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.


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.


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:

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.

Library Myth Busters

This is an idea I have been working on that can be run with a Reading Group and also for breaking the ice for new users in the Library:

This event can be run by following the Myth Busters format of having small teams investigating various Library Myths and then presenting their findings to the entire Reading Group. If permission can be obtained for filming, a short DVD could be made of the proceedings. This could tie into a larger media and film-making programme that can be run over half-term or summer holidays. It is fun and educational – teenagers learn how the library works and what the staff do all day as well as debunking misconceptions they may have on what goes on in libraries.

Here are a a list of library myths that can either be debunked or confirmed:

  • Librarians have lots of time to read on the job
  • All librarians are fast readers
  • Public libraries are only busy during the school year
  • Public libraries are only busy during summer holidays
  • Libraries are used only by those who cannot afford to buy their own books.
  • Librarians have no stress
  • Librarians have read every book in the library.
  • Librarians know the answer to everything
  • Everyone who works in the library is a librarian
  • Libraries are just about getting books
  • Libraries aren’t necessary because everything’s available on the internet
  • Libraries have plenty of money because they get so many donated books and charge so much in fines
  • The librarian can be held responsible for everything that kids check out because they work for the government and must protect young people from bad things
  • School libraries aren’t needed because kids can get everything they want at the public library or online
  • Librarians wear their hair in buns, have wire-rimmed glasses, and say shhhhh! all the time
  • Librarians only issue books
  • Everything in the library is free
  • You have to know Dewey to use the library
  • Libraries are serious and quiet all the time
  • It is difficult to get a library card
  • Libraries are for English readers only

The list is by no means complete and if anyone would like to add library myths in the comments you are most welcome.

Teen Librarian Monthly: October

The October (Halloween) edition of TLM is available to download here

The Beautiful Dead by Eden Maguire


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!



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:


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?!

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.

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.