Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Booktrust Teenage Prize in 2011

An announcement has just been made that there will be no Booktrust Teenage Prize in 2011. From their website:

As you will be aware, the last few months have been particularly challenging for Booktrust. Our new funding settlement with the Department for Education has allowed us to protect the universal offer of the national bookgifting programmes, but it has nonetheless forced us to undertake a thorough review of all of the prizes and projects in the Booktrust portfolio.

As a result of this review, we have taken the difficult decision not to run the Booktrust Teenage Prize in Autumn 2011. This Prize is incredibly important, highlighting and celebrating the best books for teens, as well as being very dear to Booktrust. We have not taken this decision lightly and we strongly intend to bring back the Prize with a bang in the very near future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins

Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins (March 2011, Simon & Schuster Children's, ISBN: 1847387233)

Notes: Review contains spoilers for the previous book, Hex Hall.

Review: Hex Hall was one of my favourite books in 2010. Could the sequel, Raising Demons, be as good? Yes, thankfully it could and was.

We catch up with heroine Sophie Mercer a few months after the traumatic events in Hex Hall, almost at the end of the school year. Sophie's had a lot to take onboard, such as being a demon and the heir-apparent to the leadership of the Council of Prodigium and that her boyfriend, Archer Cross, is a demon hunter working for her sworn enemy, The Eye. That's plenty to be going on with and then she's informed that she's actually betrothed to Cal, the groundskeeper with the (literally) healing hands. Her father, the current head of the Council thinks it best that Sophie, her best friend Jenna and Cal spend the summer vacation at the Council HQ in England where he can try to dissuade her from voluntarily having her powers removed. However, though the HQ is a palatial stately home, a pair of demons, Daisy and Nick, make her life uncomfortable. Plus not only is she getting to know her dad, she has to learn to control her powers, and there's the issue of her former boyfriend who seems to pop up at the least expected moments and then there's the fact that she has her own personal ghost. Not a restful summer holiday, that's for sure.

Raising Demons was such fun, I loved it. Sophie is one of my favourite heroines: she's funny, kind, loyal and tries to do the right thing and with her magic can kick-ass! I snorted out loud at this reference to a popular series!: "Did you want to watch me sleep or something? Because if that's the case, this engagement is so broken." Her English dad's dialogue is also (intentionally) a hoot with his very formal speech with Sophie takes the mick out of. It was great to be able to see the mysterious dad and get to know and understand him better. As well as the witty remarks from Sophie there's the sparky romance with Archer who can spar with her on an equal basis. Hopefully their story will end better than Romeo and Juliet's. The big showdown at the end is a nail-biting affair and left on a huge, huge cliff-hanger. Rachel Hawkins writes on her blog that Sophie's story should be wrapped up in three books but I secretly hope that there'll be more...

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Face Behind - Cover Theme

I spotted this cover for China Lake (2008) yesterday as I was adding a review of another book by Meg Gardiner over on Euro Crime. Both books are published by Hodder.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Library Loot (2.2 & 2.3) & review copies


Angel Kiss by Laura Jane Cassidy
Jacki King is fifteen and adjusting to her new life in a small village. She’s missing Dublin but she’s making new friends: artistic Colin, feisty Emily – and Nick, gorgeous yet unavailable.

But no sooner is Jacki settled than the torturous headaches and nightmares begin – followed by strange visions, voices and signs…

Jacki refuses to believe that something paranormal is happening. But then she discovers the unsolved murder that occurred in the village years before . . .

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan (I still haven't read #2, so no blurb for fear of spoilers :))

The Twilight Saga: the official illustrated guide by Stephenie Meyer (one to dip into it)


Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin, 1 Sep)
Everyone says fourteen-year-old BILLIE is nothing but trouble. A fighter. A danger to her family and friends.

But her care worker sees someone different.

Her classmate ROB is big, strong; he can take care of himself and his brother.

But his violent stepdad sees someone to humiliate.

And CHRIS is struggling at school; he just doesn't want to be there.

But his dad sees a useless no-hoper.

Billie, Rob and Chris each have a story to tell. But there are two sides to every story, and the question is . . . who do you believe?

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn-Childs (Templar, 1 July)
When a mermaid has her first kiss, she 'bonds' for life with the person she kisses. For Lily, a mermaid princess living in secret on land, this means she has ended up accidentally bonded to her obnoxious neighbour, instead of to the boy of her dreams. So begins a tidal wave of relationship drama, as Lily discovers that happily-ever-after never goes as smoothly as you plan it to.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Corgi Childrens, 7 July)
A spooky, electrifying love story.

Amy Goodnight's family are far from normal. She comes from a long line of witches, and grew up surrounded by benevolent spirits and kitchen spells. All fairly harmless, but Amy can't wait to get to college and escape the "family business".

But things take a darker turn when she and her sister Phin spend the summer looking after Aunt Hyacinth's ranch. Amy is visited by a midnight spectre who is clearly trying to send her a message. It seems that the discovery of an old grave on a neighbour's land has been the catalyst for an apparent ghost uprising.

Aided by local friends and Ben, the handsome cowboy who just can't take his eyes off Amy, the sisters investigate. And they soon find that there's something strange and dangerous going on, deep in the heart of Texas...

The Devil Walks by Anne Fine (Doubleday Childrens, 7 July)
'The devil walks . . . But the devil can make no headway if he has no help. We must invite him in . . .'

Raised in secrecy by a mother everyone thinks has gone mad, Daniel’s only link to his past is the intricately built model of the family home – High Gates. The dolls’ house is perfect in every detail.

As Daniel is reunited with the last remaining member of his family - his Uncle Severn, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a sinister wooden doll he has found hidden in the house - he begins to suspect that this vicious, haunted puppet of a figure has a chilling influence, bringing cruelty and spite in its wake.

Now Daniel's very life is at risk as his uncle is determined to get his hands on the figure . . .

The menace builds throughout in this deliciously creepy Gothic tale by award-winning author Anne Fine.

Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison (Mira Ink, out now)
Can death be a fresh start? They say that before you die your life flashes before you re eyes. You think it's going to be the good stuff every kiss, every party. Don't count on it. I was Bridget Duke the uncontested ruler of the school. If keeping the wannabes in their place meant being a mean girl, then so be it! I never thought there d be a price to pay. Until the accident. Now, trapped between life and death, I'm seeing my world in a new light: through the eyes of five people whose existence I've made hell. And I've got one chance to make things right. If I don't, I may never wake up again...

Passion by Lauren Kate (audio book) - out now

Dark Touch: Betrayal by Amy Meredith (red Fox, out now)
A hot new boyfriend. Prom just round the corner. And not a demon in sight . . .

Things have never been better for Eve Evergold, Deepdene’s kick-ass witch.

But when things seem too good to be true, they usually are. An evil far greater than Eve has ever

known is at work in Deepdene – and it’s hell-bent on turning her closest friends against her.

This time, it looks like Eve is going to have to face her demons alone . . .

The Alchemyst
by Michael Scott (Corgi Childrens, out now)
Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life. The records show that he died in 1418. But his tomb is empty and Nicholas Flamel lives. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects – the Book of Abraham the Mage. It’s the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. And that’s exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won’t know what’s happening until it’s too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it. Sometimes legends are true. And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Children's Authors on Radio 2 Arts Show

I'm a bit behind with these and have listened to them in the wrong order but both of these are still downloadable from the Radio 2 Arts Show page or via iTunes:

As well as being interviewed, both authors read from their latest books.

Monday 13 June: War Horse author Michael Morpurgo on his new book for children (Little Manfred).

Friday 17 June: Vampirates author Justin Somper (talking about the final Vampirates book, Immortal War).

Publishing Deal - Rachel Renee Russell

Two new entries in the Dork Diaries series has been announced, though no details on titles. From Publishers Weekly:

On the heels of the recent release of Rachel RenĂ©e Russell’s Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star, Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin imprint has announced details about the publication of the fifth and sixth books in the series in summer 2013 and 2014.

In October, Aladdin will publish Dork Diaries 3 1/2: How to Dork Your Diary, which follows protagonist Nikki’s travails after she loses her diary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free Audio Book of Shiver

Like last year, Sync are offering two free audio books per week over the summer. You only get a week to download them but then they can be played at any time afterwards. This week's selection is:

Available June 23 - June 29:

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater
Narrated by Jenna Lamia and David Ledoux
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

ROMEO & JULIET by William Shakespeare
Narrated by a Full Cast
Published by AudioGO

I don't know if there are any geographical restrictions, I'm in the UK and am downloading Shiver ok. You have to download a small piece of software (Overdrive) before being allowed to download the mp3 files.

Download the books from here.

Carnegie Medal 2011 - Winner

The Carnegie Medal 2011 winner has been announced today and it was Patrick Ness's Monsters of Men. The five books in the running were:

Doubleday (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9781406310276

Oxford Children's Books (Ages 10+) ISBN: 9780192756022

Walker (Ages 14+) ISBN: 9780385617031

Puffin (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9780141383934

Orion (Ages 12+) ISBN: 9781842551875

Andersen Press (Ages 14+) ISBN: 9781849390484

You can read more about each book at the official website

Review: Crusade by Linda Press Wulf

Crusade by Linda Press Wulf (January 2011, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, ISBN: 1408804840)

Notes: The following review is written by Amanda Gillies who reviews crime fiction on my Euro Crime website. You can read her crime reviews here and her YA reviews here.

Review: Set in the summer of 1212, and based on the Children's Crusade that took place that year, this is an enchanting tale of love, devotion and unquestioning faith. It is exquisitely written and brims over with the emotions of the two young people at its centre - starting with their joyful innocence that is slowly eroded but replaced with burning passion and belief based on bitter experience.

In brief, Georgette is mesmerized by the handsome young shepherd boy who comes riding triumphantly into her village. He is holding a golden crucifix and looking for youngsters to volunteer for his crusade. His cloak and golden curls only add to his air of mystery and godliness and many children do set out after him - Georgette included. They make their way southwards and, buoyed up by a blessing from the King himself, despite a stark lack of food, eventually reach a large abbey where young foundling Robert is being raised by the abbot. Robert also joins the crusade, moved by his steadfast faith and utter belief that this is what he is meant to do.

Both Georgette and Robert witness many events on their long journey that are a real test of everything they hold dear. They discover that many things, and people, are not always as they seem, and face death on more than once occasion. Their momentous journey is life-changing right from the start, but even more so once the two young people meet and discover they share the same hopes and dreams.

This is Linda Press Wulf's second book. The appeal of its beautiful style and timeless message means it should speak volumes to everyone who reads it. Very highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - Dark Angel

Dark Angel by Eden Maguire, author of the Beautiful Dead series (reviewed so far: Jonas and Arizona), is published by Hodder Children's Books on 4 August. A sequel, Twisted Heart, will be out in November.

Tania's heart belongs to Orlando. Nothing can rip them apart. Until the seduction begins in a flurry of glamour and magic, music and parties all orchestrated by the mysterious and mesmerising Zoran, an iconic rock star who has retired to a remote ranch in the nearby mountains. And there Tania meets the dark side. Can she resist temptation?

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Win 8 Children's Crime Fiction Books

To conclude this special focus on children's crime fiction, I have a brilliant competition with 8 books to giveaway thanks to Orion and Random House.

One lucky person will win:

Alex Carter - The Case of the Ruby Necklace & The Case of the Poisoned Pie
Caroline Lawrence - The Case of the Deadly Desperados & The Thieves of Ostia (#1 Roman Mysteries)
Helen Moss - The Mystery of the Whistling Caves & The Mystery of The Midnight Ghost
Marcus Sedgwick - Flood and Fang (#1 The Raven Mysteries)
Lauren St John - Dead Man's Cove

To enter, please fill in the form below. All entries will be deleted once the winner has supplied their address details. The prize will be sent out by the publishers.
One entry per person only please. To enter you must be over 13 and live in the UK. (You do not have to be a blog follower to enter but if you become a new follower I will be most happy!)
The competition will close at the end of the day on 30 June 2011.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cover Reveal - Sister, Missing

Further to my previous post recommending Sophie McKenzie's books, details of the cover of Sister, Missing and the reissue of Girl, Missing, have just been released.

The cover for Sister, Missing in particular is like one of those optical illusions where you see a wrinkly face and a young girl's in the same picture!

A similar approach was taken with Kelley Armstrong's The Gathering, earlier this year:

Teenage Crime Fiction Recommendations

Following on from yesterday's younger crime fiction recommendations, here are some teenage crime novels that I've read and enjoyed over the last two years:

Beverley Birch's Rift. A fabulous mystery set in Africa with, unusually, a significant role for the police in the shape of Inspector Murothi.

CT Furlong's ARCTIC 6 series. So far I've read the first one, Killer Strangelets which is a thriller which takes a group of children of mixed ages all the way to CERN.

Julia Golding's Darcie Lock series. So far I've read the first one, Ringmaster in which Darcie Lock, finds out what her parents do for a living and she is recruited to MI6 to bring down an international bad-guy. The third book should be out next year.

Helen Grant's amazing debut, The Vanishing of Katarina Linden, a very atmospheric tale set in a small German town.

John Grisham's Theodore Boone series. I've read the first one, Theodore Boone which introduces the young lawyer, and look forward to the second one which is just out.

Gabrielle Lord's Conspiracy 365 series, a set of 12 books, one per month set in Australia, which has Cal Ormond running for his life and trying to decipher a cryptic inheritance. I've read 11 of these and will get round to the twelth soon. I believe it was written for more reluctant readers but is enjoyable for all abilities. Here's my review of January. If you can, do read them in order.

Sophie McKenzie's Girl, Missing and Blood Ties. Both of which have or will have sequels shortly. Sophie McKenzie is an incredibly popular author with library borrowers and these two titles are always in demand. Reviews of Girl Missing and Blood Ties.

I have many authors still to try, not least those running Crime Central: Anne Cassidy, Keren David, Linda Strachan and Gillian Philip.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Mysteries for Children

Here are a few more suggestions for crime fiction aimed at pre-teens. As part of national crime-writing week, I've reviewed the first book in several new children's mystery series:

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John
The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter
The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman
The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss

and mentioned the sequels to those books. You can also read more about some of them in the Orion Star newsletter.

Another suggestion, that I haven't been able to get to in time is Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans:

As if being tiny and also having S.Horten as your name isn't bad enough, ten-year-old Stuart Horten is moved (by his very clever, but not very sensible parents) to Beeton, far away from all his friends. But in Beeton starts the strangest adventure of Stuart's life as he is swept up in a quest to find his uncle's old workshop - his famous magician, and also very short, uncle, that is...

The Book Zone has reviewed it and loved it!.

Then there are several series with links to Sherlock Holmes:

Author: Peter Abrahams
Series: Ingrid Levin-Hill (a big Sherlock Holmes fan), Echo Falls
1. Down the Rabbit Hole
2. Behind the Curtain
3. Into the Dark

Author: Andrew Lane
Series: Young Sherlock Holmes
1. The Death Cloud
2. Red Leech
3. Black Ice

Author: Tim Pigott-Smith
Series: The Baker Street Mysteries
1. The Dragon Tattoo
2. The Rose of Africa
3. The Shadow of Evil

Author: Anthony Read
Series: Baker Street Boys
1. The Case of the Disappearing Detective
2. The Case of the Captive Clairvoyant
3. The Case of the Ranjipur Ruby
4. The Case of the Limehouse Laundry
5. The Case of the Stolen Sparklers
6. The Case of the Haunted Horrors

And from my childhood:

"Carolyn Keene's" Nancy Drew continues to detect, most recently in the Sabotage Trilogy (2010/2011).

Franklin W Dixon's Hardy Boys are still strutting their stuff as the "Undercover Brothers", last seen in 2008's Feeding Frenzy.

My favourite series though, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators hasn't been picked up recently. I remember the excitement when I finally got hold of #1 in the series, The Secret of Terror Castle after I'd read so many of the later ones.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The New Enid Blyton?

Over the last five days, I've read and reviewed the first book in five new crime series for younger readers. So how do they compare with the popular Enid Blyton crime series? Let's compare them with the first in the Famous Five series, Five on a Treasure Island:

Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
Number of children in the gang?: 4
Any Pets?: 1 dog
Setting?: Kirrin Bay/Island, Cornwall
Dead Bodies?: None*
Mobile Phones Used?: N/A
(*I haven't reread this but I don't think there are.)

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John
Number of children in the gang?: 1
Any Pets?: 1 dog
Setting?: St Ives, Cornwall
Dead Bodies?: No
Mobile Phones Used?: Briefly but not integral to the plot.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
Number of children in the gang?: 1
Any Pets?: No
Setting?: Virginia City, USA, 1860s
Dead Bodies?: Yes
Mobile Phones Used?: N/A.

The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter
Number of children in the gang?: 4
Any Pets?: 1 gerbil
Setting?: London
Dead Bodies?: No
Mobile Phones Used?: Yes, a lot.

Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman
Number of children in the gang?: 2
Any Pets?: No
Setting?: Island off Scotland
Dead Bodies?: Yes
Mobile Phones Used?: No as no signal on the island.

The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss
Number of children in the gang?: 3
Any Pets?: 1 dog
Setting?: Castle Key (an island), Cornwall
Dead Bodies?: No
Mobile Phones Used?: Yes, but not integral to the plot.

In conclusion, The Case of the Deadly Desperados was great fun but doesn't fit into the Enid Blyton mould, and for me, The Case of the Ruby Necklace is quite like the Nancy Drew mysteries I used to read; Mondays are Murder is very Agatha Christie in its plot and has a people-watching sleuth; Dead Man's Cove is quite like Blyton in its setting and lack of parents but features a solitary detective (rather than four, or more(!)) so the winner of the new Enid Blyton tag, in this small sample, with its Cornwall-island-setting, its gang of three and a dog, has to be The Mystery of the Whistling Caves. I expect to see stickers on her books with "Helen Moss is the next Stieg Larsson Enid Blyton".

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss

Here's the fifth post in my week celebrating the young crime solver.

The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss (July 2011, Orion Childrens ISBN 1444003283)

If you were brought up on Enid Blyton, as I was, then this cover alone should win you over. I've been dying to read this one since I heard about it and it was as much fun as I'd hoped.

The Mystery of the Whistling Caves is the first in the Adventure Island mysteries and is released along with book two, The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost, on 7 July.

Scott (13) and younger brother Jack (12) are sent to stay with and elderly relative, "Aunt" Kate, on the Cornish island of Castle Key. Initially upset about this, having had to leave city life and gadgets behind, they decide to explore and visit the castle. They learn that the castle's museum will soon be hosting a display of Saxon treasure. On their way back from the castle they meet Emily, who is a similar age to Jack, and her dog Drift and that's when things begin to look up for the boys.

She invites them on to her boat to see and hear the "whistling caves" at the base of the castle cliffs but she is surprised and a little upset to discover that the whistling has ceased. When they return to dry land they find that some of the treasure has been stolen from the museum. Emily, who has helped the police before, though they didn't appreciate it, invites the boys to help her and Drift solve the case.

The gang carry out the investigation in the traditional way of checking alibis as well as eavesdropping and spying until a revelation (appropriately in a church!) sets them on the right path but one that turns both frightening and dangerous.

This is a puzzling mystery with suspicion falling on first one person then the next and the author does a good job of keeping the reader in doubt as to who the thief is until late in the book. I loved Emily and Drift. Emily is a barefoot tomboy who has her own rowing boat and Drift is a talented dog who appears to have had extra training in being a spy, obeying commands such as "keep watch". The boys soon become enchanted with the island (and Emily to be fair, though not in a romantic way) and Jack is a bit of a cheeky lad with Scott being a rather more cautious character with his extra year.

I-phone carrying old sea dogs, elderly cycling cleaners with gambling addictions - there are plenty of unusual characters on Castle Key which should make for a great summer for the gang. There are six mysteries planned - to coincide with the boys' six weeks of holiday perhaps?- two out in July, two in August and two in September. I can't wait!

I must also add how much I've appreciated the illustrations used at the start of each chapter in this series and Orion's other books such as Lauren St John's Laura Marlin series and Caroline Lawrence's Western Mysteries.

Read an extract from The Mystery of the Whistling Caves on the Orion website.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman

Here's the fourth post in my week celebrating the young crime solver.

Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman (June 2009, Walker ISBN 1406314601)

Mondays are Murder is the opening book in a now seven-book series featuring young detective Poppy Fields. Poppy and some other children are spending a week testing out a new outdoor activities centre on a remote island off the Scottish coast.

Poppy is glad that one of the kids is Graham a new boy at her school. He has a geeky, non-sporty reputation and is a mine of facts, especially about how dangerous certain outside activities are! Poppy's speciality is reading body language and soon has her fellow guests and hosts pegged.

Their chauffeur up to Scotland is Bruce, an Australian with severe facial scarring who will be their survival teacher. The other trainers include a husband and wife, who are not a happy couple and a water sports expert and a riding expert.

However on the first day of their "holiday", tragedy strikes and Bruce falls off a cliff into the sea below. And then, one by one the remaining adults begin to have suspicious, deadly accidents; the island becomes unreachable due to a storm and then the radio is damaged.

Together Poppy and Graham decide to get to the bottom of things. It seems like a ghost is killing people but ghosts don't exist, do they?

Mondays are Murder is quite a short book but the body count is high! The surprise in the solution to the mystery relies on you not having read one of Agatha Christie's most famous books, which I won't name so as not to give it away, and it's unlikely that the children reading this, will be aware of it. I first encountered this series last summer when a succession of children came up to the library counter to order it. I would imagine it's quite a scary read as the setting is quite spooky with the weather described keeping the island's occupiers trapped as the instructors are picked off one at a time. Not a lot is revealed about Poppy and Graham's background but perhaps they are more fleshed out in the later books.

The series is aimed at 9+ and you can sample the first few pages of Mondays are Murder here - it opens with a description of a murder, giving an idea of what's in store.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter

Here's the third post in my week celebrating the young crime solver.

The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter (February 2011, Red Fox ISBN 1849411719)

Review: The Case of the Ruby Necklace is the first in the Mayfair Mysteries, released alongside The Case of the Poisoned Pie back in February. The series is so named as one of the four lead characters, Lauren, lives in the swanky London hotel Mayfair Park which is run by her mum and dad. Her best friends Jas, Mia and Becky spend their spare time there, where there is even an Olympic-sized pool in the basement.

The girls are very excited when they learn that famous US movie star Isabella Duval will be staying at the hotel to promote a new range of jewellery and she will be modelling the priceless "Cleopatra's necklace" at the launch.

Isabella is charming to the friends at first but during another visit she is rude. Why is Isabella so moody, who is her PR assistant Max and what is his interest in antiques?

The girls get themselves into some nail-biting scrapes before their keen observational skills save the day.

Despite the pink cover this was not as girly as I'd feared. I'm not sure how old the girls are - the book cover has suitable for 8+ on the back - there are a few references to fashion and make-up but not overdone (for my taste) and the girls have quite a bit of freedom. The friends are inventive and work well as a team with each girl having a different strength eg IT, acting. I think the solution to the mystery is credible to its target audience and I think they will love the glamour of the hotel setting. I don't see many boys picking it up though there are a couple of boys playing a small but critical role in this mystery. I enjoyed it and I'll be recommending it to the younger members of my reading group of 9-11 year-olds.

The girls will be back next year in The Case of the Suspicious Supermodel and The Case of the Haunted Hotel.

I haven't yet read The Case of the Poisoned Pie (though I'm planning to!) however a young lady falling squarely in the target audience, asastar at Book Angel Booktopia had this to say about it:

"I thought the Mayfair Mysteries were really exciting. I just could not seem to stop reading it even when Mum said it was time to go to sleep. I even read it as soon as I got up in the morning."

and there's no higher praise than not being able to stop reading something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

Here's the second post in my week celebrating the young crime solver.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence (June 2011, Orion Childrens ISBN 1444001698)

Review: Roman goddess Caroline Lawrence turns her hand to a new era and place: the Wild West of the 1860s. In this the first of the Western Mysteries the reader meets twelve-year-old PK Pinkerton. Part white, part Native-American and orphaned twice-over.

The book begins with PK stuck down a mine and not expecting to survive the day. PK's adventures are then chronicled from the murder of PK's foster parents and the flight to Virginia City, the home of silver mining, to escape the evil desperados who want something valuable from PK. PK meets many characters in Virginia City, including the reporter who became "Mark Twain", and not all of them are trustworthy. There are plenty of chase scenes and gunfights and along the way the reader gets to know more about PK's character and abilities, some useful, some handicapping before the final showdown.

What a fabulous idea this is having a young detective in the Wild West. I loved it. The action is non-stop and with almost every chapter ending on a cliff-hanger the pages just flew by. I loved learning about this time and setting, one which will be quite new to UK readers I imagine, touching on slavery, the US Civil War as well as mining. PK is an intriguing character and should have equal appeal to boys and girls.

I can't wait for the sequel to find out more about PK's new life and adventures.

Caroline Lawrence stopped by the blog last week to talk about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. You can read her recap of the whole blog tour on the Western Mysteries blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John

Here's the first post in my week celebrating the young crime solver.

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John (March 2011, Orion Childrens ISBN 1444001485)

Review: I think the gorgeous cover gives away what you're getting in Dead Man's Cove: an old-fashioned adventure story. Dead Man's Cove is the first of the Laura Marlin books, the sequel Kidnap in the Caribbean being out in July.

Laura is an eleven-year-old orphan who, fuelled by reading 'Matt Walker' detective books and compelled by a non-stop curiosity, wants to be a detective when she grows up. She has stayed in several foster homes but always returns to Sylvan Meadows Children's Home until a miracle happens: a relative is discovered and her uncle, who lives in St Ives, wants to adopt her.

Initially quite wary of the stranger, who is her flesh-and-blood, she soon settles into St Ives and is given never-before seen freedom to wander the town and environs with the exception of one path, the one that leads to Dead Man's Cove.

Her uncle is rarely home and Laura is quite lonely so she tries to make friends with Tariq who works in the local grocery-shop, but who doesn't speak English and seems down-trodden by his parents. Eventually their friendship is broken but another friend, though not a human one, comes into her life and together they begin to investigate some of the mysteries that revolve around her home and uncle leading to a life-threatening final act involving Dead Man's Cove...

Dead Man's Cove which won the Blue Peter Book Award 2011, is a charming novel. Laura is a likeable lead character who is clever and inquisitive with a strong sense of justice and though she occasionally says something a bit nasty she soon realises and apologises. I felt so pleased that she's finally found somewhere to belong. I called this an old-fashioned adventure story however that's more due to the freedom Laura has and some of the classic tropes used: chloroform, messages in bottles, than the underlying crime that's being committed. I also enjoyed the beautiful St Ives setting and I wonder if there's now a Laura Marlin trail retracing her route to school where some significant story advances are made.

Dead Man's Cove is told in short-ish chapters each headed with one of illustrator David Dean's lovely and accurate drawings.

I'm really looking forward to the next book, Kidnap in the Caribbean.

Young Crime Solver week

The Crime Writers' Association (CWA)'s National Crime Writing Week runs 13-19 June and to coincide I've prepared a set of posts investigating the "young crime solver". I'm particularly focusing on sleuths that are not yet teenage but I will conclude with some of my favourite teenage crime novels at the end of the week.

Coming up this week:

Review of Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St John
Review of The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter
Review of The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence
Review of Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman new
Review of The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss new
Highlighting new and recent mysteries for younger readers
Competition to win some of the titles mentioned this week
My favourite teenage crime novels

Plus anything else I can think of.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Library Loot (2.1) & review copies

As I've missed a few weeks of Library Loot posts, I'm restarting my numbering system and as it's almost two years since I started this blog then I'm going with 2.1.

Next week I'm focusing on "young crime solvers", to coincide with national crime writing week and there'll be a bumper prize of crime fiction titles to be won at the end of the week.


The Case of the Ruby Necklace by Alex Carter (Hoping to review this next week)
FOUR best friends * ONE priceless necklace * And an actress with TWO personalities...

For Lauren and her friends, living in a luxury London hotel definitely has its perks... Like getting to meet the glamorous Isabella Duval when the megastar checks into Mayfair Park’s exclusive Ruby Suite.

But it seems that there are two sides to their famous guest.

Can the girls find out which is the real Isabella... and which is the act?

Diary of a Wimpy Vampire: Prince of Darkness
by Tim Collins (prep for Diary theme at my children's reading group)
In his latest hilarious diary, Nigel starts the new term as one of the most popular pupils in school, and he's finally got a girlfriend after more than eighty years of being single. But his life soon unravels when a new pupil, Jason, joins the school, and has his sights set firmly on Nigel's girlfriend. Oh, and did we mention that Jason is a werewolf? Vampire and werewolf go head to head in the pursuit of love ...with hilarious consequences!

Doctor Who: Hunter's Moon
by Paul Finch
‘There's no end to the horror in this place - it's like Hell, and there are devils round every corner.’

On Leisure Platform 9 gamblers and villains mix with socialites and celebrities. It’s a place where you won’t want to win the wrong game.

With Rory kidnapped by a brutal crime lord, the Doctor and Amy infiltrate a deadly contest where fugitives become the hunted. But how long before they realise the Doctor isn’t a vicious mercenary and discover what Amy is up to? It’s a game that can only end in death, and time for everyone is running out.

Rockaholic by C J Skuse
Jody loves Jackson Gatlin. At his only UK rock concert, she's right at the front. But when she's caught in the crush and carried back stage she has more than concussion to contend with. Throw in a menacing manager, a super-wired super-star, and a curly-wurly, and she finds herself taking home more than just a poster. It's the accidental kidnapping of the decade. But what happens if you've a rock-god in your garage who doesn't want to leave Jody's stuck between a rock-idol and a hard place! From the pen of C.J. Skuse, author of 2010's super cool debut Pretty Bad Things, comes a tale of rock star obsession gone nuts.


Wolf Blood by N M Browne (4th July, Bloomsbury)
A Celtic warrior girl is held captive and enslaved by a rival tribe. When fever takes her only friend she knows she must escape, but she runs straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers. Thinking they will kill a warrior instantly, the girl disguises herself as a beggar and asks to share their fire. Using her gift as a seer she discovers that one of the soldiers is not what he seems. Celtic blood courses through his veins too, but there is something else. He is a shapeshifter - a Versipellum. He shares his soul with that of the wolf. The girl needs to reach the leader of her dead friend's tribe, and the boy must escape the Romans before they discover his true nature. Their only chance of survival is to help each other. But what will happen when their powers are combined?

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Child (Ist July, Templar)
When a mermaid has her first kiss, she 'bonds' for life with the person she kisses. For Lily, a mermaid princess living in secret on land, this means she has ended up accidentally bonded to her obnoxious neighbour, instead of to the boy of her dreams. So begins a tidal wave of relationship drama, as Lily discovers that happily-ever-after never goes as smoothly as you plan it to.

Gamerunner by B R Collins (4th July, Bloomsbury)
Rick is a Gamerunner. His job is to test there are no glitches or bugs in The Maze - the computer game that is much more than just a computer game. In The Maze you physically become your avatar. You fight, run and loot, all the time avoiding the deadly slicing traps - whirling blades that appear from nowhere. Rick has known nothing outside The Maze and his life at the headquarters of Crater, the company that created The Maze. When Rick's father falls out of favour and Rick is faced with being thrown out of Crater HQ into the outside world - a world of flesh-dissolving acid rain and ferocious, feral roving gangs - Rick has some life-changing decisions to make ...

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs (4th July, Bloomsbury)
Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home, continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kona, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an other-worldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her - and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

David by Mary Hoffman (for blog tour in July) (4th July, Bloomsbury)
Michelangelo's statue of David is renowned all over the world. Thousands flock to Florence to admire the artistry behind this Renaissance masterpiece, and to admire the beauty of the human form captured in the marble. But the identity of the model for this statue that has been so revered for over five hundred years has been lost ...In this epic story Mary Hoffman uses her persuasive narrative skills to imagine the story of Gabriele, an eighteen-year-old who, by becoming Michelangelo's model, finds himself drawn into a world of spies, politicking, sabotage and murder. Set against the backdrop of Florence, this is a rich, colourful and thrilling tale.

The Case of the Deadly Desperados
by Caroline Lawrence (review will be up next week) (2nd June, Orion Childrens)
When desperados kill a preacher and his wife in a small frontier town, their foster child P.K. is forced to go on the run. P.K. must get a valuable letter to the Recorder’s Office before anyone else can get their hands on it. It’s not easy: Virginia City in 1862 is a glorified mining camp on a barren mountain above a great vein of silver. Seething with miners below ground and hustlers above, it’s a dangerous place, full of gamblers, hurdy girls, saloon-keepers and gunmen, all of them on the make. When twelve year-old P.K. Pinkerton arrives there, homeless, penniless and hunted, things don’t look good. But armed with a Smith & Wesson seven-shooter and a knack for disguises, P.K. takes on the tricksters and desperados who are out to get him and he finds possible allies: Sam Clemens, the new reporter for the paper, a gambler called ‘Poker Face Jace’ who knows how to tell if someone is bluffing, a derringer-packing Soiled Dove, and a Chinese photographer’s apprentice called Ping.

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (23rd August, Puffin)
We are the last defence.

I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened to John Smith. To the world he's a mystery, but to me ... he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us, if we all still believe in our mission.

There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another, but our Legacies are developing and soon we'll be ready to fight. Is John Number Four - and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who might be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio ... and failed. I am Number Seven. And I'm ready to fight.

The Mystery of the Whistling Caves by Helen Moss (will aim to review for next week but first copy went awol in post) (7th July, Orion Childrens)
When Scott and Jack Carter have to stay with their great aunt for the summer they steel themselves for the most boring holiday ever. But then they meet Emily Wild and her loveable dog, Drift. Emily shows them the lighthouse, the castle - and the amazing whistling caves. Legend has it that when the caves stop whistling the castle will be attacked - and that's exactly what happens! Priceless treasures are stolen and Emily and the boys are determined to investigate. But how was the treasure smuggled out of the castle? Why did the caves stop whistling? And can the friends solve the mystery in time to catch the thief? The first in an exciting new adventure series - with five more gripping mysteries to come!

Operation Black Cobra by Ilkka Remes (2nd June, Andersen)
Luke Baron has agreed to buy a fake driving licence from a girl he’s just met online. But when he realises he’s made a big mistake and tries to back out, he discovers that Gemma Dolan is in serious trouble with her criminal dad. Trying to protect her, he gets caught up in a terrifying plot to attack an armed nuclear convoy. Who’s behind it and what do they want? Luke is starting to like Gemma, but should he trust her? And can he stop the catastrophe that threatens to engulf London, the UK and the world?

Wuthering Hearts by Kay Woodward (hope to tie this in with a reading group session on Wuthering Heights) (7th July, Andersen)
Passion, the Yorkshire moors, a wild and handsome stranger . . . sound familiar?

When Robert arrives in town with his dark good looks and mysterious background, Emily has a huge crush! It’s almost enough to take her mind off this year’s school play . . . miserable, wailing Wuthering Heights.

But Robert is no prince, with his black moods and fierce temper. The beautiful untamed moors would be the perfect backdrop to their fiery romance, if only Emily could work it out.

On stage or off stage, will Emily ever be the Cathy to his Heathcliff?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Podcasts: Julie Kagawa, Gena Showalter

I've been downloading some crime podcasts and I've just seen that Authors on Tour have recent podcasts for Julie Kagawa talking about The Iron Knight and Gena Showalter about Twisted. The podcasts are only 4 minutes long and were recorded at BEA.

I haven't listened to them yet and I'm so far behind in each series it may be a while before I do for fear of spoilers.

You can listen to Julie Kagawa here and Gena Showalter here.

Alternatively you can subscribe via iTunes (search for Author on Tour).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blog Tour: Western Mysteries

To celebrate the release of Caroline Lawrence's The Case of the Deadly Desperados, the first of the Western Mysteries, Caroline is currently doing a blog tour. I'm very pleased to be able to host a guest post from her today about her favourite character from the Wild West.

My favourite character from the Wild West comes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly AKA Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. This 1966 spaghetti western is the most popular Western in the world. Yes, it is. Go check it out over at IMDb where it consistently ranks as one of the top five films among viewers top 250. And rightly so. It is a masterpiece of storytelling: funny, exciting, brutal, touching and always unexpected. It is about three men searching for two hundred thousand dollars in gold during the final years of the American Civil War.

Clint Eastwood plays The Good AKA Blondie. He is neither blond nor good. But he does squint really well and he chews his cigar with aplomb. I love Blondie, but he is not my favourite character.

Lee Van Cleef plays The Bad AKA Angel Eyes. He is a great baddie: a cold-blooded killer who always honours his contracts, even if he's just killed the person who paid him. I love Angel Eyes and I partly based someone in my book on him, but he is not my favourite character.

Eli Wallach plays The Ugly AKA Tuco AKA Tuco Benedicto Pacfico Juan Mara Ramrez. He is a grubby, greasy, greedy Mexican who cares for nothing but gold. He has neither the cool aloofness of Clint Eastwood nor the menacing good looks of Lee Van Cleef but he totally steals the film from both of them. Tuco is my favourite character.

What I love about Tuco is his huge appetite for life, his passion, his vulnerability and above all his irrepressible optimism. We first see him crashing through the window of a saloon, a smoking revolver in one hand, a half-eaten turkey drumstick in the other and napkin around his neck. He has just vanquished three deadly desperados, killing two and winging one. His beady little ferret eyes dart first one way, then the other, then he scampers off to jump on a handy horse. From that moment on the story fizzes whenever he is onscreen. Ive seen the film half a dozen times and his performance is always fresh, always funny, always endearing.

In my opinion, the Jewish American stage actor Eli Wallach is the key to Tuco's lovability. His face expresses every selfish thought. His muddy brown eyes glow with life, humour, vulnerability. Wallach does great physical comedy, too. When Blondie gives him a cigar he eats it. When bomb is about to go off he dives into a trench head first, butt up! The way he crosses himself is hilarious. The scene of him in the bubble bath is sublime.

In his autobiography, The Good, the Bad and Me, Wallach says that when he first met Sergio Leone he noticed the Italian director wore braces AND belt. He asked if he could dress like that for Tuco. Leone snapped his own braces and grinned. Oui, certo, of course, he replied. And from that moment on the two were friends.

Clint Eastwood was worried that Eli Wallach might steal the film. And with reason. Wallach totally steals the film. In a way, Tuco is the real hero of the film. He's the first one we see and the last one we see. He has more screen time than either of the others. He is the only one with a back story. In many ways he is director Sergio Leone's alter-ego. Yes, Tuco is the hero of the greatest Western ever made.

Wallach was a trained method actor who worked with Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Peter OToole, Audrey Hepburn and many others. He can play any type of character, but comedy is his fort. He makes it look easy. The three characters together make The Good, the Bad and the Ugly work. Tuco makes the other characters work. Eli Wallach makes Tuco work. Long live Eli Wallach (95 years and going strong at the time of writing)!

Ten things I love about Tuco

1. He wears a belt AND braces.

2. He wears his gun on a string around his neck.

3. He likes bubble baths.

4. He likes cigars as snacks.

5. He has a silver tooth.

6. He is man enough to carry a parasol in the desert.

7. He doesn't let life get him down.

8. He has a rich vocabulary... for cussing.

9. He has a sense of humour.

10. He is very religious. Well, he IS always crossing himself.

My five fave Tuco quotes:

1. There are two kinds of spurs, my friend. Those that come in by the door, and those that come in by the window.

2. Don't die, I'll get you water. Stay there. Don't move, I'll get you water. Don't die until later.

3. Hurrah! Hurrah for the Confederacy! HURRAH! Down with General Grant! Hurrah for General... What's his name? Lee! LEE! Ha ha.

4. If I get my hand on the two hundred thousand dollars, Ill always honour your memory. I swear.

5. When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

Viva Tuco!

Listen to the amazing theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:

You can read more about the Western Mysteries on their website and read a sample from The Case of the Deadly Desperados at the Orion website.

Check out the other stops on the tour via this schedule on the Orion website or on twitter: #westernmysteries.

Many thanks to Caroline and Orion Childrens for arranging this.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trailer Thursday - Momentum

I've enjoyed Saci Lloyd's The Carbon Diaries 2015 and 2017 so I'm looking forward to Momentum which has just been published by Hodder Children's Books.

London, the near future. Energy wars are flaring across the globe - oil prices have gone crazy, regular power cuts are a daily occurrence. The cruel Kossak soldiers prowl the streets, keeping the Outsiders - the poor, the disenfranchised - in check. Hunter is a Citizen: one of the privileged of society, but with his passion for free running and his rebel friend Leo he cannot help but be fascinated by the Outsiders. So when he meets Outsider Uma, he is quickly drawn into their world - and into an electrifying and dangerous race to protect everything they hold dear.

Watch the trailer below:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recent Publishing Deals

Some publishing deals announced in the last two Lunch Weekly emails from Publishers Lunch:

Middle grade
The eighth and final installment of Eoin Colfer's ARTEMIS FOWL series THE LAST GUARDIAN, for publication in summer 2012, plus two books in a new W.A.R.P. series, beginning with The Reluctant Assassin for publication in Winter 2013, about young Riley, who has fallen into the FBI's Witness Anonymous Relocation Program, after a murderous escapade with a Victorian illusionist -- who he tries to keep from returning to Victorian times, where, with his new knowledge of all things scientific and technological, he could literally change the world to Disney-Hyperion.

NYT bestsellers Kelley Armstrong & Melissa Marr's THE BLACKWELL PAGES, a trilogy about three 12-year olds descended from Norse Gods who have to stop the impending apocalypse, to Little, Brown, for publication in Spring 2013.

Author of Newbery Honor book THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE Jacqueline Kelly's WIND IN THE WILLOWS REDUX, a sequel to the beloved classic, to be illustrated by Clint G. Young, creator of the forthcoming picture book THE WISH COLLECTOR, to Holt Children's, for publication in Fall 2012.

Gen Albin's CREWEL, the first in a trilogy that is equal parts science fiction, adventure, and romance, this debut novel takes place in a world where women known as "spinsters" are able to "weave" the very fabric of existence, to Farrar, Straus Children's, in a three-book deal.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Emily the Strange DS game

The Emily the Strange: Strangerous DS game will be released in the UK on 10 June (24 May US).

Meet Emily the Strange, a black-cat loving, thirteen-year-old girl who almost always wears the same Goth black dress, black tights and white Mary Janes... And who tells the world to "Get Lost," "Be Yourself" and "Do it Yourself"! She's always hanging around with her four black cats - Mystery, NeeChee, Sabbath and Miles (the "Bad Kitten Club")...

Now, for the first time ever, Emily gets involved in her own video game adventure story.

Emily wakes up after a nightmare in which her cats were catnapped by a mysterious unknown person. No doubt a strange dream even for ""the Strange"", but when she finds that her cats are really nowhere to be found, she sets out to disappear herself and find them.

In several chapters the player follows the trail of the lost kitties, finding and rescuing them in varied colourful landscapes and parallel universes - getting behind the looking glass where puzzles and riddles have to be solved. One by one, the cats are rescued and Emily can draw on their abilities to advance in her adventure. The cats have special senses, and the player can look through their eyes to see strange and find all the solutions to the puzzles.

Find the cats, find the one who catnapped them, and understand that in the world of Strange, it is all a matter of perspective.


It's rated 12+ and has the following features:

# Emily can switch between the world of strange and several parallel universes / dream worlds
# Adventure story mode in 6 chapters with over 65 puzzles to solve
# Emily has her 4 cats and 6 of her typical accessory tools (like the slingshot)
# Each cat has a specific ability/vision type that will help Emily advance. These abilities derive from each cat's personality
# Day and night cycles, and some puzzles can only be solved during the day/night
# Objects and animals have different characteristics in the dream worlds
# Animated cutscenes showing dreams
# 5 different minigames at the "atrocity fair" and with the OddISee

Special Nintendo DSi Features:
# Zonster creator (patchwork monster dolls): Create your very own zonsters and share them with friends
# Scan barcodes to unlock more zonster building parts
# Secret room with additional puzzles and collectables

Will you be buying it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

Die For Me by Amy Plum
UK: May 2011, ATOM, ISBN 190741102X
US: May 2011, HarperTeen, ISBN 0062004018

Notes: Whilst reading Die For Me I switched to and from a UK review copy and a US e-copy supplied via Netgalley, depending on where I was reading.

Review: I loved it, you will too, go read it.
The End

I guess I should write a little bit more than that. Ok. When sixteen-year-old Kate and her older sister Georgia are orphaned they are taken in by their French grandparents who live in Paris. Naturally, Kate has a prolonged period of mourning/depression but when she recovers enough she starts frequenting a local cafe to do her English literature reading. And there she notices a trio of gorgeous young men. A few visits later one of them, a dark haired Adonis, banters with her when she leaves her bag behind and a similar exchange in a museum leads to a date.

The date, with the gorgeous Vincent, goes well at first but ends in tragedy when one of Vincent's friends is killed preventing a suicide attempt. And then Vincent has to reveal who and what he is and Kate has to decide whether she can be with him or whether it'll hurt too much. Having lost her parents she doesn't feel strong enough to face more heartache.

Whereas Vincent is one of the good guys, an evil opposing group wants to see him destroyed and when one of Vincent's "family" falls into their hands they have the weapon they need. Will love prevail, will good triumph over evil? Will you be able to put this book down?

To continue with my habit of referring to outdated tv shows in my reviews, some scenes brought back fond memories of Highlander: The Series when, due to who was funding it, the series would decamp from North America to Paris and the sword-fighting and beheading would have a more scenic backdrop.

Towards the end there is plenty of fighting and a bucket-load of tension. I was very tense and at times could not help but peep ahead (the advantage(?) of a paper book over e-book) to see what was going to happen.

As well as the gorgeous and romantic setting of Paris which certainly adds another level of pleasure to reading this book, there is a well thought out arc for Kate's character as she struggles with past grief and potential future grief and reasons out what's best to do for herself. She's a quiet individual whereas Georgia hides her grief in a whirl of people and parties. They are both supported by adorable, open-minded grandparents. This is a paranormal romance and though I don't like to say too much about that angle as that should be as much of a surprise as possible I feel, I do think any girl would eat Vincent up, whatever he is, as he's thoughtful and kind as well as super-fit. I look forward to reading more about him and his kin. Fortunately Die For Me is the first part of a trilogy, the sequel Until I Die will be out next year and I can't wait!

When you've finished with Die For Me you can find loads of extras on Amy Plum's website.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential - online sequel

From The New York Times:

St. Martin’s Press said on Thursday that it would publish a follow-up to “Sweet Valley Confidential,” the novel by Francine Pascal that caught up with Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield in their 20s and landed on the best-seller list in April.

The new follow-up, tentatively titled “The Sweet Life,” will be published as a digital-only serial beginning next spring. It will be released in monthly installments published online, mimicking the original cliff-hanger form of the original series.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Free e-book of The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross

This novella was released last month. It's the prequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross and can be downloaded for free until 20 April 2012 at Harlequin (epub format).

Finley Jayne knows she's not 'normal'. Normal girls don't lose time, or have something inside them that makes them capable of remarkably violent things. Her behavior has already cost her one job, so when she's offered the lofty position of companion to Phoebe, a debutante recently engaged to Lord Vincent, she accepts, despite having no experience. Lord Vincent is a man of science with his automatons and inventions, but Finley is suspicious of his motives where Phoebe is concerned. She will do anything to protect her new friend, but what she discovers is even more monstrous than anything she could have imagined...

An ebook exclusive prequel to The Steampunk Chronicles.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Free e-book of Summer's Crossing by Julie Kagawa

Summer's Crossing, a free novella by Julie Kagawa set in the Iron Fey series can currently be downloaded for free at Harlequin (epub).

A Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.

Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.

An ebook exclusive novella from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.

Published in June (2011)

Here are some of the teenage/YA titles that are being published in the UK in June 2011. I will put a link to this post and previous and subsequent "monthly" lists in my sidebar. January's list can be found here, February's here, March's here, April's here and May's here. Title links go to Please let me know of others to add to the list. In general I have not included re-issues and have stuck to UK publishers.

Monthly lists for 2010 can be found here.

I have tried to identify all the British authors which I hope will be useful to those doing the Bookette's excellent British Books Challenge.

Anthology - How to be a Boy (2nd, Walker, pb)
Alexandra Adornetto - Halo (2nd, ATOM, pb)
R J Anderson - Ultraviolet (2nd, Orchard, pb)
Josephine Angelini - Starcrossed (3rd, Macmillan Children's Books, pb)
Tom Avery - Too Much Trouble (2nd, Frances Lincoln Children's Books, pb) British Author
Julie Bertagna - Aurora (3rd, Macmillan Children's Books, pb) British Author
David Belbin -Secret Gardens (6th, Five Leaves Publications, pb) British Author
Sarah Rees Brennan - The Demon's Surrender (9th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Heather Brewer - The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eleventh Grade Burns (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Don Calame - Swim the Fly (1st, Templar Publishing, pb)
Tom Clempson - One Seriously Messed-Up Week: in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite (2nd, ATOM, pb) British Author
Ally Condie - Matched (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Jo Cotterill - Sweet Hearts: Forget Me Not (2nd, Red Fox, pb) British Author
Leah Cypess - Nightspell (20th, HarperCollins Childrens Book Group, HB)
Joseph Delaney - The Spook's Destiny (2nd, Bodley Head, HB) British Author
Joseph Delaney - The Spook's Nightmare (2nd, Red Fox, pb) British Author
Philip Dent - Blackdaw Cottage (1st, Matador, pb) British Author
Sarah Dessen - What Happened to Goodbye (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Jim Eldridge - Urban Assassin (6th, Egmont Books Ltd, pb) British Author
Alan Gibbons - An Act of Love (2nd, Orion Childrens, HB British Author
Mary Finn - The Horse Girl (2nd, Walker, pb)
Helen Grant - Wish Me Dead (2nd, Puffin, pb) British Author
John Grisham - Theodore Boone: Abduction (9th, Hodder & Stoughton, HB)
Paige Harbison - Here Lies Bridget (17th, Mira Ink, pb)
James Holland - Duty Calls: Dunkirk (2nd, Puffin, pb) British Author
Mary Hooper - Fallen Grace (6th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb) British Author
M J Hyland - How the Light Gets In (2nd, Walker, pb) British Author
Allan Frewin Jones - Warrior Princess:Rhiannon of the Spring (2nd, Hodder Children's Books,pb) British Author
Lauren Kate - Passion (23rd, Doubleday Childrens, pb)
Kelly Keaton - Darkness Becomes Her (9th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Kate Kingsley - Too Cruel For School (9th, Headline, pb) British Author
Stella Lennon - The Amanda Project - Signal from Afar (9th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Rebecca Lim - Exile (9th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Saci Lloyd - Momentum (2nd, Hodder Children's Books , pb) British Author
Megan McCafferty - Bumped (2nd, HarperCollins, HB)
Geraldine McCaughrean - King Arthur and a World of Other Stories (2nd. Orion Childrens, pb) British Author
Sophie McKenzie - Double-Cross (8th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb) British Author
Samantha Mackintosh - Lula Does the Hula (6th, Egmont Books Ltd, pb)
Lisa McMann - The Missing (9th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Amy Meredith - Dark Touch: Betrayal (2nd, Red Fox, pb)
Lee Monroe - Dark Heart Rising (2nd, Hodder Children's Books, pb) British Author
Joanna Nadin - Buttercup Mash (??, OUP Oxford, pb) British Author
Jandy Nelson - The Sky is Everywhere (2nd, Walker, pb)
Alyson Noel - Forever Summer (6th, St Martin's Griffin, pb)
Mark O'Sullivan - My Dad is Ten Years Old (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Cat Patrick - Forgotten (6th, Egmont Books Ltd, pb)
Mal Peet - Life: An Exploded Diagram (2nd, Walker, pb) British Author
James Phelan _Alone (2nd, ATOM, pb)
Joanna Philbin - Celebriteens: In the Spotlight (2nd, Scholastic, pb)
Terry Pratchett - I Shall Wear Midnight (9th, Corgi Childrens, pb) British Author
Bali Rai - Killing Honour (2nd, Corgi Childrens, pb) British Author
S C Ransom - Perfectly Reflected (2nd, Nosy Crow Ltd, pb) British Author
Ilkka Remes - Operation Black Cobra (2nd, Andersen, pb)
Michael Scott - The Necromancer (2nd, Corgi Childrens, pb)
Suzanne Selfors - Mad Love (6th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb)
Ruta Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray (9th, Penguin, pb)
Neil Shusterman - Everfound (9th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Roland Smith - Tentacles (6th, Scholastic, pb)
Jeri Smith-Ready - Shift (9th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Joss Stirling - Finding Sky (2nd, OUP Oxford, pb) British Author
Laura Summers - Heartbeat Away (24th, Piccadilly Press Ltd, pb) British Author
Janne Teller - Nothing (1st, Strident Publishing, pb)
Di Toft - Wolven: Bad Wolf Rising (6th, Chicken House, pb) British Author
John van de Ruit - Spud - Learning to Fly (2nd, Puffin, pb)
Steve Voake - Dark Woods (2nd, Faber and Faber, pb) British Author
Rachel Ward - Numbers 3: Infinity (6th, Chicken House, pb) British Author
M L Welsh - Mistress of the Storm (2nd, David Fickling Books, pb) British Author
Scott Westerfeld - Behemoth (9th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Isla Whitcroft - The Cate Carlisle Files: Trapped (24th, Piccadilly Press Ltd, pb) British Author
Moira Young - Blood Red Road(2nd, Marion Lloyd Books, pb)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Midnight Palace (2nd, Orion Childrens, HB)