Sunday, 30 May 2010

David Gatward - The Dead Bk 1 - Book Review

Hell is coming and I am running the other way...............
The anticipation is now over . . . .  I've had my eyes on this new debut horror series for some time now. At the start of the year it went onto my list of books to read. But before I even got a copy of the book, David (the author), tantalised me with a picture of the artwork for the book cover. This has been illustrated by the talented Mel Grant, and I feel, is one of the best book covers he has done to date.

This year alone has seen a dramatic surge in young adult horror writing with many books being published in this particular genre - David has many hard acts to follow  The questions is, having judged his book based on the many books I have read this year,  is the dead coming or is this book dead from the very start? All shall be revealed...........

I have to say that this book has lived up to my expectations. I loved the story line and the gory action parts within the book. I found the book very witty, which was actually unexpected, this added something extra to the story. The characters worked well throughout - not too much description but just enough to let your imagination run wild and help keep you heart rate thumping. The book was in no way predictable but did have a similar feel to the work of another author.

Lazarus Stone is about to turn sixteen when, one night, his normal life is ripped to shreds by a skinless figure drenched in blood. He has a message: The Dead are coming.
Now Lazarus is all that stands in their way. To fulfill his destiny, he must confront not only the dark past of his family, but horrors more gruesome than even Hell could invent. And it all begins with the reek of rotting flesh…

The horror scenes felt a little restrained and perhaps a little over-edited in order to attract a younger audience. However they still worked well and I enjoyed every page. A particular favourite extract of mine is: 
The Dead glanced at Red,the creature at his feet,but swung straight back to Lazarus. He was all they were really interested in and when they grinned at him,their teeth were like shards of obsidian. 

The book ends with a great cliff hanger . . . . . with the next book entitled 'The Dark' not being published until October. You have 32 days and counting to you get your hands on this book. Let me know what you all think?

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Book Trailers For New Books May/June 2010 - (Three books to read this summer)

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

Joanne Owen - The Alchemist and the Angel - Published by Orion Children's - 3 June  2010 - P/B
Everything changes for orphaned Jan when his beloved uncle, Gustav - anatomist, natural scientist and aspiring alchemist - enlists his help in a quest to create a life-generating serum. To test the serum, they must follow a set of ancient instructions and play a dangerous game of bringing the inanimate to life... When Gustav dies suddenly, it's up to Jan to continue his work - little does he know that his beautiful, calculating aunt dreams of using the serum for her own purposes - eternal life. Under the facade of her grief, she convinces Jan they must move from Vienna to Prague, and when she mysteriously disappears, Jan searches for her. In the plague-ridden ghettos and the court of the mad Emperor Rudolf, he must pit his wits against an extraordinary cast of characters and events. His only ally is Zuzana, a girl with secrets of her own. Set against the vivid backdrop of 16th century Prague and the equally breathtaking Vienna, a magical, historical adventure from a talented author.
Jane Prowse - Hattori Hachi: Stalking the Enemy - Published by Piccadilly - 1 June 2010 - P/B

A summer camp in the heart of Kielder forest that's not what it seems, a village flooded to make a reservoir, and a toiling bell that sounds underwater on dark nights to warn of a mighty war, predicted in the legend of the three Diamond Daggers - how will Hattie, Mad Dog and Neena make sense of it all?
In her second thrilling adventure, Hattie Jackson discovers more about the history that has led the underground Kataki to the point of war against her legitimate Ninjutsu family... a family so full of dark secrets, not even her parents could have predicted what's in store...
Colin Bateman - Ice Quake (SOS Adventure) - Published by Hodder Children's - 3 June 2010 - P/B
Baring Island, the Canadian Arctic.
Michael and Katya are alone, in the middle of a blizzard.
There are wolves snapping at their heels, and somewhere ahead of them, a gigantic polar bear with the taste for human blood.
They’ve come with the SOS team in search of a missing satellite, but nowthey’re just struggling to stay alive.

Simon B Nicholson - The Oldmoor Orphans and the Rodents' Revenge - Published by TicTock books - 30 June 2010 H/B
Oldmoor Hotel is a rickety hotel in the middle of a bleak, foggy moor. Two children, Ernest and Daisy, manage it because their grandmother has mysteriously disappeared. But why are the guests so odd? And what draws them to this strange and isolated hotel?
Rodents' Revenge is the first in the Oldmoor Orphans six-book series and features squirrels, a mad parrot, secret passageways and a whole load of nutty goings-on.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Jim Eldridge - Jungle Kill (Black Ops Series) - Book Review

This will have you running for cover............
The author, a former member of the HM coastguard, gives a thrilling taste of action through his new series Black Ops. Already he has many war-conflict books to his name but this has a slightly different edge to it. I was looking for an easy read, within my ever increasing pile of waiting-to-be-read books, when I eventually came across this book. A quick read of the synopsis left me interested in the story and so I quickly settled down to read it from cover to cover.

This book is a high action-packed military romp through the jungle. To be honest there's nothing new about the subject matter - it's a straight forward read from start to finish. But the great aspect in reading this book is that you don't need to think - the story takes over. Quickly your heart and soul are soon following six men on a mission to free a West African freedom fighter, who has been kidnapped by a ruthless group of bandits. 

The book is very well written - the dialogue between the characters is both realistic and infectious. The main character Mitch has to gain the trust of his new covert team and that doesn't come easily.

The other great thing about this book involves the detailed knowledge of weaponry and tactical details being deployed throughout, which develops into an appealing and informative read. This book has a subtle violent undertone, which is developed at all levels. It makes a great read for all those who like action combat adventure themes.

Will this be a series to look back on? Well, we'll just have to wait and see, but not for too long as book two is due out in August 2010. It is entitled 'Death in the Desert' and looks to be another maxed-out adrenalin adventure for us to get our teeth into. Can't wait . . . . . can you?

Jungle Kill is published by Egmont Books out 4 June 2010

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Isobelle Carmody - Obernewtyn (B.k 1 Obernewtyn Chronicles) - Book Review

This review has been a long time coming. I have read a number of other books by the Australian 'Queen of Fantasy' but have never expressed my public view on some of the other titles that I have read. However, I am now going to put that right with this review, for Obernewtyn. It's really hard to believe that it has taken this long to be published in the U.K.

This is the first book in the series and has been kicking around the fantasy world since 1987, after selling over 270,000 copies in Australia and gaining a huge fan base in the U.S.

Finally, this best selling series is going to be published in the U.K for the first time in June, by Bloomsbury. Further books are due to be published in the next year or so including book two, The Farseekers, which should be available in August.

I expected this book to be set within an over-the-top fantasy world and comprise of a lot of Sci-Fi terminology. However this did not happen, and as a result, this story actually felt a little more original and stood out due to the post apocalyptic world which has been used. This still pulls the reader towards the Sci-Fi world but the way in which Isobelle has adapted it, enables her to make the storyline her own.

Carmody has a great way of portraying emotions which are developed and shown through the many different characters. They connect with the reader in so many ways and on so many different levels. The writing cleverly draws the reader into the intriguing and mysterious world. From start to end Isobelle creates an underlying feeling of oppressiveness, which compels the reader to endure it until the end,  when the story finally comes to a halt. 

In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only by secrecy and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers. But it is as if they have their own imperative and she is brought to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land. Banished to the remote mountain institution of Obernewtyn, she must throw off her cloak of concealment and pit herself against those that would resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse. Only then will she learn most truly who and what she is ...Elspeth is determined to uncover the plot and so, accompanied only by her cat, Maruman, embarks on a terrible adventure full of danger, the conclusion to which promises not just uncertainty about her safety but also that of many around her.

With many more books to come . . . .  us lucky people in the UK have a great new series of books to enjoy. For me, this book is for readers who want more from a book, and also for the casual reader who has a limited amount of time. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series - in fact I have already ordered a U.S copy. Once gripped, I am the type of person who can't wait too long for the next book! 

Thursday, 13 May 2010

++++++Jenna Burtenshaw - Wintercraft - Book Launch Day Interview++++++

The day has finally arrived . . . . . .  Wintercraft will now be in the shops for you lucky people to buy. But equally as exciting, to mark the occasion, I have an exclusive interview with Jenna Burtenshaw. I hope you enjoy this insightful interview and that it entices you to read this great fantasy debut. If you do grab a copy, don't be shy - please tell us what you think. 
Many thanks to Jenna for taking the time to answer these questions for the blog readers - they certainly make interesting reading.   

How would you summarise your book, in 20-30 words, to encourage and entice people to read it?
A supernatural fantasy about a girl who can manipulate the veil between life and death; a killer who is hunting her, and an ancient book that holds the secrets of death itself. 

My favourite character in the book is Silas Dane. How did you come up with the idea for the character?
In the earliest drafts of Wintercraft, Silass place was taken up by a very different character and Silas was not part of the story at all.  Then, during one of my rewrites, I realised something important was missing.  The original character just wasnt working, so I went back to the drawing board and tried something new. 
The first image I had of Silas was of him standing on the rooftops above Morvanes market square surrounded by birds.  At that point I didnt know what he was doing there.  Then, gradually, his purpose, personality and past began to come together and when he took his place within the world, everything changed.  He took charge right away and the story bent to accommodate events that only his unique character could make possible.
Right from the start, I knew Silas was a conflicted man with complex motivations, so while he is not a traditional villain, he is not entirely a good man either.  He has been affected so strongly by extreme experiences in his life that he now lies somewhere tantalisingly inbetween. 
Silas is the kind of character I have always wanted to read about.  He has so many secrets and is so closed off from the world that he has become a mystery.  To me, that makes him irresistible.    

Wintercraft is the first book in the trilogy; are there any snippets of information that you could share with us about book 2?
Kates actions at the end of book one will have dangerous repercussions.  There will be lots more Silas action and further secrets surrounding the bonemen and the ancient city will be revealed. 

Has any particular writer or book influenced you as an author?
When I was younger I was a big fan of Roald Dahl.  His books first sparked my interest in writing when I was nine years old, but the major influence upon my writing as an adult was probably Jonathan Stroud.  Jonathan is a fantastic writer and his Bartimaeus trilogy encouraged me to write something darker than I had been working on up to that point.  His books inspired me to stop holding back and let my imagination run free.
Who designed your book cover?
The cover was designed by The Parish Book Design:  They also designed the cover for Matthew Skeltons Endymion Spring, which is one of my favourite covers of the past few years, so I was very pleased!

Are there any tips (as a writer) that you could give to aspiring individuals, who are hoping to become published authors themselves?
Write something you would love to read.  Dont worry about whats popular at the moment or what you think other people will like, write what you like and it will end up being something you can be proud of.  Read anything you can get your hands on and keep writing, even during the bad days.  It may take time to find your own voice and style, but it will be worth it in the end.  If writing is something you really want to do, dont give up.  Keep going and follow your instincts.  They will usually be right. 

Which character from a children's book would you most associate yourself with and why?
She may not be strictly from a childrens book, but I would love to meet Jo March from Louisa May Alcotts Little Women.  I think she and I would get along brilliantly

What book have you read recently that you've enjoyed and why?
Im a big fan of dystopian fiction so I recently picked up Survivors by Terry Nation.  I havent watched the tv series, but the book had me cringing with horror at the choices the characters made to survive before eventually coming together to help each other through a terrible situation.  The ending finished everything off so perfectly and when I closed the book I just thought Wow. 

Could you describe a typical working day for you, as a writer?
I start at around 10am; replying to emails and planning out what needs to be done that day.  By about 11am, my fantastically well-organised plan has usually gone out of the window.  I try to write about 1000-2000 new words a day, but when Im editing or wrestling with a difficult chapter it can often be less.  After that I organise ideas for future stories, answer any questions Ive been sent, or read for a while.  I spend a lot more time thinking about a story than I do writing it, so if you find me sitting at my desk, staring blankly into space, its not time-wasting, its research.  Honest.    

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Paul Howard - Children's Illustrator - New Debut Fiction - Superfly

About the Illustrator/Author
Paul Howard’s charming illustrations have won him acclaim from both the publishing industry and children across the world. Paul was born at home in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on April Fool’s day in 1967 and went on to study a Graphic Design course that specialized in illustration. Paul’s career in illustration began when he was asked by a friend to do some drawings for a book. Paul went on to illustrate another book...and another...and another. Paul has won numerous awards including a ‘Best Book To Read Aloud’ Blue Peter Award for "The Bravest Ever Bear" by Allan Ahlberg. He has also won a Primary English Award for Kathy Henderson's "Year in the City" and "Full, Full, Full of Love" by Trish Cooke was shortlisted for the 2004 Sheffield Children's Book Award.

Paul Howard's First New Series For Egmont Press - Published 2011

After 19 years as an illustrator, Paul Howard has proved he's a man of more than one extraordinary talent with the news that Egmont Press have signed up his debut fiction series, Superfly.Written and illustrated by Paul, the series will chronicle the adventures of Superfly a tiny insect super-hero who pits his wits against Bugville's dastardly villains including the colourful Electro Slug. The books will have black and white illustrations, in a distinct new direction for Paul and be targeted at both boys and girls aged 7+.Egmont Press's Fiction Publisher Leah Thaxton is delighted with her latest acquisition:"I have long admired Paul's work – but the moment I saw a fragment of the script that was Superfly, I was truly bowled over. How has Paul managed to keep a lid on this kind of talent and irrepressible humour for so long?!"Paul Howard illustrations feature in some of Egmont Press's best known picture books, including Jill Tomlinson's bestselling The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark.The first Superfly title is scheduled to be published in January 2011 and the second in August of the same year.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

S.A Bodeen - The Gardener - Book Review

The first book written by this author was  "The Compound", a book I must slot into my 'must read' pile. As this book found praise from all of its readers - a great U.S title for reluctant readers. Now this 'up and coming' author has released her second book, which will be published in May.

When I first got a copy of this book, I never actually read the synopsis. Instead, I was drawn to the book by the cover alone - which only takes an initial glance to capture your attention.

By the first chapter I was intrigued by the story, as I had no idea where it was taking me. But the more I turned the pages, the more the story started to unfold. Infact it left me reading into the early hours of the morning; by which time I had uncovered a thrilling urban Sci-Fi adventure. I was hooked on reading this book until the very end.

The story is told through the voice of Mason, who finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue and adventure, as he stumbles upon a beautiful young girl in a nursing home (where his mother works). This girl finds herself recovering from her coma, when Mason plays a DVD of his father, who is reading a bedtime story. Instantly Mason becomes involved with the girl and eventually he and his best friend sneak her out of the home. This is no ordinary girl though...and Mason soon learns that an insane, utterly science fiction-like conspiracy has been taking place in his own home town for years. 

Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener.

This book is fast paced - it only has 232 pages from beginning to end. However there are many twists and turns that keep you questioning the direction of this plot throughout. A key element that is raised involves the questions asked by the author about society and survival - using children as experimental "Guinea pigs" and the rights to a normal childhood. These are all key ingredients to the storyline. 

I loved the concept behind the story, which is actually worth reading within its own right. It's woven together by the biological findings of sea snails which gives an original edge to the theme to the story. As well as the idea of autotrophic humans, who don't need to eat or drink, as they are energized by the sun. This is a great read and is certainly a book that I would recommend. It combines emotional tension with gripping reality but with a quirky Sci-Fi edge to it - a big thumbs up!

Books published by Feiwel & Friends (May 25, 2010 - U.S book release)