Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Dead - Charlie Higson

The Dead - Charlie Higson

Pages: 450
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Release Date: 16th September 2010

Other Titles in this Series: The Enemy

A terrible disease is striking everyone over the age of fourteen. Death walks the streets. Nowhere is safe.

Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.

Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids - nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease.

They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realise they won’t all survive…

I loved The Dead just as much as I did The Enemy. Charlie Higson has ne hooked on this series.

Before I talk about the story I have to mention how much I loved it’s presentation. The black-edged pages and x-ray effect skulls on the endpapers are excellent. I really like it when publishers go all out on appearance.

But, anyway, The Dead didn’t follow Maxie, Blue and the others as I expected and instead is set near the beginning of the disaster, about a year before the events of The Enemy with a group of private school boys. I have to admit to being a bit hesitant because I’d grown really find of them, but I soon began to appreciate the newbie’s. Especially when places, events and chaarcters from The Enemy became involved in the story. I thought it was done very cleverly and I loved how The Dead ended in line with the previous books.

As I mentioned earlier, the new characters took a while to grow on me. My first impressions of them weren’t great: Jack was harsh, Matt a nutter, Ed a wimo and Brooke, Aleisha and Courtney brash and irritating, but I soon began to understand the effect of the pressures of leadership on Jack, saw Ed harden and become a brave leader, the girls let their guards down and, well, Matt just got nuttier. They were real and struggling to deal with unimaginable horrors. We also saw the return of David and his soldiers and Small Sam.

In The Dead my curiosity about the disease; its cause and origin, began to take over. I think it’s unlikely to be revealed with certainty as the kids have no idea (although they have their theories), but I became desperate to know why under-14’s were protected and why the sun seemed to accelerate it so dramatically. My inner nerd was having a field day!

I’ve fallen in love with this zombiefied series and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Monday, 27 September 2010

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

I wanted to quickly let you know that I'm alive and the internet is working fine (well, for me, anyway) so I'll be around. My flatmates are awesome and my room is bigger than my one at home. It's going to be a good year.

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

Pages: 407
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin
Release Date: 3rd June 2010

Other Titles in this Series: The Dead

When the sickness came, ever parent, police officer, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait.

But can they make it there - alive?

The Enemy is a heart-stopping novel filled with page after page of murder, fighting and rotting zombies.

I’m not usually a huge a horror fan, but this book is the perfect antidote tp contrite, sappy paranormal romances. The descriptions of the extremely gross grown-ups were graphic and gory from the very beginning: “The skin blackened, shrivelled and split, the overripe flesh inside squeezing out. His insides had turned to mush.”* There are some really disgusting passages in this book.

Unlike most post-apocalyptic novels, The Enemy doesn’t start at the beginning of the change, but instead we join the Waitrose crew about a year after what they call the disaster began. I liked this because at this point the kids were having to fight harder to survive in a world that is falling apart around them. It actually quite reminded me of the later books in Michael Grant’s Gone series, especially when you also consider the age of fourteen being the cut-off for the disease.

But for me, all of these things would mean very little without a fantastic cast of characters. And Charlie Higson’s characters are definitely that. My favourite is Sam. He’s so young, only nine, but so fierce and brave and doggedly determined to survive things that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. But I also loved The Kid who’s funny turns of phrase butchered the English language and Blue with his very surprising revelations about his past that he confided in Maxie. The only characters that I really didn’t like were brash and bloodthirsty Archilleus and crazed, power-hungry David.

The Enemy is a fantastic novel that’ll sate the thirsts of both boy and girl horror fans. And I’m so glad that I’ve already got my copy of The Dead!

The Enemy, Charlie Higson page 6 (Puffin/Penguin UK) 2009

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Saturday, 25 September 2010

An Update

Today (well, tomorrow, as I actually scheduled this post on Friday) I move up to Bath to go to university. That means driving all of this:

(see my book box, complete with checklist?)

up the bumpy motorway (I think it’s officially called the M4, but it really is very bumpy) and fitting it into a room the size of a cupboard, here:

(well, not in that building because it's reception. I couldn't find a picture of my dorm building. If you're interested I can post pictures later on. Let me know in the comments.)

Because of the panicking and crying and unpacking and exploring that I’ll have to do today and tomorrow and then the induction and fresher events of next week I’m likely to be a bit absent from the internet. I’ve got a few reviews scheduled but it’s unlikely I’ll be commenting on and reading other blogs until I get myself and my WiFi sorted.

There also won’t be an IMM tomorrow because of the aforementioned possible internet issues and I didn’t get very much this week anyway. But what I did get while be included next week as long as everything goes to plan. Fingers crossed!

Wish me luck!


Friday, 24 September 2010

Featured on Friday: Jerome Parisse

Jerome was born and grew up in France where he developed a love of literature. He has also lived in Australia and has just recently moved to Hong Kong. He is a playright and his first YA novel, The Wings of Leo Spencer, was released earlier this year.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I write best early morning or late at night. In the middle of the day, I tend to get bogged down and lack energy. Having said that, it varies. There are times I can write for eight hours or more in a row, if I am deeply immersed in the story I am writing (or if I have a deadline!). I write mostly from my home office, as I need a familiar environment without distractions in order to be productive. I am amazed by people who can write in cafes or in public places!

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I really liked Enid Blyton as a young teen-ager! I think I wasn’t very mature in my reading because it took me a while to move on. I loved Harper Lee and the only book she’s ever written, To Kill a Mockingbird. At the time, I also read many of the classics, in particular the books from the Brontë sisters, Molière and even Tennessee Williams. I was also very fond of a French writer, Hervé Bazin.

These days, my tastes are much more eclectic. I love young adult authors such as Eoin Colfer, Philip Pullman, Melina Marchetta, Isobel Carmody, Kate Forsyth, Garth, Nix, Garry Disher and J.K. Rowling; and others such as James Bradfield, Anne Rice, Irène Némirosky, Amélie Nothomb, Nick Hornby, Douglas Kennedy, Guillaume Musso, Peter Carey, the list goes on...

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
I would take To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (although that’s three books in itself), and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. These are my favourite books.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
I wish I had written His dark materials. This is exactly the type of story I love, fantasy with a twist, dealing with religious issues, life and death, and growing up. These are fabulous themes, and they are beautifully treated by Pullman in these books. Pullman is a great story teller; he is very inventive and creates worlds that become amazingly real to the reader.

5. Why did you choose such a traditional version of heaven for The Wings of Leo Spencer?
There are several reasons that made me choose the version of Heaven that you can find in The Wings of Leo Spencer. I wanted to work with the hierarchies of angels as they are typically described, because on one hand I wanted to write a book that didn’t stray too much from how many people see angels, but on the other hand I thought that the hierarchies offered complexity that I could use in many different ways. Angels can be good, bad or even terrifying. I wanted a version of Heaven that could work with these hierarchies of angels. I also didn’t want to imagine a Heaven that would draw too much attraction on itself, as Heaven isn’t really what the book is about; I didn’t want the reader to be drawn away from the core of the story: the grieving process, making the most of life, and more than anything, humans and their life on earth.

6. Which of the five hierarchies of angels would you like to work in?
This is a great question, and not an easy one to answer! At the end of the day, I think I would like to be a guardian angel, because they belong to the hierarchy of angels who stay closest to humans, interact with them daily, and help them to move forward in their life.

7. What inspired your changed from writing plays to writing novels? How different an experience was it?
I love books and reading, and I had always wanted to write novels. However, since I was working in theatre at the time, it felt natural to try writing plays. I started with short plays, and I was pleasantly surprised when I realized people liked them and wanted to produce them. I kept writing for the theatre until I felt I was ready to write a novel. It was an interesting experience, because writing books is a very different process from writing plays: when you write a play, you need to organize readings and workshops with actors. It is a much more inclusive process than writing novels, which is a lonely activity. I found, however, that having worked and written for theatre helped me to write lively dialogues in my books. These days, I write both plays and novels.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
I have just finished a novel, in French this time, which has been picked by a French publisher. It should be on the shelves around February next year. It is the story of a rafting expedition in Northern Australia that turns into a nightmare, a closed environment focusing on the relationships between the rafters – and nature!

I have recently moved to Hong Kong and have been inspired by the place, because I have started writing a thriller which takes place here. It is still early stage, so I won’t say too much about it now.

Thanks so much, Jerome! You can visit Jerome at his website here and read my review of The Wings of Leo Spencer here.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Blog Tour: Blood Ransom Teaser

On October 1st Simon and Schuster will publish the long-awaited to sequel to Sophie McKenzie’s multi-award-winning Blood Ties, Blood Ransom. To celebrate this S&S UK have given me an exclusive extract from Blood Ransom to share with you all. Enjoy!

It felt like hours later when Lewis turned off the light in the boat and slowed the engine to a low chug. The sea spray that had been spattering my face fell away and the moon came out from behind a dark cloud.
   I could just make out the coastline ahead – a dark beach under a jetty lit with a single lamp. Another boat – larger than ours – was already moored against the jetty.
   “Only one boat to disable,” Lewis muttered.
   I peered at the lamp. It was fastened to the shelter at the end of the jetty. Beneath it, a small security camera was swivelling away from us.
   “That camera is sweeping the jetty,” I whispered. “We’ll have to moor up behind the big boat so it doesn’t see us.”
   Lewis followed my gaze. “Good thinking,” he said.
   He cut the engine and paddled us up to the hull of the other boat. As the camera on the jetty shelter turned away from us, Lewis hauled himself up, clambering silently into the other boat. There was a swift ripping sound – a knife going through plastic. I watched the camera. It was still focused on the other end of the jetty. Lewis’s head appeared over the hull. He beckoned me towards him and I crawled into the other boat too.
   My heart was hammering away, the adrenalin coursing through me.
   “Okay, I’ve killed the engine,” Lewis whispered. “Their boat’s out of action.”
   I nodded, pointing towards the camera, which was now moving slowly back in our direction. We lay face down, prostrate against the deck as we waited for the camera to swing all the way towards us and begin its journey back again.
   Several long seconds passed. There was no sound from the shore, just the slap of the waves against the boats and the whistle of the wind above our heads.
   At last I risked a glance. The camera was pointing away from us again. I raised myself, ready to move.
   A tall, thick-set man was walking along the path towards the jetty. I dropped back down, my breath ragged and shallow. Had he seen us?

If you’re as intrigued as I am you should check out The Bookette tomorrow for a chance to win a copy of this amazing book.


Monday, 20 September 2010

Scarlett Dedd - Cathy Brett

Scarlett Dedd - Cathy Brett

Pages: 271
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 2nd September 2010

Other Titles by this Author: Ember Fury

Scarlett would kill for a kiss from the boy she’s crushing on…But her life has just taken a turn for the worse and now it’s not just her romantic plans that are festering - even her friends are acting like she doesn’t exist…

Left in Limbo, bored to death and fearing her friendless state is terminal, an ominous idea pops into Scarlett’s head. Over her dead body will she be ignored…But can Scarlett really execute such a grim plan? And will it reap the reward of eternal friendship or turn out to be a fatal mistake?

After loving Cathy Brett’s debut, Ember Fury, last year, I was very excited to see if Scarlett Dedd could live up to it. But it was even better.

It really became evident just how talented a woman Cathy Brett is. As well as fun and lively illustrations, her writing is animated and so easy to fall into. Her style and execution is fresh and much appreciated in a genre that’s becoming more and more samey and clichéd. Both the illustrations and writing complimented each other beautifully and made Scarlett Dedd a pleasure to read and is likely to get reluctant readers hooked on books.

But it was Scarlett Dedd’s quirky and hilarious plot that captured me. The way that Scarlett accidentally managed to kill herself and her family was brilliant. Unfortunate and a little nasty, but brilliant. And then you’ve got a varied and distinctive cast of supporting characters: her solitary, struggling novelist dad; scatty, French mum; gross little brother and gothic, horror movie-obsessed friends, Rip, Psycho, JP and Taz. They were so awesome that I kind of understood why she tried to kill them so she wouldn’t have to miss them. Especially Rip’s insults like “walking liposuction accident” and “oozing plague-spot”. Genius!

I loved Scarlett Dedd and I can’t wait to see what Cathy Brett has in store for us next.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Sunday, 19 September 2010

In My Mailbox 79

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For Review:

A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly

Based on a real murder at the turn of the century, this outstanding debut novel is a powerful and moving coming-of-age book. Mattie is torn from her familial responsibilities, her desire to be a writer, and the excitement of a first romance. Her dilemmas and choices are quietly reflected in the life of a young woman found drowned in a lake, a woman that Mattie only gets to know through reading her letters.

When finally the tales of Mattie and the drowned girl merge, their stories beautifully combine in a brilliant and perfect conclusion.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for this.

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly

Two girls, united in a quest to save a young prince, but spereated by over two hundred years.

Andi lives in present-day New York and is dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s accidental death. Alexandrine lives in Paris and is desperately trying to save a young boy from the ravages of the French Revolution. Their paths collide as Andi unlocks a route into the past which might just hold the key to reconciling herself to her own history - and her future.

A romantic, utterly engrossing story of two girls, two boys and the heart-wrenching thread that binds them together across the centuries. Bestselling, award-winning author Jennifer Donnelly has written an incredibly evocative portrait of lives torn apart by grief and mended by love.

Thanks again to Bloomsbury.

You Against Me - Jenny Downham (ARC)

You Against Me is an intense and uncompromising novel about loyalty and the choices that come with it.

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

Mikey and Ellie come from two very different worlds, one lives in a high rise block of flats, the other in a luxurious house with a garden behind a security gate. When Elli’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel. When they meet, their two worlds collide. Each is forced to choose where their loyalties lie - and to decide whether blood ties are stronger than all-consuming teenage love. Mikey’s sister needs his support, and his family needs him to keep them on track; Ellie and her brother both need their parents’ help but can their parents be loyal to both of their children?

You Against Me is an arresting love story written by a brilliant writer.

A fantastic surprise from David Fickling Books/RHCB. I can’t wait to get stuck into this!

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

When the sickness came, ever parent, police officer, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry.

Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive.

Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait.

But can they make it there - alive?

I'm reading this at the moment and it's brilliant. Thanks, Puffin!

The Dead - Charlie Higson

A terrible disease is striking everyone over the age of fourteen. Death walks the streets. Nowhere is safe.

Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.

Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids - nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease.

They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realise they won’t all survive…

Thanks again to Puffin.

Raised by Wolves - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

He’s in a cage, I reminded myself, but the words meant nothing to me, because I just couldn’t stop staring into his wild eyes and playing the last words he’d said before he Shifted, over and over again.

I got bit.
I got bit.
I got bit.

At the age of four, Bryn watched a rabid werewolf brutally murder her parents. She was rescued and taken in by the mysterious Callum, the alpha of his pack. Now fifteen, Bryn’s been a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule.

But the pack’s been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum’s orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Bryn needs answers and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, it’s Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences.

Thank you to Quercus. I’m really looking forward to this one.


None. I’m being good!


Friday, 17 September 2010

Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready

Pages: 309
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster)
Release Date: 2nd September 2010

Other (adult) Titles by this Author: WVMP Radio series, Aspect of Crow series

Aura’s in love with two boys - but one of them’s a ghost. Can true love really conquer all - even death?

Like everyone born after the Shift, sixteen-year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead…

Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura ralises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost for a boyfriend, she starts developing feelings for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a piece of her heart - as well as vital clues to the secret of the Shift - and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living or embracing the dead…

I know that lots of people, including myself, have become a little disillusioned with paranormal romances lately, but Shade is a book that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Ghosts are still a little-explored aspect of the paranormal as, in my opinion, there are fewer ways to twist the mythology than say, vampires or werewolves which only makes Jeri Smith-Ready’s debut even more startlingly original. The idea that anyone born after a particular moment will be able to see ghosts is brilliant. But what’s even more intriguing is that people who were psychics before the Shift can no longer see them and the ghosts themselves changed from slightly faded, full-colour spectres to bright, violet versions of themselves. There was also the link to monoliths that Aura suspected. All in all, not much about the Shift was actually revealed in Shade so I’m hoping I’ll get some answers in Shift.

After losing her boyfriend in the initial stages of the story, Aura spends most of the novel grieving. And my heart broke for her. The repercussions of a death like Logan’s (which I was not at all expecting) were excruciatingly detailed in the blame that Aura and Dylan put on themselves. And with Logan’s continued presence as a ghost it was only made harder as although he wasn’t completely gone, he couldn’t touch Aura, he couldn’t play his guitar and most of his family couldn’t see him. As much as they wanted to they couldn’t move on, and neither could Logan, really.

And as for the pace of Aura’s moving on, I was very impressed. Her grieving wasn’t rushed and everything moved at a natural speed, even with Aura’s conflicting emotions over a certain gorgeous Scotsman, Zachary. I loved how he never once tried to push Aura into getting over Logan and instead respected and understood her remaining in love with Logan. It was incredibly sweet and made him a stand-out YA hero. And I honestly couldn’t decide whether I preferred him or Logan; they’re just so different.

With the rather unfair cliffhanger ending, I’m dying to see more of Aura, Logan and Zachary in Shift.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel

Pages: 395 (ARC)
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release Date: 2nd September 2010

I didn’t look a day over sixteen, yet - if someone had calculated - on that particular day I officially turned 592.

For more than 500 years Lenah has been a vampire - a life of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers and longs to be human again. To feel the sun on her skin; the grass under her feet; the warm breath of a human kiss. But that requires a great sacrifice, for the soul of a vampire is not easily shed…

I’ve read mixed reviews of Infinite Days and I have to admit that this is going to be a mixed review as I can’t quite make my mind up how I feel about it.

The synopsis promised something completely new from new from vampire fiction, something original and full of potential: a 592-year-old vampire queen becoming a human. But it is inconsistent. If you fell asleep in 1910 a vampire and woke up in 2010 a human, there would be serious gaps in your knowledge, confusion and probably a strong dislike of modern ways. And although Lenah has no idea how to work a laptop or what snorkelling is, she has no objections to bikinis or barely-there dresses which seemed odd from a woman who would have worn corsets and been pretty much covered up from head to toe. There was also a distinct lack of formal, Edwardian English turns of phrase from Lenah which was strange. Although, I did like how her remaining vampire traits (ESP, super-sight, easy acceptance of death) disappeared after significant human experiences and realisations.

But Infinite Days is also peppered with clichés. Lenah is a stunning girl who draws longing glances from the guys and jealous glares from the girls. Then there is the predictable love triangle. Lenah is oblivious to how her cute, funny, guy best friend, Tony, feels about her and instead falls for clean-cut, all-American jock, Justin, who’s girlfriend is the school bitch who instantly hates Lenah. Other than his pretty face and gorgeous body, there wasn’t anything there. I just couldn’t figure out what it was that made her love him, and so quickly, too.

From my review so far you’d think I hated Infinite Days, but there were a few things that I did really enjoy. I loved all of the flashbacks into Lenah’s past. It showed vampires as they should be: cruel, vicious, bloodthirsty and soulless. The peeks into her life as queen of her coven were fascinating and I kind of wished that we saw more of it. And in a more shallow light the dresses that Lenah wore in the flashbacks were amazing. Why don’t we get to dress like that now? Infinite Days is a quite slow-moving novel so the last 100 or so pages were a dramatic change and my favourite part of the book.

Even though I only moderately enjoyed Infinite Days, I’m quite curious to read the sequel, Stolen Nights.

Received as part of UK Book Tours.

For my 2010 Debut Author Challenge, 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Monday, 13 September 2010

Roald Dahl Day

There are very few authors around who are so loved, so revered, and so memorable that on their birthday each year, the whole country celebrates them. But the incomparable Roald Dahl is.

For the last five years, on the 13th September (Roald Dahl’s birthday), schools and libraries all over the UK celebrate the life, books and legacy of this extraordinary man. And there are a multitude of events happening to share their love for him:

This year, it’s grown bigger than ever and taken over a whole region to become the Roald Dahl Black Country Creative Challenge. Every man, woman and child in the region will be encouraged to read Roald Dahl’s MATILDA during September 2010.

The “Everything You Wanted to Know About Roald Dahl” roadshow - staged in association with the award-winning Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre - gives hundreds of schoolchildren in five locations the chance to pose fiendish questions to Roald Dahl experts and surprise VIP guests! This year, the five event locations will be Cheltenham, Dublin, Fife, Stratford (East London) and Wolverhampton.

Anticipation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new musical version of Roald Dahl’s MATILDA – book by Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, directed by Matthew Warchus – which opens at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on November 9th for a 12-week run. For more information, go to

On Sunday September 12th, there will be a Roald Dahl Day event at the RSC as part of the Roald Dahl Black Country Creative Challenge.

Quentin Blake, former Children’s Laureate and Roald Dahl’s principal illustrator, will appear in a special event at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon on December 4th.

The third annual Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize, which awards prizes to the funniest children’s books of the year - in two age categories; picture books and books for older children. The award was set up by Michael Rosen in conjunction with Booktrust. Michael will again chair the judging panel – which this year includes comedienne Shappi Khorsandi, author Philip Ardagh (a winner in 2009), illustrator Bruce Ingman (a winner in 2009) and children’s books expert and author Nicolette Jones. The shortlist will be announced on September 17th; the winners on November 17th.

On Saturday September 11th, there will be a Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize event at the National Theatre, featuring Michael Rosen, Philip Ardagh and other special guests. For more information and to book tickets, please go to

Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived and wrote, will provide a focus for festivities, with a day of special events on September 12th at the award-winning Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. There’ll be MATILDA themed storytelling, village trails, craft activities, magic, face-painting, behind-the-scenes tours of the Roald Dahl archive AND, courtesy of the RSC, an opportunity to find out more about their forthcoming production of Roald Dahl’s MATILDA.

On Sunday September 12th, there will also be a special opening of Roald Dahl’s garden at Gipsy House, Great Missenden, in aid of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity (formerly the Roald Dahl Foundation). The garden, which will be open from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, is full of delights including Roald Dahl’s iconic writing hut and Danny’s gipsy caravan. Admission to this event is free, with voluntary donations to Roald Dahl’s

Marvellous Children’s Charity gratefully received. This event will be attended by several Roald Dahl Nurses – specialist children’s nurses funded by the charity.

70 branches of Waterstone’s stores nationwide will be staging Roald Dahl Day events throughout September.

The Birmingham Stage Company production of Roald Dahl’s classic tale GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE - is on tour throughout 2010 and arrives at Swansea’s Taliesin Arts Centre on September 14th. For more information on the tour, go to

New publishing: STORYTELLER: ROALD DAHL by Donald Sturrock is the first ever authorised biography of Roald Dahl, written with exclusive access to his private papers, manuscripts and hundreds of newly-discovered letters. (Sophie: I want this so bad!)

New publishing: For the very first time, THE TWITS – Roald Dahl’s most hilarious and anarchic story, is being published with full colour artwork by Quentin Blake. Published by Puffin Books on September 2nd.

New publishing: Puffin Books is also publishing WILLY WONKA’S WHIPPLESCRUMPTIOUS ANNUAL – the first EVER Roald Dahl Annual, bursting with story extracts, games, puzzles, a guide to Gobblefunk and ideas to make and do. Published by Puffin Books on August 5th.

New publishing: For the first time for many years, the COMPLETE collection of Roald Dahl’s works for children will be available in beautiful new hardback editions. Published by Puffin Books and Random House Children’s Books on September 2nd.

New publishing: As part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, Puffin is releasing a “Designer Puffin” edition of Roald Dahl’s classic JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, designed by British sculptor Anthony Gormley. A limited numbered edition of 1000 are being published on September 2nd, priced at £100 each.

Roald Dahl in Welsh: 2010 marks the publication of the 10th Roald Dahl book, in Welsh. Y Twits will be launched on Monday 13th September, Roald Dahl Day 2010 and will form part of the Welsh Roald Dahl Day celebrations centred in Cardiff Bay. For more on the Welsh versions of Roald Dahl’s books, visit or visit

But you can join in the celebrations in other ways to. The Roald Dahl Reading Relay where all you have to do is read three of Roald Dahl’s amazing books is being hosted on where you’ll also be able to search through his books to see which book you want to start with. I recommend Matilda, George’s Marvellous Medicine, The Twits or The Witches. They’re my favourites!

Help spread the word about this extraordinary man and his brilliant novels by posting the badge on your blog, encouraging anyone and everyone to pick up one of his books and any other way you can think of!


Sunday, 12 September 2010

In My Mailbox 78

This meme was started by the fabulous Kristi who was inspired by Alea. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets.

For Review:
(no cover yet) Frankie Foster: Fizzy Pop - Jean Ure (ARC)

“Everyone seemed to think it was my fault that Rags ate the rissoles. I always get the blame for everything! Like when I encouraged one of my bet friends to try and trace her birth mother. Mum said I shouldn’t have interfered. But I wasn’t interfering! I just wanted to help.”

Frankie Foster loves fixing people’s problems. Her help might not always be welcome - and she might cause the odd total disaster - but Frankie always fixes everything… Eventually!

A surprise from Harper Collins.

The Familiars: Animal Wizardry - Adam Epstein and Andrew Jacobson (ARC)

Aldwyn the alley cat has taken refuge in a strange pet shop when Jack, a young wizard, comes to choose his familiar. The only trouble is Aldwyn’s not magical although Jack seems to think he is. Now Aldwyn just has to convince his fellow familiars that he’s the telekinetic cat he claims to be.

But when Jack and his young wizard friends are kidnapped, their familiars set out on a dangerous quest to rescue them - an epic journey that will change their lives forever…

Another surprise from Harper Collins. This sounds fantastic.

Pink - Lili Wilkinson

The pink jumper was glowing in my grey bedroom like a tiny bit of Dorothy’s Oz in boring black-and-white Kansas. Pink was for girls.

Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.

Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis, who insists that: a) Ava’s a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.

But while she’s busy trying to fit in - with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew - Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagines.

A surprise from Frances Lincoln. John green blurbed this and loved it so that’s good enough for me!

Screw Loose - Chris Wheat

From Goodreads: This laugh-out-loud, original and chaotic tale of teenagers, dolls, dogs, football, baklava, first love, new love and one helluva party is the perfect book for people who never quite go about things the right way.

Another surprise from Frances Lincoln. This looks so funny.

Boys Don’t Cry - Malorie Blackman (ARC)

From Goodreads: This is the explosively page-turning new novel for teenagers from the author of the award-winning "Noughts and Crosses" sequence. You're about to receive your A-level results and then a future of university and journalism awaits. But the day they're due to arrive your old girlfriend Kendra turns up unexpectedly ...with a baby ...You assume Kendra's helping a friend, until she nips out to buy some essentials, leaving you literally holding the baby ...Malorie's dramatic new novel will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the final page.

Big thanks to Random House for this.

Burning Secrets - Clare Chambers (ARC)

A tense, tightly-wrought mystery thriller from a burning new talent in teen fiction.

Daniel has dark secrets and a troubled past. So when his family move to the island of Wragge, a gentle backwater where local life remains undisturbed he feels he’s escaped. But outsiders aren’t always welcome and the more Daniel tries to conceal, the more he reveals about sinister goings on. Does this picture-perfect community have something even greater to hide?

A gripping mystery that tingles with brooding menace and ignites as the clue falls into place…

Another surprise from Harper Collins.

Entangled - Cat Clarke (ARC)

Drip. When was the first time? Shhh, don’t listen.
Drip. Who made the first move? It doesn’t matter.
How could they do this to me?

Grace is madly tangled with her gorgeous boyfriend Nat…

But her friendship with Sal is coming undone…
 But is she so fast in love, she can’t see what a glorious mess all three of them are in?

In Entangled Cat Clarke evokes just how it feels to be seventeen with a heart full of hope and a head full of one boy…

Yay! Cat is awesome so I’m extremely excited to read this. Thanks, Quercus.

The Monstrumologist: The Curse of the Wendigo - Rick Yancey

The monstrumologist Dr Warthrop and his assistant Will Henry are in pursuit of the ultimate predator, a creature that is neither alive nor dead, which starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh…the Wendigo.

The doctor is convinced that no such beast can possibly exist, until someone from his past convinces him a Wendigo has captured her husband, and he and Will travel to the Canadian wilderness to discover the truth.

When they finally track down the man they return with him to New York, only to see him transform into a Wendigo before their eyes. Now Dr Warthrop can no longer deny the truth behind the legend and with a Wendigo on the loose in the metropolis, it’s up to the monstrumologist and his assistant to catch the beast before it’s too late…

Thanks to S&S for this.

Spy Glass - Maria V Snyder

An undercover mission leads to dangerous adventure and an impossible choice…

After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, student glass maker Opal Cowen has lost her powers. Immune to the effects of magic, Opal is now an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had. Powers that make a difference in the world.

Suddenly the beautiful pieces she makes begin to flash in the presence of magic and Opal learns that someone has stolen some of her blood. Finding it might let her regain her powers or discover that they’re lost forever…

Thanks to F at Midas for this.

Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth - Chris Priestley

Robert Harper is going back to school. It is the first railway journey h has ever made alone and it is not the usual sort of railway journey. The train stops at the mouth of a tunnel and in order to help while away the time a strange woman dressed in white tells Robert stories. But these are not the kind of stories normally told to a child. Soon Robert is both entranced and terrified by the woman in white and her macabre tales.

Prepare to be chilled to the bone as Robert discovers how frightening it can be to be alone on a train with only strangers to keep you company.

Thanks to Bloomsbury.

The Dead of Winter - Chris Priestley

A boy, a mysterious guardian and a haunted house with a terrible secret.

When Michael Vyner goes to spend the Christmas holidays with his distant and aloof guardian, he finds himself in a dark and desolate East Anglian house - a house that harbours a terrible secret which it will fight to retain. Michael’s lonely task soon becomes clear as he is haunted not just by a solitary woman in the mists but by the terrible reason behind her death.

Thanks again to Bloomsbury.

UK Blog Tours:

Infinite Days - Rebecca Maize (ARC)

I didn’t look a day over sixteen, yet - if someone had calculated - on that particular day I officially turned 592.

For more than 500 years Lenah has been a vampire - a life of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers and longs to be human again. To feel the sun on her skin; the grass under her feet; the warm breath of a human kiss. But that requires a great sacrifice, for the soul of a vampire is not easily shed…

Thanks, Caroline. It's pretty good so far.


Safe Haven - Nicholas Sparks

Love hurts.
There is nothing as painful as heartbreak.
But in order to learn to love again, you must learn to trust again.

When a mysterious woman named Katie appears in the small American town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet unassuming, Katie is determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a store owner; and another with her plainspoken neighbour, Jo.

Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts her… The secret that set her on the journey to the sheltered oasis of Southport.

Eventually, though, Katie realises that a choice must be made betweena life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards…and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

The new Nicholas Sparks hardback is always a highlight of my bookish year. I just wish they’d stop changing the style of his covers! Argh!