Thursday, 21 February 2013

Book Review: Liesel Schwarz - A Conspiracy Of Alchemist - Book Review

                                               

On a recent trip to Paris, I visited my favourite Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare & Company, situated in the breath-taking region of Notre Dame Cathedral. It was an especially welcomed visit on a particularly cold and rainy day. This was the first book that I selected fron the vast shelves of books. The cracking book cover first drew me in. However, it soon turned out to be a book that I particularly liked the sound of. Interestingly, the book begins in Paris in 1903 - that'sfate if you ask me! It will come as no surprise that I really needed to read this book during my wonderful stay. 

This is the first book in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow series. It is a brilliant debut book that encompasses so many fantastic elements into one book. It is based around a nineteenth century gothic setting which is particularly mesmerising to read. It has so much distinctive details that it will take your breath away. The fantastic steampunk elements are set in the golden age of steam with spark reactors powering nearly everything from airships to the coffee machine on the Orient Express. 

The Light and Shadow realms are weaved into the real world - spirited fairies mingling with the Nightwalkers. This brings a much needed supernatural element to the book that will give readers a lot of enjoyment. Blood-thirsty in nature, they roam the dark hours of the night and walk openly among the unsuspecting populace reeking havoc.

The mysterious Mr March is a human Warlock who lives for centuries. However, he showed no particular magical powers throughout the book and, in my opinion, needed perhaps a little bit more spark to do the role justice. The Alchemists on the other hand were great fun to read about as they plotted to unleash a magical apocalypse.  Stylishly written in a particularly imaginative and creative way they really add to the story. 

Elle Chance is the main character - she shares her perspectives and feelings throughout the story. She creates an inner glow that is radiated through every page and leaves you feeling very content. She's a particularly feisty female in charge of her own business - a small flight freight service. However, one day, a cargo that was supposed to be delivered sends her life through a changing set of events. These prove to be pretty spectacular events that hold some punchy twists and turns.

The books attention to detail really makes it stand out and makes for a fantastic reading experience. The only thing that perhaps let this book down was the romantic liaison between the two lead characters. It got a little too much towards the end of the book. I would have preferred to have seen a different approach as it spoilt it a little bit. Nevertheless, this book is a fantastic read full of surprises. As part of a series, I hope that the next book will deliver another eclectic mix of all things good. 

Published February 7th 2013 by Del Rey

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

News: Shortlist for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2013

          

The shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, created to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing has been announced. Now in its ninth year, the Prize consists of three categories: picture books; fiction for ages 5-12; and teen books, to reflect the breadth of quality in children’s books. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned category winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2013.


Picture Books:
  • Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play)
  • Oh No George! by Chris Haughton (Walker)
  • The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon (Pavilion Children’s Books)
  • Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher (Little Tiger Press)
Fiction 5-12
  • The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (Chicken House)
  • Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray (Faber and Faber)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Random House Children’s Books)
  • The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters (Nosy Crow)
  • The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (Puffin)
  • Barry Loser: I Am Not A Loser by Jim Smith (Egmont)
Teen
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt (Egmont)
  • Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Hot Key Books)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury Children’s)
  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Indigo)
  • Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb (Little Tiger Press)
The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is unique in that it is voted for by booksellers across the country. Final judging is currently underway.
The winners will be announced on Thursday 21st March. The winner of each category will receive £2,000 with the overall winner picking up an additional £3,000.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mr Ripley's Graphic Novel Book Pick: Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal Volume 2: Creation Myths by Brian Froud & Brian Holguin



                                   
About the series: Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths is an original graphic novel hardcover series set one thousand years before the crystal cracked, before the world of Thra fell to strife and destruction. Original Dark Crystal movie concept designer Brian Froud plots, provides the cover, designs characters, and art directs this beautiful hardcover. Written by Brian Holguin (Spawn), and illustrated by Alex Sheikman (Robotika) and Lizzy John.
The synopsis: The Great Conjunction is at hand in this dramatic second volume of Archaia and The Jim Henson Company's trilogy of prequel graphic novels that tell the origin of The Dark Crystal. Aughra, the beloved guardian of Thra, has gone into hiding, while her son, Raunip, leads a team of emissaries to the Crystal Castle. There they will bear witness as the visiting Urskeks attempt to use the Conjunction to power their voyage home. But pain and mistrust fostered by the group leads to events that will corrupt the world to its very core and transform the Urskeks into two distinct races: the gentle urRu and the terrifying Skeksis. Brian Froud, legendary fantasy artist and conceptual designer of Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal film, returns to oversee this crucial chapter that reveals the tragic events that caused the Bright Crystal to darken and shatter.

If you would like to see a digital preview click Here

Published by Archaia Entertainment, LLC (March 12, 2013) 


Monday, 18 February 2013

New Children's Book Picks For March 2013 - US Post Edition One

                                          
Melvin Jules Bukiet - Undertown - Published by Amulet Books (March 5, 2013)
In this fast-paced adventure story, Timothy and Jessamyn are towed through the streets of Manhattan riding in Timothy’s family’s sailboat, on their way to the Long Island shore, when the boat comes unhitched from its truck. The teens “sail” backward down a hill in Upper Manhattan, then fall down a huge construction site hole and into the vast sewer system below.
Thrust into an amazing adventure, the kids navigate waterfalls and rapids as they travel through the rain sewers. They meet a graffiti artist their own age, a homeless person named You, and rats the size of large dogs. They fall into the hands of a gangster who claims the sewers as her kingdom and the homeless as her subjects, and acts as a fence for luxury goods! Will she feed Timothy and Jessamyn to the rats.
                                       
                                            
Gregory Mone - Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on Titanic - Published By Square Fish (March 5, 2013)

A stowaway, a stolen book, a murderous villain: an adventure on the most famous shipwreck in history. The great ocean liner Titanic is preparing to cross the Atlantic. Onboard is a sinister thief bent on stealing a rare book that may be the key to unlocking infinite treasure; a wealthy academic traveling home to America with his rare book collection; and Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is certain that his job as a steward on the unsinkable ship will be the adventure of a lifetime. In Dangerous Waters, disguises, capers, and danger abound as the ship makes its way toward that fateful iceberg, where Patrick will have to summon all his wits in order to survive.

                                       
Chad Morris - Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret  - Published By Shadow Mountain (March 5, 2013)
Abby and Derick have been accepted to the most prestigious secondary school in the world Cragbridge Hall. Due to the inventions of their grandfather, Oscar Cragbridge, they will be able to experience history in 3D, use their minds to literally project visual interpretations of classic literature, and become animal avatars for zoology. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, Abby and Derick must follow clues Oscar left for them that will reveal a dangerous secret. Along the way, they discover there is much more to one of their grandfather s inventions than anyone has ever dreamed. Saving their family will take all of Derick s mind and Abby s heart as they come face to face with a crazed scientist who desperately seeks to change the past. If they fail, the world past and future will never be the same. This book is a page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing your history.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Andy Briggs - The New Adventures Of Tarzan: The Savage Lands - Book Review

                                               
We are now swinging into the third instalment featuring the world's first eco-warrior, Tarzan. The Savage Lands is Andy's latest explosive adventure which sees Tarzan being brought back to life within a modern day setting. Tarzan will be a hot topic this year as he is celebrating his 100th birthday and an animated Tarzan movie (by Constantin) is due to hit the UK at the end of the summer. Therefore, there is no better read in which to get you into the mood of Tarzan and his fascinating life.

In this epic book we see Lord Greystoke arriving at the logger's camp which is found deep in the Congo. Hoping to track down his elusive long-lost cousin Tarzan, he will stop at nothing to eliminate the potential of him inheriting the Greystoke legacy. However, Lord Greystoke also has other things on his mind, which become much clearer later on in the story.

Andy was a great choice of author to write this series of books. He has a fantastic style in which he writes descriptive and realistic settings. Upon reading, you feel like you're actually in the jungle looking down from a massive tree and watching all the action that is going on first hand. It's Andy's personal jungle vision that he shares with us through words, but like no other author does.

It would appear that his involvement in writing movie projects such as Freddy Vs Jason has perhaps, in my mind, given him the experience to pack a book with a lot of screen-like action. Travelling through this high-octane journey you will visit the sprawling ancient city of Opar. It feels like something straight from the movie set of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The evil insane Queen La is an absolute joy to read. She is a seriously twisted and dark-to-the-core female character. I loved her role in the book; I really wanted to read more.

This book finishes with a breathtakingly action-packed finale, which will definitely take a little bit of time to sink in. I really loved reading the Savage Lands. In my humble opinion, this is the best book in the series, so far. This is another fantastic read -  hopefully there's a lot more to come.

Published By Faber and Faber (7 Feb 2013)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

++++ New Children's Book Picks March 2013 - Post Two UK ++++



                                        
This is post two as there are so many great books out to read in March.
There might even be a third post, so keep your eyes peeled for more. 

Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - Published By HarperCollins Children's - 28th, March 2013
Dracula is on the verge of coming into his full power. Department 19 is on the back foot. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to war. The stakes? Mankind’s very survival…
As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness.
Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department's final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery.


                                      
Dan Wells - Fragment (Partials) - Published By HarperCollins Children's - 28th, March 2013
Fighting to stop a war that could destroy everyone alive…
Kira Walker nearly died searching for the RM cure, but the battle for survival is only just beginning. The genetically-engineered Partials are inextricably bound to a greater plan that could save both races and give Kira the answers she desperately seeks.
Venturing deep into the wasteland, Kira’s only allies are an unhinged drifter and two Partials who betrayed her yet saved her life – the only ones who know her secret. Back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war. But their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.
It is the eleventh hour of humanity’s time on earth; this journey may be their last.
                                
Claire McFall - Ferryman - Published By Templar Publishing - 1st, March 2013
When teenager Dylan pulls herself free from a train wreck and emerges onto an almost deserted Scottish hillside, she believes she is the only survivor. Seeing the figure of a boy on the bank she enlists his help. But Tristan is no ordinary passerby, and Dylan soon learns that instead of being the only survivor of the wreck, she is in fact the only fatality. And, Tristan is no normal teenage boy - he is her ferryman tasked with guiding her through the wasteland to her afterlife. As the pair journey further together through the dangerous wraith-infested wasteland, they fall deeply in love. When they reach the other side, Tristan promises to cross over with Dylan, but when she steps across the threshold and turns back, he is not there. Confronted with life without Tristan, Dylan vows to find him, but that means traversing the dangerous wasteland without a guide - A truly moving, epic love story, that's exciting, scary, funny, thought-provoking and truly original.
                         
                                    
Mark King - Frenzy - Published By - Book Guild Ltd - 28th, March 2013
Daniel leads a peaceful life with his family until he finds out a repulsive secret about the Over-seers, the saviours of humanity , and his security is blown to smithereens. He enters a world where death is the only certainty and quickly learns to kill or be killed. Enter Gwendolyn, with the charm of a snake and a bite that s twice as dangerous. People skills aren t her thing but she knows how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world; she s a hotshot with a bow and arrow and can rustle up a mean rat soup. Mary is the only person left alive over forty. She s not too good at fighting but she knows where to find the one thing that could save their lives; the golden shield. Only Mary can remember life before the invasion, before humanity was brainwashed into following the procedures. Pursued by the Over-seers, the Triclops and the barbaric hunters, can the three brave rebels triumph in their quest for the golden shield? The odds are stacked against them hold tight for a white-knuckle ride through a landscape of devastation!


                                       
Philip Reeve - Goblins Vs Dwarves - Published by Marion Lloyd Books - 4th March 2013
Another fantastically exciting novel set in a land of magic from the award-winning Philip Reeve. The heroes of GOBLINS continue their adventures outside the walls of Clovenstone castle. Awaiting Skarper and Henwyn are powerful dark forces that must be vanquished, monstrous creatures to be fought, and astonishing mysteries to be solved.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Sharon Gosling - The Diamond Thief - Book Review - Published By Curios Fox


Today for review is one of the first books to be published by Curious Fox. This is a new imprint offering young readers, of all ages, creative and jaw-droppingly enjoyable books. These books promise to take readers on a journey of new adventures and experiences. Therefore, with this statement in mind, can these books deliver that promise or not?

With curiosity stated as a focus of the publishing company, The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling is my first opportunity to test the waters. Overall, the production of the book sparkles to match the title. It shines out to the potential reader through the very attractive book cover. However, is the content equivalent to a shiny gem or a bit of rusty old copper in need of a polish? 

The start of the book is particularly good - it wastes no time in setting up the murky waters of the Thames and the smoky hard times of Victorian London. Sharon has the great ability to paint a picture for you to visualise.

Remy is the main protagonist in the book; she is fantastically written and very likeable. Plucky in spirit, she is portrayed very well by making the reader want the best for her. As a result, we are treated to some interesting twists and turns, and some fantastic reading moments.

At points in the book you are hit with little steampunk elements. Whilst the great action scenes will have you lapping up the pages. The introduction of the mysterious Professor and his amazing lab certainly starts to get the ball rolling. In fact one of my favourite scenes involves the Professor and his gas pistol. The idea of the micro transmitting/tracking device that he uses not only creates a great effect, but is also really cool! 

From this point on the book goes into overdrive - making for a more gripping and imaginative read. Abernathy's plotted scheme comes to light. The underground chambers and an array of crazy metal monsters are well thought out. Although they could have perhaps had a little bit more focus at times. Nevertheless, the story still weaves its magic on the reader and will leave you wanting more.

Sadly, I have encountered just a couple of issues with the story. Firstly, I felt that in some places the author took a slightly safe route. For example one of the characters is trapped and suddenly develops a magical and mysterious ability out of nowhere. Interestingly, the character is able to help them escape in the nick of time. Finally, the relationship between Rémy and another leading character, Thaddeus Rec, was also an issue for me. I think the author managed to focus on this too much at the end of the book, and it just became too overpowering for me. I felt that it stole, what could have been, a really brilliant ending.




I really enjoyed reading this book and actually didn't want to stop reading it in order to go to work. It has shiny amounts of storyline and a sparkle of creative ideas which are full of promise. The ending perhaps needs a little bit of polish. However, this author is certainly one to watch in the future.

Published By Curios Fox, 14 February 2013 - ISBN-13: 978-1782020134

PUBLISHER NEWS:EGMONT PRESS ACQUIRES MAJOR NEW SERIES - MARS EVACUEES BY SOPHIA McDOUGALL


EGMONT PRESS ACQUIRES MAJOR NEW SERIES, MARS EVACUEES!


Egmont Press is thrilled to announce the acquisition of a major new series for readers of 9+, Mars Evacuees, by bestselling adult author Sophia McDougall. 

Sarah Hughes, Fiction Publishing Director at Egmont Press, bought two books with UK and Commonwealth rights in a keenly contested auction from Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan Associates. The first title in the series will publish in Spring 2014. This is Sophia's first book for children.

Mars Evacuees is the story of a group of children who are evacuated to Mars when their future on Earth is under threat. None of them knows what to expect at their destination. And when the adults in charge of them disappear, they are on their own…

                                                        
‘This is my first major acquisition since arriving at Egmont in December,’ said Sarah Hughes.  ‘I was looking for a very special project: something that not only has fantastic child-appeal and editorial integrity but that also has a killer hook. I didn't expect one to cross my desk so quickly and I am thrilled. Sophia has a lightness of touch and an eye for the kind of detail that makes her writing incredibly distinctive and memorable.’


Sophia McDougall said, ‘I first had the idea for Mars Evacuees when I was nine; I was fascinated by Michelle Magorian’s novels of children evacuated to the English countryside or to America in WWII, and I wondered, in a future war, where else could you send people? Obviously Mars. And what would happen to them next? It’s taken me almost twenty-five years  to come up with the answers, but I’m so happy to be going to Mars at last with Egmont – I was so impressed by their energy and enthusiasm for the book.’

Sophia McDougall is the author of bestselling Romanitas trilogy (Orion/Gollancz). Her short stories have been published by Jurassic Fiction, Solaris and NewCon press. She has appeared on Radio 3's Night Waves discussing Mars in literature with Samira Ahmed and A Clockwork Orange with Will Self.   She was a panellist at the 2012 'How the Light Gets In' arts and philosophy festival in Hay.  She is 33 and lives in London

Thursday, 7 February 2013

++++ New Children's Book Picks March 2013 - Post One UK ++++

                                                   
Kate Kae Myers - The Vanishing Game - Published By Bloomsbury - 3, March 2013
The Vanishing Game Seventeen-year-old Jocelyn follows clues apparently from her dead twin, Jack, in and around Seale House, the terrifying foster home where they once lived, and with help from childhood friend Noah she begins to uncover the truth about Jack's death and the company that employed him and Noah. 


            
Derek Landy - Tanith Low in the Maleficent Seven - Published By HarperCollins - 28, March 2103
A brilliant, hilarious one-off novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant universe, from number-one-bestselling author Derek Landy
This time, the bad guys take the stage.
Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke.
When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she's got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…


                                        
Andrew Beasley - The Claws of Evil (The Battle of Ben Kingdom) - Published By Usbourne Publishing - 1, March 2013
Welcome to Victorian London; the home of the Artful Dodger, Sherlock Holmes...and Ben Kingdom, cocky street urchin - and the saviour of mankind. Unknown to mere mortals, an ancient battle is being waged across the city. Below the streets lurk the Legion, an evil gang of miscreants and criminals in league with the monstrous Feathered Men - determined to unleash Hell on the streets of London. Above the city's rooftops soar the Watchers, a ragtag band of orphans, mystics and spies, dedicated to protecting the vulnerable and guarding London against evil. Only Ben can put an end to this war - the only problem is, he doesn't know which side to choose. 

                                          
Simmons Kristen - Breaking Point (Article 5) - Published By Tor Teen - 13, March 2013
After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed. Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance - an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumours are flying about the sniper's true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion...Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself. Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can't even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and "laying low" is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways. With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding...or fight back?                          

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

+++ Tom Becker - While The Others Sleep - Book Review +++


                            

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before about Tom Becker, but he is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. Therefore, when I received this book in the post I was very excited to read it. Especially as it is a book that I have really wanted to read this year.

This is the seventh book that has been published so far by Tom Becker and I hope there will be many more to come. He has written five great books in the fantastic Darkside Series. However, the sixth book 'The Traitors', which is Tom's first standalone book, is one of my favourite reads from last year and has been longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013.  

With this book, While The Others Sleep, Tom has pulled out another cracker. He has written a good, old-fashioned, supernatural thriller that will surely become a classic one day. Alfie Mandeville is the newest patient to be sent to the sanatorium for children. Sent by his father for treatment to make him better, as he suffers from sleep insomnia, he finds himself in a complicated situation. Be warned that reading this book will not help with the curing of any sleep insomnia. Alfie tries to uncover what is going on, but he ends up wrestling with his need for a logical explanation against his sleep-deprived imagination.

Scarbrook House is a sanatorium for wealthy children, it's a fantastic setting for this book. Picturesque on the outside whilst creepy and edgy on the inside; it's a dark place full of twisted secrets. Terrible things have happened within the house and are still continuing to happen throughout the story. This book delivers a mixture of both supernatural horror and mayhem.

Many of the characters have an eerie and disconcerting quality about them. Each character has a story to tell; they are all patients with sinister ailments that need to be overcome. However, they all seek treatment from a rather drunk Dr Grenfell who, in my opinion, needed a little bit more life injected into him as a character and perhaps more background detail in order to enhance the story. 

I think that you will love this book as much as I do. You may find that there are some similarities with another book (e.g. stately building with a twisted historical past told as a psychological thriller) that I have already reviewed this year, but that was also a cracking book. 

This book finishes with a climatic seat-of-your-pants experience. It is written in a very clever way with some amazing touches of imagination. It is a book that certainly lived up to my very high expectations and in more ways then one. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.  

Published By Scholastic - 4 March 2013

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Book Trailer/Press Release: Alex Barclay - Curse of Kings: The Trials of Oland Born Part One

                                     

                                               

The Trials of Oland Born Part One

Curse of Kings

Alex Barclay

9780007335756 £12.99 HB/£10.99 TPB 31 January 2013


Fourteen-year-old Oland Born lives in a world  tyrannised by dark magic. He knows little
about his past or why the evil tyrant Vilius Ren keeps such a sharp eye on him. But when he
receives a letter from a long-dead king which urges him to fight back, Oland must battle his
own demons to undertake the greatest test of bravery and cunning a boy has ever faced.

Curse of Kings is the first story in The Trials of Oland Born and is a thrilling fantasy adventure
that will grip readers from the outset.
The story is set in a beautifully evoked and richly atmospheric fantasy world of medieval
castles, Romanesque games arenas, supernatural forests, desert pits and harsh seas.
Terrifying hybrid creatures and monsters abound – and Oland’s greatest ally is a girl called
Delphi who has dark secrets of her own.



About the author:
Alex Barclay is the award-winning author of five crime novels for adults. She has been living with the world of Oland Born inside her head for years, a world of adventure, mysterious prophecies, secret identities, fantastical creatures and great heroes who are tested to their limits. Curse of Kings is her first novel for children, and the first in The Trials of Oland Born series. She is a major new voice in children’s fiction. Alex lives in Ireland.

Visit Alex’s official website on http://www.alexbarclay.co.uk/



Monday, 4 February 2013

Book Review Classic: Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators In The Mystery of the Talking Skull By Robert Arthur

                                                   

I'm always keen to read new books from the past, especially a series of books that have passed me by. In this case I have Darren to thank from the Book Zone Blog for boys. I picked up this recommendation from one of his tweets a few weeks ago. This is a real hidden gem - I always find it interesting to look back and notice the difference. In this case, the time frame in which it was written is before the internet and the rapidly changing digital world. 

Book one was published in 1964 and, 43 books later, the very last book was published in 1987. Due to legal issues (with publishers and such) nothing has happened since 1990 and this may still remain the case in the future.

Whilst I would love to read more books in this series, I don't think this is going to be an easy task - some books appear to be out of print and some were published in the US as part of another series. However, I do feel slightly hopeful that I might be able to find another example as I found this book in a local charity shop. Therefore, I  think you know where I'll be looking and what I'll be doing in the next week or so!

Many different authors are featured in this series such as William Arden, Nick West and Robert Arthur (the creator). Robert penned many of the original ideas and edited most of the early books. In fact the book that I've just read was written by the master himself. It is a fantastic introduction to the books. It would appear that all of the authors have written their own introductions and epilogues. These were reportedly dictated by Hitchcock in the early books. 

This book entails a classic mystery for three boys to sort out. Centered around their uncle's scrapyard, an absolutely brillant idea, Jupiter Jones buys an unusual old-fashioned trunk in an auction. Looking through the contents of the trunk, they discover a talking skull which sets them off an epic adventure of sinister proportions. It's a classically well told story that every young boy, and even every old boy, would still love to read today.

This is an example of when books were based on pure imagination. Full of good creative ideas which have been told in a simplistic way. By the time I had finished this book, I felt about ten years old. Let the search commence for the next book. 

If you remember reading these books, then please leave a comment on the post. I would love to hear what you've got to say.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Book Review: Richard Masson - Boonie - Hot Key Books

                                         
This is a book that is very different to other books that I have read recently and being published at this moment in time. In fact it's not a book that I'd expect to be published by a mainstream publisher such as Hot Key Books. Therefore, I definitely congratulate them in championing this book.

The start of the book is not an easy one to digest. The harsh realties of the story are quickly thrust upon the reader and set a sombre tone. In parts, this book is set in a futuristic fantasy world. Although, it is basically about a world of survival in an arid landscape. Both water and food are very scarce; the world is ruled by dictatorship from the Silver Men. These men leave a lot to the imagination - not much is given away about them, which is good in my opinion. It leaves the imagination running wild as to the possibilities of their comings and goings. 

The story moves through a lot of bleak action before there is any glimpse of a ray of sunshine. However, that ray of sunshine soon shines through in the form of friendship and will have you hooked. 

The main character, JD, is lost in the desert after fleeing from the clutches of the Silver Men. He encounters a strange old man whose mouth has been sewn shut. The element of mystery starts to creep in at this point giving the reader more to think about as the old man reveals a secret. He helps JD to find the city in order to search for his missing mother. At this point the story unfolds into a tale of horror and brutality with enslaved children trapped inside pits scraping for water and food. This is certainly not a light-hearted and happy read. However, it really makes you think - it is an intelligent and well-crafted story. 

This is another great book that will stay with you until the very last page has been turned - just like a good old friend. It is a great debut start from an author who has been writing all of his life. Shortlisted for Undiscovered Voices 2012 - this great book, I am sure, is the reason why.

If you would like to read a copy of this book then the author is giving one lucky person a chance to win a signed hardback copy on his website. Why not pop over to enter the competition by following the link here http://richardmasson.com/

Equally, if you would like to read about the author's thoughts on Boonie then take a look at the guest post that he has written for my blog. More details on the competition can also be found here

Friday, 1 February 2013

Daniela Sacerdoti: Tide ( The Sarah Midnight ) Blog Tour Dates


 The Sarah Midnight Triology continues... Sarah Midnight is no ordinary teenager. She is a demon hunter, caught up in one of the deadliest wars unknown to man. Orphaned at the age of sixteen, Sarah learned the family trade of hunting without her parents to guide her but under the watchful eye of her 'cousin', who was revealed to be Sean Hannay, no relative at all, but a dear friend of the real Harry Midnight. Now, in the exciting sequel to Dreams, the fight continues. Sarah and Sean may have defeated the Scottish Valaya, but the rest of the war still rages on, and Sarah, Sean, Nicholas and their companions must unearth the identity and location of the Enemy - the leader of the demons - before the world plunges into the Time of Demons once more. Their quest leads them to Sarah's family home, the Midnight mansion in Islay, and there they discover horrible truths about the demon ruler, his plans, and Sarah's own personal history. Along the way, Sarah must battle not only the demons but her hurt toward Sean and her feelings for the enigmatic Nicholas, who has plans of his own.
If you fancy reading the first two chapters click Here
Black and White Publishing (21 Feb 2013)  Stop One -  Fresh Fantasy Fiction
                                                                Stop Two -  Sister Spooky

Mr Ripley's Most Wanted Books - March 2013 - US



      
Blue Balliett -  Hold Fast - Published By Scholastic - 1st, March 2013                                  
The mystery begins with a bizarre accident on a deserted, wintery street in Chicago. Now stir in an old Langston Hughes book on rhythms, the Chicago Public Library's huge downtown building, a family of four that find themselves in the midst of a spiraling nightmare, and the 2003Antwerp Diamond Heist, the biggest in history.
You will meet Dash, Sum, Early and Jubie… and many others living in a large city shelter. As dreams chase reality in a fearless yet sparkly search, 11-year-old Early Pearl will take you on a ride not easily forgotten.

                                                       
William Alexander - Ghoulish Song - Published By Margaret K. McElderry Books - March 5th, 2013
A brave girl flees a ghoul while trying to save her town in this lively, fast-paced companion to National Book Award winner Goblin Secrets.
Kaile lives in Zombay, an astonishing city where goblins walk the streets and witches work their charms and curses. Kaile wants to be a musician and is delighted when a goblin gives her a flute carved out of bone. But the flute’s single, mournful song has a dangerous consequence: It separates Kaile and her shadow. Anyone without a shadow is considered dead, and despite Kaile’s protests that she’s alive and breathing, her family forces her to leave so she can’t haunt their home.

Kaile and her shadow soon learn that the troublesome flute is tied to a terrifying ghoul made from the bones of those who drowned in the Zombay River. With the ghoul chasing her and the river threatening to flood, Kaile has an important role to play in keeping Zombay safe. Will Kaile and her shadow be able to learn the right tune in time?