Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Guest post: Thomas Taylor - Find Out About Haunters - Chicken House

Well it's that time again when we get an author to talk 
about their debut book and the inspiration behind it.
I have had this book on my radar for sometime now, so I am pleased that Thomas
is now able to let you inside this futuristic ghost adventure and tell you more. Have a read
and see what you think.
Eddie, Adam and David have the same gift. Using their dreams they can travel in time, appearing as ghosts wherever and whenever they want. But each of them wants something different…

Eddie, the genius who discovers dreamwalking, is sworn to protect the course of history. Adam wants to use terror to change it for his own ends. And David, the novice dreamewalker who is linked to them both, must find a way to keep them apart – and save the future of the world…

I have been thinking about ghosts since childhood, mostly because I was terrified of them. So scared, in fact, that I honestly thought I saw them as a boy. Of course, I realise now that I never did – well,probably never did, anyway – but I have spent a lot of time wondering what they may be if they do exist. And the connection with time travel is obvious – if ghosts are real, then they are points of contact between the world of the past and the world of now. But could they also be points of contact with the future? 

Many people claim to have met lost loved ones in dreams, or to have dreamt about the past, and many people have claimed to have encountered ghosts when awake. Putting these things together, and stirring in the explosive elements of a thriller – danger, mystery, suspense, and a stack of cool gadgets – lead me to write Haunters. But I won’t deny it might also have been a way to deal with the childhood fear I once felt. Perhaps that’s why, in the book, only children can dreamwalk. In any case, what if ghosts aren’t something to be scared of at all, but something to be really excited about? I’d much rather that! I certainly wish my terrified, 12-year-old self could have read this book.
Haunters is an inverted ghost story, where the living are the ghosts, and where the dead are the ones being haunted. It is also a time-slip story where there is no time machine, and a tale of dreams where no one truly sleeps. Fancy trying it out? Here’s page 39:

Haunters is published 24th May, 2012 by that plucky little publishing outfit, The Chicken House. Read an early review here and find out more about me and my book launch here. If you are kind enough to buy a copy, hope you enjoy it!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Michael Scott - The Enchantress: Book 6 (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)

                                            book cover of 

The Enchantress 

 (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, book 6)


Michael Scott

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty. 

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects - the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it is too late. And if the prophecy is right, twins Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

In The Enchantress, the sixth and final book in the series, the twins of prophecy have been split. Nicholas Flamel is near death, and John Dee has the swords of power. The future of the human race lies in the balance - how will the legend end?

The first five books in Michael Scott's six-part epic fantasy series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel , have all been New York Times bestsellers, and they are perfect for fans of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.The Enchantress is the sixth and final book in the series.

Published by Doubleday Childrens (24 May 2012)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

US New Children's Books Published - June 2012

book cover of 



Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Elizabeth Cody Kimmel - ParaNorman:A Novel - Published by Little,Brown For Young Readers - 5 June 2012 - Age 8+

In a quaint New England town with a history of witches and pilgrims, misunderstood eleven-year-old Norman Babcock can see and talk to ghosts. No one believes him, of course-everyone just thinks he's weird (including his parents). But when a folktale of a witch who cursed her accusers turns out to be true, it's up to Norman to save the town from pilgrim zombies! In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on a very angry witch, an annoying sidekick, his boy-crazy teenage sister, and dozens of moronic grown-ups who get in his way. This young ghoul whisperer finds his paranormal talents pushed to their otherworldly limits in this hilarious and spooky adventure!

Featuring gorgeous black-and-white interior illustrations and a story beyond what you'll see in the film, this novel is sure to delight!

book cover of 

The Monster 

 (Troubletwisters, book 2)


Garth Nix and 

Sean Williams
Garth Nix - TroubleTwisters:The Monster - Published by Scholastic Press - 1 June 2012 - Age 8+

Jaide and Jack Shield have a secret. When they're unexpectedly sent to live with their mysterious Grandma X, they're thrust into a world where cats talk and strange weather comes out of nowhere. There they learn that they're troubletwisters, with powers they must use to stop the Evil from taking over our world.
Before, they'd defeated the Evil through luck and intuition. Now though, Jaide and Jack will have to learn how to use their powers, and how to keep on their toes when evil forces return.

book cover of 

The Unfortunate Son 


Constance Leeds

Constance Leeds - The Unfortunate Son - Published by Viking Juvenile - 14  June 2012 - Age 11+   

Kidnapping, family secrets, and adventure on the high seas--perfect for middle grade fans of historical fiction!

What does it mean to be lucky? Luc doesn't really know. He was born with just one ear, his father constantly berates him, and his younger brother is already bigger and stronger than he is. But when he is chosen to become an apprentice to a local fisherman, his life takes a turn for the better. Luc is a natural at sea, and before long he and a teenaged girl who lives with the fisherman form a strong bond. That bond is tested when Luc is taken captive by a band of merciless pirates, and sold into slavery.Moving from 1485 to 1500, from France to Africa, from humble beginnings to a noble future, this historical fiction adventure will leave readers pondering the true meaning of good fortune.

book cover of 

The Brixen Witch 


Stacy DeKeyser                                 

Stacy DeKeyser - The Brixen Witch - Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books - 26 June 2012 - Age 8+      

An enchanted coin. A witch’s curse. And rats, rats everywhere! What’s a boy to do?
When Rudi Bauer accidentally takes a witch’s coin, he unleashes her curse. Accident or not, he knows he’s got to fix things, so he tries to return the coin, only to lose it on the witch’s magic mountain just as the snows come. Plagued all winter by terrible dreams, Rudi tries to find the coin again in the spring, but it has vanished—and a plague of rats has descended on his village.
     Then a stranger arrives and promises to rid the village of rats—for the price of the missing coin. Desperate to get rid of the rats, the villagers agree—but when they cannot pay, the stranger exacts a price too terrible for anyone to bear. Now Rudi is going to need all his courage—and some help from his savvy grandmother and a bold young girl—to set things right in this fast and funny adventure.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ursula Jones - The Youngstars - Book Review

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Inside Pocket (23 April 2012)
  • Age: 9+
  • ISBN-10: 0956712290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956712295

It is always good to read and review work from authors who don't get much media coverage. One of my favourite small publishers, Inside Pocket, have a great authority in publishing some great books and this, is no exception.

Ursula's theatrical background really lends itself to the performance of this story. It delivers a great platform for a period story set in England in 1936. We follow a young group of people, all working on the stage, performing their comical skits in northern theatres. However, with their evil manager known as 'The Pig' they find themselves in for a colourful journey. 

This story provides a brilliant look into the past when people needed to be entertained and the television had just been invented - Hollywood and the Silver Screen were just becoming established. As a result, these young performers have big dreams of making it big one day. I don't want to give too much away about this story, so I've chosen to keep this review free of too much detail. I believe that this will then give you the chance to pick up a copy and read it for yourselves.

I have to say that I really did enjoy reading this book. It has a varied and split storyline which, at times, was quite complex such as the following of the Doppelgangers (Ollie and Ralph) after a chance meeting. It has great inside views of a pre-war time, when life was hard and variety shows were often popular but, of course, often hard work in order to please the paying customers. This book is full of highs, lows, twists and turns but very much with a slap stick approach.  

This is an adventure for everyone from twelve to a hundred and twelve. It is very entertaining and a book that I would definitely recommend. 

The author: Ursula Jones trained at RADA and is an actress and writer for children: The Witch's children trilogy, for example, which won the 2003 Gold Smartie award and the 2008 Roald Dahl Funny Prize; but also plays for children, and scripts for the TV series Green Claws.

Robin LaFevers - Grave Mercy - Chapter Preview & Trailer

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen (7 Jun 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 184939413X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849394130                

  •                                                                             CHAPTER - 7 

“Careful!” Sister Serafina scolds. “Don’t let it boil or it will
turn to resin and be of no use.”
“yes,sister.”I keep my eyes fixed on the small flask I hold
over the flame. Tiny bubbles have begun to form along the
sides of the glass, but it is not boiling. Not yet.
“excellent,”she says from just behind my shoulder.“Now
put it over here to cool.”
Using iron tongs, I lift the flask and set it on a cooling
stone.We are brewing up a fresh batch of night whispers.In
its current volatile state, it will kill anyone who breathes its
fumes, causing the lungs to harden and become rigid and
brittle as glass.
Anyone except for Sister Serafina and me.We are immune.
“once it cools,” she says, “we’ll add it to this candle wax,
and then—”A knock on the door interrupts her.“Don’t come
in!”she calls out in alarm.
“I won’t.” It is Annith, who surely knows better than to
“Reverend Mother has asked that Ismae come to her office
right away.”
The thrill of this summons makes my heart flutter. The
only time I have been called to her office since I arrived is toreceive news of an assignment.Without waiting for the nun
to dismiss me, I hurry to the stone basin, where I begin
scrubbing the last traces of poison from my hands.
Sister Serafina heaves a sigh of annoyance.“How the holy
mother expects me to supply all our poisons without help is
surely one of Mortain’s great mysteries.”
I glance sideways at her. “you’d think she would send
Annith instead.”
Sister Serafina pins me with a severe look.“The reverend
mother has her reasons. Now go. Do not make her wait.”
I go, being sure to curtsy so as not to antagonize her
further. She thinks she has told me nothing, but it is just
the opposite. I now know that there is an actual reason
that Annith has not been sent out. And if Sister Serafina
knows what it is, surely Annith and I can find out as well.
on my way to the reverend mother’s office I straighten
my veil and brush a bit of dust from my skirts.I pause at the
door, take a deep breath and compose my features, then
When I step into the office,the sight of a man sitting there
is as shocking as a clap of thunder in the quiet room.His hair
is white, as is his neatly trimmed beard. A heavy gold chain
with a bejeweled pendant winks at me from the fur collar of
his thick brocade robe.
“Come in, Ismae,” the abbess says. “I’d like you to meet
Chancellor Crunard. He is a patron of our convent and acts
as the liaison between us and the outside world.”

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Book Launch: Nicola L Robinson - The Monster Machine

'The Monster Machine' is a monster picture book written and illustrated by Nottingham illustrator Nicola L Robinson. It is published by Pavilion Children's Books on the 16t May 2012.
From the back cover-
'My Dad is an inventor… he has just finished his latest and greatest invention. The Monster Machine!' A story of fun, inventions and all the monster mischief you can imagine. A great message about having fun and working together, beautifully illustrated with masses to look for on every page, a wonderful text to read aloud. (Approximately 350 words.)

Nicola has been illustrating children's books for many years now,  and 'The Monster Machine' is her first picture book and outing as an author.
She has  always loved things with teeth and claws and fur and scales (and machines are fascinating anyway) so creating this picture book has been a lot of fun. Nicola's illustrations are vibrant and colourful with a lot of detail making The Monster Machine a picture book with lots and lots of things to look at and look out for. It tells the story of a small boy and his Dad and their monster making machine. If you like monsters and machines this one is for you...
To learn more about the book or to contact Nicola and/or the monsters  do visit the Monster Machine's website here - www.monstermachine.co.uk

Friday, 11 May 2012

Anne Cassidy - Dead Time - Hooked on Books Competition

Dead Time by Anne Cassidy is published today!

Dead Time is the first of four books in The Murder Notebooks series by Anne Cassidy, the award winning author of Looking for JJ. This edge-of-your-seat thriller follows the story of teenagers Rose and Joshua, who are bound together by the mysterious disappearance of their parents.

‘Beautifully-written, tense and compelling, with an overall arc that cleverly binds reader to character’ The Bookbag  

‘Award-winning Anne Cassidy grips her readers in this thrilling crime novel’ Julia Eccleshare, Love Reading 4 Kids

You can win a copy of the book, the new iPad and a Hooked on Books goody bag and read an extract over at Sugarscape now:

Find out more about Anne:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Chicken House - Up and Coming New Book Titles 2012

book cover of 

Hitler's Angel 


William Osborne
William Osborne - Hitler's Angel - 3rd May 2012 - 10+
Otto and Leni have escaped to England from Nazi Germany. They thought they were safe, but now the British want them to go back. Dropped behind enemy lines, they embark on a secret operation codenamed Wolfsangel. Their mission is to find and kidnap a girl who could bring down Hitler And so begins their bravest journey yet...

book cover of 



Mike Grinti and 

Rachel Grinti
Mike and Rachel Grinti - Claws - 24th May 2012 - 10+
Emma's sister is missing. Her parents have spent all their money trying to find her and the family has moved to a trailer park for Crags \- magical creatures that live on the edge of human sociey - next to the dark forest. Here Emma meets a smooth-talking cat named Jack who has a plan to rescue her sister. He shows her how to shape-shift, to developlaws and cat senses. But cat magic isn't easy, and Emma soon learns her sister is in the thrall of the faeries, the most beautiful and dangerous creatures of all.

book cover of 



Thomas Taylor
Thomas Taylor - Haunters - 24th May 2012 - 10+
Eddie, Adam and David have the same gift. Separated by generations, they are linked by their ability to time-travel. Using their dreams, they can appear like ghosts, wherever and whenever they want. The first is the genius who discovers dreamwalking. The second is a Haunter, a dream-terrorist, determined to change history foris own ends. The last is the novice dreamwalker who must battle to save his family, and himself, from oblivion.

book cover of 



David Massey
David Massey - Torn - 2nd August 2012 - 14+
Afghanistan. In the heat and dust, young British army medic Elinor Nielson watches an Afghan girl walk into a hail of bullets. But when she runs to help, Ellie finds her gone. Who is she? And what's happened to her? What Ellie discovers makes her question everything she believes in even her feelings for the American lieutenant who takes her side.

Book cover
Andrew Peters - The Glass Forest - 2nd August 2012 - 9+
Ark lives a mile up from the ground - in the last trees in the world. But Ravenwood faces a new threat by the empire that wants its precious wood. Ark and his friends must travel deep into enemy heartland to find out what evil is planned Awaiting them is a glittering forest of glass skyscrapers, a twisted echo of home. But the wildlife within is infinitely more dangerous.

There are some great reads, and certainly lots more to come at the end of this year, from Chicken House. The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable is due to be published in October. Whilst the sequel to the Undead by Kirsty Mckay, entitled 'The Unfed', looks like another winner. And of course, we should not forget 'Zac and the Dream Stealers' by one of my favourite authors, Ross MacKenzie, which is due to be released sometime in June.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Book Plug: Catherynne M. Valente - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1780338333
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780338330
  • Gather up your courage and your wishes; grab a little pinch of luck - and prepare to be swept away, in a ship of your own making, to a land unlike any other.
    September is a twelve-year-old girl, Somewhat Grown and Somewhat Heartless, and she longs for adventure. So when a Green Wind and a Leopard of Little Breezes invite her to Fairyland - well, of course, she accepts (mightn't you?).

    When she gets there, she finds a land crushed by the iron rule of a villainous Marquess - she soon discovers that she alone holds the key to restoring order. Having read enough books to know what a girl with a quest must do, September sets out to Fix Things.

    As September forges her way through Fairyland, with a book-loving dragon and a boy named Saturday by her side, she makes many friends and mistakes, losing her shadow, her shoes and her way. But she finds adventure, courage, a rather special Spoon, and a lot more besides . . .

  • Originally published in serialized form online (where it became the first e-book to win the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy), this glittering confection is Valente's first work for young readers. The book's appeal is crystal clear from the outset: this is a kind of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by way of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, made vivid by Juan's Tenniel-inflected illustrations. An omniscient narrator relates the absurd Fairyland adventures of 12-year-old September from Omaha, Neb. Valente seems more interested in crafting the individual episodes, and her narrator's moral observations thereon, than in September's overall quest to retrieve a witch's spoon from the terrible marquess of Fairyland. Homages abound--an echo of Tolkien here, a cameo by Lord Dunsany there, and a nod for Hayao Miyazaki, too, all without feeling derivative. It's an allusive playground for adults, but even though young readers won't catch every reference, those who thrill to lovingly wrought tales of fantasy and adventure (think McCaughrean or DiCamillo) will be enchanted. And though the pace is lackadaisical, it's just as well--it's the sort of book one doesn't want to end. Ages 10–14. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Susanne Winnacker - The Other Life - Book Review

The Other Life: who we were before the virus. How we'll never be again. It's been 3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days since Sherry has seen daylight. When things went wrong up above, she was sealed off from the world in a bunker with her family. But when they run out of food, Sherry and her dad must venture outside. There they find devastation, desolation...and the Weepers: savage mutant killers. When her dad is snatched, Sherry joins forces with gorgeous but troubled Joshua - an Avenger, determined to destroy the Weepers. But can Sherry keep her family and Joshua safe, when his desire for vengeance threatens them all?

At the start of the book, the author quietly builds up the tension and the curiosity levels by introducing us to Sherry and her family, who are locked in the bunker in the basement of their house. It has been three years since they last saw daylight and lost all contact with the world. At this point, everything has just got too much and the family are at boiling point, especially when they run out of food. This is when the story becomes really interesting and exciting as Sherry and her father leave the bunker to find food. . . . As a result of this action, we suddenly become thrown into a post-apocalyptic world with rabies-infested humans known as Weepers. Whilst they are perhaps described with vague detail, the very vicious nature of them certainly allows the magic to spark in the imagination department. 

I have to say that I did find Sherry (one of the main characters) slightly annoying. I did try really hard to overlook this and felt that I just about managed it. It was not her OCD traits, in fact I found this element fascinating, it was actually the dialogue that she engaged in. At times, I found this confusing - she asked too many questions and, like all of the other characters, she appeared to be rather too stereotypical. Whilst the little snippets of her former life weaved throughout the story were clever, I'm not sure that they really worked.

This book has a real emotional depth to it - the feelings portrayed through the characters make the story more convincing. The supporting characters all portray a different story with different feelings as they learn to cope and survive. This worked amazingly well as it is often difficult to get the balance just right.

I think that this is a great debut book. It is very readable and will certainly have you, in parts, hiding behind the covers and wanting to read faster in order to find out more. The ending was great - it sets up the next book to be even better. Perhaps the characters may have more to fight than just the Weepers . . . .  If you love dystopian and zombies, then this will be a book just for you and if you don't, then give it a try anyway.

The Life Beyond will be the next book and I just can't wait.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Book Plug: Jack Gantos Dead End in Norvelt and Interview

  • Dead End in Norvelt--UK cover


  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (29 Mar 2012)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0440870046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440870043

Jack's summer has hit a dead end . . .

After being 'grounded for life', Jack is facing a summer of doing nothing. But who's got time to die of boredom when there are so many more interesting ways to die in this town?

He might crash in his dad's homemade plane, or catch the disease that makes you dance yourself to death, or fall foul of the motorcycle gang that wants to burn the town to the ground. Old people seem to be dying faster than Miss Volker can write their obituaries, and Jack is starting to worry that it might not just be the rats that are eating the rat poison . . .

Dead End in Norvelt is author Jack Gantos's hilarious blend of the entirely true stories of his childhood, and the wildest ideas from his dark imagination. It won the prestigious Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature in 2012 and was also a Washington Post Best Children's Book of 2011.

He is best known in this country for the bestselling Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, which was a winner of a NASEN Special Educational Needs Award, and its sequels. Dead End in Norvelt is a novel for teen readers, and will appeal to fans of Mark Haddon, Louis Sachar and all lovers of dark humour.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

P . J Hoover - The Forgotten Worlds Trilogy




The Forgotten Worlds Book 1: 

Benjamin and his best friend Andy are different from normal. They love being able to read each other's minds and use telekinesis to play tricks on other kids. In fact, they are getting all set to spend their entire summer doing just that when Benjamin's mirror starts talking. Suddenly, Benjamin's looking at eight weeks of summer school someplace which can only be reached by a teleporter inside the ugly picture in his hallway.
And that's the most normal thing he does all summer.

The Forgotten Worlds Book 2:
The Navel of the World

At the end of summer school, Benjamin was given one task—find his missing brothers. Should be easy right? But Benjamin can't locate a trace of them anywhere. Then he finds a mysterious file written in ancient Lemurian with his name on it, which wouldn't be so weird except the file happens to be several thousand years old. Who would have known about Benjamin that long ago? And then Benjamin and his friends begin to wonder, have they been looking not in the wrong place, but in the wrong time?

The Forgotten Worlds Book 3:
The situation in Lemuria is rapidly deteriorating. In fact teleportation between the hidden continent and the outside world has become so dangerous, all agents and their families have been recalled. Although Benjamin is psyched to be living in Lemuria full time, he knows he needs to find his last brother soon. However, between classes, a murderous half-brother, and complications with his friend Heidi, Benjamin can barely focus. Besides, there’s only one place left they haven’t searched—the hidden continent of Atlantis.