Tuesday, 7 December 2010

+++The 12 Deaths of Christmas Blog Tour+++


On the first day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me 
A corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the second day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Two werewolves howling
And a corpse hanging from a 
pear tree. 

We all have something to sing about this Christmas - yes, it's the 12 Deaths of Christmas blog tour.  This has been a fantastic opportunity to ask some searching questions to some of the UK's finest horror genre writers. These feature some of my favourite authors - they continue to prove their worthy talent. So have a merry knees up as we post (each day) a new verse of the merry Jig. Could this be the new 2010 Christmas no.1? 

In less then 150 words how would you describe yourself, as a character, to be portrayed within one of your books? 

“The fat writer’s corpse was a banquet of mince and jelly, teeth marks gnawed into the few bones that remained. It was spread over the table like breakfast, the skull a breadbasket littered with grey crumbs, the ribs a toast rack in which only meagre crusts were still propped, the intestines unpicked and unravelled as if by a fastidious hand, some fussy eater. Moans rose up from the figures who crowded around it, their contentment unquestionable. Those who had feasted here today had feasted well. Even the appetites of the dead could be sated.”
A reclusive writer with clichéd hermit-like habits, and as many cats as will fit in the house, who spends most of her time hunched up over a keyboard, griping at anyone who interrupts her work. An eccentric oddball of a person who drinks too much Red Bull, and probably spends too much time in a make-believe world with make-believe people.
I have a Hitchcock-style cameo role in Crawlers. Look for "A big, bespectacled, balding man dressed in black" on page 35: I think 150 words is about as long as I last before they get me!

“The last thing Dave saw, as he opened the fridge to reach for the last of the beers hiding at the back behind the bowl of half-eaten shepherd’s pie, was the reflection in the window of a mouth. It was as wide as he was tall, laced with teeth, and at its very pit, where a throat should’ve been, was a spinning vortex of broken bodies, limbs and flesh. He reached for the beer. Then died. Horribly.”

Steve looked out across the snow-covered street and imagined the Christmas shoppers scattering in panic as they spotted the creatures coming down the street towards them. Bags rammed full of gifts were abandoned, instantly forgotten as the people fled in panic, their screams penetrating the glass window through which the writer observed them. The author smiled as a man fell to the ground. He watched as the shopper struggled to get up again, his feet unable to gain any purchase on the slippery ground. The man looked over his shoulder, his eyes widening in horror. The white snow was quickly turned a sinister red. Steve sipped his coffee, and wondered if he should order another. Things were working out 
nicely today.

The stark desk-light shone off the shining dome of Sarwat’s head. His dark brows furrowed with confusion as he rested his slim, long fingers over the keyboard. The entire posture was one of slumped despair, head low and back bent as though the words trapped inside him were weighing him down. If only they could be released! Gloomy shadows clustered at his shoulders. He glanced back towards the window, to stare at the black, spindly branches trying to claw their way in. The trees creaked, black, malevolent spirits that cackled at him, patient, yet eager, for that moment when the window would open and all the spites that had tormented him for so long would finally overwhelm him.Sarwat turned back to the empty page, as white as a shroud.

I’m too dull to be in one of my books! But it’s true that Jake Harker inWitchfinder has many of my childhood traits – he loves horror comics and writing. However, Jake’s much braver than me, and I’m not sure I’d like to share his destiny…
An old curmudgeon who lives in a run-down shack on the edge of a haunted marsh. Always grumbling and griping about people bothering him but secretly likes company and comes alive when talking to others. Can pick up a fair lick of speed when running and shows stamina but actually stays calm under fire and proves loyal when the dark things come lurching around the corner. Oh, loves a cup of tea or a beer, hates the cold.

I would like to thank our leader Sarwat, for arranging the blog tour, and all the time and effort he has put in to enable this to take place.
Next stop on the blog tour is  - Narratively Speaking 


Sunday, 5 December 2010

+++Christmas Singalong From The Merry Chainsaw Gang - Blog Tour+++

Starting on Monday, and over the next 12 days, we'll be releasing a verse a day, which a major brainstorming of the members of the Chainsaw Gang. The idea is that each blogger asked whatever they wanted, and we gave them the answers as best we could.
It'll be a chance to delve into the twisted minds of Alex Bell, Alex Gordon Smith, David Gatward, Sam Enthoven, Sarwat Chadda, Steve Feasey, Jon Mayhew, Stephen Deas and Sarah Silverwood. The questions range widely from writing techniques to personal hygiene habits!
It kicks off tomorrow at My Favourite Books and will then be infesting the blogsphere like the bubonic plague!
Tues is  Me
Wedsneday will be Narratively Speaking.
Thurs at Wondrous Reads
Friday at BookZone.
Saturday at BookGazing.
Sunday at  BookGazing.
Monday at BookZone.
Tuesday at Wondrous Reads

Happy Singing and a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ally Kennen - Quarry - Book Review


I Dare U 2 Kill Something.......................

When he receives anonymous texts challenging him to bizarre dares, Scrappy's sure one of his mates is having a laugh. Anyway, his confusing teenage life just got more exciting. But the unknow sender cannot be a friend - and the challenges become increasingly dangerous. Someone knows all the secrets of Scrappy's troubled family - and is luring him into a deadly trap ..

This is the fifth book to be published by Ally - another gritty portrait of teenage life portrayed through intense family and social emotions. Eventually though, events get out of hand.  

The story is told through the eyes of Scrappy, a teenage boy, in his final year of school. His family life is complicated as he spends most of his time looking after his Grandad. However, some of Scrappy's best moments come from the time he spends with his Grandad, tinkering around in a Fokker 27 aeroplane, which has found it's way into their scrapyard. This book is full of significantly poignant family moments, which are skilfully written and had me hooked. Such 'reality' books don't tend to appeal to me, but in this case, I really loved the storyline and everything wrapped up in this.

The story turns into a nail-biting thriller when Scrappy is sent text messages from an anonymous person. He's challenged to become involved in things that could be the undoing of him. This makes for interesting reading as the dares become more dangerous and personal. The ending is a shock and totally unexpected. 

The author has a creative skill that draws the reader into the world of the characters. So if, like me, you haven't read any of Ally's other books, then I would recommend reading them just on the strength of this book. Especially as they have been so well received and nominated for prestigious awards. 

Thanks to Scholastic for sending this book to me.

If you have read any of Ally's books then please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Author Biography:
  • Beast - 2006
  • Berserk - 2007
  • Bedlam - 2009
  • Sparks - 2010
  • Quarry - 2010  
  • All books published by Marion Lloyd for Scholastic Children's books.

About The Author
Ally Kennen comes from a proud lineage of bare-knuckle boxers, country vicars and French aristocracy. Prior to becoming a writer she has worked as an archaeologist, a giant teddy bear and a professional singer and songwriter.

Her first novel BEAST, published in 2006, was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Carneige Medal and won the 2007 Manchester Book Award. her second novel BERSERK won the North East Teenage Book Award and the Leicester Book of the Year Award 2008.

    Friday, 3 December 2010

    The Chainsaw Gang - The Author's List Of Merry Death - PART 2

    US Cover of Devil's Kiss which is out in September 2009.

    Sarwat Chadda He is the leader of the merry gang - a mischief maker and a story fibber, who lives in a cave writing. He's known for his famous books 'Devil's Kiss' and 'Dark Goddess' which are the product of his dark mind.

    Alex Bell is an escaped law student, and a collector of big dogs, neurotic cats, and crazy hats. She dislikes the heroic, selfless, goody-two-shoes heroes of recent YA fiction, and far prefers anti-heroes who lie, cheat, swindle and steal all the way to the top. Her young adult Lex Trent books are about a teenage thief, conman and adventurer; battling monsters, chasing treasure, breaking all the rules – and getting away with it.

    book cover of 

The Double-edged Sword 

 (Nowhere Chronicles, book 1)


Sarah Silverwood Sarah Silverwood lives and writes in Buckinghamshire, England. She has had a lot of jobs – some of which were mind-numbingly dull and some of which definitely weren’t – but has decided that writing books is by far the best of them. She has a cat instead of a husband and children, because apparently the latter get irritable if you take off for a few days’ adventure without warning. A cat is likely to sleep through it. Most of the time she can be found somewhere in her own imagination. She likes it in there.

    book cover of 

The Thief-Taker's Apprentice 

 (Thief-Taker's Apprentice, book 1)


Stephen Deas
    You know when dragons used to go round burning villages, terrorizing nations and eating maidens? Before they became donkey rides? Would Smaug have worn a saddle? I think not. Stephen Deas is about the old-school dragons, maintaining the Chainsaw Gang's mission statement to give you MONSTERS. If it was good enough for your grand-pa it's good enough for you.

    The Chainsaw Gang - The Author's List Of Merry Death - PART 1

    Steve Feasey. You can never, ever, ever, have enough werewolves. Throw in djinns, vampires and sorcerors and frankly I'm amazed you're not reading his Changeling series right now. In fact, what are you doing on this blog? A love of werewolves is a pre-requisite!

    UK Cover

    For ten years Sam Enthoven worked as a part-time bookseller in London's Charing Cross Road, living mostly (by necessity) off instant noodles while honing his skills as a writer of fantastical action thrillers for eleven to fifteen year olds. To his great glee and delight in September 2006 his authorial dreams came true when his debut novel THE BLACK TATTOO was published by Random House Children's Books. In January 2008 his second book TIM, DEFENDER OF THE EARTH was released and a third, CRAWLERS, is (as of April 2010) 

    Contrary to popular myth, William Hussey was born on Planet Earth – more precisely in the London Borough of Hounslow. He spent the first year of his life roaming around the country with a travelling fairground, though his memories of this time are vague. The Hussey family have been touring with fairgrounds and circuses for centuries and, in the 1800s, William’s great-grandfather had the honour of meeting the legendary Elephant Man!
                        Alexander Gordon Smith is the author of seven novels for children and young adults. The first, The Inventors, was co-written by his then nine-year-old brother Jamie, who researched the book by testing out dozens of extremely dangerous inventions on Gordon. It was shortlisted for the Wow Factor Award, and the sequel – The Inventors and the City of Stolen Souls – came out in 2008. His latest series is called Furnace, and is about a fourteen-year-old thief who is sent to a prison full of monsters. Reviewers unanimously agree that the five books are terrifying, and when discussing foreign rights markets Gordon's agent once told him that "it's too scary, we'll never sell it."

    You don't have to be called Alex to be part of the Chainsaw, but it helps. Alex Milway is a writer, and illustrator, designer (the logo up top is his idea) and all round decent human being. I don't know why he wants to hang out with us but he writes about yetis and that's good enough for me.

    David Gatward is the author of the gruesome and bestselling Dead saga. Basically, we're talking zombies. What more do you need to know?

     Jon Mayhew.Try as I might the guy just pops up everywhere! They said he was a legend, but we sadly now know the truth. He lives and walks among us! Irritatingly talented he's written the completely awesome Mortlock. Spooks. Demons. Knive-throwing heroines (we really like those, more please). Enter dark, 

    Monday, 29 November 2010

    Mr Ripleys Book Cover Wars Final 2010 - Plus Competition Giveaway

    This is the big final for the book cover wars for 2010 - are you ready to vote?

    Over the last four weeks, different author's have battled for their book covers to be voted into the grand final. As a result, we now have four worthy winners who have the chance to be crowned with the title 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted book cover of the year'. So without any further waiting, let the final battle commence . . . . 

    A big thanks to all the authors who have got behind their own book cover and the enjoyable banter we have had with you all. Thanks to everyone for all your votes - over 2000 votes (over the four heats) have been cast! An amazing response that has kept me on my toes with anticipation . . . 

    As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your final favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a £20 Waterstone's Giftcard. Enough to buy some special books or treats for yourself this Christmas.

    All you need to do is:
    • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top of the page)
    • Leave a comment through this post 
    • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed)
    • U.K Only

    Book One - Curtis Jobling - Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf - Published By Puffin 2011


    Book Two - Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson - The Familiars - Published By HarperCollins - U.S Cover - 2010

    Book Three - Darren Shan - The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Birth of a Killer - Published By HarperCollins - 2010

    Book Four - Barry Hutchison - Invisible Fiends: The Crowmaster - Published By HarperCollins 2011

    Saturday, 27 November 2010

    Robin Jarvis - Dancing Jax - Book Review

    book cover of 

Dancing Jax 

 (Intrigues of The Reflected Realm, book 2)


Robin Jarvis
    For many years now, the man from Liverpool has been captivating his audience with such great stories. I've loved all of the tales that he has spun featuring both anthropomorphic rodents, and of course, other small mammals - all having fantastical adventures. It has actually been two years since his last publication. However, he returns with a spell-bounding tale, which I can guarantee will have you on the edge of your seats.

    Dancing Jax is like nothing Robin has written so far and therefore, I found it refreshingly original. The first part of the book draws you into the world of the characters, who are all going about their normal daily lives. The author relays this aspect of the story well and bases the build-up on subjects that all readers will relate to. It fully immerses and engages the reader in up-to-date and current life topics.

    Now, a group of teenagers have decided to hang out in the old haunted house. Dismissing the fears of the others, their leader Jezza goes down into the basement… and comes back up with a children’s book, full of strange and colourful tales of a playing-card world, a fairytale world, full of Jacks, Queens and Kings, unicorns and wolves.

    From this point onwards, the story takes a strange turn of events - unfolding and inflating into a horror-like bubble. The evil is spread through the power of reading........

    But the book is no fairytale. Written by Austerly Fellows, a mysterious turn-of-the-century occultist, it just might be the gateway to something terrifying…and awfully final. As the children and teenagers of the town are swept up by its terrible power, swept into its seductive world, something has begun that could usher in hell on earth.

    The book takes on the role of a split story - reality meets cult-fantasy as the main characters become hooked on the book, transporting them into the strange and sinister world of the court. A place where every card has a story to tell, which is lifted straight off the page. It's one of the most memorable and unusual reads of the year. A high octane bang to rival the best rocket on Fireworks Evening. . . . a sparkler of teenage literary delight

    Friday, 26 November 2010

    Book Choice For December 2010

                                House of Wolves
    There's not a great deal in the way of book releases during December, so here are two book picks that I am looking forward to seeing in my festive stocking. 

    Alex Halpern - House Of Wolves - Published By Hirst Publishing -  1 December 2010
    "Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Nobody to save them." An ordinary weekend, and the Barrow family are taken on an incredible hiking trip through Dilas Forest by their father Adrian, much to their great dislike. But there is something abnormal occuring, something which Adrian isn't telling them about. And as they wander on through the wilderness of trees and undergrowth, a series of strange unexplainable events begin to occur, causing the Barrow family begin to wonder that something disturbingly sinister is happening within the sea of trees. And as night falls, the family themselves fall victim to a much darker presence, watching...and waiting.


    Brandon Sanderson - Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens - Published Scholastic - U.S 
    Mokia is under siege by Librarian forces, and who will step up to defend the capital? The rest of the Free Kingdomers think it's hopeless and won't go, but Alcatraz is too stoopid not to.
    This is part four of his story. Otherwise known as "The part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich."

    Friday, 19 November 2010

    Michelle Lovric - The Mourning Emporium - Book Review

    The Mourning Emporium
    Two summers ago, Venice was dying and an 11-year-old girl made her first (so she thought) visit to the city where she instantly felt she belonged. Teodora, it transpired, was the undrowned child, destined to save Venice from its long-standing enemy, Bajamonte Tiepolo, the traitor. According to a long ago prophecy, Teo and Renzo (the studious son) were the only people equipped to defeat the baddened magic that the traitor brought to the stricken city. But they couldn't kill him - and so, subdued, but bitter, he returned to his shadowy existence. Now he's back. And in need of a new army, he sets his sights on London - which is weak with mourning the death of the Queen, Victoria. Teo and Renzo find themselves on board a ship for orphans whose course seems mysteriously set for London. Once again, destiny brings them face to face with their enemy, who will stop at nothing to destroy not only London and Venice but the children at the heart of the prophecy that binds him to his failure.

    This is the second book from the acclaimed debut novelist, who wrote 'The Undrowned Child', last year. The historical features and elements of Venice are clearly introduced at the beginning of this story. Every page turned pieces together yet another pictorial aspect of this great city and creates a lasting impression. In fact the more you read, the more you want to visit and explore this great wonder of a city. The historical detail, threaded throughout the story, creates a unique and rich back drop for the introduction of a number of wonderful and crazy characters.

    Starting off on a roller-coaster ride of words, the author has the amazing ability to tell a story with a poetic voice. Sometimes she invents intriguing new words or accents, in order to fit the characters profile, which I really liked and found interesting.  Elements of the story are purely fantastical, with just a hint of truth to blend the story together.

    The most memorable part for me included the characters Bajamonte Tiepolo and Miss Uish, who are the haunted and sinister plotters of evil - insatiable reading which had me hooked.  I only have one slight niggle about the ending. After the action-packed outcome, I felt the story went a little limp and ended up dragging its heels a bit.

    This is a book to be enjoyed by lovers of great fictional writing. It has a lot going on from ghosts to talking animals and mermaids to blood-sucking leeches. Never mind the torture, battles and frolics to be found on the high sea. The author has made good use of her personal knowledge of both London and Venice to lift this adventure - infusing it with charm and character that you don't always find. This should surely tempt you to get your hands on a copy of this book.

    I would love to hear your comments about this book.