Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Ringmaster by Julia Golding (Audio book)

Ringmaster by Julia Golding and read by Adjoa Andoh (December 2008, AudioGO, ISBN:9781405654944)

First Line: Looking back, the day had started like any other.

Review: Ringmaster is the first in a soon to be three book adventure series featuring fourteen-year-old Darcie Lock. Darcie is the daughter of a British diplomat and his American wife and they are currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Darcie attends the international school but on her return one day she finds her house empty. Her mother is abroad but there is no sign of her father or the servants and when she rings the High Commission she is told that Michael Lock no longer works there. And then she is told someone will come for her.

Darcie's life, with all that she thought she knew for facts, is turned upside down when she is recruited by the British security service to help find her father. All she has to do is get herself invited to her classmates' homes and ask a few questions - a low risk operation. But things don't go to plan and it's up to Darcie to save herself, her family and a British royal prince whilst outwitting racists and power-hungry politicians.

This was a very enjoyable listen. Darcie is an engaging character who is very much a tomboy; she plays football and has no time for fashion. She is resourceful and quick-witted. She has an SAS minder, with a dry wit, for some of the book and they have a great rapport with some amusing banter. The story becomes nail-bitingly tense towards the end and the expert plotting means that things that happened earlier in the book become relevant to a successful conclusion. Ringmaster also provides a look at a community of people from different nations and political ideals, who have been thrown together in a unsettled country.

I sought Ringmaster out on audio on two counts. First it is written by Julia Golding, whose first outing as Joss Stirling - Finding Sky - was a favourite read of mine of 2010 and secondly, the narrator is Adjoa Andoh. I have listened to many of her narrations and Ms Andoh can do no wrong in my ears. In this case she expertly conveyed a younger voice for Darcie and she has many accents at her disposal. She is the voice of Alexander McCall Smith's Mme Ramotswe on audio, which I adore, (and Martha's mum in Doctor Who), and I wish that the next Darcie Lock book, Empty Quarter, was available on audio book and narrated by her.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Read Shadow Days online for free

Bit late news but the prequel novella to Andrea Cremer's Nightshade, Shadow Days can be read online or downloaded from I've successfully imported it into my Sony e-reader.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas & Thank You

Happy Christmas to the much appreciated readers of this blog. A big thank you to to those who follow my blog and comment on it. I'd also like to thank publishers for their continued support. I wish you all the best for 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Publishing Deal - Monica Seles

From Publishers Weekly:

In a two-book deal, Bloomsbury Children's Books acquired world rights to a new YA series by former tennis star Monica Seles called The Academy. Bloomsbury bought the titles from John Steele at IMG, who brokered the deal for Seles.

The books will follow a group of young sports prodigies at an elite facility known for breeding Olympians and other world-class athletes. Steele, who confirmed that currently Seles is attached to the project without a co-writer, said of the world depicted in the books: "It is the boarding school where the rich and famous send their kids to fulfill their own vicarious dreams or the kids' sometimes delusional aspirations."

The first book in the series is scheduled for 2012.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Library Loot (78) & review copies


In my quest for a "happy" book for the children's reading group I'm involved in (10-12 year olds) I asked on twitter for suggestions. One of which was The White Giraffe. I've reserved a couple of other titles which haven't arrived yet. More suggestions welcomed of course.
I've not read them yet:

Seriously Sassy by Maggi Gibson (may be too girly for the group)
Thirteen-year-old Sassy is a true twenty-first century girl. She's puzzling out the mysteries of parents, boys and why people can't be more like dolphins, and confronting big questions like . . . Can she become a singer–songwriter and save the world too? (More importantly, can she get Dad to pay for a demo?) Should she trust her dolly-goth best friend to give her a makeover without making her look like one of the undead? And does sharing a chocolate chip muffin with Magnus Menzies mean true love, or just a mid-morning snack . . .?

The White Giraffe by Lauren St John
When she is eleven years old, Martine is orphaned and sent to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa. Her grandmother seems strangely unwelcoming and Martine has a difficult time settling in at her new school, where she is conspicuously an outsider. But she has an ally in Tendai - one of the keepers on the reserve, from whom she learns the lore and survival techniques of the bush, and in Grace - who instantly senses there is something special about Martine. There are secrets about Sawubona (the reserve) just waiting to be revealed, and rumours too about a fabled white giraffe - a trophy for hunters everywhere. One night Martine, lonely and feeling slightly rebellious too, looks out of her window and see a young albino giraffe - silver, tinged with cinnamon in the moonlight. This is the beginning of her mysterious and magical adventures - her discovery of her gift of healing and a secret valley that she travels to with the giraffe, where she'll find clues about her past and future. Above all it's is a heart-warming story, full of charm and atmosphere, and Martine's sheer delight in her giraffe friend and the fantastic landscape which is theirs to explore.


Doctor Who Magazine


Doctor Who: The Jade Pyramid by Martin Day, read by Matt Smith (6 Jan 2011, AudioGo)
Matt Smith reads this exclusive audio story featuring the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond. Intercepting a distress call, the TARDIS is drawn to a Shinto shrine in medieval Japan, where the Doctor and Amy are met by village elder Shijo Sada. He explains that the ogre-like mannequins surrounding the holy site are harmless guardians, called Otoroshi. At the heart of the temple is an ancient jade pyramid, so sacred that only the monks may look at it. But the Shogun, the ruler of Japan, wants to possess the pyramid and has ordered seven samurai and a band of soldiers to come to Kokan and seize it. Whilst the Doctor is tracked by a ninja assassin, Amy discovers what happens to trespassers at the shrine. Soon the secrets of the jade pyramid - and the towering Otoroshi - will be known...Written specially for audio by Martin Day

Doctor Who: The Edge of Destruction
by Nigel Robinson, read by William Russell (6 Jan 2011, AudioGo)
In a final bid to regain control of the TARDIS' faulty control system the Doctor is driven to experiment with a dangerous untried combination. With a violent explosion the TARDIS blacks out and the crew find themselves trapped inside. A simple technical fault? Sabotage? Or something even more sinister? Tension mounts as the Doctor and his companions begin to suspect one another. What has happened to the TARDIS? Slowly a terrifying suspicion dawns. Has the TARDIS become the prisoner of some powerful fifth intelligence which is even now haunting the time-machine's dark and gloomy corridors? William Russell, who played the Doctor's companion Ian in the original TV serial, reads Nigel Robinson's complete and unabridged novelisation, first published by Target Books in 1988.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Publishing Deals - Moira Young, Lauren Roedy Vaughn & Kody Keplinger

From yesterday's Publisher's Weekly email:

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Gretchen Hirsch at Margaret K. McElderry Books have bought rights to Blood Red Road, a teen dystopian novel by debut author Moira Young. The story follows a girl named Saba, who lives in the wastelands known as Silverlake; after her twin brother is abducted, Saba is forced to leave to rescue him, and discovers a lawless, ugly world beyond Silverlake. Blood Red Road is set for worldwide publication in June 2011, to be released by Marion Lloyd Books at Scholastic in the U.K., and Random House in Canada. Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, has optioned the project.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has acquired world rights to debut author Lauren Roedy Vaughn’s The Dude and Me, about a teen dealing with the awkwardness of high school compounded by the challenges of OCD and ADD. Publication is set for spring 2012.

Little, Brown Books for Young Reader has bought 19-year-old author Kody Keplinger’s (The DUFF) second YA novel, Luststruck, a contemporary reimagining of the Greek play Lysistrata as high school senior Lissa decides to end her school’s sports rivalry with a hook-up strike. The Poppy imprint will publish it in fall 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Children's Reading Group - Book 2 (Ghost Writer)

My place of work (library) has recently set up a reading group for children. So far we have 10 girls aged 9-12. At the second meeting they took a copy of Ghost Writer by Julia Jarman which is a standalone title.

My review: I chose this title as the group had asked for a 'spooky' read and by luck on my part is was also relevant for National Anti-Bullying week.

Frankie Ruggles is a bright lad who happens to be dyslexic and he has not been given the support at school that he needs and consequently has moved school countless times until he arrives at St. Olafs in a small town.

He soon settles in there and makes friends but the room his class has their lessons in is said to be haunted and as the ghost is seeking Frankie out. Not only does Frankie have to work out what the ghost is trying to tell him but he has to contend with a bullying, unsympathetic teacher called Miss Bulpit.

The children should love the ghost-y side to this story but I was fascinated by the descriptions of Frankie's dyslexia and how the letters rearrange themselves before his eyes and how his visual imagination conjures up pictures when someone says a phrase eg skeletons in the closet - he actually sees the bones in his mind's eye. Ghost Writer has really brought home to me how difficult reading and writing can be if you are dyslexic.

Now what did the children think?
I think I underestimated how scary this book was for the age group who were reading it. Several of them stopped when a dead body was found. If you've read it you'll know what I mean! I think it was a bit too grim for them. Though my library classed it in the 7-12 section, perhaps it's more suitable for teenagers. I definitely enjoyed it more than they did.

Next time: The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43 by Harriet Goodwin and Winging It by Annie Dalton.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Library Loot (77) & a review copy


Star Trek: TNG - Nightshade by Laurell K Hamilton
Captain Picard and the USS "Enterprise" are sent to help negotiate a settlement of the civil war on the dying planet Oriana, although there are some who would rather continue the conflict. But Picard is accused of murder, and Worf and Troi must prevent disaster before time runs out for everyone.

The Fallen 1 (The Fallen and Leviathan) by Thomas E Sniegoski
On his eighteenth birthday, Aaron begins to hear strange voices and is convinced he is going insane. But having moved from foster home to foster home, Aaron doesn't know whom he can trust. He wants to confide in the cute girl from class, but fears she'll confirm he's crazy.

Then a mysterious man begins following Aaron. He knows about Aaron's troubled past and his new powers. And he has a message for Aaron: As the son of a mortal and an angel, Aaron has been chosen to redeem the Fallen.

Aaron tries to dismiss the news and resists his supernatural abilities. But he must accept his newfound heritage -- and quickly. For the dark powers are gaining strength, and are hell-bent on destroying him....

The Medusa Project: Hostage
by Sophie McKenzie
Fourteen years ago, four babies were implanted with the Medusa gene - a gene for psychic abilities. Now teenagers, Nico, Ketty, Ed and Dylan have been brought together by government agents to create a secret crime-fighting force - The Medusa Project. But now Ketty's brother Lex has stumbled into a dangerous game involving his boss and a hidden bomb. It's up to Ketty to save him without letting on what she knows to the rest of the team. But can she control her psychic visions, and her feelings for Nico, without getting the team's cover - and herself - blown sky high?

The Medusa Project: Rescue by Sophie McKenzie
Fourteen years ago, four babies were implanted with the Medusa gene - a gene for psychic abilities. Now teenagers, Nico, Ketty, Ed and Dylan have been brought together by government agents to create a secret crime-fighting force: The Medusa Project. Since their existence became known to members of the criminal underworld, they have been hidden away in a secluded training camp in Spain, where their identities are being kept secret. Life in camp is hard enough, but then things take a turn for the worse. Ed is blackmailed into using his mind-reading powers - and in doing so he threatens to endanger the whole Medusa Project...


The Medusa Project: Hunted by Sophie McKenzie (6 Jan 2011, Simon & Schuster UK)
Dylan, the daughter of the scientist who created the Medusa gene for psychic powers, has never felt she really fits into the crime-fighting Medusa Project. But then she makes a discovery about her father's death which changes everything. As she and the other Medusa teens search for the truth, Dylan meets Harry - a boy who seems to know more about Dylan's past than she does. But can Dylan trust him? While Dylan searches for the mysterious legacy that her father has left her from beyond the grave, her dad's killer closes in. But just how far is the murderer prepared to go to keep Dylan from finding out the truth?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Finding Sky by Joss Stirling

Finding Sky by Joss Stirling (October 2010, OUP Oxford, ISBN: 0192732137)

First Line: The car drew away, leaving the little girl on the verge.

Review: I loved Finding Sky so much I kept putting it down so I didn't get to the end.

Sky Bright moves from Richmond (England) with her adoptive parents Sally and Simon to Wrickenridge in Colorado where her artistic parents have a one year job as artists-in-residence in the new arts centre.

Sky was abandoned at an early age and went through many homes and foster carers, with no memory of who she was and unable to speak, until the Brights rescued her. Sky is quite reserved and fights to remain normal, as from time to time she sees coloured auras around people, which she suppresses.

She hasn't been at school long until, Zed Benedict, the bad boy of the school catches her eye. He takes little interest in her until she ticks him off in front of his friends and then a football match where he allows her to make a save makes him realise that Sky's his destiny. For Zed is a savant and he must make Sky realise that she is his soulfinder, the one that will complement and complete him. Sky struggles with this knowledge and becomes embroiled in the dangerous secrets of Zed's family, which leads to violence and pain. Will Sky accept the truth about herself and Zed or will she run from the possibility of getting emotionally hurt again?

By inventing the concept of a soulfinder, the author gives a good reason why her couple should stay together forever, as it's mentioned a couple of times that teenage sweetheart relationships often don't last. The banter between Zed and Sky seems very natural and sweet. They seem quite mature for their age as they have had to grow up early with what they've both seen and gone through.

Along with the great central relationship, there is the mythology of the savants (these savants are not like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man) - whose skills include telepathy and telekinesis. There are also action sequences with some serious bad guys, which are rather scary. I liked how the author didn't make Sky a "superhero" at the first opportunity, rather, allowing Sky to find her own way at a slower pace. I loved the setting of the Rockies where we get Sky's English perspective on an American setting. I loved her new friends who were incredibly supportive of the new girl. Basically I loved this book and it's one of my, if not the, favourite reads of 2010. There is to be a sequel, set in the same universe - Zed has six brothers and the next book I understand is about his older brother, Yves.

Joss Stirling is a pen-name for Julia Golding who also writes as Eve Edwards.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Read Stefan's Diaries online for free

A website from Hachette Children's Books, bookswithbite, is offering you the opportunity to read Stefan's Diaries online for free. All you have to do is sign up to the bookswithbite newsletter:

We're releasing the first ten chapters this week and then will be releasing ten chapters a week for the next 3 weeks until you've read it all!

To get your hands on this scorching hot new novel all we ask is that you sign up to our mailing list and then all you have to do is click on the link in the email to start reading the first chapters. See, we told you it was easy!

Don't forget the new sections of the book will be released every FRIDAY @ 12PM

NB. You can save the pdf file to your pc to read at your leisure but I couldn't import it into my Sony e-reader as the file is password protected.

In the first novel of this thrilling new series fans of the hit television show THE VAMPIRE DIARIES will finally find out how a passionate romance with a dangerous girl turned loving brothers into deadly enemies.

Set during the Civil War, against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches, and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity.

Brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore are inseparable until they meet Katherine, a stunning, mysterious woman who turns their world upside down. Siblings turned rivals, the Salvatores compete for Katherine’s affection, only to discover that her sumptuous silk dresses and glittering gems hide a terrible secret: Katherine is a vampire. And she is intent on turning them into vampires so they can live together—forever.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Publishing Deal - Elizabeth Miles

From today's Bookseller, news that the paranormal trilogy by Elizabeth Miles, already bought by the US's Simon Pulse is also being published in the UK:

Simon & Schuster has bought a debut teen paranormal trilogy for global publication in autumn 2011.

The trilogy, comprising Fury, Envy and Eternity, is written by Elizabeth Miles. It is about three furies who exact vengeance on a group of teenagers deemed to have wronged others.

The book will be published simultaneously in autumn 2011 with S&S sister companies in the US and Australia. The publisher said the hardback publication would be backed with a "high profile" PR and marketing campaign.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Library Loot (76), a review copy & purchases

Actually I've not checked out any YA books this week at the library but I do have lots already!

I forgot to include this one last week. Received for review:

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (1 Jan 11, Mira Ink)
Being a teenager just got much more complicated. There is something very wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh: she senses when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.

The following I bought from my local library discard pile for 40p(!), a mixture of children/teen books:

Waterslain Angels by Kevin Crossley-Holland (I've had my eye on this for a while as it's set in Norfolk, near where I'm from. I tried the audio book but didn't get on with the narrator so I'll hopefully better luck with the print version)
In the village of Waterslain in Norfolk, in the 1950s, a fragment from a carved angel's wing is discovered. Maybe the wooden angels that once supported the church roof were not, after all, destroyed centuries ago, but spirited away to safety. Two children decide to find them. There are few clues, but a strange inscription on the church wall leads them into terrifying places - up to the top of the church tower, down a tunnel where they are nearly drowned. Annie dreams of the man who was sent in by Cromwell to smash up the church, and of angels flying and falling. For Sandy, whose father, an American airman, was recently killed, the angels bring comfort. The whereabouts of the angels become clear to them - but then they discover that other people are hunting for them, and are determined to stop the children at all costs. The friendship between the boy adjusting to a new life in his mother's village, and the girl whose family have always lived on their remote farm, the haunting atmosphere of the Norfolk saltmarshes, and the strong sense of the past still present, give richness to a tense and fast-paced story of detection for younger readers.

Somewhere Else by Sandra Glover
Zan is worried about his sister, Jade, who doesn't seem to recognise family and friends. Even more disturbing, Jade insists she's Janet Bailey; a girl from another time and place. This must be the result of Jade's recent horrific ordeal, mustn't it? But if it's Post Traumatic Stress then why are her memories of being Janet so utterly vivid? And will they ever be able to get the real Jade back?

The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff
On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees - determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly belongs to her: Jack, a white horse. The road ahead is rich with longing, silence and secrets, and each encounter leads her closer to the untold story of her past. Then Pell meets a hunter, infuriating, mysterious and cold. Will he help her to find what she seeks? With all the hallmarks of Meg Rosoff's extraordinary writing, The Bride's Farewell also breaks new ground for this author, in a nineteenth century, Hardyesque setting. This is a moving story of love and lost things, with a core of deep, beautiful romance.

The Diamond Takers by Karen Wallace (3rd in the Lady Violet Winters series. I read the first one ages ago which was set in Egypt - as I love Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series.)
Violet and her sidekick, Garth, are staying in a Parisian hotel with her parents when valuable jewels are stolen from guests. Never one to pass up an adventure, Violet is soon hot on the trail of the suspected diamond takers...!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finding your own Twilight hero

Hmm, I'm surprised this book's not out already, ready for Christmas gift buying but it is scheduled for 4 April 2011 from Summersdale Publishers.

Stephenie Meyer's gripping supernatural romance saga has inspired millions of people worldwide with its tale of a young girl torn between two apparently perfect loves. Many fans are now on the hunt for their own real-life Edward or Jacob - but can such a love truly exist? Luckily for all the "Twilight" fans out there, psychologist Louise Deacon has uncovered seven secret steps towards true love. Inspired by the saga, these secrets reveal the relevance of Bella's experiences to your own love life, explain your feelings for Edward and Jacob and expose the perils of "Twilight"'s powerful, romantic messages. So for all you girls who adore vampires or werewolves, read on to learn how to find lasting love and loyalty with a human.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Published in December (UK)

Here are some of the teenage/YA titles that are published in the UK in December. I will put a link to this post and previous and subsequent "monthly" lists in my sidebar. Title links go to Please let me know of others to add to the list.

Releases by month this year:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November.

See all the monthly posts using this label

Trevor Colgan - The Stretford Enders Away (30th, Red Fox, pb)
Ally Condie - Matched (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Andrea Cremer - Nightshade (28th, ATOM, pb)
Lucienne Diver - Revamped (1st, Flux, pb)
Jenny Downham - You Against Me (2nd, David Fickling Books, HB)
Catherine Fisher - The Candle Man (30th, Red Fox, pb)
Victoria Hanley - The Seer and the Sword (30th, Corgi Childrens, pb)
Gabrielle Lord - December (2nd, Hodder Children's Books, pb)
Richelle Mead - Last Sacrifice (7th, Puffin, pb)
Antonio Pagliarulo - Celebutantes: On The Avenue (30th, Red Fox, pb)
Antonio Pagliarulo - Celebutantes: In The Club (30th, Red Fox, pb)
Heather Terrell - Fallen Angel (28th, HarperCollins Childrens Book Group, pb)
John Rowe Townsend - The Islanders (30th, Red Fox, pb)
Daisy Whitney - The Mockingbirds (2nd, Little, Brown Young Readers, HB)