Thursday 28 October 2010

The Scared Kid

London, UK. -- October 26, 2010 -- Puffin Books announces the release of The Scared Kid, a chilling short film for Halloween created by best-selling children’s author, actor and comedian, Charlie Higson.

The video footage was produced by Charlie Higson and the makers of Colin, a zombie film that was shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and hit the headlines for its £45 budget.

The Enemy is an action adventure zombie series for teenagers and horror fans. Set in and around London, a mystery disease has broken out attacking everyone over the age of 14. Some survive but those that do face a more terrifying fate – they turn into hideous zombies with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Children form gangs and attempt to survive in an unrecognisable world where there are dangers around every corner.

The film features a one-and-a-half minute clip of a boy who posts a webcam video to YouTube when the disease first breaks out, and which becomes the most viewed video in YouTube history.

Friday 15 October 2010

Featured on Friday: Simon Cheshire


by Saxby Smart, brilliant schoolkid detective

Before you can WRITE a detective story, you have to be clear about what DEFINES a detective story.

It's a story with a Detective Inspector in it, dum-dum! So- and-so Of The Yard, or Some Guy In A Trenchcoat With A Whispery Voice. Right?

No, not necessarily. A detective story doesn’t HAVE to include any official kind of investigator. The detective in a detective story can be any character you like.

A detective story is not defined by WHO appears in it, but by WHAT HAPPENS in it: there is always a MYSTERY, and there is always an INVESTIGATION into the mystery (sounds obvious, I know, but crime fiction is essentially a simple recipe!).

Provided that the MYSTERY and the INVESTIGATION are both there, the story itself can unfold in various ways. For example:

1. Lady Moneybag’s ruby tiara is stolen! Nobody (including the readers of the story) know who did it. Inspector Cleverperson turns up, examines the evidence, and reveals the truth! This is what you might call the standard, ‘traditional’ detective story plot.

2. Strange things happen. Our detective investigates various clues and gradually uncovers the cause of the mysterious goings-on. This plot turns things back-to-front: we follow the investigation and only discover the true nature of the mystery when we get to the end of the story.

3. A crime takes place! We, the readers, know exactly who did it and why, right from the start! The story is all about how the investigation proceeds, and how the good guys outwit the bad guys to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, the inner mechanics of crime stories usually involve various Plot Devices. Some of my personal favourites are:

PLOT DEVICE 1: The Red Herring

A red herring is a clue which looks like a clue but might not be a clue. Or maybe it is. Or maybe it’s not…

Red herrings are things which may (or may not!) be deliberately misleading – elements which steer the reader and/or the fictional detective into following up clues which are irrelevant or fake. Or are they…?

(Why it is called a ‘red herring’? Nobody really knows. It’s been supposed that it’s linked to hunting dogs in ye olden days being deliberately led off the scent of prey using something stinky such as a herring. But it may be a phrase made up in the early 19th century by the writer William Cobbett. So the definition of ‘red herring’ could itself be… a red herring!)

PLOT DEVICE 2: Who did it? Nooo waaaay!

One popular trick of the trade used by mystery writers is to make the least likely suspect the guilty one, so that it’s a big surprise when you find out who committed the crime. For instance, you could have a story full of shifty-looking people dressed in stripey shirts and
eye masks, yet the guilty one turns out to be…the tea lady!

PLOT DEVICE 3: A sneaky disguise.

It’s quite common in detective yarns to find that a character isn’t quite who you thought they were. Maybe Character A has a secret link to Character B that nobody knew about, or perhaps Character C and Character D turn out to be the same person in disguise. The simplest form of this plot device is to have the crime committed by a certain type of person (eg. a very tall woman with long hair), and then reveal that it was actually a totally different type of person all along (eg. a short man on stilts wearing a wig).

PLOT DEVICE 4: We’re trapped!

If a mystery writer wants to encourage the reader to turn detective and try to solve the mystery for themselves, one useful plot device is to have everything happen in some kind of enclosed situation. For example, in an isolated country house during a violent storm (when nobody can get in or out), or on a boat in the middle of the ocean (when nobody can get on or off). The idea is to have only a few characters, and thus only a few suspects, and thus an easier mystery for the reader to solve. This plot device most often turns up on TV or in movies, because it makes the drama cheaper to produce!

PLOT DEVICE 5: You can’t trust ‘em, Inspector!

A particularly crafty plot device. Our detective talks to an important witness; the witness gives interesting information; the detective carries on with the investigation, using this information as crucial evidence. Then something happens which throws a spanner in the works: it turns out the witness might have had a reason to lie. Did they? Can our detective trust the evidence? Was the witness telling the truth or not?

There are LOADS of others. Sometimes, one mystery is used to cover up a second. Sometimes, absolutely nobody in a story can be trusted. And sometimes, the old cliché ‘the butler did it’ turns out to be true! Try it for yourself. It's actually much harder than you might think.

Saxby Smart is a brilliant schoolkid detective who's really bad at Maths but really good at logical deduction. Eight volumes of his casefiles are available now, the latest of which is called “Secret Of The Skull”. The above is adapted from his new non-fiction title “Saxby Smart's Detective Handbook”, in which he investigates the world of real-life crime as well as famous fictional detectives.

Monday 11 October 2010

Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo - Becca Fitpatrick

Pages: 427 (ARC)
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 14th October 2010

Other Titles in the Series: Hush, Hush

Nora should know better than to think her life can return to normal after falling in love with a fallen angel. And Nora’s life isn’t normal - her dad was murdered, and the facts about his death just don’t add up. Now Nora’s own life is in imminent danger. Are she and Patch strong enough for the battle ahead?

There’s been a long wait for Crescendo, made even longer by the questions left hanging at the end of Hush, Hush. And not many were actually answered.

In Crescendo’s prologue we saw the final moments in Harrison Grey’s life, and yet it still until the very end of the novel to find out what really happened to him, why and who was involved. There was also pondering over whether Patch was involved or not. This really annoys me because it was really quite simple but it took over 400 pages to get around to it. We did, however, find out what Patch’s real name is. And in a really unexpected way.

When I first started reading this I applauded Becca Fitzpatrick for giving Nora more strength than in Hush, Hush, but then she got really, really stupid. She became even more dangerously obsessed with Patch and that got her into so much trouble. But Patch himself was different, too. He wasn’t as creepy or stalker-ish as he was in Hush, Hush, but also wasn’t in it nearly as much. I actually kind of missed him, especially as he developed a rather interesting power.

Even though I read Crescendo sporadically, it really is very addictive and hard to put down even when Nora is frustrating the hell out of me. Becca Fitzpatrick really does know how to keep her readers on edge of their seat and keep them coming back for more.

I’m really looking forward to reading more about Patch in the next instalment, Tempest.

For my 2010 100+ Reading Challenge


Friday 8 October 2010

New Recruits!

During the two weeks I've been at university I've been trying to convert my housemates to the world of YA. And after going book shopping with one of them (Fliss) I suceeded. I made her buy Perfect Chemistry, The Luxe and The Sky is Everywhere and she's already finished Perfect Chemistry and loved it. And now she's begun a blog and I think you should all check it out.

Gold in the Air of Summer

And then another of my housemates (Abbey) decided that she was going to do the same. But a book and film blog that you should also check out and follow.

Dreams are made of this...

They are both extremely awesome ladies and hopefully you'll all do me proud and welcome them to the blogosphere with open arms.

Oh, and I will be back to blogging properly soon.


Tuesday 5 October 2010

Blog Tour: Christine Johnson

So, there are a lot of differences between the US and the UK. Obviously. I mean, we drive on opposite sides of the road. Tea vs. Coffee. The Queen vs. . . . well, No Queen, I guess. But when it comes to books and publishing, there are two things that come up a lot, one major and one minor.

The major one, is, of course, covers. Why are they different? Which is better?

I have to say, I was VERY NERVOUS about the UK cover for Claire de Lune. I adore - and I mean *adore* - the cover of the US version. I thought the UK cover had to be a disappointment. The cover Gods couldn’t smile on the same book twice, right?


I love the UK cover just as much as the US one. They’re so utterly different. The US version with the gorgeous girl and the cool moon and the dark forest captures the romance and mystery of the story so perfectly. But the British version, with the thorny red heart and bold colors gives a great glimpse into the intensity and heat of the book.

Everyone I know really loves both of them. My mother expressed a slight preference for the British version, because my name is bigger and “stands out more” on the cover.

Spoken like a true mother, huh?

My bookclub had a special meeting just after the release of the US version to celebrate, and one of the members has a friend who makes gorgeous cakes. She combined the two covers, putting Claire’s profile inside the thorny heart with the moon shining overhead. It worked shockingly well, and it was DELICIOUS, though eating that much black frosting was a bit disconcerting. Still, it was a pretty perfect metaphor for my feelings about the covers. Instead of one or the other, she picked BOTH. And I do to.

So. That’s my take on my two covers. Truly, it’s like having kids. I can’t pick between them - I love them both for different reasons! I’m always interested to hear others opinions. Please leave your thoughts in the comments! Which do you like better and why?

Okay, moving on. The “small” issue. It shows up in the color of Matthew’s eyes. Brown in the US and brown in the UK, but is it “color” or “colour?” In this matter, I have a firm opinion, unlike the “which cover is better” issue. I like the British spelling. I like “colour” and “favour” and “realise.” Of course, since I’m trapped in the United States, I have to hide my extra, anglophiliac u’s. I just think the British spellings look more elegant. I’ve always felt this way, but I think my opinion was cemented when I spent two years at DePaul University’s conservatory - The Theatre School. I wrote “theatre” so many times that it just sort of . . . stuck.

I’ve always wondered what Brits think of our “western” spellings. All those truncated - or’s and the harsh z’s instead of the more restrained s’s. If they think about it at all. I can accept that I may be the only one who’s nerdy enough to worry about this particular issue. In my defense, I *did* say that it was a small issue! *gets down off odd-coloured high horse* *pets book covers*

Sophie: In answer to Christine's question - I don't like the "western" spellings; they kind of annoy me. Spell properly people! :)

Friday 1 October 2010


As you've probably noticed, I've been more absent from the blogosphere this week than I have in a long time. This is partly because I haven't even picked up my book since I arrived here at uni last Saturday morning. I know, it's completely awful. But I have several excuses:

1. I'm still settling in to uni life.
2. My roomates and everyone I've met are awesome and I want to spend lots of time with them.
3. I've turned into a person who's actually reasonably social and enjoys going out clubbing which pretty much removes my designated time for reading.
4. I have over 15 books to read for my course and quite a few of them are huge and complex.

I will try to be around to comment and I'll obviously carry on answering emails and there will be the tour posts that I'm scheduled for and sporadic reviews.

Hopefully I'll be back soon when I get into the swing of things. I still love you all, I promise!

Sophie xx