Friday, June 29, 2012

20p Kindle Bargains

I'm probably a bit behind the times, as I've only just spotted these UK kindle books at 20p!

Gina Blaxill's Pretty Twisted on

Guest reviewed on Teenage Fiction For All Ages.

50 Cent's Playground on

Amanda Hocking's Torn, the middle part in the trilogy at

Switched and Ascend are 69p each.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross (June 2012, Mira INK, ebook)

Review: I've had The Strange Case of Finley Jayne sitting on my ereader for a while after Harlequin (US) made it available free for a limited time. It is no longer free, but can bought in both epub and Kindle formats in the UK. The recent UK release of the first in the Steampunk Chronicles: The Girl in the Steel Corset meant I really ought to get on with reading it!

The Strange Case of Finley Jayne is a prequel novella which introduces series lead Finley Jayne. Set in an alternative Victorian England, where steam powered devices and automatons abound, Finley is not a normal sixteen-year-old. She has two sides and in her 'dark' side she acts without thinking and as she has super strength and super speed she can get into a lot of trouble.

Fired due to hitting the governess at her previous post, Finley is soon offered a job as chaperone to Lady Phoebe, a girl her own age, who is being forced to marry a much older Earl. Sensing something fishy about the Earl, Phoebe's mother hopes that Finley will investigate. What Finley discovers is shocking and drastic measures must be taken.

This is a delightful introduction to Finley and her world which left me keen to read more. There is a lot to be learnt about the mysterious Finley. There are glimpses of a rich, handsome Duke threaded through the story whom I'm assuming Finley will meet properly in the novels. As its only 70 pages long, the plot is quite straightforward and doesn't offer any great surprises and though it is set in Victorian London, albeit not the real one, the language is quite modern sounding and is a mix of English (eg arse) and American English (eg sidewalk).

I'm really looking forward to reading The Girl in the Steel Corset.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Diviners on the Big Screen?

According to Deadline Libba Bray's The Diviners, published in the UK and the US on 18 September (my birthday!) has been snapped up by Paramount.

The Diviners
is the first in a four-part series.

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before. For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be. But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone. Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost by Helen Moss

The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost by Helen Moss (July 2011, Orion Childrens ISBN 1444003291)

Review: The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost is the second in the Adventure Island series and takes place a couple of weeks after The Mystery of the Whistling Caves. Brothers Scott and Jack are staying with an aunt on the Cornish island of Castle Key and have made friends with resident Emily and her talented dog Drift. They seem to have settled into their temporary life away from London.

They are all excited when filming of their favourite film franchise, the Agent Diamond series, comes to the island. The stunt co-ordinator Max is staying at the B & B Emily's parents run and he even manages to arrange a meeting between the friends and the star of the series, Savannah Shaw.

Filming is taking place at Pendragon Manor which is allegedly haunted by a witch – the rumour is that young women who appear in the witch's attic after midnight are never seen again. Then Savannah goes missing after reportedly being seen in the old house. Is there a supernatural or down-to-earth reason for her disappearance? 'Operation Lost Star' swings into action as the friends set out to find out what has happened to Savannah.

The Mystery of the Midnight Ghost is another charming adventure story with a beautiful setting which allows the children to ride around on their bikes and camp overnight on the beach without parental supervision. They also do some proper detective work – checking handwriting samples, tracking down a witness and following tyre tracks.

I chuckled quite a few times as well as Jack comes out with some great lines. The previously unshakeable Emily goes a bit weak at the knees at the thought of a ghost but she works to overcome her fear and Scott is starting to take a few more risks. I look forward to seeing how the friends' characters change. The illustrations by Leo Hartas that preface each chapter are, like the cover by Roy Knipe, very attractive.

The good news is that I have eight more of these to read, with a further four out in 2013.

Guest posts by Helen Moss for Teenage Fiction For All Ages: Don't Forget Your Life Jacket and Easy as ABC.

Monday, June 18, 2012

OT: Email Problems

I've been away for a few days and it seems the sheer volume of email traffic threw Thunderbird into a meltdown and it deleted my eurocrime email inbox (not my weatherwax one). If you've emailed and not heard then please resend your message and I will get back to you. A more robust system for my email is being implemented.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Helen Moss Guest Post: Easy as ABC

It's "crime writing month" at the moment so I'm very pleased to welcome back Helen Moss, author of the "Adventure Island" mystery series, which as of last week is now now up to ten books with, pleasingly, more to come.

Helen originally wrote a very funny piece last year about safety in fiction (and I've reviewed the first book in the series: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves).

Easy as ABC?

Thank you very much for inviting me to call in at Teenage Fiction for All Ages again. Books Nine and Ten of the Adventure Island series made their appearance last week and Emily Wild finally sees two of her dreams come true - an investigation involving smugglers (The Mystery of the Smugglers’ Wreck) and a spy mystery complete with hidden codes and secret agents (The Mystery of the Invisible Spy). 
So, after solving ten murky mysteries, is it time for Emily, Jack and Scott to hang up their night-vision goggles and concentrate on their schoolwork? Maybe Drift has earned a break from sniffing out clues and is ready to spend his retirement chasing rabbits?

Not a chance!

Not while there are still dastardly deeds and shady shenanigans going on in Castle Key!

I’m hard at work on four more Adventure Island books to come out in Spring and Summer, 2013. After that, who knows? These books are so much fun to write that as long as readers still want to read them I’m more than happy to keep going . . . 
Friends often ask me if it gets easier to write each book as the series goes on. In some ways, it does. It gets easier to slip back into the characters’ voices, as I know them so well. It’s also much less daunting now when I get to that point in each book (usually around the end of Chapter Five) when I have a sudden overwhelming crisis of confidence and think; There’s absolutely no way I can do this. Me? Write a whole book? That anyone would actually want to read? Who are you trying to kid? These days I can give myself a stern talking to, remind myself that this happens every time. I’ve always got through it before. I take myself off to the bookshelf. Look, you can do this! Ten Adventure Island books with your name on! Now, sit back down at that computer and stop whinging!

But there are some things that get harder with each book. Thinking of new mysteries for the intrepid Emily, Scott, Jack and Drift to solve becomes more of a challenge . . . There are, after all, only so many dubious doings that can happen on a small island off the coast of Cornwall, which could even remotely plausibly be solved by a group of kids and are not too sordid and/or boring for eight-year old readers (yep, that rules out about 99% of all real-life crimes!).

Luckily, Castle Key island does have an astonishingly high crime rate, and continues to attract a constant stream of visitors with more than their fair share of Dark Secrets, so, with the help of my wonderful editor at Orion, Amber Caraveo, who can spot a plot hole a mile off, and my husband, who has the mind of a criminal genius, we should be able to keep Emily and the boys baffled and busy through Book Fourteen and beyond.

Thinking about the ups and downs of writing a long series reminded me of one of my favourite crime writers. American author Sue Grafton set herself a formidable challenge with her alphabet series; one mystery for every letter of the alphabet; A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar and so on, through to the most recent, V is for Vengeance. All the books feature the sassy, no-nonsense private investigator, Kinsey Milhone (I have a feeling Emily Wild will be a lot like Kinsey when she grows up!).

I’ve loved following Kinsey Milhone’s cases over the years, and am full of admiration for Sue Grafton, who is now only four books away from completing her 26 book series with Z is for . . . zero or zap or zodiac. As I began to write this piece, I googled Sue Grafton’s website and was intrigued to find that she has posted her writing journal notes for several of the alphabet series; they make utterly, utterly engrossing reading for anyone who has ever tried to plot a series of mysteries, or in fact, any story at all . . . What if? Would this work? But why would anyone do that? Is that too much like what happened before? Definitely worth a look . . .

Now, I’d better get back to cooking up some more trouble in Castle Key!

With many thanks to Helen and Orion Childrens.

There are currently ten books available in the Adventure Island series (with four more planned for 2013). You can read about them at the official Adventure Island website which includes a map of Castle Key Island and blogs from the main characters.

Helen Moss's own website is here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Changeling Posters

This lovely poster has been dominating my suburban Birmingham train route - though I am pleased to have a double spread at my local station. No sign of the book in the library yet, it's a shame there's not an adult edition too (eg like Grisham, Reichs, Coben) as that would probably have been on the catalogue earlier. Patience is a virtue...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore (April 2012, Puffin, ISBN: 0141330872)

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: What an awesome story this is! The Power of Six is the second book in the series featuring nine Loriens that have come to earth to save their people and planet from destruction. The thrill and tension of the pace that is set right from the start gets hold of you and draws you in. It is definitely preferable to have read the first in the series (I Am Number 4) before embarking on this story, so that you have a full grasp of the background and characters, but it isn’t essential to do so. I didn't read the first book but was caught up in the thrill if the chase in this one right from the start and read the whole thing in a day.

The story focuses on three of the Loriens: Number 4, who has teamed up with Number 6, and Number 7, who is alone and searching for her associates without trying to draw attention to herself. She is in Spain in an orphanage and can leave when she is 18 – only a few short months away. Numbers 4 and 6 are in America and being chased by the dreaded Mogadorians, whose job it is to destroy Loriens before they reach their full potential. They can only kill them in a certain order, though, so Number 4 knows he is next. Their mission is to stay alive, train, open their Chests, and find each other so that they can reclaim their planet before it is gone forever.

This book is totally awesome! I started it 'cold', as I knew nothing of the previous book, and totally loved it from start to finish. The third book is due out in August this year and there are supposed to be a total of six books in the series. The books are written by Pittacus Lore: the pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes, and if you've not read them yet I suggest that you do so. Soon.

Very highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies

Friday, June 8, 2012

Published in June (2012)

Here are some of the teenage/YA titles that are being published in the UK in June 2012. I will put a link to this post and previous and subsequent "monthly" lists in my sidebar. January's list is here, February's is here, March's is here, April's is here and May's is here.

I have tried to identify all the British authors which I hope will be useful to those doing Kirsty's British Books Challenge at The Overflowing Library (please let me know of any errors or omissions).

This is still a work-in-progress so I'll continue to update it during the month.
Alexandra Adornetto - Hades (7th, Atom, pb)
Julianna Baggott - Pure (7th, Headline, pb)
Asa Bailey - The Vampire of Highgate (7th, Hodder Children's Books, pb) British Author
Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Taken by Storm (7th, Quercus, pb)
Franny Billingsley - Chime (7th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb)
Lily Blake et al - Snow White and the Huntsman (1st, Atom, pb)
Tim Bowler - Blade2: Flight (7th, OUP Oxford, pb) British Author
Kiera Cass - The Selection (7th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Harlan Coben - Shelter (21st, Orion, pb)
Ally Condie - Crossed (7th, Puffin, pb)
Alison Croggan - The Gift: The First Book of Pellinor (7th, Walker, pb)
Kady Cross - The Girl in the Steel Corset (1st, Mira Ink, pb)
Stephen Deas - The Warlock's Shadow (14th, Gollancz, pb) British Author
Kerry Drewery - A Brighter Fear (7th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb) British Author
Becca Fitzpatrick - Silence (7th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Lia Habel - Dearly Departed (7th, Corgi Childrens, pb)
Hannah Harrington - Saving June (1st, Mira Ink, pb)
Kim Harrington - Clarity (7th, Scholastic, pb)
James Holland - Duty Calls (7th, Puffin, pb) British Author
M J Hyland - Carry Me Down (7th, Walker, pb) British Author
Maureen Johnson - Devilish (7th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Lauren Kate - Rapture (21st, Doubleday Childrens, pb)
Kate Kingsley - Dissing You Already (7th, Headline, pb) British Author
Krystyna Kuhn - Game (7th, Atom, pb)
Robin LaFevers - Grave Mercy (7h, Andersen, pb)
Pauline McLynn - Jenny Q, Stitched Up (7th, Puffin, pb)
Morgan Matson - Second Chance Summer (7th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Richelle Mead - Bloodlines: The Golden Lily (12th, Puffin, pb)
Claire Merle - The Glimpse (1st, Faber, pb) British Author
Elizabeth Norris - Unravelling (7th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
Kenneth Oppel - This Dark Endeavour (7th, David Fickling Books, pb)
Panama Oxridge - Thyme Running Out (22nd, Inside Pocket, pb) British Author
Simon Packham - Silenced (1st, Piccadilly Press, pb) British Author
Ellie Phillips - Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks (4th, Electric Monkey, pb) British Author
Laura Powell - Burn Mark (7th, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, pb) British Author
Michelle Rowen - Dark Kiss (1st, Mira Ink, pb)
Nicky Singer - The Flask (7th, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, pb)
L J Smith - The Compelled (7th, Hodder Children's Books, pb)
Jeri Smith-Ready - Shine (7th, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, pb)
Keris Stainton - Emma Hearts LA (7th, Orchard, pb) British Author
Joss Stirling - Stealing Phoenix (7th, OUP Oxford, pb) British Author
Tiffany Truitt - Chosen Ones (28th, Entangled Teen, pb)
Ann Turnbull - Seeking Eden (7th, Walker, pb)
K J Wignall - Alchemy (4th, Electric Monkey, pb) British Author
Chris Wooding - The Black Lung Captain (7th, Indigo, pb) British Author

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

Slide by Jill Hathaway (March 2012, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, ISBN: 0007446373)

Review: Slide is the first in a series though it stands equally well as a standalone. Sylvia aka Vee has let people believe that she suffers from narcolepsy and indeed she does drop off to sleep during class and random moments through the day. However what she hasn't told anyone, except her Dad who didn't believe her, is that when she falls asleep she slides into another person's consciousness, directed by the object she's touching at the time. Which is why when she touches the friendship bracelet made by a friend of her sister's she ends up in the girl's bedroom watching her sobbing her heart out and when she touches a mysterious note left on her front door she sees through a killer's eyes.

Vee is the only one who knows that the death of a cheerleader isn't suicide but she cannot tell anyone, instead she must try and find the truth and the killer. In addition, she wants to confide in her best friend Rollins but is worried he'll think she's crazy and she is falling for new boy Zane.

Another death pushes Vee to be more proactive in her search for the killer and use her “gift” to do some good.

I enjoyed Slide though it's not quite what I thought it was going to be. The premise does sound a bit like the Wake series by Lisa McMann but whereas Janie in that series is pulled into people's dreams, from being awake, Vee falls asleep and is pulled into people who are awake. I had expected Slide to be more of a crime novel with Vee doing some detecting, a bit like Hartley does in Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday and she does do some investigating but quite late in the day. Slide is more concerned with the nature of friendship and loss and guilt and what the death of a family member can do to the survivors' family and I did find it quite moving at times. Slide is a fast-paced read and I look forward to the sequel in 2013.

NB. There is a 13+ guideline on the back cover.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Famous Five Covers

As it's the Crime Writers' Association's Crime Writing Month I'm going to focus on some crime titles this month (I did a similar thing last year for National Crime Writing Week).

The first five of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton have been given spiffing new covers courtesy of some famous illustrators. From Booktrust:

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Enid Blyton's much-loved Famous Five series, five of the most illustrious children's illustrators of today have teamed up with Hodder Children's Books to present new special anniversary covers for the first five adventures in the series.

Former Children's Laureate Quentin Blake, and celebrated fellow illustrators Helen Oxenbury, Emma Chichester Clark, Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell have all offered up their own spin on Enid Blyton's classic characters - Julian, Dick, George, Anne, and of course, Timmy the dog.

Which is your favourite?