Saturday, 30 March 2013

William Hussey - Haunted - Book Reveal - Published by OUP

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars contender, this year! What do we think, people?
-Illustrated by the phenomenally talented Rohan Eason whose previous credits include his brilliant, atmospheric work on The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, it reflects the dark fairy tale vibe of a story in which a young girl must overcome her grief to battle the spectral forces that are threatening her town. The cover shows our hero, Emma Rhodes, approaching the derelict (and quite possibly haunted) Sparrow House: the former residence of a mass murderer, the Victorian ruin now harbours a mysterious newcomer to the cursed town of Milton Lake.
As Emma approaches so the spirits of the ‘unmade’ swarm around her. It is a bold, stark design which, we hope, will catch the eye and stir the imagination. It hints at the tone of the book – mystery, intrigue, spookiness galore and more than a few heart-stopping surprises – but also leaves much to the imagination…
Here’s a look at the full book design. On the back you can see the fabled ‘Ghost Machine’ telephone discharging its ectoplasmic, spirit-forming energy onto the page. This then forms into those shadowy characters that threaten Emma Rhodes. Book cover Images taken from:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Book Review: Rob LLoyd Jones - Wild Boy

Roll Up....... Roll Up....... Come this way folks to see the savage spectacle of Wild Boy in all of its freaky glory. Pay the man, Ladies and Gentlemen, then take your seats and get ready for the show of your life. 

A boy with extraordinary powers of observation and detection. A boy accused of murder; a boy on the run and hungry for the truth. London, Greenwich (October 1841) is the time and setting for this brilliantly written tale of mystery and intrigue, which is based around an unlikely victim - Wild Boy. A boy covered in hair (raised as a monster) who is alone and bullied, but finally finds himself condemned to life in a travelling freak show.

However, he is also forced to turn his skills of logic, observation and clear thinking into a way of saving himself from a crime of murder he did not commit. He has to work it all out, just like Sherlock Holmes would have done. It's a detective book, but at the heart of the story adventure is really at it's soul. 

Wildboy is particularly well written - he is a very likeable character, who is fresh, complex and interesting to read, not like your typical hero. He has to battle his roller-coaster emotions along the way trying to keep them in check, whilst seeking justice, and trying to save his own skin and that of his unlikely new found friend, Clarissa. This is certainly not an easy task at all. The book is deliciously dark in places and full of some particularly mysterious characters, who all have a great part to play. As part of the classic "who has done it?" scenario, they keep you guessing on your padded feet right up until the very end of the adventure. 

Blessed with many spooky and chilling events that you will really love, this book has originality and a great deal of thought throughout it. 

This is a brilliant story by the debut author, Rob Lloyd Jones. I have to say that I was particularly surprised by the quality of the writing from start to finish. Rob's daydreams on the way to work have really turned up trumps, in my humble opinion. It has a great feel to this book - an easy going and imaginative story, but as you are drawn towards the end of the book the whole story intensifies. The pace and action really make for a particularly engaging ending, which I really loved. 

This is an epic debut start, which I'm really pleased to tell you all about. Why not go out and find a copy to read during April. Hopefully you will love it as much as I did. 

Published By Walker Books - 4 April 2013 - ISBN: 978-1406341386

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Book News: Hodder Children’s acquires new Charlie Fletcher series

Hodder Children's Books has acquired a new fiction series by author of the bestselling Stoneheart trilogy, Charlie Fletcher.
Publishing director Anne McNeil bought world rights in all languages for the new series, which will be linked to Stoneheart, from Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown UK.
The new trilogy is aimed at children aged 9+, and the first book, The Dragon's Shield, will be published in March 2014. The story sees something dark awoken at the British Museum, and it has stopped time, freezing the city in its tracks; the people became like statues, and the statues find they can move. Two children in Great Ormond Street Hospital are the only ones not frozen, and they witness a terrifying fight between a city dragon and a golden girl that has far-reaching consequences.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

New Children's Books Published April 2013 - U.S POST

Claire M. Caterer - The Key & The Flame - Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books (April 2, 2013) 9+
Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard longs for adventure, some escape from her humdrum life. That is precisely what she gets when she is given an old iron key that unlocks a door—in a tree.
Holly crosses the threshold into a stunning and magical medieval world, Anglielle. And as she does so, something unlocks within Holly: a primal, powerful magic. Holly is joined on her journey by two tagalongs—her younger brother Ben, and Everett, an English boy who hungers after Holly’s newfound magic and carries a few secrets of his own.When Ben and Everett are sentenced to death by the royals, whose fear of magic has fueled a violent, systemic slaughter of all enchanted creatures, Holly must save them and find a way back home. But will she be able to muster the courage and rise above her ordinary past to become an extraordinary hero?

Stuart Gibbs - Spy Camp - Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 2, 2013) 10+
School may be out for summer, but top-secret training continues for aspiring spy Ben Ripley—and so does the danger.
Ben Ripley is a middle-schooler whose school is not exactly average—he’s spent the last year training to be a top-level spy and dodging all sorts of associated danger. So now that summer’s finally here, Ben’s ready to have some fun and relax. Except that’s not going to happen, because a spy-in-training’s work is never done, and the threats from SPYDER, an enemy spy organization, are as unavoidable as the summer heat. Will Ben be able to keep his cover—and his cool?

  • Kit Grindstaff - The Flame in the Mist - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 9, 2013) 9+
  • Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.        

Cat Winters - in the Shadow of Blackbirds - Published by Amulet Books (April 2, 2013) - Teenage 

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Book Review: Oisin McGann - Rat Runners

After reading and enjoying other Oisin McGann books previously, I always knew that he was capable of writing such an epic adventure in his career. This new book, to me, has really delivered an all time great fantasy that even Eoin Colfer would be proud of writing. In fact four of the main characters each have Artemis traits about them that you will probably recognise - they certainly work well within the plot. Each has been brought together based on different personalities, goals and ways of working that impact on the adventure. 

Nimmo, Scope, Mankin and FX are all criminal-minded. They work in the blindspots of the city's shady underworld. However, they are soon caught up in a Hi-tech maze of deception, treachery and murder. If they were cats then their nine lives would be an advantage, but being Rat Runners they only have the one. Therefore the question is . . . will they need it? 

They have one simple task to complete which is to steal a mysterious box from a daughter of a dead scientist. This may sound simple, but first they have to invade the army of the "WatchWorld". These are masked, uniformed figures who run the city. They watch you and listen to you from every street corner using their well-equipped cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones and other hi-tech gadgets that we can only dream about. These terrifying SafeGuards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, even analyse the smell of your sweat and that's just for starters. 

The main course involves the very controlling and evil BOSS guy, Move-Easy, who lives his life of crime hidden underground. With his army of controlled thugs, he deploys them to cause havoc. Then there's pudding - two rival gangs who all want a slice of the cherry pie. This brings an added dimension and a complex driven plot that will have you hooked to the last page. It is certainly a fast-paced, action-packed ride which is full of adrenaline. The imaginative ideas are, at times, slightly over complicated but they are used to good effect and definitely keep you on your paws!  

The attention to detail is phenomenal -  everything has been thoroughly researched from the gadgets, the computer hacking, the undercover surveillance and genetics. All make the reading both fascinating and inspiring. Nevertheless, he has been able to balance this technological combination to create an amazing interactive thriller which is a winner.  This is the best fantasy based book that I have read this year; I loved reading every single page. What can we expect next from Oisin?

Published by  Corgi Childrens (7 Mar 2013)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Three Great New Picture Books: Published In April 2013

Tom Percival - Jacks Amazing Shadow - Published by Pavilion Children's (18 April 2013)
Jack and his amazing magical shadow are the VERY best of friends. But when Jack s shadow is naughty and Jack himself gets the blame they have a falling out. Will jack and his shadow ever be reunited? A lively story that's perfect for anyone who's ever wondered what their shadow gets up to when they're not looking!

Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen - The Dark - Published by Orchard (3 April 2013)
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo but mostly it spends its time in the basement. It doesn't visit Laszlo in his room. Until one night it does. With emotional insight and poetic economy, Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen bring to light a universal and empowering story about conquering fear. Join a brave boy on his journey to meet the dark, and see why it will never bother him again.

Oliver Jeffers - The New Jumper  (The Hueys) - Published by HarperCollins (25 April 2013)  
Meet the Hueys - a fabulously quirky group of characters from international bestselling, award-winning author/illustrator, Oliver Jeffers, creator of How to Catch a Star and Lost and Found.

A fight has broken out amongst The Hueys. “It was not me! It was him!” But no one can remember what they’re fighting about. If only they could find an interesting distraction…

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Book Review: Mark King - Frenzy ( A Daniel Jones Story) -


I really liked the look of this book. In fact, so much so, that I highlighted it in my March book release post. It will therefore come as no surprise, as to how pleased I was, to get an email from Susan from the Book Publishing Guild asking if I would be interested to receive a copy for review. Therefore, many thanks Susan for getting it to me so quickly.

I don't know anything about this author, for example, I don't know whether this is his debut book or how many books are going to be in the series. I am presuming that there will be another one to come based on the ending/outcome of the book. At least, I am really hoping that there will be another one because I would love to see how the plot unfolds.

Bang. Bang. Bang. . . . The pages of the book gave a mighty shake from the power of the author's storytelling. Bang. Bang. Bang. . . . . Frenzy is a compelling dystopian novel that will wrap the readers up in a vivid and exciting adventure. Every page had me gripped in a vision of a new world order - aliens invading earth and life returning back three thousand years to the Dark Ages. 
Bang. Bang. Bang. The ground shook with such terrifying power that once again the soul of humanity would cry out in fear tonight. 

Daniel, the main character, stumbles on The Overseers barbaric secret. Unfortunately, they soon learn about his discovery. From then on his peaceful life is shattered forever. On the run, he leaves his family, friends and village behind. Accompanied by Gwendolyn, who has the charm of a snake and a bite that's twice as dangerous, and Mary, who is the only person left alive over forty. She's no good at fighting, but at least she can remember what life used to be like... and, maybe, just maybe, how to restore it.
The author has captured and produced an atmospheric dystopian vision. He has kept the storyline simple, but with just enough detail to let your imagination run wild. The story felt fresh and original. Although in parts, it was very emotional especially the further you travel down the path. The three main characters are particularly well written with just the right amount of dialogue to keep the focus on the adventure ahead. Some graphic action and a small slice of sci-fi gave the story a new dimension, which made it really memorable.

This story will feed the soul of the imagination. It is for those who love a good story - one that will unsettle you one minute and then play with your heart strings the next. It's a quest to save lives at any cost by avoiding the many enemies that cross their path. Family, friendships and past lives creates and interesting read - it will keep you on your toes until the very end. The only small problem is that it is far too short at only 226 pages and even then, some of these were taken up by a number of black and white illustrations. In my opinion, it needed to be 150 pages longer in order to really feed my appetite for this brilliant story. I'm really hoping for much more as part of another instalment. This story is really just starting the written journey. 

Please support this new author in town and also the smaller publisher company. You'll find that the hardback will look really nice on your bookshelves. If you do purchase a copy to read, then please leave a comment, as I love reading them. Bang. Bang. Bang. . . . Silence 

Book Guild Publishing, Published 28 March 2013 - ISBN 978 1 84624 877 1

Book Review: Fletcher Moss - The Poison Boy

I've been looking forward to reading this book ever since it won the 2012 Times Children's Fiction Award under the title of Sleepwell and Fly. It is now finally due to be published on the 4th April 2013 with an improved title of "The Poison Boy" - perhaps a more fitting and intriguing title.

The inspiration for this book came from a visit to Alnwick Castle and it's poisonous garden. Apparently this set the ball rolling for the authors very own adventure resulting in a culmination of hard work and sleepless nights. However, in order to get it to this very point in time it has definitely been worth it. In my humble opinion, it is a very worthy winner of the 2012 award and a book that I'm pleased to be able to speak so highly of. 

The first thing the author has specifically developed well are the characters which are both varied and particularly well written. The three main characters are believable. They're not just your average stereotypical characters that you would normally associate with this kind of story. Dalton Fly, food taster to the rich and powerful of Highlions, has a lucky escape after discovering poisoned wine. His side kick is Sal Sleepwell (one of Oscar's gang) whose specialty is mixing anti-venom and staying alive during the tough times. Finally, there's the female injection which is provided by the feisty Scarlet Dropmore, highborn girl, whose life is in danger from assassins. She is strong-headed and appears to be rather pleasing to the eye.

All three characters find themselves being thrown together by circumstance. They set off on a mission to find the answers to the mysterious times ahead and the poison murders of the city. The setting is very well depicted - it must have taken an immense amount of time to make it feel so original and authentic. It has been skilfully thought out - the imaginative qualities make it a little bit special whilst the poison boys deliver a dark edginess, which you all know that I'm very fond of. The use of interesting and imaginative vocabulary provides added flavour. It may help to read the glossary first 'The Language of Highlions' at the back of the book. 

This is a swashbuckling high adventure that will captivate readers on many levels. Although I did feel that the three main characters perhaps didn't come up against enough resistance towards the end of the book. Without giving too much away, it all appeared to fall too neatly into place, but nevertheless, it is still a good action-packed ending.

I really did enjoy reading this book. It's the sort of book that I would love to see on top of my reading pile everyday of the week. In my opinion, it is certainly one of the best original books that Chicken House has published in sometime. The ideas are unusual and the unique take on things makes it very captivating. It's gritty, dark and very engrossing to read from the very first page to the last. This is a great winner which certainly highlights Fletcher Moss as a talent of the future - definitely one to watch. I would recommend that you quickly grab a copy of this book, read it and then let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you all.  

Published By Chicken House - 4 April 2013 - ISBN: 978 1 908435 44 6


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mr Ripley's Highlighted New Books: Published April 2013 - UK Post Two

Gill Arbuthnott - Dark Spell - Published by Kelpies - 25 April, 2013
15-year-old Callie Hall has just found out she's a witch, and things keep going wrong. Sometimes her mind seems to make things happen, things she can't control. She can set fire to things without a match, and when she's angry people can get hurt. Her friend Josh understands she's a bit weird, but its only on a dark and dangerous visit to the tunnels under the ruins of St Andrews' castle that he realises just how strange she really is. Something comes back with Callie -- in Callie, something she can't escape. Can Callie control her power long enough to send back the darkness, before it takes over her life? And will Josh ever understand her secret? A brilliant, engrossing teen fantasy from the author of Winterbringers and The Keeper's Daughter.

Conrad Mason - The Goblin's Gift  - Published by David Fickling Books - 4 April, 2013
Joseph Grubb is the newest member of the Demon's Watch. He and his fellow watchmen protect Port Fayt, where humans live in peace alongside trolls, elves and fairies. And now the town needs them more than ever, because the almighty League of the Light has sent an armada to wipe it off the map.

Fayt's only hope is to persuade the magical merfolk to fight with them. But the merfolk won't go to war. Not unless their princess is returned to them from the clutches of the most dangerous nine-year-old in the Ebony Ocean.

It's up to Joseph and his friend Tabitha to rescue the mermaid princess . . . But a secret from Joseph's past is about to change everything.

Eoin Colfer - W.A.R.P - The Reluctant Assassin - Published by Puffin - 11 April, 2013
The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run.

Riley has been pulled into the FBI's covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.

Arnett Mindee - Nightmare Affair - Published by Tor Teen - 13 April, 2013
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a Nightmare. Literally. Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker's house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He's hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn't get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. Then Eli's dream comes true. Now Dusty has to follow the clues - both within Eli's dreams and out of them - to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she's up to and marks her as the next target.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Mr Ripley's Highlighted New Books: Published April 2013 - UK Post One


Julia Golding - Young Knights of the Round Table - Published By OUP Oxford,  4, April 2013

That's what Rick's been taught to believe by the Fey Folk who stole him. Taken to the magical realm of Avalon, he's been trained, alongside other kids like him, into an elite force of warriors. 

When rumours start that a new generation of knights are re-forming the Round Table to attack Avalon, the Fey entrust Rick with a mission: go to Earth, find the knights, and stop them.

Simple, right? Well, not exactly . . . No training could prepare him for the shock of being a modern teenager. And when he discovers that the Fey have been lying to him, Rick has to ask: if humans aren't the enemy-who is?


Gillian Cross - After Tomorrow - Published By OUP Oxford, 4 April 2013 

What if you woke up tomorrow and everything had changed? Money is worthless. Your friends are gone. Armed robbers roam the streets. No one is safe. For Matt and his little brother, Taco, that nightmare is a reality. Their only hope of survival is to escape through the Channel Tunnel. But danger waits on the other side...Stay or go. What would you do?

Martha Wells - Emilie and the Hollow World - Published By Strange Chemistry, 4 April 2013

While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.

Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.

With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.

Helen Grant - Silent Saturday: Forbidden Spaces Trilogy - Published By Bodley Head, 4, April 2013

Seventeen-year-old Veerle is bored with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement - and danger.

When one of the society's founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows... No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Book Review: House of Secrets By Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

Time flies when you're having fun! This time last year, I remember being excited by the prospect of this book and the subsequent dream collaboration between two great writing icons. The first writer being Chris Columbus, who has written and produced so many great classic household blockbusters, such as the first two Harry Potter films, Gremlins and one of my all time favourites, The Goonies. 

To add more excitement to the pot, he has teamed up with Ned Vizzini, the US bestselling author of young-adult books and screen programmes such as Teen Wolf and the ABC'S Last Resort. Last year, HarperCollins struck up a three book deal which created a great deal of discussion and conjured up a lot of eager anticipation. One year on, the first book has finally arrived and I certainly couldn't wait to read it.

This is the first in the series of the House Of Secrets to be published by HarperCollins. It will be hitting the bookshop shelves in late April. It's a very fast paced read and doesn't take long to hurtle through the 560 pages. From the offset, you uncover many secrets and mysteries - it's like an epic film script. There are some tasty glimpses of the pedigree of both writers who, at times, share slightly different visions. One writes in a film-like style, whilst the other writes in a more traditional storytelling way. At times, there might be too much emphasis on the big screen. Although, in my opinion, this will certainly be a forthcoming option for this book.

The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games . . . but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult. By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbours has sinister plans for them they're banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. 

The story begins with a mysterious start. It contains little bits of cheeky humour and some good story lines. However, in parts, a slightly darker flavour is perhaps needed to really get into the essence of the story. The characters, as a reader of 9 years and up, can easily be related to and the story concludes satisfyingly. However, there are a few negative elements to the story, in my opinion.

I felt that the story read like a mixture of different stories which, at times, all collided into one. The collaborative writing, to me, read like a jumble of ideas which were all thrown together. I have no doubt that this would work particular well as a film, but I struggled to make it work in my head. Therefore, it hindered the flow and spoilt the story in my opinion. I also felt that there was a distinct lack of voice from any one character - they really didn't stick in my memory and were easily replaced.

However, for a middle-age fantasy, this book ticks all of the right boxes and shows a lot of promise. It contains high adventure scenes, which share a similar theme to that of Pirates of the Caribbean. These are loaded with engaging action sequences that I particularly enjoyed. 

This book was an enjoyable read, but not as good as the hype. I was slightly disappointed, but I'm still looking forward to the next book in the series.          

HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks (25 April 2013)                                        

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


About the CILIP Carnegie Medal

The Carnegie Medal, awarded annually, was established in 1936, in memory of the Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919). A self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA, Carnegie's experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that "If ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries." He set up more than 2,800 libraries across the English speaking world and, by the time of his death, over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.

About the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her beautiful children's illustrations and designs, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013 shortlist in full:
  • The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan, Bloomsbury
  • A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle, Marion Lloyd Books
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Hot Key Books
  • In Darkness by Nick Lake, Bloomsbury
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Bodley Head
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, Indigo
  • A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton, David Fickling Books
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Electric Monkey

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2013 shortlist in full:
  • Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb, Macmillan Children's Books
  • Again! by Emily Gravett, Macmillan Children's Books
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton, Walker Books
  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, Walker Books
  • Pirates 'n' Pistols by Chris Mould, Hodder Children's Books
  • King Jack and the Dragon by Helen Oxenbury (illustrator) and Peter Bently (author), Puffin Books
  • Black Dog by Levi Pinfold, Templar Publishing
  • Just Ducks! by Salvatore Rubbino (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (author), Walker Books

The winners for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal will be announced on Wednesday 19th June 2013 at an afternoon ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library and the coveted golden medals. Since 2000, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal has also been awarded the £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Press Release: Michael Grant's - Gone Online Goes Virtual - Egmont Press

Gone Online 
A new online game based on Michael Grant’s GONE series for teens marks the sixth and final book

To celebrate the publication of LIGHT, the sixth and final book in Michael Grant’s bestselling GONE series, Egmont Press has created an online game, Gone Online, based on the books.  It launches today, Monday 11 March.
GONE was the first instalment in the epic teen series which has become hugely popular with teenagers internationally and has been lauded by Stephen King as ‘exciting, high-tension … told in a driving, torrential narrative that never lets up.’  Over 400,000 copies of the books have now been sold in the UK alone.

Gone Online can be played at over a six week period.  It draws on content from all five of the books so far and leads up to the much-anticipated publication of LIGHT, on 28 March.  Starting with four games at launch - Zeke Zap, Word Search, Hacker and a GONE quiz - there will be further games and challenges released on a weekly basis until the winner is announced. 
The object of the game is to score as many points as possible.  Highly addictive, the games are designed to challenge, infuriate and test your skills, and to get you completely hooked.  Some of the games will reward time and speed, others ability and knowledge of the books.  Using the latest in location-based marketing, players can pick up extra points by checking in with their smart phones at specific locations – bookshops or libraries.

The winner of the game - the highest scorer at the end of the six weeks - will win an Apple iPad and the chance to meet Michael Grant in a private capsule on the EDF Energy London Eye on 4 May.  Participation will also be rewarded with prizes along the way, including signed editions and book tokens as well as never-before-seen content such as extra chapters and video messages from the author.

Michael Grant comments, “If you’ve been reading the GONE series all along, you probably know that we have reached the end. I have to admit that I felt a bit sad typing the last sentence of LIGHT.  It seemed strange that I would no longer be spending quite as much time with the gang.  I was concerned that some of you, the true fans, might have a bit of withdrawal.  So now you can play the game, which is all about the GONE universe. You do have to read the books to play some of the games so I consider this gaming of the best kind.”  

Gone Online was created with the help of special think tanks –children from Horniman School in South London and Stoke Newington School in Hackney, East London.   Thirteen year-old Maliaka from Stoke Newington comments, “I love the different dilemmas and problems that the children have to go through to survive the FAYZ.  I am very excited about the idea of a game based on the series. It has been one of my favourite books to read so I can’t wait for the game.  I loved being involved with coming up with ideas for the game. It was really fun to get our heads together to make it as great as possible.  I spend any free time I have reading and I play games either with my family or friends. I love books and all the different characters and stories. It is like travelling through different worlds. ”

Mike Richards, Marketing Director at Egmont Press, comments, “We wanted to have some fun with the publication of LIGHT and give the fans of the series something challenging with a great prize – and it doesn’t come much better than being locked in a revolving glass pod with Michael Grant. Publishers are becoming more creative in the way that they connect authors with readers and I think this is a good example of that. I particularly like the element of the game that connects readers with bookshops via a physical check-in, which reinforces the idea that this is all about a game experience around Michael’s amazing novels, not for its own sake.

Gone Online is hosted on a dedicated website and can also be played on smart phones.  Players of any age can take part and you don’t have to be a fan of the books, but it will certainly help.
After the initial six week competition, fans of Gone Online can continue to play, though no prizes will be available.

About the series
The six books in the series, published by Egmont Press, are GONE (2008), HUNGER (2009), LIES (2010), PLAGUE (2011), FEAR (2012) and LIGHT (28 March 2013).
The story starts when everyone over the age of 15 disappears in the blink of an eye, leaving hundreds of children trapped in a Californian town encased by a mysterious, impenetrable dome.  Inside, it is a matter of survival.  With no adults there are no rules and somehow the physics of the universe as we know it have changed, causing some of the children to develop strange powers.

Michael Grant 
Michael Grant has always been fast-paced.  He’s lived in almost 50 different homes in 14 US states, and moved in with his wife, Katherine Applegate, after knowing her for less than 24 hours. His long list of previous occupations includes: law librarian, cartoonist, bowling alley mechanic, restaurant reviewer, waiter, documentary film producer and political media consultant.  
Michael and Katherine have co-authored more than 150 books, including the massive hit series Animorphs, which has sold more than 35 million copies. Working solo, Michael is the author of the internationally bestselling series GONE and the ground-breaking transmedia trilogy BZRK. Michael, Katherine and their two children live in the San Francisco Bay Area, not far from Silicon Valley. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Opera Group Presents The Firework Maker's Daughter By Philip Pullman


An explosive musical adventure based on the story by Philip Pullman 

Lila desperately wants to be a Firework-Maker like her father. But when he refuses to teach her, Lila runs away from home to discover the three gifts of firework making for herself. With the help of her friends, Chulak and Hamlet, the love-sick elephant, Lila faces pirates, tigers and the terrifying Fire-Fiend on her perilous quest. Will Lila find out what the three gifts really mean?

The Firework Maker's Daughter is a new opera by award-winning composer David Bruce and librettist Glyn Maxwell - based on the fairy-tale adventure by acclaimed children's author Philip Pullman. The show is on tour around the UK from 23 March - 1 June. 

Hull Truck - 23-26 March, Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield - 30 March 

For more dates and details visit 

Special offer! 
Random House are offering a 25% discount on copies of The Firework Maker's Daughter from 1st March until 30th June. This includes FREE postage and packaging within the UK! To buy your copy click Here . Use the promotional code OPERAGROUP2013 to claim your discount.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Book Review: W.A.R.P - The Reluctant Assassin By Eoin Colfer

This is certainly one of the most anticipated new books to be published this year. The great Irish storyteller, Eoin Colfer, has developed a new series. W.A.R.P, which is an acronym for Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme, is the title of this new and exciting series. The Reluctant Assassin is the very first book - it is very different from any other story that Eoin has previously written. This book will certainly reach out to a new fan base and entice many more readers to enter the world of Eoin Colfer.

There are some fantastic combinations in this story that will captivate the reader. It's a time travel adventure that's both steeped in conspiracy and intrigue. Partly set in Victorian London, but also within modern day London, the story weaves between the two eras. Riley, a Victorian boy, finds himself suddenly plucked from his own time and transported into the twenty-first century where he is accused of murder and on the run from his master. He finds help and friendship in Chevie, one of the youngest FBI agents, who is a very interesting and complex character. She's certainly one not to be trifled with at any cost!

Assassin-for-hire, Albert Garrick, is brilliantly written. He is one of the best characters that I've read in a long time. He serves up a nice slice of terror, which adds to the dark and delicious backdrop of 19th century London. He is fantastic to follow adding an edgy chill to the story which was quite unexpected and certainly created a new dimension to Eoin's writing. Riley and Chevie find themselves having to stay one step ahead of Garrick. They need to try and stop him from returning to his own time with the knowledge and power that could change the world forever.  

As Riley and Chevie are pursued through time, a great portal of imagination is created - Oliver Twist meets H G Wells 'The Time Machine' with a little added sprinkling of The Matrix. This story is told by a great storyteller - Eoin has definitely rocketed up in my favorite author's list. 

I'm sure that you'll fall in love with this book. I was definitely hooked on so many different levels. The sinister world of Otto Malarkey's den is mesmerising to read. This Hidey-Hole of hell is a place filled with bad-blooded people - thieves, cut-throats, wastrels and lifelong blaggers (all elite members of The Battering Rams) who bet and fight their lives away. A new world has been created which is full of nasty characters written in a slightly disturbing and graphic nature.

This is certainly one of my best reads so far this year. This story is full of Eoin's trademark wit. It is a swashbuckling high adventure which is full of magic. It will certainly transport you to the fantasy world that Eoin Colfer has brilliantly depicted. This is a book that will gain many a new follower and, perhaps, a slightly older reader. Packed full of action, original ideas and, with a laugh or two along the way, this book is a sure fire winner. I know that my followers will be itching to read this book and they will not be disappointed. Due to be published by Puffin from early April onwards, this new series delivers so much in the very first book. 


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Book Review: Andrew Beasley - The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Claws of Evil - Book Review


This striking book cover has been illustrated by David Wyatt. I am a huge fan of David's work - back in June he did a post on his blog "Angels (Over London) and Demons (with rollerskates)" where he showcased this particular debut book cover image. Ever since then, I have been really excited to read this book. Just looking at the illustrations and images made me want to plunge straight into the book. Therefore, I was delighted to finally get the chance to read it this week.....

The pace in which the story is told is phenomenal, with a blink of an eye you're soon in the thick of it. It's 1891 and London is at war. It's an underground and overground battle between good and evil. A ragtag band of orphans and spies, known as the Watchers, are the protectors of the city. Whereas high up in the roof tops, the Legion are a ruthless gang of cut-throat thieves. Lurking around every street corner, they can be heard plotting to unleash the darkest forces of HELL. 

The main character in this story is Ben Kingdom, a street urchin and a loner, who is cocky by nature. However, when a mysterious coin falls into his hands he is flung into the midst of an ancient battle where the fate of the rest of the world rests with him. The coin yields a strange and mysterious power, which at times clouds Ben's judgment . However, it makes for good reading and creates some interesting twists.  

This is a great urban fantasy story full of well-depicted characters including the mysterious Weeping Man, the blind Jago Moon and the evil, power-crazed Professor James Claw Carter. Never mind the host of secondary characters whom you will also enjoy meeting. My favourite being The Feathered Men - killing machines who are part-man and part-bird with a lust for blood. They hide in the chambers of the subterranean world of Under - the secret realm of tunnels and catacombs that the Legion call home. They introduce a slice of the unknown to the book. An element of uncertainty and a heightened sense of fear, which I really loved and would like to see more of in the next book.

The only slightly negative aspect that I have to say about the book involves the ending, which I found somewhat predictable although action packed. Nevertheless, this is an enthralling start to a series for the 9+ age range which children will be able to relate to and enjoy. Andrew's debut book puts fantasy back on the map this year. It is certainly a book that the publishers can be proud of publishing. 

The next battle, The Feast of Ravens, will be flying by a bookshelf near to you in September. I, for one, am really looking forward to that.

If you would like to read the first chapter click Here