Sunday, 29 April 2012

3+: Socks - Nick Sharrat and Elizabeth Lindsay

Release Date: 02/02/12


Laugh your socks off! Stripy sharks and woolly crocs, Purple dogs with polka dots! What can you see made from Socks? Kids (and grownups!) will love this socktastic celebration of the nation's favourite footwear. Look out for sockerels, sockodiles and Goldisocks, and prepare to see your socks in a whole new light.


If you love socks then this story is for you as its sockywockydoodah. With bright colours, wonderful invention and of course a whole host of socks to help take the reader on an adventure it’s a story for the younger market that will entice and be a lot of fun, especially if you get a spare sock out to play a role or two.

Add to this a wonderful sense of fun in the illustration, words that repeat that will allow the young person to join in and a story that gives an adventure and all in its great fun.

Friday, 27 April 2012

3+: One Kiss, One Hug - Ben Chapman

Release Date: 02/02/12


Ben is a baby bear who just can't get to sleep. He's tried both sides of the pillow, he's kicked his covers off and pulled them back on again; he's even tried counting salmon, but that just made him hungry. But maybe he could get to sleep if he called Mum and Dad for just one more kiss and one more hug...? A lovely, warm hug of a story, this deliciously funny and resonant book showcases a stunning new illustration style from an established author/illustrator.


Recently I read a book that was narrated by Samuel L Jackson and whilst the title contained a profanity within it, this one was one that I had just as much fun with as the lead character couldn’t sleep and needed “Just one more Kiss and Hug” to help him get off to the land of nod.

It had great illustrations with bright colours and characters that the human in us all can associate with as the tale unfurls. Add to this a touch of love, a wonderful sense of togetherness and of course family and overall this story was one that promotes a lot of positive messages for all.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

GUEST BLOG: The Beginings of Brotherband - John Flanagan

Several years ago, I became aware that the Ranger’s Apprentice series would eventually finish – although not quite as soon as I then expected.

At that time, I had in mind my concept for the final book, which was panned as Number 10 but will now become Book 12. But I wasn’t ready to begin writing it. And I didn’t want to in case I wrote it, then realized I had more to say in the series.

I didn’t want to do another flashback, as I had done with the seventh book. I wanted to be sure it was really all over – all i’s had been dotted and all t’s had been crossed. So I decided that I’d like to buy myself a little time.

And that’s where the concept for Brotherband began. I wanted to write another series, set in the same world and time frame, but using new characters, and a different location.

This was allied to a long held interest in ships and sailing. I decided I’d like to do a series set in Skandia, based on the idea of a young boy who designs a new, more efficient type of sail plan – a fore and aft rig that will point higher into the wind than conventional Skandian square rigged ships. I’ve always liked the Skandians in my RA books. This became obvious as they assumed increasingly important roles on the books as the series progressed.

I mentioned this idea to my Australian publishers and they reacted positively to it.

So then I was left, over the next few years, to work out who the main characters were. I wanted the series to be similar in feel to Ranger’s Apprentice, but not a carbon copy. So I began by setting out differences between my main characters – initially Will and Hal, but later Thorn and Halt.

Hal was initially called Dirk, by the way, but I thought that was a bit phony sounding – a little bit too much of a made-up hero type of name. I decided that he would be a capable warrior, but not a highly skilled one, as Will became.

Instead, Hal would have an ingenious streak that would lead him to inventing new ideas – although not all of them would be successful. I jotted down a few ideas about things he might have invented. Later on, I deleted most of them from the first book, concentrating only on his disastrous running water project for his mother’s kitchen.

I also like my central character to have the sort of social problem that kids reading the books can identify with. Will was small, which has resonated with many readers. Hal, I decided, would be like one of those who is the last to be chosen when kids make up teams for a scratch game of football or cricket. He’d be something of an outcast.

(I included a scene in the first book where Brotherbands are selected. Hal and his eventual crew are the leftovers – the ones nobody wants. I thought a lot of kids would empathize with this.)

I decided that Hal’s rejection would stem from the fact that he was of mixed parentage – and so was seen by neither side as belonging. His mother was Araluen. His father was Skandian. And his father had died when Hal was young, to point the problem up even further. Also, the concept of someone being regarded as “different” because he is of a different race or nationality gave me a powerful social theme to work with.

This led to the thought that all of his crew would be outcasts in some ways – the forgotten group, the discards, the ones nobody wanted. So I began jotting down reasons why each of them was on the outer.

Thorn, of course, was the biggest outcast of all. I didn’t want him to be a mirror image of Halt. I wanted him to have his own reality.

I think the idea of having him as a recovering drunk, saved from himself by Hal’s mother, was one of my best. Then I had to ask, why was he a drunk in the first place?

Because he’d lost his right arm. Once I had that idea, I was off and running with Thorn. And I was able to create an intriguing secret in his back story that very few people knew about or remembered.

I had about three years to think about my new cast of characters – to jot down ideas and flesh out the bare bones that I had originally created. The principal ones, Thorn, Hal and Stig, I worked on in quite an amount of detail. Stig appealed to me. I had him down initially as having a violent and unpredictable temper.

But why?

The concept of his father bringing shame on his family was a breakthrough for me. It gave Stig a reason for his thin skinned attitude and made him more human and believable.

With the other, lesser characters, I noted down broad outlines and decided they would come to life as I wrote the stories. Which they did. Ingvar, in particular, came as a bit of s surprise, taking on a far more important role than I’d previously seen for him.

So, after three years of thinking about these new people, pushing ideas around in my head and figuring how they would use their unique abilities and/or failings to defeat their rivals, I was ready to begin writing Book 1. The name for it by then was obvious – The Outcasts.

I sat down one Monday morning and typed “Chapter 1”. Then I came to a screeching, panicked stop. Where were all the old friends who had sustained me through ten Ranger’s Apprentice Books? How would I cope without them?

I typed: “Pass me another bucket please Thorn.” And stopped again. Where to from here?

Then, thankfully, Hal Mikkelson stepped onto my page, took control of things and brought Thorn and Stig with him to help out. And I realized that, even though my old friends were no longer available, I had three new friends to show me the way.

I’ve just finished the third Brotherband book. The characters are all old friends for me now and the minor characters are growing and broadening in the narrative. I’m enjoying spending my time with them.

10+: Brotherband 2: The Invaders - John Flanagan

Release Date: 26/04/12


Enter a world of wolfships, epic battles and treachery in the cold northern seas. Enter the world of Brotherband. Hal and the Heron brotherband are on the trail of Zavac and his precious cargo. Will they be able to find the pirates when the weather clears? And when they do, how can they possibly beat the mighty Raven and its crew of vicious cut-throats and killers? A chance discovery will lead them to their prey, but the pirates have a well-fortified position. The Herons must drive out the invaders - and to succeed, Hal will need to devise a foolproof plan. In the icy waters of the Stormwhite, the smallest mistake could prove fatal.


With so many YA titles out there, its sometimes hard to find one that suits your young reader down to the ground. After all you can embark on journeys to the Far East, you can indulge in werewolves but finding a fantasy that doesn’t delve too much into the adult world is a tricky one to master. Well not any more. One of my favourite series was the Rangers Apprentice one which sadly finished last year, however John hit back with this brand new one called Brotherband which follows a group of young Skandian’s (think Vikings) as they come of age and seek to retrieve a treasure that was stolen on their watch.

It’s quirky, the characters each have their own strengths and whilst brawn is involved its how they gel as a team that makes this title so outstanding, especially with all the various trials that they face as well as internal bickering as they seek to regain their honour. Its fun, its beautifully written and with the action packed in with a crowbar there’s something for all. Back that up with a great supporting cast alongside a love interest and you know that it’s a series that’s going to be a lot of fun. I really can’t wait for the next part later in the year to see how they do.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

12+: TimeRiders 5: Gates of Rome - Alex Scarrow

Release Date: 02/02/12


Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026. But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history ...Project Exodus - a mission to transport 300 Americans from 2070 to 54AD to overthrow the Roman Empire - has gone catastrophically wrong. Half have arrived seventeen years earlier, during the reign of Caligula. Liam goes to investigate, but when Maddy and Sal attempt to flee a kill-squad sent to hunt down their field office, all of the TimeRiders become trapped in the Roman past. Armed with knowledge of the future, Caligula is now more powerful than ever. But with the office unmanned - and under threat - how will the TimeRiders make it back to 2001 and put history right?


When an author has written for the adult market and then breaks into the YA they have to make sure that they don’t talk down to the reader and secondly that they give the reader exactly what they want. What Alex’ TimeRider series has done is consecutively allowed a world to flourish with characters that have not only grown but gone from strength to strength in each subsequent story.

Add to this an overall arc that is hidden within the mists of the authors mind and you know that its going to be something not only huge but wonderfully action packed throughout. Finally throw into the mix Ancient Rome (a world that a certain other Scarrow knows too well) alongside familiar faces and it’s a story that will entertain with huge action sequences, some smarts as well as characters that readers have grown to love over their previous outings. Great stuff all in and real series to recommend to any fans of Time Travel.

Monday, 23 April 2012

TEEN: Every Other Day - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release Date: 02/02/12


Born into the mysterious world of an ancient alchemical order, Donna has always been aware of the dark feud that exists between the alchemists and the fey. Her own mother - bound by a dark Faerie curse - has been confined to a hospital bed for as long as she can remember ...But now there is a chance to release her, and Donna will stop at nothing until she is free. Armed with her own brand of powerful magic, Donna must face the fearsome Wood Queen in order to save her mother. But in the Ironwood - a place that haunts Donna's dreams - there is far greater and more dangerous magic already at work...


Having really enjoyed Jennifer’s YA Wolves series, I really was looking forward to seeing what she’d come up with when a new series was in the offing. This title, brings everything that she does so well in her other books and blends it into a Buffyesque type world that really gives the reader a real treat.

Add to this solid prose, a great sense of pace and when tied in to Jennifer’s wonderfully descriptive plotline alongside some great twists and as a reader you know that you’re going to feel satisfied by the final page, although with some of the tales aspects, the reader is going to find out that she plays for keeps. Magic.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

TEEN: The Chemical Garden Trilogy 2: Fever - Lauren DeStefano

Release Date: 16/02/12


For 17-year-old Rhine Ellery, a daring escape from a suffocating polygamous marriage is only the beginning! Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago -- surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness. The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine's twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous -- and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can't seem to elude Rhine's father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion!by any means necessary. In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano's harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price -- now that she has more to lose than ever.


As an adult reader, I love getting the chance to delve into what the next generation are being brought up with so this series by Laruen DeStefano has been a revelation as well as a pleasing surprise as the author brings to the fore a strong independent young woman who grabs on with both hands and refuses to let go of her beliefs. It has a superb supporting cast and when backed with wonderful prose and some top notch twists, it’s a story that will stay with the reader for quite some time.

Add to this a solid overall arc and characters that continue to grow as the story weaves it magic which overall left me demanding the final book in the trilogy sooner rather than later. This really is a guilty pleasure for me and one that I’d recommend to all readers as well as writers, in order to learn a lot of valuable lessons. Great stuff.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

TEEN: Dark Elite: Firespell and Charmfall - Chloe Neill

Release Date: 01/03/12


As the new girl at the elite St. Sophia's boarding school, Lily Parker thinks her classmates are the most monstrous things she'll have to face. When Lily's guardians decided to send her away to a fancy boarding school in Chicago, she was shocked. So was St. Sophia's. Lily's ultra-rich brat pack classmates think Lily should be the punchline to every joke, and on top of that, she's hearing strange noises and seeing bizarre things in the shadows of the creepy building. The only thing keeping her sane is her roommate, Scout, but even Scout's a little weird - she keeps disappearing late at night and won't tell Lily where she's been. But when a prank leaves Lily trapped in the catacombs beneath the school, Lily finds Scout running from a real monster. Scout's a member of a splinter group of rebel teens with unique magical talents, who've sworn to protect the city against demons, vampires, and Reapers, magic users who've been corrupted by their power. And when Lily finds herself in the line of a firespell, Scout tells her the truth about her secret life, even though Lily has no powers of her own - at least, none that she's discovered yet ...


As a huge reader of Urban Fantasy and a keen reader of YA fiction I love it when the two worlds collide. As such this title by Chloe Neill sets itself up by the blurb to be something that not only intrigued me, but demanded that I spent the time upon it. Not only that but findind out that the second book in the series was already available pretty much made it a get it now type of pick up.

Whilst for me the book started quite slow, the pace picked up and began to take the reader deeper into the world of Chloe’s imagination. It did take its time and to be honest I was left wondering if it was going to happen at all, but at the end it all came good. There was key action sequences, great prose and an author that from hindsight, wanted to get the reader to know the character prior to throwing a lot of the supernatural our way.

All in, a fun book, one that did manage to hook me and with a lead character accompanied with a strong supporting cast, its made the second book a must read. The only thing I can hope is that Chloe does a bit more building and allows the characters to grow, otherwise it won’t be a series that stands out amongst the masses already available.

Release Date: 01/03/12


Protecting Chicago from the dark side can be an exhausting job, especially when you're a sophomore. So when the girls of St. Sophia's start gearing up for Sneak, their fall formal, Lily decides to join in on some good, old-fashioned party prep - even if it means not giving demons, vampires and the twisted magic users known as Reapers her undivided attention. But when a Reaper infiltrates the school, Lily doesn't forget what she's sworn to protect. She reaches deep into herself to draw out her magic - and finds that it's gone. And it turns out she's not alone. A magical blackout has slammed through paranormal Chicago, and no one knows what - or who - caused it. But Lily knows getting back her magic is worth the risk of going behind enemy lines ...


Having neither truly loved nor hated the previous book I wanted to give Charmfall a fair crack of the whip, so having been lucky enough to have recently finished Firespell, I thought that I’d crack on with this one and see what it did for me as a reader. Sadly it left me with the same impressions as the original and whilst its certainly not the worst out there its pretty mediocre as the world hasn’t increased and the characters sadly didn’t get the opportunity to grow which will keep a lot of the readers with no attachments and therefore the Emo reaction to what befalls them.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be people out there that love this, but for me with no character growth and a pace that struggles to get going, it was a real struggle to make my way through. A great shame all in.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

3+: My Big Book of Monsters - Jenny Arthur and Maggie Baleson

Release Date: 01/03/12


'Sometimes when you're sleeping, as you rest your tired head, there's a magic monster party going on ...under your bed'. This hardback gift book is packed full of friendly, funny and downright hilarious monsters! The magical story is brought to life by fabulous moving mechanisms from the talented Maggie Bateson, including tabs to pull, dials to spin and flaps to lift. Every page is literally bursting with surprises.


If there’s a type of YA book that I’m guaranteed to love it’s a book with Monsters and Pop-Up’s, so my two passions combined in this title that was a whole host of chaos for the young reader with so much to look at that there is a surprise on all pages as it unfurls within the young readers mind.

Its bright, has a decent story but when you add popups to the equation, it’s a title that goes from good to superb. Add to this a great sense of fun as well as characters that are bright and mischievous and the reader really will have a lot of fun finding the magic within.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

TEEN: Trylle 2: Torn - Amanda Hocking

Release Date: 01/03/12


Acknowledging that she was different from everyone else wasn't difficult for Wendy Everly she'd always felt like an outsider. But a new world and new family is a hard for any girl to accept easily. Leaving behind the mysterious country of her birth, she is determined to fit back into normal life. But the world she's left behind won't let her go that easily. Kidnapped and imprisoned by her true family's enemies, Wendy soon learns that the lines between good and evil aren't as defined as she thought. And those things she'd taken for granted may have been lies all along. With the help of the dangerously attractive Loki, she escapes back to the safety of Forening only to be confronted by a new threat. It's time to make a choice can she put aside her personal feelings for the sake of her country? Torn between duty and love she must make a choice that could destroy her one chance at true happiness.


What many readers see as the biggest challenge to a newly minted author is the creation of a second tale that lives up to the standards set not only by the original but also bolstered by the readers expectations. For a great many writers this pressure causes them to stall in their writing career, but not in the case of Amanda Hocking, whose second tale, Torn, not only lives up to the expectations but continues to build not only on the world within but also the characters strengths, weakness and emotional attachments.

It’s cleverly plotted, has some magical twists and for a young reader it’s a tale that will give them exactly what they want as out principle heroine seeks to find her own place in the world. Add to this an emotional fortitude and links that only strengthen for the reader as the tale wends its merry way which will leave the reader demanding more. Definitely a tale that is easy to spend a lot of time with and just thank the Muses that the third book is out next month.

Friday, 13 April 2012

8+: Don't Wipe Your Bum with a Hedgehog - Mitchell Symons

Release Date: 01/03/12


This is a collection of wise and wacky words of advice, from the bestselling and award-winning author of "Why Eating Bogeys Is Good For You". From the marvellous mind of Mitchell Symons comes such gems of wisdom as: You can't trust a dog to watch your food. Why buy shampoo when real poo is free? Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, as you won't have a leg to stand on. And if getting even doesn't work, then just get odd.


I’ve enjoyed a lot of Mitchell’s books in previous outings however this one is more advice and one that follows the weird as well as wonderful that really doesn’t make sense upon hearing. It is quirky, it does have some great illustrations however its nothing new and a lot of the snippets within are things that a great many of us have heard before. All in it is a good bit of fun but could well be a title that you might want to hold fire buying and borrow from a library to save your money.

All in you will get a laugh, some of the advice and snippets will amuse but really to be blunt, its not a title worth spending you money on unless its burning a hole in your pocket.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

12+: Merciless Reason - Oisin McGann

Release Date: 01/03/12


Nate Wildenstern has been on the run from his family for the past three years, but he is about to discover that the murderous Wildensterns cannot be hidden from forever...Megalomaniac and extremely dangerous cousin Gerald has been advancing his research into intelligent particles, with the intention of creating the ultimate enigma. Can Nate return to the Wildenstern estate incognito, and take his revenge upon Gerald?


Its been a little while since I got to enjoy Oisin’s writing about the infamous Widdershins, and so with the return of black sheep Nathaniel to the fold, the latest title is set for explosive results especially since his cousin now rules in his stead. It’s a quirky series, it has some great characters and there’s something for all readers whether they’re male or female, like Steampunk or Fantasy or even if they love mechanical marvels where machine and beast are blended.

Top this off with great descriptive action sequences, wonderfully complex characters and a fast paced plot and overall the reader is in for one hell of a ride. Whilst you can read this book without having read others in the series, in my opinion it would ruin the readers enjoyment of the series so I would suggest you start with book one, Ancient Appetites. It really is a wonderful treat.

Monday, 9 April 2012

3+: Duck's Easter Egg Hunt - Heidi D'Hamers and Dawn Richards

Release Date: 01/03/12


With gorgeously colourful illustrations and a gloriously glittery cover, this book is perfect for sharing over a delicious chocolate egg! Duck is so excited about the Easter egg hunt she's organised that she loses her own precious egg. Oh no, Duck!!! Duck is devastated, but all her friends (including three little bunnies: Hoppy, Poppy and Floppy) join together to help her. Children will delight in spotting the hidden eggs and helping the animals to help poor Duck.


In a wonderful addition to the time of year, this title by Dawn Richards and Heidi D’Hamers, is one that will enchant as well as have your young reader hanging onto your every word as the pages are turned to help Duck find her Egg. It’s great fun, the pictures are wonderfully bright and the story has a well-rounded view so that there’s something for everyone within. Whether its finding the eggs, or wondering if Duck will solve the problem, the reader will make their way through the story as they learn the true wonder of this time of year.

Its quirky, it has some great images and when you add a style of storytelling that will have the young reader hanging on your every word, its definitely a book to encourage this wonderful skill. Great stuff.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

12+: Agent 21: Reloaded - Chris Ryan

Release Date: 01/03/12


Some authors just write about it. Chris Ryan has been there, done it, and lived to tell the tale. This is the second in the new action-thriller "Agent 21" series by the real-life SAS hero. In the year since Zak Darke was approached by a shadowy government agency to become Agent 21, his world has changed completely. But there is no time to reflect on this - the undercover operations go on. Zak is sent to a port in west Africa, a known terrorist stronghold, under the guise of working on a charity volunteer project. But charity work could not be further from Zak's real mission - he must sneak onboard an enemy ship, gather information - and then destroy it. Never has Zak's training been more useful: Trust nobody.


OK, I know of Chris from a lot of his SAS exploits and whilst I know of his adult titles, it was the YA book that I was most interested in to see how he could bring the action of the battlefield to a younger audience as well as giving the reader a story of morality and smarts over just plain gadgetry.

What unfurls in this, the second book of the Agent 21 series, is a story of action, one of real danger and of course the reuniting of old enemies as innocents are thrown into the fray as legitimate targets of the bad guy. It has great prose, doesn’t let up from the start of the piece and overall gives the reader an adventure that really is top notch. Back that up with some wicked twists, some wonderful dialogue and a villain to match the hero and overall it’s a great ride all in.

Friday, 6 April 2012

12+: Heroes of Olympus 2: Son of Neptune - Rick Riordan

Release Date: 04/10/11


This is the second title in this number one, bestselling spin-off series from Percy Jackson creator, Rick Riordan. This crazy messed up world of gods and monsters is Percy Jackson's reality, which pretty much sucks for him. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, God of the Sea, has woken from a very deep sleep and come face to face with two snake-haired ladies who refuse to die. But they're the least of his problems. Because Percy finds himself at a camp for half-bloods, which doesn't ring any bells for him. There's just one name he remembers from his past: Annabeth. Only one thing is certain - Percy's questing days aren't over. He and fellow demigods Frank and Hazel must face the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven. If they fail, it's not just their camp at risk. Percy's old life, the gods, and the entire world might be destroyed...


I’ve been a fan of Percy Jackson since I picked up the first book just before the film release. Its got action, it has cracking characters and it’s a title that brings out the positive attributes in the heroes that we all wish we could emulate in real life. It’s quirky, it has solid world-building and this latest part of the epic series brings the Greek and Roman worlds together in a Kalidascope of chaos as Gaia seeks to rule the world.

Add to this top notch action, wonderful descriptive pieces alongside heroes with doubts as they seek to overcome the latest quest and all in it’s a tale that was just a pure joy to read. I really can’t wait to see where Rick goes next and with the film of “Sea of Monsters” scheduled for 2013 it’s a series that I’d suggest you get your YA Reader into now. They’re in for a treat.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

TEEN: Darkness Rising 2: The Calling - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: 05/04/12


Maya Delaney's paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is - a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly anyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it's only a matter of time before she's able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents including local bad boy Rafe, with whom she shares a dangerous, powerful secret. Now, Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. After a terrifying helicopter crash, they find themselves stranded in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home. But can Maya really trust her friends? And can she learn how to control the frightening new gift she has discovered before it controls her?


As a fan of Kelley’s writing, I’ve always loved it when she brings her skills to a new set of characters as well as allowing another generation to enjoy what she does so well. The action is crisp, the characters not only fun to be around but a gang with flaws as well as boons that allow them to feel fully fleshed. Add to this some wonderful twists as well as a good use of pace which when backed with Kelley’s understanding of what a reader wants in her books, makes them one of the best Supernatural writers on the market.

Add to this a great understanding of prose and character dialogue that has a realistic bent to it and the reader really won’t notice where the time goes. My only gripe is that a lot of the chase sequences felt like the resembled others that had gone before in Kelley’s previous YA series, although that said, it is fun, it generates a whole lot of excitement and I really couldn’t put it down. Great fun all in.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

TEEN: Seizure - Kathy Reichs

Release Date: 05/01/12


This is a heart-stopping forensic action with a lethal twist. The Virals' home on Loggerhead Island is under threat, and only one thing can save it: a lot of money. A 300-year-old legend Rumour has it that notorious pirate Anne Bonny hid her treasure somewhere in Charleston in 1720. No-one knows where, but Tory Brennan - great-niece of famous forensic anthropologist Dr Tempe Brennan - is certain that the Virals can work out Bonny's cryptic clues. A deadly path, it isn't long before the Virals are on the right track. But they aren't the only ones searching for the treasure. Someone is following them, and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Dead bodies litter the trail. Time is running out before the island will be sold. Will the Virals' special powers be enough to save them?


Having read the original title in Kathy’s YA series I was a little apprehensive as to what this, the second book would offer. Not because I didn’t expect a great story, but for my pet peeve of the utilisation of links to Temperance Brennanm when in all honesty it really wasn’t required.

What unfurled was a title that was part investigation and for me something that was part Goonies (which was alluded to within the text) as the “pack” of heroes from the previous title, embark on a treasure hunt to save their island and parents jobs so that they can continue to live together.

It’s quirky, it has some magical moments within and of course drawing on a mystery, it allows Kathy to weave her magic leaving the reader to wonder what is happening and who are the mysterious figures behind the chase. Add to this, a solid sense of pace which when backed with a cracking lead heroine and all in, I was a very pleased reader aside from my side niggle. Great fun and definitely a solid series to help move from YA to adult.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

7+: Minnow and Bear - Ben Blathwayte

Release Date: 01/03/12


Minnow the cave boy longs to be big enough to go hunting. When he is swept away by the river, he loves learning to fend for himself. He even finds a friend far from home - a little bear. Together Minnow and the bear grow big and strong, but winter forces them to make the difficult journey home. Will their new experience be enough to keep them safe?


Whilst none of my nephews have hit the “I don’t want to read” stage yet, I know that a great many people have trouble getting their children to enjoy stories if they’re not in a certain format. This one by Ben takes the young reader on a journey as a young boy is swept away by a river and has to survive with a young bear cub whilst hoping to find his way home.

It’s wonderfully descriptive, the characters come to life within the illustrations and the overall story is one of survival and hope that is presented in a graphic novel format that will have many readers enjoying it without fully realising what it is. Add to this positive reinforcement of admirable traits like friendship and this story was one of wonder. Magical.

Monday, 2 April 2012

3+: Dog Loves Drawing - Louise Yates

Release Date: 02/02/12


Dog loves books, but one day he receives a strange one in the post - it's blank! Soon, Dog realises that this book is not for reading, but for drawing, and before long Dog is doodling and drawing himself into a new world, full of friends and surprises.


I originally read Louise’s Dog Loves Books and fell in love with the lead character because, like him I love books. So when the opportunity arose to read another title featuring this great little white dog I jumped at the chance. Here within the pages, he embarks on his own adventure with drawn friends as he discovers the joy of a drawing book to which he can create his own adventures.

The tale is full of fun, the support cast enticing and perhaps best of all the tale is one big adventure that not only gives the target audience a story of fun but also imparts the lesson of how much fun you can have with pen and paper. All in a cracking little story that is also wonderfully illustrated and one that had my nephews rushing off to create their own tale. Great fun.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

12+: The Demon's Watch - Conrad Mason

Release Date: 01/03/12


'We're the Demon's Watch, son. Protectors of Port Fayt. Scourge of all sea scum. Don't tell me you've never heard of us?' Half-goblin boy Joseph Grubb lives in Fayt, a bustling trading port where elves, trolls, fairies and humans live side by side. Fed up of working at the Legless Mermaid tavern, Grubb dreams of escape - until a whirlwind encounter with a smuggler plunges him into Fayt's criminal underworld. There he meets the Demon's Watch and learns of their mission to save the port from a mysterious and deadly threat. Can Grubb and his new allies uncover the dark plot in time, or will they end up as fish food in Harry's Shark Pit?


If you want a fantasy world for your young reader that has a wonderful setting, great characters and populated by many different creatures in a hodgepodge melting pot, then you really have to get Conrad Mason’s The Demon’s Watch. It brings the best of fantasy to the reader with a whole host of cracking characters, top notch entertainment and of course demonstrates that brains can outsmart brawn be it either magical or physical.

It’s cleverly written, there is a whole host of twists and Conrad doesn’t waste time by getting down to the nitty-gritty that will keep your young reader hooked to the final page. Throw in conspiracy, double dealing and selfish desires, which when fought against by the positive traits of our band of mismatched heroes, really gives the reader a treat to enjoy. Magical.