Wednesday, 20 February 2013

TEEN: The Cahill Witch Chronicles 1: Born Wicked - Jessica Spotswood

Release Date: 07/02/13  

Romance, magic and an age-old prophecy - the first novel in a stunning new paranormal young adult series. "Born Wicked" is to witches what "Twilight" is to vampires! Our mother was a witch too, but she hid it better. I miss her. To me, the magic feels like a curse. According to the Brothers, it's devil-sent. Women who can do magic-they're either mad or wicked. So I will do everything in my power to protect myself and my sisters. Even if it means giving up my life - and my true love. Because if the Brothers discover our secret, we're destined for the asylum, or prison ...or death. Praise for "Born Wicked": "A tale so captivating, you don't want it to end". (Andrea Cremer, "New York Times" bestselling author of the "Nightshade" series). Jessica Spotswood is a debut US author. She grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania. Now she lives in a gentrifying hipster neighbourhood in Washington, D.C. with her playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. She's never happier than when she's immersed in a good story, and swoony kissing scenes are her favourite. "Born Wicked" is her debut novel for teens.  

When I originally heard about this book I was more than intrigued as rather than making an Urban Fantasy in the modern age, the author decided to give it the flection of historical fiction and whilst for the most part the book worked well on some levels, there were quite a few others where it failed to live up to my expectations as parts were easily predicatable as well as treading a familiar road as a young woman is pulled between love and her family. Its not that there’s anything inherently wrong with the title but when most of the book is setting the scene without bringing all those wonderful historical references to add a timely charm, that it starts to leave you wondering where the series is going to go (this is part one of the Cahill Witch Chronicles) that will give the reader not only the fire but the desire to keep on going. Throw into the mix a major problem of Cate being a pretty perfect woman (beautiful, intelligent and of course extremely powerful) and it leaves you wondering why you want to care about this central character when others such as Maura stir the pot wonderfully well taking on Cate at every opportunity. It is a book that does have a lot of scope and here’s hoping that in future outings the characters will do a little more than follow a predictable path, but all in, for me, I’ll look at the next part to see what mayhem will ensue. 


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

GUEST BLOG: If Only I Could - Liz Kessler

‘If only I could go back in time and…’

Have you ever had a thought that began like this? If only you could go back and change one thing, or say something differently… If you could see someone again who you met years ago and have no idea how to contact now. If you had made one tiny decision differently. If you could thank someone who did something for you and you never saw again…

These are the kinds of ideas and thoughts that fascinate me. I love the fact that our lives hinge and turn on a hundred of these moments every day. Which is why I was very excited when I managed to persuade my publisher to let me write three books that explore these questions, each in different ways. The first, A Year Without Autumn (which came out in 2011) looked at what might happen if you saw something terrible in your future and you got the chance to go back in time and change one tiny moment that might change your future as well as your past.

The second of these standalone time slip books is North of Nowhere, which is out this month. The book looks at time travel in a completely different way. This one explores what might happen if, somehow, you could communicate with someone who had lived in a different time from you. Or, to be more precise, someone who is alive now but you could communicate with them when they were a completely different age from what they are now. Sound complicated? Well, yes, it is a bit! Or it was when I was writing it, anyway. Spending a year figuring out how to make everything add up so that my characters could successfully travel backwards and forwards in time, with not only the past affecting the present, but the present affecting the past as well, left my brain spinning and bedraggled! It was one of the hardest tasks I’ve ever undertaken.

But as with lots of things, the harder the task, the more satisfying it is when it’s done. And if you get to read it, I hope you’ll agree and find it a satisfying read as well!

And maybe it’ll get you thinking, too. What if you could talk to someone who’d lived in a different era? Or perhaps you could meet up with someone you know in your life today, but when they are much older – or younger – than they are now. Who would you choose? What would you say to them? What might change as a result of your conversation?

Makes you think, doesn’t it…

NORTH OF NOWHERE by Liz Kessler is published by Orion Children’s Books on 24 January in hardback at £9.99 

But wait, we're not done yet, theres a Young Writers Competition in conjunction with "The Guardian" the details are:

"The competition is open to all writers aged 8-13 who need to finish the story (which is the opening paragraph of NORTH OF NOWHERE) in 500 words or less. Entries are open from 17 January 2013 – 28 March 2013. The winner will have their story published on the Guardian Children’s Books website, will win a digital camera as well as £100 worth of Orion Children’s Books for their school library.

The competition will be launched on the Guardian Childrens Books website on 17 January:"

8+: North of Nowhere - Liz Kessler

Release Date: 31/01/13

Book Blurb: 
The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery ...Mia's grandad has vanished and nobody knows why. When Mia and her mum go to support her grandma, Mia makes friends with local girl, Dee. But why does Dee seem so out of reach? Why does she claim to be facing violent storms when Mia sees only sunny skies? And can Mia solve the mystery and find her grandad before time and tide forever wash away his future? A night of storms. A lifetime of secrets. A week to find the truth.

If there’s something that Liz does well, its bringing a story of suspense and mystery with a character that the younger reader can not only associate with but want to spend time with. The prose as usual is crisp, the twists and turns magical and when added to some cracking authorly slight of hand, the reader will be more than thrilled with the title. Add to the mix some magical scene settings through vividly descriptive passages and all round the reader is in for a treat, especially as the whole thing plays out wonderfully within their imagination like a personal mini movie. Magical.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

TEEN: The Masque of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin

Release Date: 02/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Death is impossible and living is impossibly hard for 17-year-old Araby Worth in this sexy, post-Apocalyptic reimagining of Poe's gothic horror story of the same name. It's 1870 and a deadly virus has decimated the population of North America. Masked corpse-collectors roam the streets, removing the bodies before the contagion can spread. Though Araby tries to escape it all with drugs and parties, even at her most intoxicated she can't forget her brother's death - or her guilt for causing it. But things begin to change when William, the fascinating proprietor of The Debauchery Club where she searches for oblivion, and Elliott, nephew of the insane dictator, enter her life. One wants her heart, and the other her name. Convinced that he has won over his uncle's army, Elliott believes that having Araby on his arm will charm the populace into supporting a new government. After all, her father is the inventor of the mask which prevents the spread of the plague and saved civilisation - for those who can afford it...but Araby's greatest interest is that his plans will make protective masks available to all citizens and, in particular, to Will's young siblings, whom she has come to love despite herself.

But nothing is what it seems. A new contagion called the Red Death is sweeping the city and a shocking revelation about the origin of the new virus puts Araby's life in danger. The mob wants her. The rebels want her. And both boys want her. In this superb two-book series, what and who Araby chooses may just decide the fate of humanity ...

If a book is based on what many would think of as a literary classic, then that book has to be something special and to be honest this was a book that’s taken me some time to review purely as I wanted to digest what I’d read.

Firstly this book is all about the setting, its dark, it seeps into the readers unconscious and to be honest it works delightfully well for the author. The principle character comes over very well (if not a little over the top) and for readers of Teen fiction, will fit in beautifully whilst still being someone they can identify with.

Add to this solid direction, a wonderful sense of pace and of course a story that keeps you going right to the very end which all in makes this a book that you really will enjoy.


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

5+: Toys in Space - Mini Grey

Release Date: 02/08/12

Book Blurb: 
What happens when you leave your toys out in the garden at night? They get beamed into space - that's what! Join our plucky band as they explore the cosmos, and help out one lonely alien along the way...

Mini Grey is an author who always manages to think outside the box for the reader, presenting a story that is not only meaningful but also one that really brings the bright fun style that she is known for to the readers imagination as the doll tells a story that they can all get behind.

Its vivid, it works very well and to be honest as an adult I like to bring something different to my nephews that lets them know that there’s all sorts of books out there. Add to this that it continues Mini’s own wonderful world that steps out from her imagination straight into the readers (as lets face it, we all know that Toy’s come to life at night) and all in it’s a good bit of fun.


Monday, 17 December 2012

3+: Brave Little Owl - Penny Little

Release Date: 02/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Little Owl is teased by her brothers when her every attempt at flying ends in disaster. And all she wants is to make her Grandma's birthday perfect by showing her how brave she is. Her friends try to explain that lots of things can seem scary at first. But it takes some kind words from Grandpa to really help Little Owl face her fears. Eventually Little Owl manages to soar up into the sky under a gorgeous glittery moon, giving Grandma the best birthday present ever! Sean Julian's warm, detailed illustrations bring this sweet, atmospheric story to life with real feeling.

All life is full of challenges so when you know that your own child is going to face something that they may not be sure about, its great to help bring something a little different to the fore so that they can not only associate with the lead character but also find that through bravery and of course facing their fear that they can overcome it.

Here within this book is a story of a little owl who whilst the smallest was the one that overcame her greatest fear and managed to do something special. It shows that determination is key and also helps enforce a positive message for young readers. Add to this some wonderful artwork from Sean Julian and all in it’s a great story for readers. Magical.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

3+: Knight School - Jane Clarke, Jane Massey

Release Date: 02/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Little Knight and Little Dragon can't wait to start school. But Little Knight goes to school in the day time and Little Dragon goes to school at night...This is an adorably sweet story in which these very different friends with very different experiences make sure they have time for each other. With an adventure, a feisty princess and a glorious sparkly night scene, this is a wonderful follow up to the hugely successful "Knight Time".

In days of old, when the knights were bold you often wondered where they got their training. Well worry not as our young hero starts Knight School and his friend a baby dragon, starts Dragon School with each learning their places in life. Yet whilst its always thought of as pretty linear, Jane Clarke with Jane Massey manage to take the story in a different direction where the two young protagonists get to keep their friendship going.

Its fun, its light hearted and for me it’s a good thing as it shows that although people (and dragons) are different we can all get along and be friends regardless of what people expect. Add to this some wonderful illustrations to back up the wonderful storyline and all in it’s a good bit of fun.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

10+: History Keepers; Circus Maximus - Damian Dibbins

Release Date: 02/08/12

Book Blurb: 
The History Keepers are in terrible danger once more. Stocks of Atomium - the crucial ingredient which allows them to travel through time - are perilously low, and the agents must embark on a risky mission to find more. And now a new and even more evil member of the Zeldt family is planning a hideous take-over of the Ancient world, and they are forced to travel further back into history than ever before in order to save the day. Well, all of the days actually. In this exciting sequel, the History Keepers embark upon another rollercoaster adventure that takes us into the heart of the ancient world, from the doors to Hades, to the streets of Rome at the height of its glorious empire. You think the chariot race in Ben Hur is exciting? Wait till you see the History Keepers racing round Rome ...

Having fallen for Damian’s world in his first book (The History Keepers: The Storm Begins), I really couldn’t wait to rejoin Jake to see how his world would not only change but how the previous events would affect his psyche as well as his choices. It’s definitely a kickass series, its one to appeal to fans of Alex Scarrows TimeRiders. It’s full of twists, it brings the time to life and when added to a plot that moves at quite a clip alongside giving the reader what they want, all in makes it a series that’s not only hard to put down but with a secondary title that really announces Damian to the writers world. Great stuff.


Friday, 14 December 2012

10+: Gods and Warriors - Michelle Paver

Release Date: 28/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Hylas couldn't take it in. Last night he and Issi had made a camp in a cave. Now his sister was missing, his dog was dead, and he was running for his life. The Black Warriors - nightmares of black rawhide armour and bronze spears - want him dead. He doesn't know why, but their pursuit will be relentless. So begins his quest across land and sea with only Pirra, the rebellious daughter of a High Priestess, and a dolphin called Spirit for company. By the best-selling author of Wolf Brother, Gods and Warriors is this year's most hotly anticipated children's novel. The first book in a breathtaking adventure series set in the Greek Bronze Age: a time when the lowliest goatherd could rise to become a hero.

Michelle Paver is an one of those authors that I just can’t resist, I love the way she writes, really enjoy the plotline and to be honest for me it’s her characters that really do the business for me as a reader. They’re fully rounded and approachable for the modern reader regardless of the time in which they live.

Add to this solid prose, a great sense of pace and a way of bringing the past to life that is not only gripping reading but also something that really makes the readers demand more without letting them get bored as some books do. There’s always something to notice and with this, the first book in a new series it’s no exception. Magic.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

TEEN: Fire City - Bali Rai

Release Date: 30/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Twenty-five years ago the world changed forever. A great war, which had raged for three years ended, and the reign of the Demons began...

Within the crumbling walls of Fire City, fifteen-year-old Martha is a member of the resistance, a small band of humans fighting for freedom in a lawless and horrifying new world. Amidst the chaos of battle arrives Jonah, a handsome stranger with a thirst for revenge and a power to destroy the Demon rulers.

As Martha and Jonah's lives collide, the future of the resistance is altered forever. The battle for humankind will now begin. An epic story of catastrophe, survival and the power of humanity.

The future is dark, the world is threatened and mankind is not only is not only declining alongside threatened but also on the menu. It’s hard hitting, the characters working very well in the dark dystopian future and when added to a kick ass plot that has serious pace alongside the odd lull to allow you to recover, works very well for readers.

Add to this an author who can do some solid sleight of hand, gives readers a cracking tale for their money as well as gives readers the possibility for future titles all in makes this a book that really will hit the spot. Finally throw into the mix a lead character that readers can not only identify with but will also want to spend time around and all in its been a lot of fun to spend some time in the future.


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

5+: Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? - Julie Middleton, Ill. Russell Ayto

Release Date: 30/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Dad takes Dave to the museum to look at dinosaurs. Dad is convinced that he knows all there is to know about these mighty beasts. And if nothing else he knows that they are most definitely dead. But Dave isn't quite so sure...This is a highly original must-read story that rivals Not Now, Bernard in the way it teaches parents that key lesson: listen to your kids!

I love a book where Dad’s are the butt of the joke and this title does it brilliantly. Here within this book is a story that tells children about Dinosaurs and also brings them to life with the wonderfully amusing artwork of Russell Ayto, its bright, it stands out and with the words by Julie Middleton, really comes over very well.

Add to this a story that adults and children will love and all in it’s a great book. A wonderful way to introduce children to dinosaurs and also a book that will be read quite a few times. Magical.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

3+: Cinderella's Bum and Other Bottoms - Nicolas Allan

Release Date: 30/08/12 BOOK BLURB: A big sister is horrified when she can't fit into her swimming costume. Her BOTTOM IS SOO BIG! But her little sister has some good advice.There follows a wonderful romp through history and fairyland, as the little sister explains exactly why a big bottom can be useful. Father Christmas needs one for crash landings and, if you are a queen, a big bum is vital to keep you comfy while sitting on your throne ...Once again Nicholas Allan combines laugh-out-loud humour with real insight that cannot fail to raise a smile.

REVIEW: This title is different to the other books by Nicolas Allan and whilst its still reasonable I didn’t enjoy it as much as two of his others “Father Christmas needs a Wee” and my personal favourite “The Giant’s Loo Roll.” Don’t get me wrong the story is fun, the pictures bright but for me it lacks the fun that the other two books had in spades. All in it is an OK book and will give you some amusement but personally I’d suggest the other two titles first.

Monday, 10 December 2012

3+: Tug of War - John Burningham

Release Date: 30/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Hare, Hippopotamus and Elephant live together, but not happily, for Hippopotamus and Elephant are forever teasing poor Hare. One day, Hare decides to teach his friends a lesson, and so the great tug of war begins ...

There’s something special about getting a story from another culture that you may not have heard before as an adult. Here in this book we get a tale from Africa about and Elephant, a Hippo and a Hare who proves that he’s smarter than the other two. Its fun, the pictures wonderfully illustrated and bring this traditional story to life for me as a Western Reader. Its good fun which when backed up with a moral (sort of like an African Aesop’s Fable) which really makes this a lot of fun as smarts outdo strength. All in great stuff.


Sunday, 9 December 2012

8+: Emily Windsnap 5: Emily Windsnap and the Land of the Midnight Sun - Liz Kessler

Release Date: 06/09/12

Book Blurb: 
Emily and Aaron are sent on a top secret mission by King Neptune. The king has been having nightmares he doesn't understand and he knows only that Emily and Aaron must go to the Land of the Midnight Sun to avoid catastrophe. But when the friends arrive in this icy world of mountains and glaciers, they uncover a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined. With the help of her best friends and a brave heart can Emily survive and fulfil her mission? A magical adventure about the power of friendship.

Liz is an author that knows what her readers want and delivers it in spades as in this, the fifth title in the Emily Windsnap series has gone to prove. Emily as a character has grown and with the support of her friends alongside her courage really has gone from strength to strength with each subsequent title challenging her more than the last.

Here sent to the far north (on a mission for Nepture) Emily is thrown straight in at the deep end and its only through her determination that things get done, it’s a wonderful read, has some truly magical moments and when blended with the authors no nonsense no word wasted style really makes this one of the best of the series to date. Great stuff.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

TEEN: Summertime of the Dead - Gregory Hughes

Release Date: 30/08/12

Book Blurb: 
Yukio's two best friends are dead. Tormented and blackmailed by the Yakuza - the Japanese mafia - they have taken their own lives. Yukio is a kendo champion and he knows all the stories of the samurai. Heartbroken and furious, he is determined to avenge the deaths of his beloved Hiroshi and Miko. And so begins a deadly struggle between Yukio and the Yakuza, and between Yukio's capacity for love, and his thirst for revenge. Shot through with the beauty of Tokyo in spring, this is an unforgettable and uncompromising read.

This title is a bit of a strange one as it has all the feeling of a Young Adult story but with more adult themes explored within. As such recommending this has been quite difficult, not because I didn’t enjoy the story but trying to find the right age range really made this difficult as the subject matter isn’t one that should be introduced too early.

Within this book by Gregory Hughes is a story of emotional pain, bloody revenge set in the modern world that harks back to traditions of a bygone era as this tale is set in modern Japan. Written from the principle characters point of view we see it all from its seemingly innocent beginnings into its dark decent to its final conclusion.

It is well written with the lead character coming over quite strongly but when you add a world that few westerners will fully understand into the mix (let alone the YA market) its definitely a story that is not one I’d give them too early and would recommend that you read yourself before passing on. Don’t get me wrong, it is well written, the prose sharp but with the overall emotional turmoil within if you want to give a younger child a taste of Japan then I’d recommend Chris Bradford first.


Friday, 7 December 2012

GUEST BLOG: An Intro to the World of Falling Kingdoms - Morgan Rhodes

FALLING KINGDOMS focuses on the land of Mytica—a continent approxmately the size of the UK, which was divided into three kingdoms a thousand years ago. 

In the north is Limeros, a land ruled by a cruel king with the nickname of “the king of blood.” He has a heart of ice, much like his kingdom, which has slowly frozen over, as if it’s under a curse. Limerians are devoted to Valoria, goddess of earth and water, and worship is a daily part of their lives. Because of the harsh climate and their merciless king, their lives are difficult, but they are a strong and stubborn people with the will to survive. 

In the center of Mytica is Paelsia, a land which also seems under a curse. Unlike frozen Limeros, Paelsia’s soil has gradually wasted away from the Forbidden Mountains in the east and moving toward the Silver Sea in the west. Paelsians are a very poor people, dependent on their meager income from their one major export—an infamously delicious wine grown from grapes that only flourish in what little rich soil Paelsia has left. Paelsians do not worship a god or goddess, nor do they have an official king. Instead, they look to their chieftain, a self-proclaimed sorcerer who has yet to show any real signs of the magic he claims will save his people. 

In the south of Mytica is Auranos, a golden land of prosperity and peace. Here there are lush forests and meadows, blue skies, and warm temperatures. Their devotion to Cleiona, goddess of fire and air has gradually fallen away in recent decades, as citizens lean more toward a hedonistic lifestyle than one grounded in religion. This land is not cursed as its close neighbors seem to have been and this earns it both disdain and envy. Auranos is ruled over by a benevolent king with two beautiful daughters. But in a land where everything is simple, the people can quickly grow lazy and spoiled. 

Throughout Mytica there is the legend of hidden magic—four lost crystals known as the Kindred. Another legend is the existence of immortals known as Watchers, who can take the form of hawks to enter the mortal realm. Both Watchers and mortals seek the lost magic…the only question is – who will find it first?

12+: Falling Kindoms - Morgan Rhodes

Release Date: 03/01/13

Book Blurb: 
Fantasy, romance and magic meld with unforgettable characters in this sensational series debut. Perfect for fans of George RR Martin's "Game of Thrones", JRR Tolkein's "The Hobbit", and Trudy Canavan's "Black Magician" trilogy. In a land where magic has been forgotten and peace has reigned for centuries, unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms battle for power...A princess must journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long-thought extinct. A rebel becomes the leader of a bloody revolution. A Sorceress discovers the truth about the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield. It's the eve of war. Each must choose a side. KINGDOMS WILL FALL.

Whilst this is a book by an established historical fiction author, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the skills that they’ve developed will translated well for a young reader market and although with an established print record a publisher may be more likely to take a chance on your new title, it doesn’t mean that the most discerning readers of all will like it.

What “Morgan” brings to the fore in this title is a story that grips the reader from the beginning, blending elements of high fantasy with wonderful characters that not only breath but gently introduce you to a brutal world where everything has to be earned including life. It’s definitely going to be something that I feel a lot of young readers will be able to get behind and with the cracking characterisation that allows readers to see the multi-facets of those lead characters, the supporting cast also has to be supported in the way that they help flesh the world out.

Add to this great prose, a pace that’s hard to match alongside hard core action and an author who obviously knows how to work not only your emotions but also your ability to put the book down and all round as a reader its definitely something to sit back and savour.


Thursday, 6 December 2012

7+: Three Tales of Magic and Mischief - Roald Dahl

Release Date: 27/09/12

Book Blurb: 
A marvellous mix - this wonderful hardback bind-up contains George's "Marvellous Medicine", "Matilda", and "The Witches" - a perfect gift for any child to get swept up in the magic of "Roald Dahl"...

To be honest with you I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this novel, but knowing how much fun I’ve had with Pittacus Lore I was hoping for something to fill the gap whilst I waited for the next in the series. What I got was a book that whilst the story was interesting failed to grip me due to the characters. They felt a little flat for me, not rounded and whilst individually they each have their own abilities, as a group I’m not sure how well they’re going to gel in the overall quest.

That aside, the pace is reasonable, the prose solid and all round its readable but for me, if I don’t get on with the characters its always a struggle to carry on. A great shame but here’s hoping that it improves with the next outing.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

10+: The Paladin Prophecy - Mark Frost

Release Date: 27/09/12 BOOK BLURB: Will West is careful to live life under the radar. At his parents' insistence, he's made sure to get mediocre grades and to stay in the middle of the pack on his cross-country team. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam, and he is recruited by an exclusive and mysterious prep school - the best school no one's ever heard of, with technology the likes of which no one's ever seen. At the same time, coincidentally - or not so - Will realizes he's being followed by men in dark hats, driving black sedans who pose a terrifying threat to his family. What follows is a series of events and revelations that places Will smack in the middle of a millennia old struggle between titanic forces... REVIEW: To be honest with you I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this novel, but knowing how much fun I’ve had with Pittacus Lore I was hoping for something to fill the gap whilst I waited for the next in the series. What I got was a book that whilst the story was interesting failed to grip me due to the characters. They felt a little flat for me, not rounded and whilst individually they each have their own abilities, as a group I’m not sure how well they’re going to gel in the overall quest.

That aside, the pace is reasonable, the prose solid and all round its readable but for me, if I don’t get on with the characters its always a struggle to carry on. A great shame but here’s hoping that it improves with the next outing.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

9+: Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena - Rick Riordan

Release Date: 02/10/12

Book Blurb: 
The phenomenally successful Rick Riordan is back with the next thrilling installment of the "Heroes of Olympus series". Can "Percy Jackson" and the "Half-blood" Heroes succeed on their quest to find "The Doors of Death" or will the Greek Gods of chaos win their battle to stop them? Percy and his fellow demi-gods face the most important quest of all - the Prophecy of Seven.

The latest book in the Percy Jackson Epic Series that see’s the embarkation of the ultimate hero quest for Percy and his friends. It’s wonderfully rich, has a great storyline and when added to the scope of what has gone before will more than leave the reader wanting the next tale in the series sooner rather than later.

The prose as usual is sharp, with an arc that will keep the reader glued from start to finish as each scene grabs you and won’t let go. Finally add to the mix a tale full of heroism, friendship and of course demi gods seeking to do what’s right and all in you too will have a hard time letting go. Great stuff and definitely a title that’s high on our Christmas Recommendations if you have a young reader that loves a story of magic, myths and of course legendary deeds in the modern world.


Monday, 3 December 2012

3+: Father Christmas Needs a Wee - Nicolas Allan

Release Date: 04/10/12

Book Blurb: 
In this cracking Christmas counting book, Father Christmas can't help but help himself to the tasty treats he finds as he delivers present after present. But it isn't long before he really, really, really needs a wee...This is a festive mini hardback book with a soft toy Father Christmas that doubles up as a Christmas tree decoration!

OK, yes I have a childish sense of humour but to be honest about it, its all my Dad’s fault. LOL This book is one that young readers will love as it has a dinosaur within, they’ll love the fact that the main character within learns a lesson and when added to a whole load of Dino Poop, really makes this a book that entertains on so many levels.

Add to this really bright colourful images, a wonderful storyline and of course an adult not only brave enough to read it but laugh alongside (which is no problem when my Fathers involved) and all round it’s a book that was a lot of fun to spend some time with.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

3+: The Dinosaur that Pooped Christmas - Tom Fletcher, Ill. Dougie Poynter

Release Date: 25/10/12

Book Blurb: 
This rip-ROARing romp of a Christmas story features a boy, one very hungry dinosaur and lots of POO!!!!

OK, yes I have a childish sense of humour but to be honest about it, its all my Dad’s fault. LOL This book is one that young readers will love as it has a dinosaur within, they’ll love the fact that the main character within learns a lesson and when added to a whole load of Dino Poop, really makes this a book that entertains on so many levels.

Add to this really bright colourful images, a wonderful storyline and of course an adult not only brave enough to read it but laugh alongside (which is no problem when my Fathers involved) and all round it’s a book that was a lot of fun to spend some time with.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

10+: Brotherband 3: The Hunters - John Flanagan

Release Date: 01/11/12

Book Blurb: 
Hal and his brotherband crew are hot on the trail of the pirate Zavac and they have one thing only on their minds: Stopping the bloodthirsty thief before he can do more damage. The chase leads down mighty rivers, terrifying rapids, to the lawless fortress of Ragusa. If Hal is to succeed, he will need to go beyond his brotherband training. He will need to challenge the pirate one-on-one, knowing only one of them will survive. The epic series from "Ranger's Apprentice" author John Flanagan continues, delivering pulse-pounding adventure and fun.

The latest story in the Brotherband Saga and one that brings to a close the search for the item that was stolen during the first book of the series. It’s definitely a series that I’m fully behind as each of the characters within has a flaw whether its short sightedness, hot headedness or even at times their own infighting, its something that they all overcome to help each other out to further the band’s goals throughout.

Add to this some cracking twists, a wonderful camaraderie that readers will love which when backed with everyone having a chance to shine including the oldest member of the crew who whilst disabled never lets it get in his way, really makes this a book to demonstrate that together you can overcome anything and smarts often overcomes brawn. Great stuff.


5+: Bilbo's Last Song - JRR Tolkien, Ill. Pauline Baynes

Release Date: 25/10/12

Book Blurb: 
While Bilbo embarks on his last journey to the West, his mind is cast back to his first big adventure, THE HOBBIT.

J.R.R TOLKIEN's beautiful poem is bought to life through Pauline Bayne's stunning illustrations. It's the perfect introduction to the epic fantasy series of THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS for younger readers, and a real treat for all Tolkien fans.

Baynes' illustrations have been fully restored in this fantastic new edition, which is published to coincide with the film release of THE HOBBIT in autumn 2012.

With the Hobbit being this years hot Christmas film, there are going to be a number of people out there that would love to introduce the father of modern fantasy to the young reader in their home and whilst its going to be a little bit too old for some this book makes a wonderful addition to your home whilst bringing the full flavour to your young readers imagination. Beautifully written and accompanied by wonderful expansive art this title is one that really will hit the spot and help take many back to their first reading of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings whilst entertaining the next generation.

Add to the mix the readability factor which means it’ll be requested again and all round a definite sure fire hit so much so that when my Dad saw that I had a copy he not only half hitched it but decided on an impromptu reading for his Grandchildren who sat enraptured around his feet.


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

8+: Monster High: Ghoulfriends Forever - Gitty Daneshavari

Release Date: 05/09/12

Book Blurb: 
As new students, the trio must navigate the bewildering array of cute monster boys, established cliques, and monster-rific subjects like Mad Science, G-ogre-phy, and Physical Deaducation. As if that weren't hard enough, something strange and sinister seems to be happening at the school. Popular girls like Frankie Stein and Cleo de Nile are acting weird-and all signs point to everyone's new favorite teacher, Miss Sylphia Flapper. Can the new GFFs expose the fave as a fraud, or will they succumb to peer pressure?

OK, I’m a Monster High fan and whilst I’ve loved the series that’s gone before I’m always a little apprehensive when a new author takes a turn to play in the world of another. What unfurls within is sadly a book that for me didn’t work on a number of levels, it felt like the author was talking down to the reader rather than on the same level, some of the jokes within felt like they were overly repeated and some of the prose was sadly lacking as it felt like the author really hadn’t thought it through relying on the popular franchise to partly sell the story over making sure that the tale stood on its own two legs. Add to this an overall tale that was not only predictable but didn’t help some of the new “classmates” stand out in same way as their wonderful dolls (Rochelle) and all in I’m not sure I’ll be embarking on Gitty’s next story set in this world. A great shame.


Monday, 29 October 2012

10+: Wardstone Chronicles 11: Spooks: Slither's Tale - Joseph Delaney

Release Date: 27/09/12

Book Blurb: 
My name is Slither, and before my tale is finished, you'll find out why...Slither is not human. Far from the Spook-protected County, he preys upon humans, sneaking into their homes to gorge upon their blood while they sleep. When a local farmer dies, it's only natural that Slither should want to feast on his lovely daughters. But the farmer has offered him a trade: in return for taking the younger girls to safety, Slither can have the eldest daughter, Nessa, to do with as he wishes...Slither's promise takes him and Nessa on a treacherous journey where enemies await at every turn. Enemies that include Grimalkin, the terrifying witch assassin, still searching for a way to destroy the Fiend for good. The latest instalment of the "Wardstone Chronicles", the series that inspired the forthcoming movie "The Seventh Son", starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Julianne Moore.

A whole new tale in the world of the Spooks and one that was not only refreshing but one that I had a lot of fun with. Whilst our usual heroes didn’t raise their heads in this title, an old friend does and through her we get to see a world far to the north of the County in a new light as things that go bump and how they’re handled differs. It’s a very cunning tale, wonderfully written with a whole rich new myth set for the author to play with. Add to this a lead antihero character that seeks to do right by a bargain as well as maintaining his own standard of honour and it’s a tale that really does keep you glued from start to finish. Add to the mix cracking prose, a great understanding of pace and of course enough action to keep you more than happy. Great stuff all in.