Friday, 15 July 2011

Golems, Ghosts And Daemons Are Shortlisted For The Kelpies Prize 2011

A golem on Corstorphine Hill, mermaids lost in the Clyde and daemons on the loose in Edinburgh Parallel are just some of the problems faced in the three unpublished children's novels shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2011.
Edinburgh-based publisher Floris Books today announces the shortlist for the Kelpies Prize 2011. The annual prize is for previously unpublished works of fiction, set in contemporary Scotland and suitable for children aged 8 to 12. Since the end of February deadline, judges have been busy reading their way through a large number of manuscripts to decide on the final three.
The 2011 shortlist (in alphabetical order) is:

How to Make a Golem (and Terrify People) by Alette J. Willis
“You think you’re a fairy godmother or something?” I asked. “Or something,” Michael agreed.
Edda is tired of her nickname, “Mouse”, and wants to be braver. But when her house is burgled on her twelfth birthday, Edda is more afraid than ever. That is until new boy Michael Scot starts school. There’s something peculiar — and very annoying — about know-it-all Michael. He claims to be a great alchemist who can help Edda overcome her fears by teaching her to build a golem. But surely they can’t bring a giant mud monster to life? Can they?
Alette J. Willis was born in Britain but brought up and educated in Canada. She and her husband returned to Edinburgh three years ago. After gaining success writing short stories for adults, she returned to her first love, children’s fiction. For the past two years she has volunteered as a Talking Trees Storyteller at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. She currently works at Edinburgh University as a teaching fellow and researcher.

The Really Weird Removals Company by Daniela Sacerdoti
“Come on children,” whispers Alistair. “Come and meet Camilla.” “Is she your daughter?” “Not exactly. Just a ghost I know.”
Luca has never met his Uncle Alistair before; in fact, he didn’t even know he had an uncle. But as soon as Alistair arrives on the tiny island of Eilean, Luca and his sister Valentina notice a strange shadow perched on Alistair’s shoulder. It turns out to be Camilla, a ghost their uncle has rescued. Uncle Alistair is a supernatural investigator, an expert in warding off feisty fairies, capturing stray trolls, and rescuing mermaids lost in the River Clyde. Whatever your supernatural problem, Alistair has a solution. When he sees that Luca and Valentina share his gift, he invites them to join his new venture, the Really Weird Removals Company.
Daniela Sacerdoti is Italian but moved to Scotland ten years ago. She lives with her husband and sons, and loves Scotland so much she considers herself “adopted”. Daniela has studied at the University of Turin and Strathclyde University. She has been writing, for both adults and children, since she can remember.

The Resurrection Spell by Roy Gill
It was over coffee and biscuits that Grandma Ives offered to return Cameron’s father from the dead...
Cameron’s dad never took him to visit his Grandma Ives — and he’s just found out why! Living with her after his dad’s death, Grandma Ives soon reveals their family’s extraordinary abilities, and introduces Cameron to the Daemon Parallel — the dark and dangerous side of Edinburgh he never knew existed. When Grandma Ives reveals they could use an ancient spell to bring his dad back to live, Cameron enters the deadly daemon underworld to find the spell’s vital ingredients. On this terrifying adventure, Cameron befriends a werewolf, bargains with a giant bat-like time eater, and struggles to escape the clutches of a powerful spider daemon. But will he survive long enough to finish the resurrection spell? And who can he trust in a world where nothing is what it seems?
Roy Gill was born in Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner, and an increasing number of bookshelves. In 2008, having completed Glasgow University’s Creative Writing MLitt, he was shortlisted for the Sceptre Prize for best work-in-progress manuscript. In 2009/10 he was the winner of a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust.

The winner of the Kelpies Prize 2011 will be announced at a ceremony at the Writers Retreat in the Edinburgh International Book Festival enclosure on Thursday 18 August 2011. The winning author will receive a £2,000 cash prize and have their book published in the Kelpies imprint before the end of the year.
This year, the prize will be presented by Scottish children's author, Lari Don. Lari's debut novel First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts won the Royal Mail Award for Younger Readers (8–11 years). She has since written three other children's novels and two picture books for Floris Books. Lari is sure to be an inspiration for the shortlisted authors.

The three shortlisted authors couldn't be more different. Canadian-educated Alette Willis' entry involves a golem who lives on Corstorphine Hill. Italian Daniela Sacerdoti delves into the supernatural as her characters investigate mermaids, selkies, ghosts and fairies trapped in our world. Edinburgh-born Roy Gill, meanwhile, attempts to bring back the dead...

Floris Books is confident that this year's winner will be just as popular as previous Kelpies Prize success stories, such as Caroline Clough who won the Kelpies Prize 2010 with her novel, Red Fever.
Sally Polson, Commissioning Editor for Floris Books, comments: "We have thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries for this year's Kelpies Prize. They've been packed with original ideas and extraordinary characters, and the standard of writing has been higher than ever before. The prize presents a wonderful opportunity for discovering talented new authors, who we can then support in forging successful writing careers."

To discover some great books published by Floris/Kelpies check out the site.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tom Percival - Find out more about 'A Home for Mr Tipps' - Book Trailer

This is the book trailer for the forth coming picture book by Tom Percival. The talented author/illustrator last outing was with the wonderful picture book "Tobias and the Super Spooky Ghost" Book. It's a really good book trailer and the sound track to go with it is really catchy,which was all done by Tom himself.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Philip G Bell - The Elfin Child Bk 1 - One To Watch

I have been informed that this book should be available soon in the UK, although it is already available on the Kindle. The paperback form is also available in the US from CreatesSpace the publisher. What a great eye catching book cover that has been designed by the talented illustrator/graphic designer from Brazil, Marcos Porto. For more details check out Philips website.

This is a fantasy story about an 11-year old boy living in late 1950's London and after a prolonged period of illness aggravated by London Smog, he is sent to spend his summer holidays with an Aunt who lives in the countryside. Whilst enjoying a quiet time playing in a nearby wood, he encounters an Elfin Child. He is soon drawn into a parallel world where his own world's time is almost stationary. He discovers that the Elfin Race are threatened by dark forces led by Voros of the Bogenvalk. Prophecy had foretold that only a human child will save the Elves and the Elfin Child was tasked with finding one. Join their quest as they travel through mysterious lands and meet strange characters and creatures. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Jeyn Roberts - Dark Inside - Book Review


  • Pages - 362
  • Published by Macmillan Children's 
  • Date - 2 September 2011
  • Age 13+
  • Isbn - 978 0 230 75618 2

This is a debut book by the multi-talented lady who grow up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada and started writing at an early age. She also played in an alternative/punk band called Missing Mile before moving to England.

Some time ago, I had the chance to read a small slice of this book before it even found the light of day with the publishers. However, one year later and with some changes, this book is now finally ready to be published within the UK on the 2nd of September. It will then move to be published within the US. 

Listening carefully to people within the publishing industry, I have heard great comments being made about this book. Comments which indicate that this is a brilliant book to read as it is grippingly tense and scary. 

I haven't enjoyed a book so much since Charlie Higson's 'The Enemy'. Interestingly, there are a number of comparisons that can be made between both books. For example, they are both played out through the eyes of teenagers and an apocalypse is depicted through both stories. However, it is the fight for survival that is really the compelling driving force. Whilst full of action and scary moments, no zombies can be found in this story, just Baggers who are crazy, infected humans who have tiny little voices in their heads. Their role is to kill and cleanse the worlds of humans.

Apparently, the story came to the author as tiny little dreams. She then pieced them together to make one big dream about the end of the world. Therefore, four split stories find themselves being woven and merged into the plot through four teenagers, who battle through North America. They find themselves on a long and emotional trail of death and destruction in a final attempt to save both humanity and each other.

This book is the best thing that I have read so far this year. Whilst I loved it, I do recognise that it is not a particularly happy read. It is an emotional roller coaster that pulls at the heart strings. It holds no punches, particularly through some of the graphic detail and information that it shares, which each reader can interpret in many ways. 

The characters are very well written - each displaying and uncovering their own personal thoughts and emotions to actions and situations. This certainly gives added suspense and tension to the storyline.
This is a non-stop action thriller - it is full of rage, hope and survival. With Baggers around every corner, waiting to kill, you wouldn't be wrong to think that the world has finally gone mad. This story will never let you go as no-one can be trusted and nightmares are a reality. 

I highly recommend this book. With a sequel to look forward to in the future, this story has only just begun. . . . .


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Panama Oxridge - "THYME RUNNING OUT" - Book launch Details October 2011


The second part of the Tartan of Thyme - ďThyme Running OutĒ
will be published on October 1st 2011.

However, the TRO book-launch event will be held on Saturday
the 10th of September at the 
Cotswold Bookstore.
Signed & dated copies of ďThyme Running OutĒ will be available,
(almost 3 weeks ahead of the official release date), along with
signed copies of ďJustin Thyme (both hardback and paperback).

If you are unable to attend but would still like a signed copy of
TRO, the nice people at the Cotswold Bookstore are willing to take
orders, and then mail copies out straight after the event so you
will still get your book ahead of the release date.

They can be contacted at:
20 High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 0AF.
Their telephone number is: 01608 - 652666
Or you can email them at
Meanwhile, the most up-to-date details regarding ďThyme
Running OutĒ and the launch event can always be found at
Tartan of Thyme Blog.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Book Review

  • Pages - 352
  • Published by Quirk Books
  • Date - 7 June 2011
  • Age 10+
  • Isbn - 978-159744761
It's been a very long time since such a book has specifically been brought to my attention, not only through the telling of a great imaginative story, but actually through the physicality of the book itself. Unfortunately, the more that reading trends advance the more the likelihood that the physical hardback will be unavailable. Especially, as we are now in the digital era of e-books - I find it such a great shame. Therefore, to find this book being published with such care, thought and attention really caught my eye. 

The cinematic charm of the vintage photographs throughout the book really made the story come alive. The reader is able to imagine from the very start what the story entails. However, you never actually know until you turn that very first page and find the voice inside.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I think that the best way to sum up this book is indeed "peculiar", but not in the way the author was meaning. The vision of this story is like no other story that you'll have read before. In fact, it may not be seen again until the next book in this series. In a world that has so many books, some of which lack originality or a unique voice, such uniqueness is refreshing. 

As I've already mentioned, I was sucked into the charm of this book through the book cover. However, the book delivered so much more that I anticipated once the story was finally told. The voice of each character instantly transported me into my own subconscious mind as the story flutters on the wonderfully weird and strange. It left me flipping the pages until there were no more left to turn. However, many more questions were left unanswered by the end.

The book takes you from the reality of a mundane life in America to a fantasy story based around a mysterious island in Wales. Many spine-tingling moments, with interesting outcomes and an emotional trail of the past and the present, produce some very good reading moments. There are many thought provoking moments along the way and friendship bonds with people who all share something in common. 

This book is a really good read for everyone, it might not be what you would expect  but it definitely not be one that you will forget. This is a great debut book with, I believe, film potential.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Alyxandra Harvey Haunting Violet - Competition - Bloomsbury


The wonderful Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey is out today! To celebrate we are offering one lucky winner the opportunity to win an incredible iPad 2, along with a signed copy and goody bag for 10 runners up. Head to the Facebook page to find out how to enter:

Sunday, 3 July 2011

++++ Three Good Books Published in the US in July 2011 ++++

book cover of 

The Wizard of Dark Street 


Shawn Thomas Odyssey
Shawn Thomas Odyssey - The Wizard of Dark - Published by Egmont - 26 July 2011

Oona Crate was born to be the Wizard’s apprentice, but she has another destiny in mind.

Despite possessing the rare gift of natural magic, Oona wants to be a detective. Eager for a case to prove herself, she wants to show her uncle—the Wizard of Dark Street—that logic is as powerful as magic. But when someone attacks the Wizard, Oona must delve even deeper into the world of magic to discover who wanted her uncle dead.

Full of magic, odd characters, evil henchmen, and a street where nothing is normal, 
The Wizard of Dark Street will have you guessing until the very end.
Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.
Sheela Chari - Vanished - Published by Hyperion - 26 July 2011 
When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?
Gillian Neimark - The Secret Spiral - Published by Aladdin - 26 July 2011
It’s just another boring Wednesday in May for ten-year-old Flor Bernoulli of Brooklyn, New York. As soon as school is out she hurries to the popular Sky High Pie Shop down the block, owned by the wonderfully mysterious Dr. Pi. But when she gets there, her life changes forever. Dr. Pi reveals he is actually an ancient wizard, in charge of a very special cosmic fire that keeps nature in balance. Without him, every single thing that has the shape of a spiral—from seashells to galaxies to the inside of your ear—will cease to exist. Flor wonders if Dr. Pi has lost his mind, but then two tall blond strangers from another planet show up, hoping to steal Dr. Pi’s fire for themselves. The adventure of a lifetime has begun. As she travels in time and travels in space, Flor learns that only she has the magic to help Dr. Pi protect the fire, save the spiral, and keep the world spinning just as it should.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cornelia Funke - Who is Jacob Reckless - Blog Tour Post

File:Reckless funke.jpg

Welcome to Cornelia Funke's blog tour for the release of Reckless in paperback. Having read this book nearly a year ago, I would suggest that if you haven't already read this book then you should certainly put it on your summer booklist. To find out more then why not view my book review . . . . . 

I would like to send a big thank you to Cornelia for finding time to write this post and to Tina at Chicken House for arranging this event. I hope you enjoy reading about and finding out more about Jacob Reckless.

Who is Jacob Reckless?

Well, I guess first of all Jacob would say that it’s a stupid question and next, that it’s nobody’s business.

But – as I irritate him anyway by sending him off on impossible and sometimes lethal adventures – I will nevertheless try the answer.

Jacob is what I often wish I could be (and I guess that’s true of most of us). He doesn’t think too much, he acts. He is completely fearless (with some exceptions that surprise him as much as they surprised me). He is quite selfish and not very responsible. In fact, he manages to run away from responsibilities and duties quite successfully most of the time, which gives him a freedom we all, from time to time, desire. But Jacob is less selfish than he thinks he is. He is actually the friend you’d like to have by your side when you’re meeting a ruthless Goyle or man-eating witches. Jacob will save you … while pretending he is terribly annoyed that he had to.

He is a hero who doesn’t give a damn about being a hero. Jacob is not interested in medals. He only fights for his own cause or for a friend or brother. He is not very interested in money and is definitely not interested in power – which is something I like about him very much. I hope he’ll get better at considering the consequences of his actions though. He has found some powerful treasures and not thought enough about what the people he has sold them to will use them for.

I sometimes wish that he would use all that strength and courage for a better cause but, on the other hand, we all know how difficult it is to decide what that better cause should be. Nevertheless…  he may have to start thinking a bit more – oh, I see him frowning! Yes, Jacob, I still know more about your story than you do

So… Heroes… What is a hero anyway? Someone who does something truly unselfish and risks his own wellbeing to help or rescue others? Yes… but, quite often, heroes are used by those in power to achieve goals that don’t deserve their heroism. In our world I believe the greatest heroes are often those without the guns. It takes far more courage to fight the darkness of our world without the comforting reassurance of a weapon. But because we know that, and because we wish we could erase evil with a bullet, we sometimes love to slip inside the skin of someone like Jacob who doesn’t even think about good or evil, who doesn’t even try to save the world but suddenly finds himself doing it anyway. And has fun doing it!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Graham Brown - The Mayan Conspiracy - Book Review

  • Pages 528
  • Published By Ebury Press
  • Date - 23 June 2011
  • Age 13+
  • Isbn 978-0091943080
A coveted treasure. A perilous mission. A dangerous secret that could change the world...

Former CIA-agent Hawker has been black flagged by his own government andInterpol and the State department have issued a warrant for his arrest. All Hawker wants to do is find a way back home that doesn’t involve a prison sentence or a body bag.

Government operative Danielle Laidlaw is his way out. She needs a pilot and a security consultant for her mission to discover the lost Mayan city of Tulan Zuyu. In return for his services, she promises Hawker his life back.

But as an unseen enemy stalks the rainforests, leaving battered corpses in its wake, they are about to discover that they are not the first – and they are not the only people looking for Tulan Zuyu and the secrets it may hold.

This book first came to my attention when the publishing company asked me if I would like to review it. After reading the synopsis that they sent I was definitely interested and couldn't wait to feast my eyes on a copy. This book is by a debut author from Arizona, who appears to have a passion for reading books by Michael Crichton and Stephen King. He also enjoys television shows like the X-files and Lost. Therefore, it is perhaps of little surprise that this book combines many of these styles and themes.

From the very first page to the last, this book is an action-packed crescendo of story lines. Particularly the high-fuelled, military-action combat that takes place in the jungle. This really works well as it gives another slant to the plot.

The story has many great moments that incorporate some unusual and vivid monsters. These are the products of a purely wild imagination that certainly made the story both engrossing and enjoyable. The detail and the character dialogues within this story are as enthralling as the action.

The mythological parts of the story are based on real elements of the Mayan culture. These give a fantastical twist to the story but still retain some realistic elements. They give a very insightful vision into the Mayan creation, some of which are based on the legend taken from the ancient text of the Popul Vuh-writings - these are the Mayan version of Genesis.

The mystery and conspiracy angles, although hardly original, aren't too over the top or implausible. The story as a whole remains exciting and compelling throughout - not all of the revelations are blatantly obvious.  

This book was so enjoyable that I rattled through the 500 pages like a sub machine gun on auto. It's a really gripping read as it has many different themes all wrapped up into one story. It certainly receives the thumbs up from me.

This is definitely a great start for such a new talent. The author's new book Black Sun is already out in the US. Hopefully, I might get my hands on a copy as soon as I have finished writing this review. 

Monday, 20 June 2011

++++ Some Great Books Published - July 2011 Book Post++++

book cover of 

The Eternal War 

 (TimeRiders, book 4)


Alex Scarrow
Alex Scarrow - TimeRiders: The Eternal War (Book 4) - Published by Puffin - 14 July 

Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.
But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no one knows exists.
Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . .

A time wave has struck that alters the entire history of the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln has followed Liam into the present from 1831 - and now the world is in a dangerous state of limbo . . .
If the TimeRiders can't return Lincoln to the past, the Civil War will never end. Can Maddy persuade two colonels on either side of no man's land to cease fire long enough to save the future?
book cover of 

Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx 

 (Jake Ransom, book 2)


James Rollins

James Rollins - Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx - Published by Orion - 7 July 

An ancient and priceless ruby - the Eye of Ra - has been found beneath the Egyptian sands in the Valley of the Kings. Legend has it the jewel holds immense power, but it has fallen into the wrong hands - which means trouble for Jake and Kady Ransom, and a new action-packed adventure as the pair are catapulted into an ancient land of shifting sands, dark magic and dangerous enemies . . . Can Jake and Kady survive and outwit the Skull King himself?
book cover of 

Wolf Blood 


N M Browne

N.M Browne - Wolf Blood - Published by Bloomsbury - 4 July 

A Celtic warrior girl is held captive and enslaved by a rival tribe. When fever takes her only friend she knows she must escape, but she runs straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers. Thinking they will kill a warrior instantly, the girl disguises herself as a beggar and asks to share their fire. Using her gift as a seer she discovers that one of the soldiers is not what he seems. Celtic blood courses through his veins too, but there is something else. He is a shapeshifter - a Versipellum. He shares his soul with that of the wolf. The girl needs to reach the leader of her dead friend's tribe, and the boy must escape the Romans before they discover his true nature. Their only chance of survival is to help each other. But what will happen when their powers are combined?
book cover of 

Six Days 


Philip Webb

Phillip Webb - Six Days - Published by Chicken House -  4 July 

In a ruined future, an extraordinary artefact from the past lies buried. Everyone wants it. But why? What is it? And how can it save them all? For scavs Cass and Wilbur, slaving to dig it up, there are no answers. But when two strangers from another time turn up claiming to know about the lost relic, their world will change for ever. Six Days. If you thought you knew how the world began ... think again.
book cover of 

Island of Thieves 


Josh Lacey

Josh Lacey - The Island of Thieves - Published by Andersen - 7 July 

Buried treasure. Ruthless gangsters. An ancient clue . . .

Our Captayne took the pinnace ashore and I went with hym and six men also, who were sworne by God to be secret in al they saw. Here we buried five chests filled with gold.

Tom Trelawney was looking for excitement. Now he's found it. With his eccentric uncle Harvey, he's travelling to South America on a quest for hidden gold. But Harvey has some dangerous enemies and they want the treasure too. Who will be the first to uncover the secrets of the mysterious island?

book cover of 


 (Phoenix Files, book 1)


Chris Morphew
Chris Morphew - Arrival (The Phoenix Files) - Published by Scholastic - 7 July
Luke is having a rough year. When his parents split up, his mum drags him to Phoenix, a brand-new town in the middle of nowhere. But Phoenix is no ordinary town. There are no cars, no phones and no internet. Luke thinks this is as weird as it gets. Then he discovers that someone is plotting to wipe out the human race. Phoenix is suddenly the safest and most dangerous place on earth. One hundred days remain until the end of the world ... not something Luke thought would ever be HIS problem.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Curtis Jobling - Wereworld: Rage of Lions Book Trailer

                                book cover of 

Rage of Lions 

 (Wereworld, book 2)


Curtis Jobling

  • Pages - 432
  • Published By Puffin
  • Date -  7 July 
  • Age - 11+
  • Isbn - 978-0141333403 

Young werewolf Drew Ferran is the future king of Westland. He has the makings of a great warrior - but first he must master the blade and the beast. When Lady Gretchen is abducted by the Werelion Prince Lucas, Drew and his friends embark on a perilous chase to stop the prince fleeing to his homeland of Bast. As Drew encounters terrifying new Werelords along the way, he is led to the exotic city of Cape Gala, where the forces of Onyx, the Beast of Bast, await. Now Drew must summon all of his courage and strength - because the Catlords are ready to attack...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Ransom Riggs - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Book Trailer

book cover of 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 


Ransom Riggs
  • Pages - 352
  • Published by Quirk Books
  • Date - 7 June 2011
  • Age 
  • Isbn - 978-159744761
A combination of both conspiracy thriller and supernatural horror, this takes a young, spoilt teenage boy in American as the protagonist. His grandfather tells him stories of his experiences in WW II, including being evacuated to a mysterious island off the coast of Wales with other children – who are not normal children. One can fly, another can create fire, yet another can turn invisible. The boy listens raptly to these stories, but on becoming older decides these are just the ramblings of an old man to impress his grandson – until his grandfather is brutally killed by an unknown, horrific assailant, and the stories suddenly become real. Determined to follow his grandfather’s history, the boy travels to the island to discover the truth, and pitches into a world where what should be fantasy breaks violently into our reality, taking him on a journey from gathering unease to outright terror

For fans of X-Files conspiracy-type thrillers, horror novels, and with echoes of The Mabinogion and the books of Alan Garner, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children also contains photographic clues scattered throughout the book, a page-turning plot full of twists, turns, sly characterization, and fully realized worlds, both ours and others, making it a book sure to appeal to your readers!

20th Centuary Fox have just bought the film rights for this book, and a film should be out in 2013.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tobias Cooke - Ben Street: Secret of the Lost Soul Pt. 1

  • Pages - 272
  • Published by Pen Press
  • Age - 10+
  • ISBN - 1907499806
Ben Street The Secret of the Lost Soul
by Tobias Cooke

Ben Street, a talented twelve year old singer and dancer, arrives at the same school about sixty years later and the ghost of the murdered pupil tries to make desperate contact with him. Ben mysteriously starts acquiring strange kinetic powers and knows he must find out why. Hilarious supernatural situations in class and in school show rehearsals are the result!

The first in a new series of teen mystery books from Tobias Cooke is packed full of suspense and adventure. “I wanted to convey the contrasting lives of kids from poor and rich backgrounds. How activities like street dance can break down social barriers,” says the author.

“The ultimate purpose of the book is not only to encourage reading, but to generate sales and funds for a Philanthropic reason. If it can do well, over time I would like to set up a charitable foundation to help young people with the cost of university education,” adds Tobias.
Ben Street has already received praise from readers of all ages, who love the character’s mix of stage performance, humour, mischievousness and magic. The scene has been set for book two...

“I was taking Spielberg's advice in producing this by writing it initially for myself to enjoy. It is the book I would have chosen to read as a kid.” Tobias Cooke

Tobias Cooke has lived a real life mystery through his work as a criminal lawyer. Born in Oxford in 1961, he studied Law at Kingston University and completed his legal training in Sussex. Tobias spent a brief spell in Australia with his family, before returning home to Worthing to begin work on his first book. He already has a sequel planned for the Ben Street series.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Caroline Lawrence - Western Mysteries blog tour stop #11 - Picturing the Wild West

It's so fantastic to be asked by both the publishing companies and authors to host so many blog tours at the moment. However, today's great post is by the brilliant author Caroline Lawrence, who is particularly well-known for her popular Roman Mysteries. 

Caroline is promoting her new series which is centred around a wild western detective theme. This story will have your heart in your mouth almost around ever corner and every page that you read. 

I would like to both welcome and thank Caroline for writing such a great post. I have to say that I particularly like the first book cover option due to its appealing quality and the great use of colour.

Thanks to Nina at Orion for organising this blog tour. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Picturing the Wild West

My new series is called the Western Mysteries, but its just as much an historical novel as a Western. In other words, my fictional characters interact with real people in a real place at a specific time.

My real place is Virginia CityNevada Territory and my real time is September 1862. Think Dickens in Deadwood. Or the Famous Five as Forty-niners. This rough and ready mining town exploded into existence with the discovery of silver veins deep in the mountain. All the buildings youd associate with a Western town came into existence; first in canvas, then wood, finally brick. Virginia City still exists, and has kept a lot of its character. You can still visit a dozen saloons, the fire station, the courthouse and jail, even a big old music hall. And archaeologists have even done an excavation on the site of one of the saloons. They found fascinating artefacts like spittoons, beer bottles, oyster shells, coins, buttons and bullet casings. This was a read frontier town where almost everybody carried a firearm. Somebody, maybe Mark Twain, said that at night you could read by the light of gunfire.

So how to devise a cover that reflects the gritty, menacing, blackly funny world portrayed in my books?

My first idea was to design a cover based on one of the old Dime Novels much beloved in the American West? Like a Dime Novel our cover could show an exciting scene from the first few chapters. My hero, a 12-year-old named P.K. Pinkerton, has found his parents scalped and murdered by desperados disguised as Indians. He has to get out of town fast, so he leaps onto a passing stagecoach, scrambles up on top and makes himself as flat as a postage stamp. My publishers and I thought this would be a great scene for the cover, as it is exciting and comes early in the story. We referenced real stagecoaches as well as scenes from Red Dead Redemption and came up with this.

This cover (above) is exciting, but it doesnt quite convey danger and menace of the story. Or the deadpan humour. Or its grittiness. We were also worried that it might seem too babyish. With drinking, smoking, gambling and gunplay, this book is definitely not babyish.

One of the things I love most about writing historical fiction is the research, getting the details of the culture right and especially the artefacts. So I considered putting some of the guns on the cover. Maybe a spittoon and playing cards, too. Then I had the idea of using a document of the time: a deed for a silver mine. A newspaper front page. Or a WANTED poster!

The WANTED poster format seemed perfect; straightaway it says Western and outlaws. My husband and I created an image for P.K.s face by using the photo of a Native American child, then stretching it to make him (or her?) look older, then ramping up the contrast, then adding a period hat, then drawing it. I did the first four steps and my husband Richard did the drawing. The solemnity of the childs face tones down the jaunty alliterative title Deadly Desperados. The sun bleached colours and distinctive typeface suggest a specific time and place. And the word WANTED is both a subliminal suggestion and a tantalizing hook.

Does it work? The folk over at Fixabook like it. But as for kids and their parents, only time will tell. And Ive just heard that my American publishers have independently come up with the idea of P.K. clinging to the top of the stagecoach, but from a slightly different angle. Watch this space.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Garth Nix & Sean Williams - Trouble Twisters - Book Review

book cover of 



Garth Nix and 

Sean Williams                                    

  • Pages - 326
  • Publisher - Egmont UK
  • Date - 6 June 2011
  • Age 10+
  • ISBN: H/B 978 1 4052 5857 9
  • ISBN: P/B 978 1 4052 5856 6

Twin siblings Jack and Jaide discover they are pivotal to a secret supernatural organisation that protects the earth from marauding Evil! Portland might seem like a quiet coastal town, and their grandmother is perhaps no dottier than anyone else's, but it soon becomes apparent that the strange things going on around them are anything BUT ordinary. It's all very well discovering that you suddenly have magical powers, but when you don't know exactly what they are, or how to use them, then facing impending peril doesn't seem like a very good idea at all...

It's not that long ago that I mentioned the lack of good books being published within the fantasy genre. However, a couple of weeks after this post, this particular book popped up in my mail box. Imagine how happy I was to see this book - it made my week.

This is the first book to be published in a series of five books. It's an amazing collaboration between two of the finest authors that Australia has to offer. Two amazingly talented authors, who have written so many great books in the fantasy realm, and sold millions of copies around the globe. This book is a dream come true for some of us. 

From the very start, the reader is marched down the fantasy garden path, but with a mysterious edge that captivates the imagination. The story moves from normal to totally bizarre within just a matter of minutes. Twins Jake and Jaide see their house suddenly explode, their dad disappear and themselves being shipped off to crazy Grandma X, of whom neither have met before! 

This was a great start for me and I found that the story just got better and better. It is a great amalgamation of ideas from both authors. It is packed full of petrifying moments, magic, talking cats and many memorable moments. One of my favourite scenes included a mass of possessed rats trying to drive a bulldozer! This to me, highlighted one of many pure fantasy magic moments, that should be read and appreciated many times over.

This is a must read for all fantasy book lovers. It will take you away from reality and place you into a bubble that is fuelled with imagination. This is a great read that will appeal to both boys and girls as it incorporates many strong role models throughout the story. Great stuff and more to come in this thrilling new series.

If you're interested to find out and understand how the collaborative writing process works between two major authors. Then take a look at the youtube video below, as the two authors discuss how the story took its shape and the writing process in more detail.