Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Barry Hutchison - The 13th Horseman - Book Review

The road to scaring children is definitely not the easiest of paths to take when writing a story. However, in the past, Barry has done a great job with his first five books in the Invisible Fiends series. These have already been published and are doing really well, but now it's time to seek pasture new and green. Welcome to Barry's new sequence of books entitled AFTERWORLDS - I'm not sure how many will be in the series, but I hope it's lots.

The first thing that you will notice about this story is the brilliant book cover - it is absolutely 100% bonkers. This book comes with a warning,it will put a massive grin on your face. In fact my jaw is still hurting now that I come to think of it. This book is essentially a trip back into Barry's mind - plucking out everything that he has enjoyed reading and then crammed it into this book with equal measure. The result is a fight between Pratchett, Gaiman and his childhood memories - which comes out on top I have no idea.

This book is brilliant. However, if Barry's reading this review then we will tell him, for his own sake, that it's a bag of bilge water and not to be read unless supervised by a moral understanding of life coming to end as we know it. It's the funniest book that I've read for a long time. The plot and the characters are both highly imaginative and very awe inspiring. I actually have no idea as to what they story is really about - although it features a flying shed and three horsemen of the apocalypse playing snakes and ladders, drinking tea and eating chocolate! It also includes Drake (not you average heroic young boy) who has no cares in the world. That is until he's told that he's a good candidate for Death and therefore he's the man for the job.

There are a number of fantastic visionary instruments of torture and a transformer-like epic monster who battles it out in the park. This action scene involves a great deal of madness and the characters are very engaging. It has great comedic moments that will leave you chuckling to yourself. 

I hope that this review is grabbing you as potential readers as I think that this is Barry's best work. However, it has me written all over it - a fantasy world that is well written but with a touch of darkness to give it light. In fact I think it is up there with the best of them; just about anyone and everyone will love to read it. It has everything going it for it so don't wait for the world to end, read it now. 

You can follow more of the madness by reading the Diary of the Apocalypse here:

Monday, 20 February 2012

Eoin Colfer - Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian - Book Reveal and Prologue

The Last Guardian (USA Cover)
Ériú; Present Day
The Berserkers lay arranged in a spiral under the rune stone, looping down, down into the earth—boots out, heads in, as the spell demanded. Of course, after 10,000 years underground, there were no physical boots or heads. There was just the plasma of black magic holding their consciousness intact, and even that was dissipating, tainting the land, causing strange strains of plants to appear and infecting the animals with uncommon aggression. In perhaps a dozen full moons the Berserkers would be gone utterly, and their last spark of power would flow into the earth.
We are not all disappeared yet, thought Oro of the Danu, captain of the Berserkers. We are ready to seize our glorious moment when it comes and to sow chaos among the humans.
He sent the thought into the spiral and was proud to feel his remaining fairy warriors echo the sentiment.
Their will is as keen as their blades once were, he thought. Though we are dead and buried, the spark of bloody purpose burns bright in our souls.
It was the hatred of humankind that kept the spark alive—that and the black magic of the warlock Bruin Fadda. More than half of their company of warriors had already expired and been drawn to the afterlife, but still five score remained to complete their duties should they be called upon.
Remember your orders, the elfin warlock had told them all those centuries ago, even as the clay was falling on their flesh. Remember those who have died and the humans who murdered them.
Oro did remember and always would. Just as he could never forget the sensation of stones and earth rattling across his dying skin.
We will remember, he sent into the spiral. Remember and return.
The thought drifted down, then echoed up from the dead warriors, who were eager to be released from their tomb and see the sun once more.    

See More HERE                           

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books New Book Picks: March 2012

book cover of 

Article 5 


Kristen Simmons

Kristen Simmons - Article 5 - Published by Tor Teen - 12 March 2012
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. There are no more police - instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behaviour - instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different. Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for non-compliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings...the only boy Ember has ever loved.

book cover of 



Dan Wells
Dan Wells - Partials - Published by HarperCollins - 29 March 2012
The only hope for humanity isn’t human.
In a world where people have been all but wiped out by a virus created by part-human cyborgs called ‘Partials’, and where no baby survives longer than three days, a teenage girl makes it her mission to find a cure, and save her best friend’s unborn child.
But finding a cure means capturing a Partial…

book cover of 

Merciless Reason 


Oisín McGann
Oisin McGann -  Merciless Reason - Published by Corgi Children's - 1 March 2012
Nate Wildenstern has been on the run from his family for the past three years, but he is about to discover that the murderous Wildensterns cannot be hidden from forever... Megalomaniac and extremely dangerous cousin Gerald has been advancing his research into intelligent particles, with the intention of creating the ultimate engimal. Can Nate return to the Wildenstern estate incognito, and take his revenge upon Gerald?
book cover of 

Arcadia Awakens 

 (Arcadia Trilogy, book 1)


Kai Meyer
Kai Meyer - Arcadia Awakens - Published by Templar Books - 1 March 2012
When troubled teenager Rosa escapes her life in New York to stay with family in Sicily, she stumbles into a sinister Mafia underworld of murder, corruption and bitter, generations-old rivalries. How is handsome, mysterious stranger Alessandro involved? And why is Rosa so powerfully drawn to him, even though she knows he spells danger for her and her family? Simmering at the heart of the conflict is an ancient myth surrounding the vanished empire of Arcadia and its people, who - in the tales of legend - could shapeshift into animal form. Can Rosa unravel the dark secrets of the past before untamed savagery is unleashed on the present?
Sarwat Chadda - Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress - Published by HarperCollins - 1 March 2012
Breathtaking action adventure for boys of 8-12. Ash Mistry, reluctant hero, faces ancient demons… and comes into an astonishing, magical inheritance.
Varanasi: holy city of the Ganges
In this land of ancient temples, incense and snake charmers…Where the monsters and heroes of the past come to life…
One slightly geeky boy from our time…

Ash Mistry hates India. Which is a problem since his uncle has brought him and his annoying younger sister Lucky there to take up a dream job with the mysterious Lord Savage. But Ash immediately suspects something is very wrong with the eccentric millionaire. Soon, Ash finds himself in a desperate battle to stop Savage's masterplan – the opening of the Iron Gates that have kept Ravana, the demon king, at bay for four millennia…

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Kazu Kibuishi - Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - Review


  • Reading level: Ages 9 and up
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141970009X

Like the lesson of Schrödinger’s Cat, what exists within a box is possibilities—when opened, we all have to face the reality of that decision. The tales in this anthology—which add up to a kind of Twilight Zone for younger readers—offer characters who encounter the mystery boxes of the title, with no unification beyond their geometry and their role as catalysts to unexpected narrative turns. Gathering multiple creators to work within that concept, editorial dynamo Kibuishi (the author of the Amulet series) creates a mixture of laughs and creeps, with some philosophy thrown in, as well as the kind of graphical triumphs expected from Kibuishi’s previous Flight collections. Outstanding among the contributions are the spooky tale of a sinister doppelgänger invading a girl’s life by up-and-coming comics star Emily Carroll; Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier’s comedy of wizarding errors and online bidding wars; and Rad Seachrist’s romp involving a teenage girl, an introduction to the basics of Shintoism, and a manic butter thief driving a grandma to the brink. All the stories offer top-notch storytelling while providing readers with something more to think about without being overbearing in their intellect.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Michelle Lovric - Child’s Eye View – Talina in the Tower - Blog Tour Post

There’s a story about a Victorian child who, on beholding St Mark’s miraculous basilica for the first time, asked her Mamma, ‘Can people really look at this every day, or is it just for Sundays?’

That little girl saw Venice with clearer eyes than most adults. And she had expressed her wonderment with the best and simplest kind of verbal magic – without resort to ‘poetic’ words, painfully stretched metaphor or purple prose, all of which are writing crimes Venice seems to provoke in many. This month I have started to read no less than three new novels set in Venice, and thrown all of them down the palazzo stairs after 30 pages. They were stale. They were boring. They were claggy with info-dumping. And they in no way expressed Venice as well as that Victorian child, who framed her wonder in terms of her everyday life, but in a surprising and feeling way. 

And there’s a delightful Irish tale about a little girl who also refused to succumb to metaphor: in English as We Speak it in Ireland (1910), little Kitty, running in from the dairy with her eyes starting out of her head, says to her mother, who is talking to a neighbour in the kitchen, ‘Oh, Mother, Mother, I saw a terrible thing in the cream!’

‘Ah, never mind, child,’ says the mother, suspecting the truth and anxious to hush it up. ‘It’s nothing but the grace of God.’ 

Kitty replies, ‘Oh but Mother, sure the grace of God hasn't a long tail.’

Children are natural aphorists, natural joke-mongers, fresh-tongued juxtaposers of the fantastic and the prosaic. Now that I write about Venice for children, I worry if I can be as good a writer as these possibly apocryphal Victorian children. I worry about my point of view, its angle, its authenticity, and most of all, its freshness. I throw open the same question to the readers of this blog, many of whom are also writers. 

Are we writers for children just basically overgrown children ourselves – hoarier, wrinklier, sadder and more experienced children who somehow retain the child’s fresh vision and humour, uncorrupted by bitterness? Or we perhaps retain just enough of it to recapture in our books? 

Or are we cynical, conniving craftsmen and women, no better than those marketing types who configure supermarket shelves with the sweeties and potato crisps at a child’s eye level? Do we manufacture false freshness, like candles with labels professing to create the smell of an open window in spring – in order to mask an inner mouldiness?

Recently I had a chance to wet-test my ideas on these matters. A child-reader of mine came to Venice. Since she wrote her first charming fan email, she has become my regular reader of manuscripts, and what a good eye she has!  She picks up logical disconnects and time-lapses; she is perfectly honest about where her attention lags; she puts ticks where she laughed. I know she is honest, and not too shy to tell me my mistakes, and that is a very valuable gift. She recently checked out the manuscript for my latest book, Talina in the Tower.


So when I heard she was coming to Venice, I decided that I would take her on a tour of all the places in the books of mine that she has read: The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium and now Talina. I wanted to thank her for her help, but I also wanted to see how her vision of the places differed from mine. 

It was a bestially hot August day, so as a special treat, I organised the lovely Sebastiano to take us in his sleek water taxi. Cowering from the sun under parasols shaped like oriental pavilions, we visited Signor Rioba, the redoubtable talking statue, and slipped into the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo to see the tomb of Marcantonio Bragadin and its gruesome painting of his flaying by the Turks. cruised around the House of the Spirits, the home of my mermaids in The Undrowned Child, and saw the island of San Michele, where the real parents of my heroine, Teo, are buried in a secret grave. We went past the garden that once held the magnificent palazzo of my villain, Bajamonte Tiepolo. It was razed to the ground after the failure of his conspiracy to murder the Doge. We looked at the square of San Zan Degola, where the Butcher Biasio sold stew made of children he’d kidnapped. 

My young friend remembered everything from the books, and expressed no surprise whatsoever about this heat-shimmered sequence of so many things that sometimes sound too magical to be true, even as I write them. It had taken me many years of living in Venice to distil the disparate parts into a story. I had struggled to retrieve, balance, concoct, recook and combine Venice’s historical facts and their relics in a convincing appearance of easeful naturalness. Yet my young friend took it all in her stride, embracing the imagined and the real with equal enthusiasm.

That was the difference between the real child and me. She still has what I’ve lost and must work hard to recreate: a simple acceptance of the simply marvellous. 

She’s still seeing the grace of God’s long tail in the cream, and San Marco’s Basilica every day, not just Sundays.

Her new novel, Talina in the Tower, is published on February 2nd 2012, by Orion 
Children’s Books.

Talina in the Tower is set about thirty years earlier than the adventures of Teo and Renzo, the heroine and hero of The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium. So the story concerns a whole new cast of characters (though two old friends will appear, in their younger days, of course). And one major character is still the same: the floating city of Venice - magical, beautiful and mysterious as ever - but now facing an enemy quite unlike any she has ever seen before.

 Web site page:

Thank you to Michelle for stopping by on her amazing blog tour and writing a fantastic post  for us today. I am sure that everyone will find it as fascinating as I did; it certainly makes you want to delve right in and read Michelle's brilliant books. 

Thank you to Louise for both arranging and organising this blog tour.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Conrad Mason - The Demon's Watch - Book Review

  • Hardcover: 400 pages 
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (1 Mar 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0857560298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857560292
Since this book cover was a big contender of my book cover wars (at the back end of last year) I have eagerly anticipated this release. The magical book cover, illustrated by the talented David Wyatt, couldn't have had a more magical touch applied to it. However, could this magic find its way inside the book and onto the pages? 

I have to say that the review of this book is a glowing one. This story is both fast paced and action packed from the very start of the book. With no problem at all, this author gets stuck into the action very early on. He uses every page to keep the action flowing right until the end of this story. The author has not packed the writing with detail, instead the emphasis has been placed on the storyline. He has created a story that both children and adults alike will enjoy. However, I perhaps would have liked the evil monsters to have been written more creatively - perhaps making a Demon Beast from scratch so that it was totally unique. Yet having said all that this is only book one.

Set on the enchanting island of Port Fayt (the jewel of the Middle Islands) this is a safe haven for a whole host of creatures, as well as a half-gobling boy named Joseph Grubb. Yet protection from the League of Light is essential. This book follows the adventures of The Demon's Watch, an unusual group of characters, who protect the Island from smugglers. However things become complicated when they encounter a powerful witch. At this point the adventure turns into a run away train - the pace hurtles through the story right to the very end. 

This book is a great family read; it has some of the best pirate banter that you will find such as "Come on maggot breath". The entertaining battles scenes, close scrapes and the odd bar brawl (in the Legless Mermaid) will have you running for your grog. I particularly loved the chapter involving Harry's Shark Pit which is written with oodles of imagination, humour and wit. I also enjoyed and appreciated the interesting use of vocabulary such as walrus dung, Dockside Militia and the three-legged, one-eyed dog - brilliant stuff. Interestingly, I can't help but compare this to the brilliant Edge Chronicle series written by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. 

In one of my book reviews a little while ago, I highlighted that I'm finding less fantasy-themed books in my reading pile. However, this is one debut book that will definitely find its way onto the bookshelves in March. It is also one that could fill a hole in the fantasy market and do really well if you ask me. Conrad has created a fantastic start to an amazing adventure - I loved every minute embroiled in this story. I'm very pleased to be able to heartily recommend this book to you all; I feel sure it won't let you down matey! 

Monday, 13 February 2012

J. D. Sharpe - Oliver Twisted - UK Blog Tour - Top Five Scary Books

I'd like to start with a quick apology for the delay in this blog tour. Unfortunately the arrival of the post and my working hours just didn't coincide. However here it is better late than never . . . . . 
To promote the book launch for J.D. Sharpe's debut novel she has written a post about her top five scary books. If you choose to explore any of these titles, then I hope they don't give you sleepless nights. Sweet dreams . . . . . . If you would like to read the book review that I have posted then please click the following link: Book Review
Many thanks to the author for writing this insightful post - I wish you a successful book launch this week. 
Okay, I love scary books. I always have. For me, scary isn’t just about gore, although often that is the only thing that will do. Sometimes though, it is just about that creaking door and all that this could signify. It’s a scratching behind the wall or a scrawled note. It’s a situation or world that is so horrific that you can’t stop thinking about it. 

So here are my top five scary books:
book cover of 

Dawn of the Demontide 

 (Witchfinder, book 1)


William Hussey

1) Witchfinder by William Hussey. 

When I am not writing books I am editing them and Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide was my first acquisition for the Oxford University Press children's list.
From the first page I was hooked. I just knew that I had to be the one too bring this book to the world....

So Why am I so Passionate about this book? Well I'd urge you to read it and find out for yourselves. With its mix of magic and science,horror and beautiful writing,it is quite unlike anything I've read and I envy you your first foray into the world of Witchfinder... 

book cover of 

Ghost of a Chance 


Rhiannon Lassiter
2) Ghost of Chance by Rhiannon Lassiter 
This is a book to chill you to the bone. Just how did Eva Chance die? Can you imagine being a detective in your own murder? That’s what Eva Chance, now a ghost, has to do. The compelling narrative, split between Eva, and Kyle and Kyra Stratton, keeps you glued to the book until you finally know what really happened to Eva.

book cover of 

Skeleton Crew 


Stephen King
3) Pretty much any book by Stephen King 
The richness of his work is simply put ‘astounding’. Stephen King is known for his horror, but he is a very diverse writer turning his hand to science fiction, thrillers and even an extraordinary fantasy/western called The Dark Tower.  Whatever he turns his hand to, you know you will be entertained and you know you will be reading with your heart in your mouth.

4) 1984 by George Orwell
Why is this novel so chilling? Because it could happen. Our world could become one where we allow ourselves to be manipulated and brainwashed. Where we lose our free will. This book was written in 1950 but is has lost none of its punch.
book cover of 

Anna Dressed in Blood 

 (Anna, book 1)


Kendare Blake
5) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake 
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story.  I haven’t read this one yet but I know I’m going to love it and so I’m including it here! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Tom Becker - The Traitors - Book Review

                                         book cover of 

The Traitors 


Tom Becker

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; 1 edition (5 April 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1407109529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407109527
  • It has been quite a long time since I last read the Darkside book 'BlackJack' by Tom Becker. That was, until last year, when his new book dropped through my letterbox. Although, whilst I wanted to read this book straight away, I knew that this wasn't a wise decision as it wasn't due to be published for another 6 months. In my opinion, that is a little bit too early to post a review as readers can become frustrated with the time lapse. However, as soon as it started to get a little bit closer to the publication date I could feel myself being unable to wait any longer. Therefore, I gave into temptation and read it - it was definitely well worth the wait!

  • This book is another dark and deep story. It has a great plot - although if you really thought about all the possible hows and whys then you could find some possible holes.
    The story begins with a moral betrayal - Adam, the main character, kisses the girlfriend of his best friend. From this moment things take an eerie turn. Especially when the radio in his bedroom suddenly springs into life stating "this is the Dial calling". However, when Adam's name is mentioned alongside the word traitor, the story suddenly finds Adam running for his life. 
    • But who can he trust in a world full of traitors...?

  • The first aspect I enjoyed about this book was the backdrop that the author created. "The Dial" is a particularly great setting that I was able to visualise with ease. The book is full of the unexpected - lots of timely twists and turns that keep you on your toes. The book hooked me with its many varied characters, some may make comments about the possible stereotypical portrayals. This maybe so, but it works for me. 
    • Two particular areas that I wanted to explore within the book were the library - this sounded like an amazing place for discovery. There are opportunities to visit this brilliant place on a number of occasions in the story under the watchful eye of Bookworm the librarian. The other area that I wanted to explore was the sport being played inside "The Dial" called Bucketball. This entails one ball, two teams and two buckets. It takes no prisoners - whilst there might not be many rules, there are certainly plenty of broken bones and scrapes. I will leave the rest to your imagination!
  • This is one of the best books that I've read this year - I loved every minute of it. There's plenty to get you hooked such as the dark atmospheric feel you get, also the dangerous world that is introduced as well as the great character dialogue.  Some of the inspiration was taken from real-life prisoner of war stories from the second world war. Aspects of these are deployed throughout this book which really give it feeling. 
  • This book has a number of brilliant and awesome moments. Through different discoveries, we peel away another layer and add more to the story. It has a real punch to the end but with a promise of so much more, which I would really love. Buy this book, read this book and then share it with friends.  
    You Can Run But You Can't Hide..........

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Charmian Hussey - Howl on the Wind - Book Post - Illustrated By Rose Forshall

                                              HOWL ON THE WIND

The long-awaited second novel by Charmian Hussey, bestselling author of ‘The Valley of Secrets’ tells the dramatic story of Lizzie’s incredible courage and perseverance against all the odds, set on the rugged north Cornish coast.

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he cried out in a shrill voice, his face contorted, his eyes shining in the light from the glowing fire.
“’Tis a poor, tormented creature … huge and hairy … a savage beast …”
From somewhere at the back of the room, a horrible howling noise rose up.
“Howooooo … Hoooooooo … Howooooo … Hooooooo …”
… with stunning illustrations by Rose Forshall

Howl On The Wind follows the fortunes of wheelchair-bound Lizzie, who visits 
Cornwall on a quest to find answers about her long-dead

Lizzie is a star sprinter who had high hopes to compete in the 2012 Olympics until an accident leaves her without the use of her legs. When she and her brother Tom uncover some previously unknown facts about their long-dead father they set out to find the truth. Their travels take them to a small island off the North Cornwall coast, home to the remains of a 13th century castle once occupied by an old Cornish family, the Tregarrows

Buying a copy of Howl on the Wind supports British Paralympians and people with physical disabilities, by donating half of the profits to the two charities 'Wheelpower' and 'Poppa Guttman Trust'.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

Published By Atlantic Press

At Atlantic Press, we create works of graphic literature which respect the illustrator’s personal voice: their ideas, their pictures and their words. We call this ‘authorial illustration’.
Our rare and collectable books present imaginative ideas or tell intriguing stories, and are often illustrated for an adult audience, or designed to appeal to an audience of all ages. We are an independent press, publishing limited edition first books by authorial illustrators. Associated with the Masters course in authorial illustration at University College Falmouth incorporating Dartington College of Arts, Atlantic Press seeks to promote new authorial illustration talent, as well as recognising existing practitioners in the illustration field. We work closely with talented illustrators, allowing them authorial freedom; our role being to support their personal imaginative vision. Atlantic Press is run by illustrators and educators and we aim to publish innovative picture books which display the highest literary and visual standards. In so doing, we want to encourage illustration to be a developing practice and not just a repetitive commodity. We want illustrators to be enterprising, and most importantly, we want to contribute to a cultural shift whereby intelligent illustrated books become popular with the general book-buying public. You can buy our rare and collectable books direct from this site.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Katherine Roberts - Pendragon Legacy: Bk 1 - Sword of Light Book Review

                                    book cover of 

Sword of Light 

 (Pendragon Legacy, book 1)


Katherine Roberts                            

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Templar Publishing (1 Feb 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1848773900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848773905

It was great to receive this book in the post. It's always fantastic to receive a book with a fantasy theme - there appear to be fewer published at the moment. However, this is a welcomed new four-book fantasy series, which is set in the Dark Ages (after the death of the legendary King Arthur).

The first book in the series, Sword of Light, follows the adventures of Arthur's Daughter (Rhianna Pendragon). If you ask me, this is a great name for a character. Rhianna sets off on a quest to find Excalibur, the magical famous sword, in order to help restore her father's soul to his body.

It is the darkest hour of the darkest Age. King Arthur is dead, killed by his wicked nephew, Mordred. Saxon invaders rampage across the land and forces of evil are gathering. The path to the throne lies open to Arthur's only remaining flesh and blood - Mordred. But there is one with a better claim than Mordred - Arthur's secret child. Brought by Merlin to enchanted Avalon as a baby and raised there for protection, the king's heir must take up a vital quest: to search for the four magical Lights with the power to restore Arthur's soul to his body. Introducing Rhianna Pendragon: unlikely princess and Camelot's last hope.

When reading a book like this, which takes the essence of a very well established famous tale, it can be difficult to consider something fresh and new. In my opinion, this can be the downfall of any book attempting such a task. However, in this case the author has written a rather safe and comfy tale. In fact so much so, that the author's character and writing style is perhaps less established and prominent than in one of her earlier books, 'Song Quest', which was published by Chicken House.

Nevertheless reading this book was a feast of enjoyment - I loved the story and the many interesting characters. Rhianna is a particularly great spirited example of a young modern day hero. Whilst some of the action battles between the Saxons and the Knights left a little flavour of Tolkien behind.

This is a great fantasy adventure with some interesting story lines. There are three more books to follow - Lance of Truth published in November 2012, the Crown of Dreams and Grail of Stars are all due to be published in 2013. If you like Merlin, then you will love this book .....

Many thanks to Templar for sending out such a beautiful edition of this book.

Book Plug#5: Marie Lu - Legend - US Choice

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (November 29, 2011)

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. 15-year-old June, born to an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, is a prodigy groomed for success in the highest military circles. 15-year-old Day, a product of the Republic's slums, is the country's most wanted criminal. But is he the criminal they've branded him? Or is he a freedom fighter? Living such different lives, June and Day have no reason to cross paths -- until the day June's only family, her brother, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge her brother's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Told in the alternating voices of June and Day, this is a gripping, action-packed debut novel. Your teen readers - especially those who love The Hunger Games - will be breathless with excitement as this thrilling, dystopian tale unfolds and they discover with June and Day that judging by appearances can be very dangerous indeed! Ages 12 and up.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Book Choice - Dave Shelton - A boy and a Bear in a Boat and Reading

A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book and a ukulele. They are only travelling a short distance and it really shouldn't take long. But then their boat encounters 'unforeseeable anomalies'...

 Faced with turbulent stormy seas, a terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich, the odds soon become pitted against our unlikely heroes. Will the Harriet, their trusted vessel, withstand the violent lashings of the salty waves? And will anyone ever answer their message in a bottle?

'He looked past the bear. There was still no sign of land ahead of them. But there was no sign of the land they'd set out from behind them either. In fact in every direction all he could see was sea and sky. He looked at his watch but it showed exactly the same time now as it had when they had set off. He held it to his ear but it was silent.'

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is a very unusual book. The storytelling is calm, rich and surprising - much like the sea on which the Harriet journeys. A sea which stretches on past the horizon but which also seems to extend and grow onwards - like the journey that the boy and the bear are making together. The boy is curious, impatient and definitely not impressed with the boat's captain. But the bear rows on, at ease with their progress and routine. Mostly. The habits that the bear relishes - taking tea, singing along to his ukelele, and ever rowing onwards - puzzle, disgust and delight the boy in turn. Their story is one of hilarity, trouble and glee. ..And then there is The Very Last Sandwich to contend with.

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0385618964