Monday, 13 May 2013

New Books: Published in June 2013 - US Post


Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson - Starbounders - Published by HarperCollins (June 4, 2013) 
Zachary Night can’t wait to start his top-secret Starbounders training at Indigo 8. But he’s barely started learning the skills he’ll need to protect the galaxy when a space mission goes wrong. Zachary and his friends are accidentally sent to the front lines of an intergalactic skirmish, and they quickly discover a plot to destroy Indigo 8. Piloting a space ship under attack, they must get back to earth before the training center—and the planet—is annihilated.

Maile Meloy - The Apprentices - Published Putnam Juvenile (June 4, 2013)
Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s defiant son who stole her heart. On the other side of the world, Benjamin and his father are treating the sick and wounded in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam.
But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a magical new formula that allows him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When Benjamin discovers that she's in trouble, he calls on their friend Pip for help. The three friends are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while unraveling the mystery of what threatens them all.  
Acclaimed author Maile Meloy seamlessly weaves together magic and adventure in this breathtaking sequel with stunning illustrations by Ian Schoenherr.


Polly Shulman - The Wells Bequest A Companion to The Grimm Legacy - Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (June 13, 2013)
Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!


John Kitchen - A spectre in the Stones - Published by Thames River Press (June 1, 2013)
Lloyd Lewis is moving to yet another children's home, but this one is different. It seems to be cast in an unremitting, sunless winter. The staff and children are surly and aggressive, and he soon discovers why: Sarson Hall is gripped in a curse. There are poltergeists creating constant disruptions and, in the cellar, a terrifying ghost. Lloyd’s survival has always depended on his fighting spirit, and he sets about confronting the mayhem surrounding him. In his quest to remove the curse, he finds he possesses a rare power, which leads him to link what is happening to a nearby ravaged stone circle. But can he do anything to remove the curse from Sarson Hall, and can he bring peace once more to the old building and its occupants?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Stuart Webb - Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth - Book Review

After self publishing two great books on his own, Stuart has now finally been rewarded with the opportunity to write a book for the publishing company Seven Arches Publishing.

This is a long standing and well received series of books that has gained many avid readers along the way. This is the tenth book in the series, but this book is uniquely different to the rest. The publishers ran a writing competition to decide the setting and some of the ideas within the book. The overall winner was William Johnson who wrote about the fantastically grand Chatsworth House. However, Stuart also expertly wove other ideas and elements into the story making this a true collaboration in parts. 

I have to admit that I hadn't read any of the previous books in the series, but I had no problems picking up this book and engaging with it. Don't worry if you're in a similar position as it reads like a stand alone book. It provides a great slice of historical, time travelling fantasy that all readers will really engage in. At the heart of the story is the fantastic setting which is written with passion. The extensive knowledge and research that the author has enagaged with provides an accurate account of place, time and events. It really does enhance the story with a particularly realistic and believable presence. 
Jenny, whose brother Danny is an experienced time traveller, is recruited without Danny knowing by the rogue operators. Her life is in danger when she goes back in time to the beautiful mansion at Chatsworth. Jenny's secret missions set her on course of danger and mystery - on the way she meets a very famous person who is locked up in Chatsworth House. It is an amazingly fast paced and action packed adventure that all children from the age of 9+ will enjoy. However, it is also interestingly educational as the reader will learn many historical facts.

The characters are very memorable. There is a dark element to the story which is threaded throughout giving the story a hidden depth. I was engaged until the very end of the book and actually felt rather disappointed when I came to the end of the book.

In my opinion Stuart has written a really good book - I expect that the other books in the series are also written to the same high standard. If you would like to know more about the book or perhaps the route to becoming published, then check out Stuart's guest post that he has kindly written. Read Here.

If you would like to check out the publisher's website for this book, the other books in the series or other books that they have published for children, then click on the following link. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

Guest Post: Stuart Webb - Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth (Getting Published)

It’s a funny old world - just when I’d given up chasing publishers for a book deal, I found that one was hard on my heels, contract in hand…

For six long years I knocked on every publisher’s door I could find, searching for someone to love and nurture my first children’s novel, Aurora’s Tears, and then my second, Lyme Hall. Although I had a number of near misses (and gained an agent) along the way, eventually I ran out of people to pester. 

Then I found myself faced with a difficult choice: should I self-publish or concentrate on my next novel? It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, as there’s not only the obvious cost implications of self-publishing, but there’s also the impact on your life in general. When you already have a full time job (in the aerospace industry, in my case) it’s hard to take on another role as editor/proof reader/cover designer/sales and marketing manager for your latest book, whilst making sure you still have an hour or two left for your family. 

Backed by a supportive and understanding wife and daughter, who stood behind me all the way, I elected to self-publish both Auroras Tears and Lyme Hall. Fortunately, the books sold well, with positive feedback from all who read them, encouraging me to start on my next novel.

It was whilst I was working on my third book that there came a knock on my own door. It was a publisher, which bizarrely is based in my home town of Stockport, saying that they’d read a copy of Lyme Hall, liked it, and wondered if I’d consider writing a book in their Time Traveller series. The rest, as they say, is (quite literally) history. My book, Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth, is the 10th book in the series, the previous books having been written by an assortment of other authors. 

Although it’s part of an existing series, the book can be read as a standalone novel. In fact, the plan is that I’ll continue with my character, Jenny, and develop a sort of ‘series within a series’.

The setting for the book, and part of the historical action, was actually the result of a competition Seven Arches ran, asking children to suggest the location of the next Time Traveller book. The winner, William Johnson, suggested Chatsworth House, in the time when Mary, Queen of Scots, was being kept a prisoner there. So, I used the winning suggestion and wove a little fiction around the real historical events at Chatsworth.

The series is aimed at 8-12 year olds, but I’m sure, from my own personal experience as an avid reader of children’s books, it will also appeal to ‘more mature’ readers. 

Time Traveller Jenny at Chatsworth was published in March, and we've already secured a number of signing events, including one in the departure lounge at Manchester Airport – as I said, it’s a funny old world!

Thank you Stuart for the very interesting guest post. I hope that you will all support his book. If you're not already convinced then my book review will follow at the end of the week, so keep an eye out for that......

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Four New Children's Book Picks - June 2013 - UK Post Two


Nigel McDowell - Tall Tales From Pitch End - Published by Hot Key Books, 6 June 2013
Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.


Philip Ardagh & Axel Scheffler - The Grunts All At Sea - Published by Nosy Crow, 6 June 2013
Mr Grunt's a man with a mission. He has to get a Person of Great Importance (or POGI) to someone called Mrs Bayliss by the twenty-fifth. Alive and well. And he can't tell anyone more than that, not even his lovely wife, Mrs Grunt, because there will be people trying to snatch the POGI and so the POGI must be transported in secret. It's an exciting adventure, but what interests Mr Grunt most are the silver coins he's been promised at the end of it. The Grunts' stolen son, Sunny, has a few questions. Who is the big-earringed cyclist? Why does the POGI have to wear a barrel all the time? Is Rodders Lasenby a lovely person or simply the rudest man on the planet? And how long will it be before they find themselves All At Sea?

Victoria Barry - The Curse Of Crow: Darkmoor - Published by Matador, 1 June 2013
Unbeknown to Matthew, from high upon the chimney stack, someone was watching. He was waiting for the right moment to reveal himself, to once again restart Matthew's living nightmare. Teasingly and with a great deal of intimidation, he let out a gentle but familiar caw...In the second book of the five-part series 'Darkmoor', Clever Crow is back and he's more revengeful than ever before! His curse is destroying Matthew's life, keeping Catherine captive and causing Camp Forgotten to fall apart. One year has passed since Matthew was rescued by the dove and returned to Filius. He's determined to move on and forget about Darkmoor, but the school bully, aka Cameron Thomas, has other ideas. Elsewhere, Darkmoor is plotting his revenge with the help of his son, Logan. No one is safe, no one is freed, and this time, someone will pay. Join Clever Crow has he takes flight. Find out what happened next and meet the new characters whose lives will change forever. The only question is...Can you escape the curse of the crow? Darkmoor: The Curse of Crow is the second book in the five part series, aimed for children aged 8 years upwards. It is exciting, captivating and pure fantasy. With characters old and new, the second instalment of Darkmoor will have readers guessing right to the end. Readers will be desperate to read more.

Andy Mulligan -  The Boy With 2 Heads - Published by David Fickling Books, 6 June 2013 
How would YOU feel if you woke up and found another head growing out of YOUR neck? What's more it's a living, breathing, TALKING head, with a rude, sharp tongue and an evil sense of humour. It knows all your darkest thoughts and it's not afraid to say what it thinks. To ANYBODY.
That's exactly what happens to eleven-year-old Richard Westlake. Prepare to be stunned.
Part thriller, part horror, part comedy - this is one of the most riveting novels about fear and friendship that you will ever read, straight out of the storytelling HEAD of Andy Mulligan(author of the amazing Trash) directly to your very own BRAIN.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Book Review - Michelle Lovric - The Fate in the Box


This is the fourth book that has been written by Michelle Lovric. Every single story is a little time capsule of Venice which has been written in a place and time (1780's) that you could easily lose yourself in. Each story is a painted picture cleverly written in words. The Fate in the Box slowly winds through the streets of Venice in a colourful and vibrant way that makes it a very pleasurable read.

The venetian cries easily wash over you with charm and panache; the story ouses character from every page. There is a great sense of place and time that is quickly established and sets you on a journey of cleverly woven intrigue and mystery. The best way that I can describe this book is that of a Venetian snow globe which is gently shaken from time to time. The observer is then able to watch the wonders (through the snow) slowly begin to reveal themselves. It is enchanting!

The historical and factual partnership make a brilliant platform in which to weave a fantasy path. Both elements will have you hooked in a unique and special way. The author's knowledge and passion shines through every page like the skilled glassblowers of Murano, who are featured within the story. 

Fogfinger rules Venice - his Fog Squad and spies can be found everywhere. The Venetians fear him and obey him. He rules over with menace, ugliness and horror, so don't be surprised to read about an army of dead animals that are reanimated as automata! The inhabitants are all ruled with fear, but they remain intensely proud of their city. Every year one of their children is lost in a grisly Lambing Ceremony - the child must climb the bell tower and let the Fate in the Box (a grinning skull inside a jack-in-the-box) decide their destiny. Most end their days in the jaws of the primeval crocodile that lurks in the lagoon or at least that is what Fogfinger tells them. . . . . 

The book is full of courage, daring deeds and humour. The main characters Amneris, Tockle and Biiri aim to uncover the mysteries and seek answers..... but they may not stay alive long enough to reveal Venice's secrets and be able to defeat Fogfinger and his fate in the box. 

The book is superbly plotted with some very enchanting ideas e.g. walls that have tiny ears to listen in on anyone who criticises the evil ruler. The lazy inhabitants rely on various automata inventions which are described in particularly vivid detail and will easily capture your imagination e.g. magical talking statues, winged cats and the infamous mermaids (from the previous books) that are known as the protectors of Venice. 

There is so much going on in this story that you are never quite sure what's coming around the corner. It could be amazingly written dialogue one minute quickly followed by humour and laughs the next. With a combination of suspense, mystery, horror and mayhem this story really does have the lot. It is a truly creative and, in my opinion, a one of a kind reading experience. I'm really looking forward to the next book.......

For more on the books or the author, check out the books web site.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

News: Michael Grant, meets the winner of GONE Online on the EDF Energy London Eye


Author of the bestselling GONE series, Michael Grant, meets the winner of GONE Online on the EDF Energy London Eye

On Saturday 4 May, the bestselling author of the GONE series, Michael Grant, met the winner of GONE Online.  The game was created to celebrate the publication of LIGHT, the sixth and final book in the GONE series, which was published on 28 March and topped the children’s bestseller charts in both the UK and Ireland.
Lucy Woodcock, aged 18, whose gaming alias was Dionysus, won the game beating over 2,400 players to the prize.  She wins an Apple iPad and met Michael Grant during a trip around the EDF Energy London Eye. Lucy is from Wolverhampton and is a college student at Dudley Sixth in the West Midlands.

GONE Online ( was launched in March and ran over 6 weeks, seeing a series of mini games released on a weekly basis.  They were designed to challenge, infuriate and test the players’ skills.  Some games rewarded time and speed, others ability and knowledge of the books.  Using the latest in location-based marketing, players could pick up extra points by checking in with their smart phones at specific locations – bookshops or libraries.

By the close of play, over 53,000 games had been played with 57 million points scored in total.  Lucy Woodcock was a clear winner scoring over 226,000 points.  She comments, “I started playing the games because I really wanted to meet Michael Grant, and I wanted to see what the games were like especially the word search and the quiz. After playing them for a little while I got into the competitive element of the games and I was really enjoying playing them.” 

The game is hosted on a dedicated website and can also be played on smart phones.  Players of any age were able to play but only UK residents aged 21 years or under were eligible for the competition.  The game is still available to play, although no prizes are now available.

Michael Grant comments,I am amazingly bad at games, so I’m particularly impressed by the fans who have done so well.  Thanks to them for their enthusiasm and support.  It’s very humbling.  Thanks to all who played and all who outscored me … which was probably everyone.”

GONE was the first instalment in the epic teen series which has become hugely popular with teenagers internationally and has been lauded by Stephen King as ‘exciting, high-tension … told in a driving, torrential narrative that never lets up.’  

Over 400,000 copies of the books have now been sold in the UK alone.
Lucy Woodcock continues, “I first started reading the series because the cover caught my attention while I was in a book shop, I read the blurb and I was interested in reading them so I bought GONE. When I'd finished reading it I was really impressed! I searched online to find out when the next one would be out because I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to everyone. I was really glad that it wasn't a book that censored the violence because that's what made the story more realistic (except the powers) knowing that anything could happen to them at any time and not everyone would be able to cope with being trapped, especially teenagers. I've loved following the books and trying to guess how the FAYZ happened, what the Gaiphage was or how little Pete was involved, although I wasn't impressed when Michael killed my favourite character! I was really happy with how the series ended overall, even though it was really emotional.” 

Mike Richards, Marketing Director at Egmont Press, comments, “This competition was part of a broader campaign for the publication of LIGHT and we’re delighted that it has been won by such a big fan of the series. We’re also celebrating the book having launched straight into the bestseller charts and I take a good deal of personal pride in outscoring Michael in the first trivia game.”

Great New Children's Book Picks - June 2013 - UK Post One

Mark Walden - H.I.V.E. 8: Deadlock - Published by  Bloomsbury Children's (6 Jun 2013)

Deadlock – the eighth book in the breathtaking H.I.V.E. series – continues the high-octane adventures of the supremely talented criminal team, with central characters forced to question everything that Nero has taught them and to confront the consequences of life as a villain, set against the backdrop of a daring high-tech prison break where nothing is quite as it seems.

Otto and Raven are desperate to rescue their friends from the clutches of Anastasia Furan, head of the evil Disciples organisation. First they must track down the location of the Glasshouse, the prison where Furan trains children to become ruthless assassins. But Otto is also being hunted. The three months that Otto has spent following his ‘expulsion’ from H.I.V.E. have given the Artemis Section – an elite division of the American intelligence services that specialises in capturing the toughest targets and reports only to the President – an opportunity to locate him.

Darren Shan - ZOM-B Angels - Published by  Simon & Schuster Children's Books (20 Jun 2013)
Where can you find shelter in a city of the damned? How can you build a new life if you're undead? Who can you trust in a world gone mad? B Smith has come to a crossroads...

Cassandra R. Clarke - The Pirate's Wish - Published by Strange Chemistry (4 Jun 2013)

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

Joseph Delaney - Spook's: Alice: Book 12 (Wardstone Chronicles) - Published by Bodley Head (6 Jun 2013)

A lot of dark stuff happened when I was young that I've never even told to my dearest friend, Tom Ward. Dark and scary things I hoped I had left behind for ever . . .
Over the years, Alice has fought evil side by side with the Spook and his apprentice, Thomas Ward. But now Alice is alone - in the realm of the dark. And the creatures she has helped to banish there, now have the chance to take their revenge.

Alice must seek the final weapon needed to destroy the Fiend for good. If she fails, the world will fall into despair and darkness. If she succeeds, it means facing her own death at the hands of her dearest friend. But can she prevent the darkness from overtaking her over completely . . . ?
The penultimate instalment of the Wardstone Chronicles follows Alice, Thomas Ward's loyal companion, to the most terrifying place of all.

Friday, 3 May 2013

New Edition Book Cover Reveal - Darren Shan - Lord Loss and Demon Thief (Demonata Series)

Missed the demonata the first time round?
check out our new look editions of this classic horror series a hellsh nightmare for only the bravest of readers...

LORD LOSS by Darren Shan - New edition. Release date: July 4th 2013.
When Grubbs Grady first encounters Lord Loss and his evil minions, he learns three things: • the world is vicious, • magic is possible,
• demons are real.
He thinks that he will never again witness such a terrible night of death and darkness.
...He is wrong.

DEMON Thief by Darren Shan - New edition. Release date: July 4th 2013.
When Kernel Fleck's brother is stolen by demons, he must enter their universe in search of him. It is a place of magic, chaos and incredible danger. Kernel has three aims: • learn to use magic, • find his brother, • stay alive.

But a heartless demon awaits him, and death has been foretold...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Book Review: Jon Mayhew - Monster Odyssey


A huge red tentacle gripped a sailor and whisked him above the deck. Dakkar caught the look of horror in his staring eyes as he vanished, dragged over the side and into the sea. Water rained down on the deck as more tentacles squirmed their way over the side and across the deck or through the rigging. Men's shouts of anger or terror mingled with the odd gunshot. 

This is the fourth book by Jon Mayhew - it is due to be published by Bloomsbury this month. This book is slightly different from Jon's previous books as it's not just about the frights and spills of horror. It is instead a pure epic fantasy from the bottom of the ocean. Jon, at an early age, was captivated like so may of us by the classic 1950 Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This was of course originally written by the great man and author, Jules Verne. 

At the time, the film industry was making great leaps and bounds with new technology. This film captivated many watchers, just like the book. It has certainly inspired Jon to be very creative historically - additional embellishments through a creative vision creates a mix of 200,000 Leagues and The Mysterious Island. A memorable and enchanting read has been created that will have you in awe. You'll be gripped by the strongest tentacle and dragged down into the deepest depths of fantasy. 

The main character in the book, Prince Dakkar, will rejuvenate the memory of Captain Nemo in so many ways. I'm hoping that he may pave the way for many future stories. Son of an Indian Rajah, he certainly has issues with authority, as he was expelled from the world's finest schools and finally sent to an unconventional educator known as Count Oginski. Unsurprisingly, Dakkar plans his escape immediately and eventually sets off on a roller-coaster adventure. This is a seafaring-tale that will have you splashing about wanting much more.

Count Oginski is a genius inventor, as a character he works really well for me. Although, in my opinion, he might be a little bit stereotypical but nevertheless he is very mysterious and definitely interesting to read and follow. Another key character is the sinister Cryptos, who is hellbent on taking over the world. He's just like a super villain from a Bond movie as he lives in a fantastic hideout where he can be found plotting evil world domination.  

This book was brilliant - it has all of the classic ingredients that will take you back to your childhood. Assassins, espionage and a mind boggling adventure. There are pirates and a big giant squid, which is just pure magic as it creates some epic, high-octane, action sequences.  Whilst a whole host of deadly sea creatures produce a horrifying element that cannot be imagined. All of which is told at a blistering pace - the pure fantasy and imagination does not let up until the very end of the book.

Jon's new adventure has taken him into a new territory, but he has certainly come up trumps. I loved this book as much as his other stories. He has a great ability to conjure up something really special which transports the reader back to their childhood roots . . . . . just like the classic film all those years ago. Fantastic reading - I'm sure that you'll love this book as much as I did.

Published by Bloomsbury May 9th 2013

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Jon Mayhew's Mayhem Month of Monsters - Unleashed Wednesday 1st May 2013

Discover a different monster every day in May!

To celebrate publication of Jon Mayhew’s brilliant new beastly adventure Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune Bloomsbury Children’s Books
has gone creature crazy and created an online, interactive calendar that will unleash a different monster every day.

The calendar will be hosted at with a new door being activated each day throughout the month of May.
Here a whole menagerie of monsters ranging from giant sharks to classic dragons will be revealed.
The 31 creatures have been selected from myths, legends, classic stories and some even from our planet’s ancient history.

Each monster has been illustrated by the very talented Mike Love and comes with some short statistics and a word from Jon Mayhew.

Mayhew’s Month of Monsters is unleashed on Wednesday 1st May 2013

Book review to follow on Thursday.........

Three Children's Books: For Reluctant Boy Readers - Out In May 2013


Chris Bradford - Bodyguard: Hostage - Published by Puffin (2 May 2013)
In a dangerous world, everyone needs protection.
Bodyguard: Hostage is the new thriller from Chris Bradford, bestselling author of Young Samurai. Bodyguard is a bulletproof action-adventure series that fans of Cherub and Alex Rider will love. This is Lee Child for younger readers - Jason Bourne for the next generation.
With the rise of teen stars, the intense media focus on celeb families and a new wave of billionaires, adults are no longer the only target for hostage-taking, blackmail and assassination - kids are too.
That's why they need a young bodyguard like Connor Reeves to protect them.
Recruited into the ranks of a covert young bodyguard squad, 14-year-old Connor Reeves embarks on a rigorous close protection course. Training in surveillance, anti-ambush exercises, hostage survival and unarmed combat, he's put through his paces and wonders if he will actually survive the course.
But when the US President summons Connor to protect his impulsive teenage daughter, Connor's training is put to the ultimate test. For Connor discovers that the First Daughter, Alicia, doesn't want to be guarded. She just wants to have fun. And with no clue Connor is her bodyguard, Alicia tries to elude her Secret Service agents and lead Connor astray. But unknown to her, a terrorist sleeper cell has been activated.
Its mission: to take the president's daughter HOSTAGE...

H. L Dennis - The Knights of Neustria (Secret Breakers) - Published by Hodder Children's  (2  May 2013)
Team Veritas are back at Bletchley Park where a secret message hidden in a Shakespeare Portfolio pulls them into a new code-cracking adventure. Their investigations lead them to the writings of Sir Francis Bacon. Soon, they uncover the history of the Knights of Neustria, a brotherhood that goes back to the time of King Arthur charged with protecting a legendary secret. 
But are they any closer to their goal - to unravel the secret behind the ancient coded Voynich Manuscript? 
The stakes are getting higher as our young trio chase their quest from Cambridge to a terrifying struggle along the currents of the surging River Wye. Only one step behind them is the secret organisation who will stop at nothing to block them from discovering the truth ... 
Join the Secret Breakers team to crack the code in this highly original puzzle-solving series - The Da Vinci Code for kids.


Darren Shan - Hagurosan - Published by Barrington Stoke Ltd (15 May 2013)
When Hagurosan is told to take an offering to the shrine, he reluctantly begins his trek up the mountain. But when he gets hungry and eats the cake meant for the spirits, things take a turn that no one could have expected. Now Hagurosan must face the consequences of his actions. Terrific adventure from a master of fantasy. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers of 8+

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Will Hill - Animated Department 19 Comic Strips by Tom Percival

The first and second instalment so far for the animated Department 19 comic strips which has just been released recently - written by Will Hill, everything else has been brilliantly done by Tom Percival. Includes weapons, vehicles, the inside of the Loop, and remarkably high levels of awesome... Hope enjoy them, as they are super cool....

Friday, 26 April 2013

Mr Ripley's One to Watch: Aesop's Secret By Claudia White - May 2013

At the age of ten, Melinda Hutton enjoys a dreamy world where she imagines transforming into animals. Her brother, serious minded, twelve-year old Felix scoffs when their mother, Elaine, explains that to transform is normal for Athenites. She explains that their ancestry is often disguised in stories and fables, but it isn’t until their father Jake demonstrates this talent that they begin to understand that their ancestry is anything but mythical…
 Felix looked horrified as he stared at the wolf in his father’s clothing. While Melinda had greeted her father’s transformation with delight, Felix had turned a ghostly white and his mouth hung open as he gasped for breath. He looked like he might faint, throw up or both. Instead, he stood up,
moved backwards then ran out of the room and out of the house.
Understanding their heritage is only one of the challenges that Melinda and Felix must contend as they discover that treachery and greed impact their family’s lives. Melinda uses the skills of her ancestors (with strange and less than perfect results) to uncover Professor Horace Stumpworthy’s frightening plans…
Melinda panted under the heavy fabric of her bed clothes. She was dizzy after the quickest transformation of her life, leaving her feeling the way she might have having plummeted down in an elevator after the cable snapped. Her heart was racing as the floor vibrated while the professor walked closer. An involuntary shiver rippled along the length of her rabbit-shaped body and a single droplet of sweat trickled down her tiny freckled human face. She knew that if he turned on the lights he would see the pile of clothing and it would take only a second or two to discover her underneath.
Professor Stumpworthy’s brilliance in using his Athenite skills has made him a rich and powerful man. He had exploited humans, as well as his own kind, with ease until the Huttons got in the way…
Feeling the professor go limp, Melinda released her grip and leapt free while Felix leaned closer to the professor’s prone body. “There you go Professor…Burungo, the strongest sedative known to modern science.” But the professor didn’t stay quiet for long. His body writhed and shrank; white hairs exploded out of his skin, covering his entire body. Felix pushed backwards as the professor melted into a furry mass. Seconds later all that was left of him was a small white animal now occupying the space where he had fallen. It was only then that Felix noticed Joe kneeling alongside. Joe smiled as he held up a tiny syringe. “So it really does work,” he said in amazement. “Let that be a lesson to all of us to stay as far away from Wolfbane as we possibly can.”
 Publisher: MP Publishing (14 May 2013)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Book Review: Rick Yancey - The 5th Wave - Published by Puffin - May 2013


The 1st Wave: a power cut and the world is in complete darkness
The 2nd Wave: a tidal wave wipes out three billion people and only the lucky escape 
The 3rd Wave: a deadly virus clears a further four billion - only the unlucky survive 
The 4th Wave: the few remaining survivors begin killing each other. Only one rule applies: trust no one
The 5th Wave: No one knows. But it is coming......

With the hype mounting and the movie rights already sold, will this book deliver a Hollywood blockbuster? Riding on the success of 'The Hunger Games' and 'I Am Number Four' this genre is really hot at the moment and this book is definitely seeking a slice of the action. Rick Yancey's terrifying dystopian vision is a great story. It is one that I feel people will love and say great things about. Even though I actually had a couple of issues with the book, but I will say more about this soon.

The start of the book felt a little bit slow going to me, although I was still able to really enjoy what I was reading. The story has all of the key ingredients that I love to read about. A dystopian setting and a terrifying alien invasion with a sting in its tale. All of this is set in a well-written and well imagined sci-fi setting which has a bleak outlook and an even bleaker future. It's scary, it's violent and it's psychologically gripping - this story is brilliant. It is full of originality and full of big time heroics as the characters fight for survival - the underlying theme in this story is what it means to be human. 

However, at this point, the plot then came crashing down for me. The middle part of the story just stopped and I found myself wading deeper and deeper into the character emotions and feelings of Cassie. These ran strongly between trust and despair, defiance and surrender and between life and death etc. It was far too deep for me and became rather annoying. It felt as if the story was only based around two or three characters in the book, but it really could have been so much more than that. In my opinion, this section really just took the fantastic edge of a great story.  

The book did recover towards the end. All of the story segments were expertly woven together to make it a particularly intense and epic ending. It is an action-packed story which is full of great ideas. However these are wrapped up in with some rather big surprises. I was definitely superglued to the final outcome, which made the whole reading experience enjoyable and captivating. This was the ending that I was hoping for - the author delivered this in a really big way. It is an outstanding finish which, in my opinion, made up for the middle section.

This book is the first part of a trilogy. It is a story, in my opinion, which should work well as a movie. The book is due to be published on the 7th of May by Puffin. With a UK author tour confirmed in early June, this is definitely an opportunity worth looking out for. I look forward to your comments, as always.
Here is the book trailer....