Friday, 26 February 2010

Stuart Webb - Lyme Hall - Book Review

Book Review 
Before I became an avid reader, I just collected books and very rarely read them. Instead they sat on dusty shelves, calling out to be loved and read, however they were rarely looked at.

Then I started reading an eclectic mix of articles in a publication called the "Book and Magazine Collector". Stuart, who is the author of this book, had a writing column which I really loved. He would on a monthly basis write about new 'up and coming' authors, as well as collectible books to look out for - I really miss reading his articles.

Anyway this is the second book that Stuart Webb has written, the first being "Aurora's Tears," which sold out as soon as it was published. The question has to be asked, did it fall into the hands of the book collectors or book readers, and will his second book follow likewise? On this occasion, I would like it to fall into the hands of the readers who will cherish it, due to its fantastic content and not monetary value.

I must admit, I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, and had no idea that I would end up enjoying it so much. The book has lots of charm and character that I instantly fell for, from the very first page to the last, as it is beautifully written with lots of great detail. It's a story that leaves you feeling it was well worth the journey that you take as a reader.

Rose is happy with her life: an expensive house in the city, loving parents and a best friend she can trust. She wants for nothing and lives life to the full. Then, without warning, her perfect world is torn in two. Forced to move to a country house she hates with a father she no longer understands, Rose is lost and alone. And when she begins to hear things that aren't there, see things that can't be real, her father doesn't want to know; all he cares about are the deer that are disappearing from the estate. Maybe, just maybe, if she can solve the mysteries herself, she can finally make him listen.

It's a classic ghost story with mystery that is wrapped up in Lyme Hall. Its past is both intriguing and captivating with notes of sadness, but when you get to the end it finishes on an upbeat tone. Stuart has drawn on lots of emotions including everyday issues such as bullying, bereavement - from the loss of a parent and difficult family circumstances, which gives depth to the story.

I love the part when William shows Rose around Lyme Hall, explaining the associated detailed history and folklore, as part of the tour around the great house. The unique characters are well written, they have roles which develop extensively through the story to create an interesting plot.

So the only thing I can really say is that this book needs to be read. I can highly recommend it, you will not be disappointed, so grab a copy (once it is published) but before they sell out. I have a feeling that this book may have a small print run and will disappear very speedily.

Book Published by Matador 1 March 2010 - For more details:

Book cover artwork by Chris Odgers - For more details:

Friday, 19 February 2010

Andrew Newbound - Demon Strike - Book Review

Book Review
My attention was first drawn to this book from a 'new publications release list,' which was sent to me by the publisher. The synopsis was particularly intriguing and certainly enticed my curiosity, and so I was particularly pleased when I managed to get my hands unexpectedly on a copy last week.  

From the very start, I found myself galloping through the pages. Even when I could not see the type, due to night setting in when I was a recent passenger in a car, I still wanted to read on. The first thing that you find as a reader, is how well the story unfolds with ease. The particularly strong characters in the book make way for an entertaing read, with some feisty girl hero action against some nasty creatures, and a multi-layered plot which keeps you on your toes. 

The story unfolds as the Demons from the Dark Dimension pour through a portal to reek havoc on earth. Unfortunately the chaos then follows the two children - twelve-year old Ghost- Busters, in the way of Alannah Malarra and her sidekick Wortley. They find themselves in a whole lot of trouble when they entangle with the A.N.G.E.L,  an acronym for Attack-ready Network of Global Evanescent Law-enforcers whose job is to protect everybody from any Demon attack.

The children encounter some of the best monsters you're ever going to bump into in this book -  as well as a Winged Angel, who has a passion for breaking all the rules and treading a tight rope of sudden death. The book flows with great wit and some of the best character banter that I have read for a long time.

I enjoyed the many analogies that the author referred to throughout the book, they're absolutely brilliant and had me chuckling to myself. 

The book is aimed at a 9-12 year old audience but will have everyone wanting more,,just like me. We now have a start, to a fresh new series of books, with a great voice for the future. More adventures please but just wait until I clean the ectoplasm off my keyboard and straighten my wings in the cupboard ready for the next adventure!

Book Published By Chicken House - March 13 2010 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Philip Reeve - A Web Of Air (Mortal Engines) - Book Review

Book Review
It's always a pleasure to read any book by Philip Reeve, and even more so when it's the sixth novel in the amazing Mortal Engines series - a stunning sequel to Fever Crumb. I'd like to say a big thank you to the lovely people at Scholastic for sending me this book. I felt incredibly privileged to have been able to read this book so early on in it's publishing life.

The book certainly lived up to my expectation, and even exceeded it. However, I don't want to give too much away regarding the story, as I definitely wouldn't want to spoil your enjoyment of reading it first hand. 

The story contains all of the non-stop action and detail that you would expect. Elements of SteamPunk are still evident throughout this book,but not as much as the other books.

The book is beautifully written and has a slightly different approach to that of the other five books. It has a poetic feel which places more emphasis on the different character relationships, an aspect that hasn't really been explored previously.

I love the incredibly detailed writing that Phillip uses to describe the funiculars. These are whole neighbourhoods which slide up and down crater walls - mansions which rise each evening into sunlight and clear air, before descending once more (at dawn) back into the city's heart. What a great idea.

The story is written against the breathtaking backdrop of Mayda, a place steeped in culture and tradition, making the foundations for a great epic slice of fantasy. The story unfolds with ease - but I wouldn't expect anything less from one of the finest writers at the moment in children's literature. I was gripped by every page until the very end, as this is an amazing book and one I shall visit again and again. I  recommend this book to everyone, even if you have not read any other of the books, as it will still work as a stand alone. All that I need now is a new book in the Larklight series - that will make my year!

Published by Scholastic Children's book April 2010

Friday, 12 February 2010

Meet The Gadget Show's - Jason Bradbury Event This Half Term - Atomic Swarm

Hi I have just been asked to mention this great event for all the family this half term.
He is doing a special half-term kids event at the South Bank - The Dot Robot Roadshow - an exciting one-hour author event with loads of cool robots, gadgets, a robot race and an awesome robot one of the audience can win. It's all part of the promotion around my 2nd Dot Robot Book Atomic SwarmI'd love you to be there!!! Everything you need to know is below.
Thursday 18th Feb (11.30am) South Bank Centre, Purcell Room, London (1 min walk from Waterloo station)

Tickets are selling fast for THE event of this half-term - the Dot Robot Roadshow 2010 - at London’s South Bank Centre.
Meet Jason from The Gadget Show - see actual robots in action and witness a reading from Jason's latest book Atomic Swarm (published this week, by Puffin)
This unique author event is part of the Imagine Children’s Festival at London's South Bank Centre. Billed as ‘the UK’s brightest children’s festival’ Jason will be bouncing around the Purcell Room with robots, readings, gadgets and an amazing robot prize!
For MORE INFO and to BUY TICKETS to the one-hour show featuring a live robot race go to: OR call 0844 847 9910

The Dot Robot Roadshow is this half-term's main event - but Jason is also doing some smaller signings during half-term (18th, 19th, 20th Feb) at Waterstones in Milton Keynes, Basingstoke, Reading & Thurrock. For more info about these and to learn more about Jason's books check his blog:

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

This finished copy now has a title, publishing date and front cover artwork. All that is needed is the synopsis to the most anticipated book of the year. Here is a sneaky preview of the book cover artwork.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Sam Wilding - The Second Gateway (Book 2 of the Denthan Series) - Book Review

 I read the first book in this series after finding it in a bookshop in Scotland; I was definitely looking forward to reading the second installment. However after three more trips back to Scotland, I still couldn't find a copy! I finally had to resort to the Internet, in order to obtain a copy of this book. On reflection . . . . it's such a shame that the book is hard to obtain in bookshops, as it is definitely worth tracking down a copy.
Anyway on with the review.....and if any one asks, the story is all about custard and meteors, which you will come to love with a passion.

The book starts with a great opening, that carries you on a mesmerising journey into the world of amazingly detailed creatures, against a stunning backdrop of Artilis. The book starts one year on with the zany villagers of Drumfintley, who are yet again, all that stand between a peaceful world and certain disaster. 

It takes you into a  wonderful adventure; a fantasy tale that has you hooked and captivated as you follow the main characters on their mission to find Craig. Sudden events lead to a range of climatic and varied action scenes.

This book has many great moments in it for me - the humour which is laced throughout had me in stitches many times. However one of my favourite parts, involved the encounter with the flying Centide, when the wizard performed his magic and the Centide ended up totally wrecking Mr Fyffe's Mondeo car. Unfortunately Mr Fyffe finds his car totally devastated, with the children and local vicar hastily fleeing from the scene. A classic moment in fiction - interpreted exceptionally well!

In my view this book is equally as good as the first, which is not always the case. The chaos and mayhem, within a fantasy world, is written very well. It has an orginal feel that leaves you wanting more. I'm desperate to see what happens in book three and hope there are many more to come. 

About the Author
BORN IN HELENSBURGH and educated at Glasgow University, Sam studied Zoology, working his way through his uni-years by playing in various rock bands in the UK, America and Holland. He began writing songs in the late 70s, poetry in the early 90s and eventually his first novel - 'The Magic Scales'. Sam currently writing book three in the Denthan series and continues to perform his 'Just Imagine' workshops. These sessions explore story forming and let children explore their own imagination. Sam works closely with the charity Asthma UK to raise awareness of the condition through his work.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

New Children's Book - Picks For The Month Of March 2010

We have lots of great and varied reads to offer in the month of March, there is a good selection of  interesting books. There are some particularly strong titles being published by Chicken House and Hodder Children's within this month. Interestingly, all the books mentioned are being published in paperback and no hardbacks - this is a first. I hope you manage to find a few books that entice you to read them. Love to hear any comments you may have. Thanks and enjoy.

Andrew Newbound - Demon Strike - Published By Chicken House - 1 March - (Book Pick)
Book Synopsis:
Demons from the Dark Dimension pour through a portal in the wall of Pittingham Manor, the mid-point for an attack on high. They're planning an assault. Into this chaos stumbles 12-year-old ghostbusting psychic Alannah Malarra and burglar Worley Flint. Up until now they've only ever faced tame treasure-hording ghosts, but this is something else. Their only hope is a plucky angel police patrol on a routine earth-monitoring mission. Enter Inspectre Flhi Swift and officers Yell and Gloom

Emily Diamand - Flood and Fire - Published By Chicken House -  1 March
Book Synopsis:
Flooded England, 2216 - Lilly Melkun has outwitted the bloodthirsty Reavers, who prowl the waters that cover most of England - and escaped to Cambridge. But Lilly is far from safe, because stil in her keeping is PSAI, the last hand-held computer in existence - a now malfunctioning treasure from the past. Inside the jewellike computer, is a sinister looking chip with an unknown purpose. Worse follows, when the professors of Cambridge plug it into an ancient mainframe computer setting in motion a fiery chain of events.

C.J Skuse - Pretty Bad Things - Published By Chicken House - 1 March
Book Synopsis:
SIXTEEN-YEAR OLD TWINS IN CANDY-STORE CRIME SPREE Twins, Paisley and Beau Argent are in the headlines again. Last time, they were the 'wonder twins', when as six-year-olds they were found alive in woods after three days missing following their mother's death - three days spent looking for their dad. Now at sixteen, life's not so wonderful. Out-cast and exploited by their money-grabbing grandmother they're still clueless about their dad's whereabouts. Until they discover an old letter from him. That's when they decide to hit the road - and make headlines again. Holding up fast-food joints might seem extreme but if they can get on the news, and tell their dad they need him, they might get the dream reunion they thought could happen.

Catherine Banner - Voices in the Dark - Published By Corgi Children's - 4 March
Book Synopsis:
Anselm Andros has always thought he had a normal life - confidante to his mother, Maria, confessor to his stepfather, Leo, a man haunted by the secrets of his past, and support to his sister Jasmine. But when the political landscape of Malonia starts to shift, this unassuming family begin to unravel. Even though they have spent the past fifteen years leading a quiet life, Maria and Leo's actions are forever linked to the turbulent history of Malonia and its parallel world, modern-day England. The voices from the past still echo in the present and Anselm must pull all the pieces together - whatever the cost.

Garth Nix - Lord Sunday( The Keys to the Kingdom) - Published By HarperCollins - 4 March
Book Synopsis:
In this seventh and last book of THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, the mysteries of the House, the Architect, the Trustees, the Keys and the Will are revealed, and the fate of Arthur, our Earth, and the entire Universe is finally decided. Arthur has wrested the Sixth Key from Superior Saturday, but has fallen from the Incomparable Gardens; fallen not to the Upper House but to somewhere completely unexpected. Alone in enemy territory, as his mind and body are further transformed by the power of the Keys, Arthur must struggle with himself as much as with his many enemies. Meanwhile, Arthur's friend Suzy Blue plots an escape from her prison in Saturday's tower, as battle rages above and below. Saturday's elite force is pressing on into the Incomparable Gardens, while her massed sorcerers fight a desperate rear-guard action against the Piper and his Newnith army. On earth, Leaf has to cope with the aftermath of a nuclear strike. Responsible for all the Sleepers in Friday's private hospital, she needs all the help she can get, particularly as Leaf herself has become a target for intruders from the House. And the tide of Nothing continues to rise, destroying everything in its path ...

Chris Bradford - The Way of the Dragon(Young Samurai) - Published By Puffin - 4 March
Book Synopsis:
June 1613. Japan is threatened with war and Jack is facing his greatest battle yet. Samurai are taking sides and, as the blood begins to flow, Jack’s warrior training is put to the ultimate test. His survival – and that of his friends – depends upon him mastering the Two Heavens, the secret sword technique of the legendary samurai Masamoto Takeshi. But first Jack must recover his father’s prize possession from the deadly ninja Dragon Eye. Can Jack defeat his ruthless enemy? Or will the ninja complete his mission to kill the young samurai . . .

William Hussey - Witchfinder:Dawn of the Demontide -(Witchfinders) - Published By OUP - 4 March
Book Synopsis - See Book Review 
The first in a terrifying trilogy, read on if you dare: Jake could now see the demon fully. Its body was a mass of steely sinew, its arms roped with muscle. Six fingers sprouted from its hands, each ending in lethal talons. The thing did not possess a nose; instead a large hole, bubbling with green mucus, occupied the middle of its face. Mr Pinch's tongue flickered between his teeth and slurped across his fat lips. He was hungry. When a violent storm rages around the little village of Hobarron's Hollow, a young boy is sacrificed 'for the greater good'. His blood is used to seal a mystical doorway and prevent an apocalyptic disaster known only as the Demontide. Twenty-five years later, another boy, Jake Harker, is about to be drawn into the nightmare of the Demontide. Witches and their demon familiars stalk his every move, and his dreams are plagued by visions of a 17th Century figure known only as the Witchfinder. When his father is abducted, Jake must face the terrible secrets kept by those closest to him and a shocking truth that will change his life 
forever . . .

Malinda Lo - Ash -  Published By Hodder Children's Books - 4 March  -  (Book Pick)
Book Synopsis:
In the world of ASH, fairies are an older race of people who walk the line between life and death, reality and magic. As orphaned Ash grows up, a servant in her stepmother’s home, she begans to realise that her beloved mother, Elinor was very much in tune with these underworld folk, and that she herself has the power to see them too. Against the sheer misery of her stepmother's cruelty, greed and ambition in preparing her two charrmless daughters for presentation at court, and hopefully Royal or aristocratic marriage, Ash  befriends one of these fairies–a mysterious, handsome man–who grants her wishes and restores hope to Ash's existence, even though she knows there will be a price to pay. But most important of all, she also meets Kaisa, a huntress employed by the king, and it is Kaisa who truly awakens Ash’s desires for both love and self-respect...Ash escapes a life with her grim and self-serving stepmother and finds her beloved one...
ASH is a fairy tale about possibility and recognizing the opportunities for change. From the deepest grief comes the chance for transformation.

Robert Williams - Luke and John - Published By Faber and Faber - 18 March
Book Synopsis:
Luke's mum is dead. He finds himself in a small, scruffy northern hill town, with a near silent father, who he fears might be trying to drink himself to death. Then he meets Jon. Jon is massively strange. He wears 1950s clothes, has a side-parting and a twitch. The kids at school call him 'Slackjaw'. When Luke discovers his secret, Jon changes his life in more ways than he can imagine. Luke and Jon is a coming of age novel about family, bereavement and how lives can change forever in a single second. Written with great power, warmth and humour, it signals a hugely engaging and original new voice. Compelling and emotionally acute, it is a unique debut.

Annemarie Allan - Ushig - Published By Floris Books - 25 March
Book Synopsis:
 Ellen whistled again and repeated the old rhyme Aunt Marian had taught her. 'I call you once. I call you twice. I call you three times over'. Surely in a place as beautiful as this, anything that answered her call was bound to be friendly. While exploring a small loch above the village of Aldhammer with her brother Davie, Ellen repeats a childish rhyme to call something to her. What arrives is an ancient being with the ability to shapeshift and the power to destroy. Ushig is a kelpie, a water wraith, and his intentions are anything but pure. Dragged into a dark, parallel world, inhabited by the creatures of Scottish legend, Ellen must pitch her wits against primeval magic. Can she outsmart the predatory Queen of the Night? And what does Ushig stand to gain? Another unique and gripping tale from Annemarie Allan, presenting an innovative spin on characters from Scottish folklore in a very modern manner. If you thought you knew the story of the kelpie - think again!