Category Archives: Books

Crocodile Tears Launch

As all fans of the fantastic Alex Rider series written by Anthony Horowitz must now know, the newest book – Crocodile Tears was launched on Thursday the 12th November. I was privileged enough to be invited to the launch party by the always amazing people at Walker Books.
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As it was a party there was cake involved…
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crowds of people had been invited to celebrate (authors, publishers and even librarians)
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Piles of Crocodile Tears were placed artistically around the room
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There was even a pianist tickling the ivories for the evening
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Our host spent the evening mingling with friends and well-wishers
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Although he was not too busy to stop for some publicity shots
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or to sign some of the rare copies that were given to the lucky attendees
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At the end of the evening there were some very smug Librarians
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including me ^_^
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Four Masks, sixteen stones of power. A struggle between good and evil.
On the day of his birth, his fate was written in golden letters in the great history of heroes. His destiny: to re-establish the balance between the forces of Light and Darkness.

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Amos is a boy with a quick mind and the intelligence to direct it, despite being unschooled he proves himself to be the intellectual equal or smarter than many of the people he meets. After encountering a dying mermaid he helps his parents to escape a cruel lord who treats them little better than slaves Amos is thrust into a series of adventures before being anointed as the first of a new order of Mask Wearers and is tasked with bringing balance back to his world.

The author mixes folk-tales into the story with Amos cast in a role that combines trickster and hero in equal quantities. The first book introduces Amos’ world and some of the many species that inhabit it, including merfolk, fairies, manimals, gorgons, nagas and gods including Seth (Egyptian) and Baron Samedi (a loa from voodoo belief). This mixing of world myths works well and makes the books accessible to readers from different cultures as they will be able to identify stories that they may have heard woven into the narrative.

The Mask Wearer is written as a series of mini-adventures that combine into an overarching narrative that is brilliant for readers that struggle with their reading as it is as enjoyable to read in parts as it is to read from beginning to end. The Key of Braha is slightly more complex with fewer side adventures but is just as gripping and enjoyable to read.

The author Bryan Perro does not shy away from using themes of redemption, loss and death in his books.

Amos Daragon was originally written in French and to date has been translated into 19 different languages. The first two books are currently available in English and I am eagerly awaiting the release of book three: The Twilight of the Gods.

Beautiful Dead Competition

Thanks to the wonderful people at Galactus – the digital design, marketing & online PR agency not the planet devourer from Marvel Comics (although that would also be cool). I have three copies of Beautiful Dead: Arizona to give away.

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Something strange is happening at Ellerton High. Summer, Phoenix, Jonas and Arizona…

All dead within a year.

To stand a chance of winning one of these amazing books all you have to do is put the names of the four teens that died in the order that they perished (hint: it is not in the above order). You can find the answers here: www.beautifuldead.com.

Leave your answers in the comments form under this post. The comments will remain shielded until the close of the competition.

The competition will run until the 15th November and is open to all.

The Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire

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Something strange is happening at Ellerton High. Jonas, Arizona, Summer, Phoenix…
All dead within a year.

Darina, Phoenix’s grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can’t escape her intense heartache, or the impossible apparitions of those who are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echo inside her head…

When Phoenix suddenly appears before her, he tells her that he is one of the Beautiful Dead – souls in limbo returning to earth to right the wrongs of their deaths. Beautiful and sub-human, they all bear a “death mark” – a tattoo of angel’s wings on the place they were mortally wounded.

Darina is determined to release their souls from limbo, starting with Jonas.

Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?

Jonas died in a motorcycle accident that left his girlfriend a broken wreck. They were young and in love, why was he riding so dangerously? Arizona drowned – committed suicide, so they say. Why would a beautiful, fashion conscious young woman with so much to live for choose a death like that?

Beautiful Dead is one of the most original zombie-related series that I have ever read (or started reading). Darina is our eyes and ears and it is through her that we experience the world that the Beautiful Dead inhabit. Part murder-mystery, part horror, each of the books deals with the unravelling of the circumstances surrounding the death of one of the Dead who have a year to solve the mystery or be forced to return to Limbo forever and denied a release into the hereafter.

Beautiful Dead deals with more than Darina’s role in helping her deceased friends find closure in solving the mystery of their deaths, she is still struggling with the loss (and unexpected return) of Phoenix, as well as other issues that are closer to home. Darina’s involvement with the Dead affects the relationships she has with her still-living friends & family, as well as the families of those that have passed on. There are deeper questions in the series that form an overarching plot apart from the obvious murder mystery of each novel. The mysteries of how they returned and the background and mission of Hunter (their leader) and protector gradually becomes unravelled.

There are a number of authors that are capitalising on the current love of vampires and werewolves in YA fiction but Eden Maguire is not one of them. Her protagonists are all too human, even the Beautiful Dead are as flawed and lost in death as they were in life. Love, friendship and a sense of loss drew Darina to them and it is those human frailties that will appeal to readers. It helps that the books are also very well written, it is one of Eden’s strengths that she can create such well-realised characters that will allow readers to see parts of themselves within them.

Possibly the first books to portray zombies in a sympathetic light

A brilliant heart-breaking series that should be at the top of any Halloween reading list!

Are you a fan of Goth Froth?!

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THE RAVEN MYSTERIES website launches on October 1st to coincide with the publication of GHOSTS AND GADGETS, the second book in Marcus Sedgwick’s THE RAVEN MYSTERIES series. Guided by Edgar the raven, the unofficial guardian of Castle Otherhand, visitors to the new site can take a tour of the castle, meet the spooky and strange Valevine family and download all sorts of goodies!

Designed by Hyperlaunchdmg, the website is full of brand new images of the Castle and its inhabitants drawn exclusively for the website by Pete Williamson: each visit allows something new to be discovered.

BECOME A ‘GOTH-FROTH’ FAN CLUB MEMBER and you can…
Play the Feathers game (where Fellah the monkey tries to pull out Edgar’s feathers).
Gain access to all the extras such as posters, wallpapers and ringtones.
Read the blog from Edgar the raven, (regularly updated by Marcus Sedgwick!)

bordersOrion Children’s Books has joined forces with Borders for the launch of this new website: a bespoke Raven Mysteries page will become a part of the Borders site and will host an exclusive competition which will run until 31 December 2009.

The answer to the Borders competition question is also the secret code that opens the RED ROOM on the RAVEN MYSTERIES website for all who guess correctly, while the prize-winner will receive an invitation to the next recording of a Raven Mysteries audiobook, meeting author Marcus Sedgwick and actor Martin Jarvis, and having the opportunity to take an active role in the recording studio.

Martin’s lively reading of FLOOD AND FANG, the first book in the series, brings the goings-on of the oddballs and fruitcakes who live at Castle Otherhand to life. The recording has been used to great effect in the new website, as has the music by audiobook producer Peter Rinne.

Review: Al Capone Shines my Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

alcapshinesWhen I picked up the book Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko, the first thing I noticed were the simple drawings on the front and back cover and the irregular colourful lettering of the title. “Hmm,” I thought. “This looks like light holiday reading”. I did indeed take it on holiday with me, and it was indeed light holiday reading, but no less enjoyable for it. Gennifer Choldenko is a good writer. Even in my sunny locale I could see the mists envelopping the prison island of Alcatraz where the story is set in my mind’s eye, and even though I myself am years past the pre-teen angst of growing up, I truly empathised with the main character – Moose Flanagan – a 12 year old boy and felt his internal embarrassment, his awkwardness, his frustration with his friend who doesn’t play baseball and his puzzlement at the vagrancies of his female playmates.

The year is 1935, the United States is battling the Great Depression and Al Capone has been transferred to Alcatraz. Meet a warden’s son – Moose Flanagan. Moose asks Al Capone for a favour – to help his sister get into a special needs school. When his sister is admitted into said school, Moose owes the dangerous gangster. What is he to do? The story then twists and turns through the trials and tribulations of living on Alcatraz, being in close proximity to dangerous criminals, rule-obsessed wardens, impossibly cruel but unbearably pretty girls and the thrill of moving undetected in a place designed to hold the most accomplished of escape artists.

Moose Flanagan as a character has the touch of the Irish about him, he’s well liked by all,
thinks quickly, always manages to say the right thing and has a way with the girls. This”chosen” sort of quality that others see, but he himself does not feel, reminds me greatly of Harry Potter. The story also deals with a young boy who lives in a special place, who faces down a a dangerous enemy and becomes involved in a plot far bigger than by rights he should be expected to handle, all Potter-esque virtues.

In fact, this book is similarly appropriate for the tween and teen markets as the Harry Potter series.
I would therefore not hesitate to recommend Al Capone Shines My Shoes to young adults and adults who are young at heart.

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This review was written & submitted by the awesome Natalie Prescott who currently resides in a medieval town in the Netherlands

Booktrust Teenage Book Prize

The shortlist for the Teenage Book Prize was released yesterday.

Launched in 2003 to recognise and celebrate contemporary fiction written for teenager, the prize (which is judged by a mixed panel of adults and teenagers) has in the words of former judge Matt Whyman ‘fast become the benchmark for quality young people’s fiction in the UK.’

The Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009 shortlist is
:

Auslander by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
It’s 1942 and Peter is seized from an orphanage in Warsaw by Nazi soldiers, only to be classified as an Aryan and adopted by the prominent Nazi Professor Kaltenbach. Peter is expected to perfectly embody the values of the regime, but he has his own ideas on how to undermine its horrific pursuit of perfection.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury)
This chillingly fantastical tale is Gaiman’s first full-length novel since his internationally bestselling and highly acclaimed Coraline. Bod is alive…but his friends are not. Raised by ghosts, werewolves and other ethereal graveyard inhabitants, how will Bod reconcile the world of the living and the dead?

Ostrich Boysby Keith Gray (Definitions)
Left despondent after the funeral of their friend Ross, three friends – Kenny, Sim and Blake – steal Ross’ ashes and embark on an epic journey in search of a more fitting memorial. Described as a “modern classic”’ (Jake Hope, The Bookseller), this tale explores deep friendship and devastating loss.

The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine (HarperCollins)
33 Georgiana Street is home to an eclectic and chaotic assortment of runaways and misfits. Their disparate lives only briefly cross paths as they each purse their isolated existence; no questions asked. Yet below the surface everyone has a secret to hide.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (Puffin)
Intrigue and eerie mystery lie at the heart of Grant’s captivating debut novel, which entwines ancient German folklore with contemporary life-changing tragedy. The disappearance of ten-year-old Katharina reduces the small German town of Bad Munstereifel to panic. Only young Pia is determined to discover the truth.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Walker)
The second sci-fi fantasy novel in the ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy and sequel to the Booktrust Teenage Prize-winning The Knife of Never Letting Go, this fast-paced thriller continues the adventures of Todd and Viola. Fuelled by tension and mistrust, the pair find themselves on opposites sides of a civil war in this work of dystopian fiction.

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The Hero Foundation is a shadow of its former self and Lord Eon the most terrible supervillain ever has hatched a plan to tear apart time. Toby and his superhero friends should be able to stop him . . . but Pete has woken up from his coma a different person, Emily has been kidnapped, and Lorna has disappeared.

At the same time, schoolboy supervillain, Jake Hunter has taken his seat on the Council of Evil. Now he will live his dream and exact revenge on the cruel world.

But the cruel world has other plans, and they come in the shape of the Hero Foundation. Jakes not scared of the Hero Foundation. He even has a plan to turn it to the dark side. Until it gets a new member ? Jakes own sister. Is he really so villainous as to try to get her out of the way?

Read the books as separate satisfying adventures . . .or read them together and spot the heroes and villains blasting into each other’s missions.

Which side are you on?

H.I.V.E: Dreadnought by Mark Walden COMPETITION NOW CLOSED

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A renegade faction of the world’s most powerful villains is intent on destroying G.L.O.V.E. (Global League Of Villainous Enterprises) and showing the world the true face of evil. The Disciples begin by hijacking Diabolus Darkdoom’s Airborne command post, then they kidnap his son and his son’s best friend. Unfortunately for them, Nigel Darkdoom (and Franz) also happen to be Otto’s friends. Heading out to America, Otto, Wing et al embark on a perilous and highly unauthorised rescue operation. Cut off from the support of H.I.V.E. and on the run from American security forces the hunt for their friends leads to one of the US military’s most secret facilities. It becomes clear that the Disciples are not all they appear and in a desperate race against time Otto must work out who his real friends are to prevent the Disciples from completing their true objective. Only Otto can save the world from domination by a sinister new world order but it might be that the price he has to pay is just too high. When it comes to the crunch will he be prepared to sacrifice himself?

Visit the Hive Hub where you can find out more about the excellent series by Mark Walden, and read interviews with the man himself. There is an evil laugh generator – essential for any budding evil overlord and a grapple hook game. You can also sign up for the H.I.V.E. e-mail newsletter to find out more about what is happening at the premier school for Villains.

Teen Librarian has one copy of Dreadnought that can be won by answering this (relatively) easy question:

Name the main character in the H.I.V.E series

The answer can be found in the Character section of the Hive Hub and in the H.I.V.E books that you should have on your bookshelves.

Answers to editor(at)teenlibrarian.co.uk

For more details on the H.I.V.E series you can download the press release (which also has the answer to the competition question).

The winners name will be drawn on the 15th September.

Kelly Osbourne: Fierce – new book and website

You think you know Kelly Osbourne?

Find out her story in her own words and online with her new biography and a website for teens & Young Women on advice and her life:

Log on to Kelly’s website live from today at: www.kellyosbourne.com where you can sneak peek at some of Kelly’s personal pictures, and keep up to date with what she’s up to and where she’s going to be appearing. You can also post the best piece of advice you’ve ever had and share it with others. It can be something that comforted you, inspired you, made you feel happier, made you laugh, or something you just want to share with the world. And if you’ve had your own embarrassing moments, just log on to the forum to discover you’re not alone!

fierceWhen you’re little, you think your family is just the same as everybody else’s.

Doesn’t everyone’s mum plan secret exits for when things get tough?
Surely all dads embarrass their daughters at their birthday parties?
But as you get older, you begin to notice that what’s normal to you is completely f***ed up to the outside world, and that sometimes you just can’t explain that what other people think of as weird is actually all about love.

Who is Kelly Osbourne? I’m still not totally sure. But I do know who I’m not, and I want to help other people make the right decisions with the difficult choices we all face when growing up.

So I’ve gone out and got the best advice I can find from people I love, respect and always listen to. I’ve included Louis Walsh’s advice on making it in the music industry, tips from Neil, my sought-after make-up artist at MAC and many others. And for when things get really serious I’ve gone to the organisations that really can help.

In this book I’m sharing my advice and my embarrassing moments, but it isn’t just about me, it’s about you. And I’d love to hear your stories too!

Meet Kelly at an exclusive London book signing on Tuesday 8th September at Selfridges London at 6pm.