it be before they find themselves All At Sea?
                                         

Victoria Barry - The Curse Of Crow: Darkmoor - Published by Matador, 1 June 2013
Unbeknown to Matthew, from high upon the chimney stack, someone was watching. He was waiting for the right moment to reveal himself, to once again restart Matthew's living nightmare. Teasingly and with a great deal of intimidation, he let out a gentle but familiar caw...In the second book of the five-part series 'Darkmoor', Clever Crow is back and he's more revengeful than ever before! His curse is destroying Matthew's life, keeping Catherine captive and causing Camp Forgotten to fall apart. One year has passed since Matthew was rescued by the dove and returned to Filius. He's determined to move on and forget about Darkmoor, but the school bully, aka Cameron Thomas, has other ideas. Elsewhere, Darkmoor is plotting his revenge with the help of his son, Logan. No one is safe, no one is freed, and this time, someone will pay. Join Clever Crow has he takes flight. Find out what happened next and meet the new characters whose lives will change forever. The only question is...Can you escape the curse of the crow? Darkmoor: The Curse of Crow is the second book in the five part series, aimed for children aged 8 years upwards. It is exciting, captivating and pure fantasy. With characters old and new, the second instalment of Darkmoor will have readers guessing right to the end. Readers will be desperate to read more.



Andy Mulligan -  The Boy With 2 Heads - Published by David Fickling Books, 6 June 2013 
How would YOU feel if you woke up and found another head growing out of YOUR neck? What's more it's a living, breathing, TALKING head, with a rude, sharp tongue and an evil sense of humour. It knows all your darkest thoughts and it's not afraid to say what it thinks. To ANYBODY.
That's exactly what happens to eleven-year-old Richard Westlake. Prepare to be stunned.
Part thriller, part horror, part comedy - this is one of the most riveting novels about fear and friendship that you will ever read, straight out of the storytelling HEAD of Andy Mulligan(author of the amazing Trash) directly to your very own BRAIN.