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inherently wrong with the title but when most of the book is setting the scene without bringing all those wonderful historical references to add a timely charm, that it starts to leave you wondering where the series is going to go (this is part one of the Cahill Witch Chronicles) that will give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.