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!

OCTOBER 2009 IS ASTERIX’S 50th BIRTHDAY

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To celebrate this momentous day in publishing history
ORION will publish the first brand new album for four years – and their UK title will be:

ASTERIX AND OBELIX’S BIRTHDAY: THE GOLDEN BOOK

This cover artwork for the brand new album, by Albert Uderzo, is shown for the first time worldwide on 8 and 9 October 2009.
ASTERIX Golden Book
The contents remain under embargo until publication.
ASTERIX AND OBELIX’S BIRTHDAY: THE GOLDEN BOOK will consist of a 56 page collection of brand new short stories recounting Asterix and Obelix’s birthday celebrations. The publication of this brand new book will be a fitting tribute to the Asterix universe.
This first album in four years is eagerly anticipated by the millions of fans of Asterix; the highest selling series in the world, having been translated into over 100 languages and dialects. This title completes the 2009 publishing programme, following June’s publication of HOW OBELIX FELL INTO THE MAGIC POTION…
The album will have an international embargo with worldwide publication on 22 October 2009.
About Asterix:
Asterix was created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo in 1959. For millions of readers the world over (more than 320 million albums sold in over 100 languages), this extraordinary day commemorates 50 years of sheer happiness with Asterix.
Created for the Pilote weekly magazine in 1959, Asterix became the most famous Gaul in the world. Brainchild of the dynamic duo Goscinny / Uderzo while weathering a sweltering summer on a balcony in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, the adventures of the little Gaul hero with the winged helmet have since become classics.
With some 400 characters (from Aberdeenangus to Zurix!), the 33 Asterix albums (current series) describe a world teeming in activity and never-ending change, a universe that has spilled over into various media: cinema (8 animated films and 3 liveaction films), video games and, of course, the Parc Astérix leisure park.
More dynamic than ever, Asterix and his friends are preparing a great number of events to celebrate a half century of merriment with their readers. They have just one idea in mind: to persist in “laughing and making others laugh”.

Salem Brownstone – a graphic novel to watch out for

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

hush, hushFor Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

I have a confession to make – I have a split personality, and my secondary inner mind is a 14 year old goth girl – that is the only explanation I have for what I am about to say.

and that is: I freaking LOVED Hush, Hush!

That is all I can say really, in Nora Grey Becca Fitzpatrick has created a heroine who is normal – no lashings of angst, or whininess that typifies so many Teen characters in modern YA lit. Hush, Hush could easily have been a by-the-numbers stereotypical teen novel, all the markers are there – a heroine with a tragedy in her recent past – check, a dark, mysterious new boy who is always there stirring feelings she tries so hard to deny – check, mysterious happenings – check, danger – check, excitement – check, vampires – ch… wait there are no vampires – not a fang in sight! What there is is something far older and darker with a need that far outstrips a hunger for blood.

Becca mixes these elements into a powerful and hypnotic first novel that delights and terrifies with every turn, along with Nora we experience her life whirling out of control. From her car smashing into a mysterious figure and them appearing untouched to her room being ransacked and reverting to pristine condition then her friend Vee being hospitalised after a vicious attack. Nora questions her sanity, and with a story that hides as much as it reveals we ask ourselves that too and also if Patch is somehow responsible for these occurrences and if so how? Patch is a man of mystery who (as most teen boys do) refuses to divulge any details of his history or who he is.

I had to read Hush, Hush twice before I felt ready to write this review and even now I cannot help but feel that my words are lacking somehow, I want to make people read this book because it is that good – just not my copy as I need to reread it.

I know readers that will read this and lie awake straining to hear the beating of wings.

Hush, Hush is out at the end of October get a copy and read it – my inner teen goth-girl commands you!


Find out more about Hush, Hush!

CILIP supports the call for statutory school libraries

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is supporting the campaign to make school libraries statutory. CILIP’s Vice President Biddy Fisher welcomed the support for Alan Gibbon‘s Campaign for the Book:

“I’m delighted that CILIP is supporting the Campaign for the Book’s call to make school libraries statutory. I’d urge everyone who believes that all children in this country need access to a properly resourced school library and the skills of a qualified librarian to sign the petition.”

Sue Shaper, Chair of CILIP’s School Libraries Group commented:

“Statutory status for school libraries and librarians is essential to sustain and develop the vital role that libraries play in enhancing teaching and learning. It’s important that children are able to access inspiring works of fiction and accurate factual information in their school library. The role professional and knowledgeable staff play in guiding their choices and making sense of the library resources cannot be understated.”

The Campaign for the Book is led by acclaimed children’s author Alan Gibbons. The Campaign has gathered support from many authors, publishers, members of the library profession, Unions and organisations that promote reading and literacy. CILIP looks forward to working in partnership with Campaign for the Book and the organisations and individuals that have given their support. The petition to make school libraries statutory is available to sign online until 11 December 2009.

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.

Teen Librarian Monthly: September

The (delayed) September edition of Teen Librarian Monthly is available to download here

HeadSpace Efford

Create a Comic project
HeadSpace Efford took part in this online Manga storyboard activity in preparation for their first ever Manga RE-con at Waterstone’s in Plymouth. The theory behind the activity is that young people who are interested in Manga but unable to draw to a high standard can take part in constructing their own Manga storyboard. The site also provides similar pre-designed graphic novel templates and blank comic strips for young people who are talented artists. All this can be found on the Create a Comic Project website.

“The Create a Comic Project (CCP) is a youth literacy activity that uses comics to promote creative writing. The CCP uses two kinds of templates for instruction: blank panels, allowing kids to draw their own, and pre-drawn comics with the original dialogue bubbles blanked out. Pre-drawn templates use art from comics all across the web, representing a broad swath of the online cartooning community. The CCP is arguably the single largest multi-comic educational collaboration of its kind.

This website is dedicated to hosting the creations of the students who participated in the CCP. Both original and “remixed” comics are posted here for all to see. Every comic here is the work of one or more children. While I provided guidance and technical knowledge (what a dialogue bubble is, how to read expressions, etc.), I was always careful not to tell the kids what to write. So each comic posted here is the free and open creation of a young mind.”

The group really enjoyed coming up with their own stories and reading them aloud to each other. As with most projects that involve young people they are keen to come up with something with a professional finish. We were able to print their designs in colour for them to take home.

Meet Mangako!
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HeadSpace Efford launched their very own Manga group, hosted by Abi our resident Manga enthusiast. Abi came up with the plan for launch party, prepared the activities, made cakes, designed posters and promoted the group at the Manga RE-con event. The group is made up of four new HeadSpace members and three existing members who love all things Manga.
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It was a great to meet new members at the launch and everyone enjoyed learning to speak some Japanese, trying Japanese food and even listening to Disney songs in Japanese.
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Mangako meet on a fortnightly basis during HeadSpace time and in the next few weeks will be coming up with their own design for a Manga library card, performing a Manga sketch and sharing their favourite Anime.

To keep up with all our activities follow us on Twitter and check out the HeadSpace blog, written by young people for young people.


Article & photos provided by Superlibrarian Emma Sherriff of Plymouth Library Service

The Secret to Teen Power