Saturday, 29 January 2011

+++ Will Hill - Department 19 - Book Review +++

  • Pages - 352
  • Published By - HarperCollins
  • Publication Date  - 31 March 2011
  • Age 13 +
Department 19 is a book that you're going to love............

HarperCollins have started the year 2011 by publishing some fantastic books - this is the second book to blow me away by them, already.  I don't want to give away too much about the story, as I think you should pick up a copy, and read it for yourselves. However, this is a really exciting series that has been written by the debut talent of Will Hill.

Check out what he has to say about the book below.

This book is a fast-paced, rampage of action which is full of entertaining story writing told in two parts. The first part is through modern day life but this then interchanges with the Victorian era. At this point, it develops into a traditional, gothic horror; bringing some of the legendary characters into play like Van Helsing, Frankenstein and Dracula. The story is based around the telling of Bram Stoker's Dracula but taken one step further with a sprinkling of embellishments. However,  you'll be able to see how this develops for yourself.

The historical detail of the story sucks you in like a Vampire's thirst. In fact, as the plot keeps returning to the past, each time it has a greater impact on the present! The result of this, is that it has a profound effect which will leave you to think more about what could have been.

At times, as I was reading this book, I found myself clutching the book so hard that my fingers had turned numb. This book is an absolute, non-stop blood bath, of gore and guts. Especially through some of the epic battle scenes that are played out within. They will certainly entertain your pulse rate as they're quite graphic at times, but nevertheless, written tastefully. 

The book also has an emotional element attached to it through the desperation faced by Jamie to find his kidnapped mother. As well as the strong bond that he feels between himself and a Vampire girl. He also has to fight through his teenage anger, which is depicted frequently, as well as trying to come to terms with the force of violence and sudden death that surrounds him. All of these elements are skilfully dealt with and give great strength to the book.

This book will leave your head spinning, especially at the end, as there is so much to take in. Will has really laid down the foundations to a great series. Until the next time.................

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Deborah Abela - Grimsdon - Book Review

book cover of 



Deborah Abela
  • Pages - 304 
  • Published - Random House Australia 
  • Date - 1 Nov 2010
  • Age - 9+
Grimsdon is in ruins. Three years ago a massive wave broke its barriers and the sea flooded this grand city. Most were saved, others were lost and some were left behind.
Isabella Charm and her best friend Griffin live with three other children in the top of an opulent mansion. They've survived with the help of Griffin's brilliant inventions, Isabella's survival skills and their vow to look after each other.
But what will happen when a thrill-seeking newcomer arrives in his flying machine? When bounty hunters attempt to capture them? When Byron P. Sneddon, the self-appointed protector of the flooded harbour, demands obedience?
What if the danger is even greater? Something they can't see coming - something below the floodwater's?

I love the cover for this book as it gives off a great sense of feeling. It shows a vibrant and exciting world that is full of mystery. The author has written a highly imaginative story, which is full of friendship and hope, as well as wonderful inventions. The book is based in Grimsdon, a place blended with fantasy and adventure, which is set in a post-apocalyptic world. 

The book starts off quite slowly but after the first two chapters or so, the story line and the characters begin to weave together producing a magical picture. They create a world that has been turned upside down, by a tragic flooding, which engulfs the city of Grimsdon. Therefore, the story becomes a fight for survival for a group of children, who try to make the best of a bad situation. However, you make up your own mind as to whether they achieve this or not. Nevertheless, the courageous children have to overcome many hidden perils such as collapsing buildings, coming face to face with deadly sea monsters and fending off nasty kidnappers. They also get the occasional slap in the face from a fish or two along the way! 

The characters are easy to relate to and certainly make for a good read. The main character of the group is the feisty heroine 'Isabella', who fights like a tiger and can duel well with a sword. The brains of the group is Griffin - his inventive skills help to create a power source with the help of tidal waves. Whilst the two twins (Raffy and Bea) plus their friend Fly, make up the rest of the group. That is until the day when a mysterious boy brings the flying machine called 'Aerotrope' into their lives and shows them the bigger world.

The story is generally fast paced - uncovering the mysterious world inside Grimsdon and the challenges that are faced for survival. The ongoing friendships between the group are poignant and produce many memorable moments within the book. As a result, you will find yourself laughing and crying, both in equal measures, as you travel along their path of discovery. 

This was such an enjoyable read, that when I came to the final page, I was left feeling sad that I had reached the end. I would really love to see another adventure involving all the characters, as they left a small, but memorable imprint and therefore, I would like to meet up with them all again.                                                   

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

++++New Books Picks For February 2011++++

Return to Ribblestrop
Andrew Mulligan - Return to Ribblestrop - Published by Simon & Schuster - 3 Feb 2011
It's a new term at Ribblestrop and the headmaster is hoping for a bit more organisation. But secrets remain under the ground, the new Chaplain is not all that he seems, and a truck load of circus animals has taken refuge in the school grounds. Amongst the new intake are a footballing protegee and a trainee psychopath not to mention a pregnant panther and an escaped crocodile. Things are about to go from bad to worse at Ribblestrop can Millie, Sanchez and the gang help save the day once more?

book cover of 

The Doomsday Code 

 (TimeRiders, book 3)


Alex Scarrow
Alex Scarrow - Timeriders:The Doomsday Code - Published by Puffin - 3 Feb 2011
Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026. But all three have been given a second chance – to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . . In 1993 British computer hacker Adam Lewis finds his name in a coded manuscript that is almost one thousand years old. How did Adam's name get in there . . . and why? Confronted by Adam in 2001, the TimeRiders travel back to Sherwood Forest in 1193 to discover the origins of the ancient message. But when a strange hooded man appears interested in the same thing, they begin to wonder what terrible threat this cryptic link from the past holds for the future . . .

book cover of 

The Crowmaster 

 (Invisible Fiends, book 3)


Barry Hutchison
Barry Hutchison - Invisible Fiends - The CrowMaster - HarperCollins - 3 Feb 2011
After Kyle's ordeal at school, his mother packs him off to the safety of the countryside, where there will be no temptation to use his powers, and he can forget the bad things - like the fact that his dad is a monster determined to destroy the world.
But here's the thing about the countryside: it's full of nature, and nature sometimes has claws.
Followed by a spindly figure in the woods and attacked by crows, Kyle is about to discover that NOWHERE is safe from the invisible fiends…

book cover of 



Kate Saunders
Kate Saunders - Magicalamity - Published by Marion Lloyd Books - 7 Feb 20111
Tom doesn't know he is a demisprite - the child of a fairy and a human - until he meets his three fairy godmothers. They've been summoned to protect him, but they can't stop bickering, and two of them are hardened criminals. Tom must survive their botched magic spells, learn to fly and enter the dangerous Fairy Realm to save his parents...


Friday, 14 January 2011

Chris Ryan - Agent 21 - Book Review

                                     book cover of 

Agent 21 


Chris Ryan

  • Pages 320
  • Published By Red Fox
  • Date 6 January 2011
  • Age 14+                          
When Zak Darke's parents die in an unexplained mass murder he's left alone in the world. That is until he's sought out by a mysterious man: ‘I work for a government agency,’ the man tells him. ‘You don’t need to know which one. Not yet. All you need to know is that we’ve had our eye on you. There’s a possibility you could help us in certain . . . operational situations.’
Zak becomes Agent 21. What happened to the 20 agents before him he'll never know. What he does know is that his life is about to change for ever . . .

Finally, a new series is in the offering from Chris Ryan, former SAS soldier, who avoided capture for 7 days and covered 188 miles of desert in subzero temperatures with no food, and little water. His remarkable escape was the longest in the history of the Regiment and earned him a Military Medal. The author has used some of his real-life experiences to good use. These certainly appears to help him in writing high-octane, fuelled action combat/spy books. Each book gives an authentic touch to the story - they will certainly capture the interest of any reluctant reader and encourage them into the power of a good story.

Agent 21 is definitely a book more suitable for the teenage market - it deals with some very strong issues. To be honest, the cover itself suggests that this book has an older reader in mind as well. However, the plot is very well thought out and written - it was a very enjoyable book to read. 

Zak Darke's parents die under mysterious circumstances, in Nigeria and that becomes the driving force behind Zak. However, a mysterious stranger follows Zak, leading him to eventually discover that they actually know more about his parents mysterious deaths. Zak needs to know more. As a result, he is whisked away to a secret location in the north of England and becomes highly trained in the skills and arts of becoming an Agent. 

The story itself is quite simply written especially for a teenage book. At times, I found that there was just not enough detail included. Although, the drug factory encounter had a lot of detail threaded throughout and was particularly engaging.

Another aspect about this book was that there didn't appear to be a sub-plot weaved into the storyline. It is based really around a simple storyline but it told through a frank and no nonsense approach. However, the ending leaves a great potential for the next book in the series and perhaps this will be further developed.

This book is a good read - Chris Ryan's military background shows throughout the book and definitely makes it a more enjoyable read then most. I will continue to keep reading the other books that he's written in the series - they are certainly filled with many great action moments. 

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Rick Riordan - Kane Chronicles:The Throne of Fire - Book Cover


The next exciting instalment now has now been given the title "The Throne of Fire" the second book in the Kane Chronicles, a three-book series, Carter and Sadie, offspring of the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane, embark on a worldwide search for the Book of Ra, but the House of Life and the gods of chaos are determined to stop them. This is one of the best book covers,I have seen so far this year. The book will be published on 3 May here in the U.K by Puffin and Hyperion in the U.S. Looking forward to that!
You can also read the Exclusive first chapter of the book over at usatoday

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2011 Shortlisted Books

book cover of 

Tall Story 


Candy Gourlay
The shortlist for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize 2011 was announced yesterday. As a result, I have compiled a list of the final nine books which can be found below. This year is one of the strongest line-ups of debut talent with some of the best writing seen yet. I would love to hear which are your favourite books from this list.                              

Candy Gourlay - Tall Story - Published By David Fickling Books - 27  May 2010
Be careful what you wish for . . .
Andi is short. And she has lots of wishes. She wishes she could play on the school basketball team, she wishes for her own bedroom, but most of all she wishes that her long lost half brother, Bernardo, could come and live in London, where he belongs.
Then Andi's biggest wish comes true and she's minutes away from becoming someone's little sister. As she waits anxiously for Bernardo to arrive from the Philippines, she hopes he'll turn out to be tall and just as mad as she is about basketball. When he finally arrives, he's tall all right. But he's not just tall ... he's a GIANT.
In a novel packed with humour and quirkiness, Gourlay explores a touching sibling relationship and the clash of two very different cultures.

book cover of 


 (Mortlock, book 1)


Jon Mayhew
Jon Mayhew - Mortlock - Published By Bloomsbury - 5 Apr 2010
The sister is a knife-thrower in a magician's stage act, the brother an undertaker's assistant. Neither orphan knows of the other's existence. Until, that is, three terrible Aunts descend on the girl's house and imprison her guardian, the Great Cardamom. His dying act is to pass the girl a note with clues to the secret he carries to his grave. Cardamom was one of three explorers on an expedition to locate the legendary Amarant, a plant with power over life and death. Now, pursued by flesh-eating crow-like ghuls, brother and sister must decode the message and save themselves from its sinister legacy.

book cover of 

The Memory Cage 


Ruth Eastham
Ruth Eastham - The Memory Cage - Published By Scholastic - 3 Jan 2011
Alex's grandfather keeps forgetting things, and Alex has overheard his adoptive parents say that they're going to put granddad in a home. His grandfather begs Alex to save him from that, and it's a promise Alex is desperate to keep But Alex once promised his little brother that he would save him, and in the terror of the Bosnian war, he failed As Alex struggles to protect his grandfather, he uncovers secrets that his family and the village have kept for two generations.nravelling them will cause grief, but will they save grandfather, and perhaps help Alex come to terms with his own private war.

book cover of 

A Beautiful Lie 


Irfan Master                        
Irfan Master - A Beautiful Lie - Published By Bloomsbury -  4 Jan 2011

An extraordinarily rich debut novel, set in India in 1947 at the time of Partition. Although the backdrop is this key event in Indian history, the novel is even more far-reaching, touching on the importance of tolerance, love and family. The main character is Bilal, a boy determined to protect his dying father from the news of Partition - news that he knows will break his father's heart. With great spirit and determination, and with the help of his good friends, Bilal persuades others to collude with him in this deception, even printing false pages of the local newspaper to hide the ravages of unrest from his father. All that Bilal wants is for his father to die in peace. But that means Bilal has a very complicated relationship with the truth...

book cover of 

Fantastic Frankie and the Brain-Drain Machine 


Anna Kemp                              

Anna Kemp - Fantastic Frankie and the Brain-drain Machine - Published By Simon & Schuster -  6 Jan 2011
When Frankie Blewitt brings home yet another F-for-failure school report it's the last straw for his overachieving parents and they decide to send him to the Crammar Grammar boarding school. At first he is just relieved to be away from home, but he soon realises that there's something really weird going on at Crammer Grammar...As Frankie tries to find out the secrets of the school he discovers that the headmaster, Dr Gore, has plans to turn all the students into robot-like super-brains using his Brain-drain machine! With the help of his new friends Neet and Wes, Alphonsine his crazy French nanny and a poodle named Colette, can Frankie save the day before it's too late and change the F-for- failure to F-for-fantastic?

book cover of 

When You Reach Me 


Rebecca Stead
Rebecca Stead - When You Reach Me - Published By Andersen - 6 Jan 2011
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.
book cover of 

Rise of the Wolf 



Curtis Jobling                            
Curtis Jobling - Wereworld:Rise of the Wolf - Published By Puffin - 6 Jan 2011

YOU’RE THE LAST OF THE WEREWOLVES SON. DON’T FIGHT IT . . . CONQUER IT.’ When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator. When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him. And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms . . . Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan’s men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy. Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him – and master the animal within?

book cover of 

The Shifter 

(The Pain Merchants) 

 (Healing Wars, book 1)


Janice Hardy                 
Janice Hardy - The Healing Wars 1 - The Pain Merchants - Published By HarperCollins - 6 Jan 2011
Nya has a secret she must never share…
A gift she must never use…
And a sister whose life depends on both.This astonishing debut novel is the first in the epic dystopian fantasy adventure trilogy, THE HEALING WARS.
Fifteen-year-old Nya is one of Geveg’s many orphans; she survives on odd jobs and optimism in a city crippled by a failed war for independence.
Nya has a deadly secret. She is a Taker, someone who can extract pain and injury from others, but with unusual differences. Her sister Tali and other normal Takers become Healer’s League apprentices and put their extracted pain into enchanted metal, pynvium. But Nya can’t dump pain in this way. All she can do is shift it from person to person.
When Nya’s secret is revealed to the pain merchants and the Healer’s League she is flung into danger. Then a ferry accident floods the city with injured, Takers start disappearing from the Healer’s League and Nya’s strange abilities are suddenly in demand. Her principles and endurance are tested to the limit when Nya’s deadly powers become the only thing that can save her sister's life.
book cover of 

Artichoke Hearts 


Sita Brahmachari
Sita Brahmachari - Artichoke Hearts - Published By Macmillan Children's - 7 Jan 2011
Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it’s not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers - like those of an artichoke - around his heart. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Ben Horton - Monster Republic:The Judas Code - Book Review

book cover of 

The Judas Code 

 (Monster Republic, book 2)


Ben Horton
  • Pages 304
  • Published By Corgi Children's
  • Date 6 January 2011
  • Age 12+      
The explosion at the Prime Minister's visit to Long Harbour means the cover of the Monster Republic is blown, and they are forced deep into hiding. Lazarus Fry turns his tactics to infiltration, and is confident of their swift crushing. Plus his new pets, the Blood Hawks, are hungry to get their talons into some fresh kill...
But Fry hasn't counted on this band of rebel kids' awesome will for survival. When your back is against the wall, the only option is to come out fighting...     

This is the second book of the eagerly anticipated series, Monster Republic. After my previous glowing review of the first book; I was looking forward to discover how the storyline would develop through The Judas Code. I can start by saying that I was not disappointed, as the book immediately started with the continuation of events from book one, where a group of genetically modified kids (with special abilities) are found hiding, from both the world, and the reaches of the evil, Dr Fry.

This book can be read as a stand alone novel, as the author has carefully hand-picked parts of the previous story to enable the reader to get up to speed with events. Equally, the start also builds into an interesting and enticing beginning which enables the reader to rattle through the pages. Its fast-paced action and timely organised twists, bring both old and new characters together. Although the story is mainly told through the eyes' of Cameron, who has an extremely impulsive nature, which therefore develops into an intense and interesting adventure.

The book has a number of superb scenes which have been written particularly well and will have you wanting more. My favourite section within the story involves the band of Monster Republic, who find their food supplies are running low and need to stock up incredibly quickly. As a result, they set off on a mission to break into a supermarket, which in turn sets off a chain of events that shape the story towards its final outcome. The book is filled with many heart-stopping moments, which are perhaps more evident in this book than the first one. Therefore, there's a lot of running tension felt between the children and the decisions that they have to make in the fight for survival.

I loved this book, in fact equally as much as I loved the first. The end is left hanging in mid-air and so the next book will have many questions to answer. For example, will Cameron continue to be recognised as a hero or will he turn into a villain? The line between the two roles is becoming ever thinner, and with the fight for survival, this might just be final the tipping point. I'm really looking forward to the next slice of action . . . . .

About the Author
Ben Horton was born in Buckinghamshire,grew up in Norfolk,went to university in Cambridge and now lives in London,making him by far the best-travelled children's writer in his immediate family. When not writing ,Ben runs a theatre company,enjoys cooking and watching films like Batman and X-Men.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Curtis Jobling - WereWorld:Rise of the Wolf - Book Review & Competition

Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf – Curtis Jobling

Pages: 418
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Release Date: 6th January 2010
Anyone who leaves a comment on this blog post will be automatically entered into a free draw, with the chance to win a copy of the book. However, this is only open to residents in the UK. The closing date, and last opportunity to enter, is Monday 24th Jan 2011.

‘YOU’RE THE LAST OF THE WEREWOLVES SON. DON’T FIGHT IT . . . CONQUER IT.’ When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator. When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him. And when a vicious beast invades his home, his flesh tears, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms . . . Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan’s men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy. Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him – and master the animal within?
The designer of the children's television series 'Bob the Builder', and model maker for Aardman's Wallace & Gromit, has recently set his sights on writing gripping fantasy stories for the 11+ age. 

The multi-talented Mr Jobling has set his debut book within the imagined world of the Seven Realms. Within this world, Lycanthropes rule the different territories. If you're unfamiliar with this term, the traditional definition is that of a magical power to transform oneself into a Wolf. However, the author has also delved further into this idea and created the powerful "Werelords", who have the ability to change themselves into Wererats, Werestags and Werefoxes. In fact, they are able to transform into a whole host of powerful and dangerous creatures. The transformation from human to deadly beast becomes an important feature of the story, and certainly makes for an exciting and thrilling read.

The book has a fantastic blend of action-adventure, with a great sprinkling of horror-magic stirred in. It is written with skill, and in my opinion, the writing is equal to that of some of the best authors of this genre. The story is traditionally crafted with 'Tolkienesque' dark fantasy moments, including the Wyldermen (who feature early on in the story) and are developed from the dark realms of original fantasy genius. They had me captivated through their gruesome pursuits - I would really like them to be featured in further books. 

Curtis has created a world full of historical detail, which leads you along a path of wanting to know more about the characters, the different places they visit and the built-in folklore. This is seamlessly sewn into the story and gives the reader a sense of authenticity to the plot, which is a great achievement within the complex world that Curtis has built.

The book has a strong sense of good overcoming evil, through the tyrant ruler of King Leopold, and the unlikely hero, Drew. However, his fight to stay alive brings out the beast (or Lycanthrope) within him. The fight for survival helps him to find new friends, who give him renewed strength, in order to equip him for what might be ahead.

The more you read, the more the pace quickens - until the very climatic end, which is not totally predictable, and leaves you clinging onto every word. This book is a cracking start to Curtis Jobling's writing career. This book should do well in the 2011 Waterstone's book prize, as this genre is hot at the moment, and readers just can't get enough to feed their appetite.