Monday, February 18, 2013

Haunting of Derek Stone Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Could the road to the afterlife be a two-way street?
Derek Stone just turned fourteen. He's lived in the heart of New Orleans with his dad and older brother, Ronny, his whole life. He's a little overweight. He can't hear well out of his left ear.
Oh, and he's on the run from the dead.
Derek never imagined that the dead could be anything but dead. But there's no denying it. They're back -- and they're after him.
He just doesn't know why.
And he doesn't have long to figure it out.

In a Nutshell: A great series for less than confident readers 11+ who don't like their horror dumbed down.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Very Unusual Pursuit Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher):
Monsters have been infesting London's dark places for centuries, eating every child who gets too close. That's why ten-year-old Birdie McAdam works for Alfred Bunce, the bogler. With her beautiful voice and dainty looks, Birdie is the bait that draws bogles from their lairs so that Alfred can kill them.

One life-changing day, Alfred and Birdie are approached by two very different women. Sarah Pickles runs a local gang of pickpockets, three of whom have disappeared. Edith Eames is an educated lady who's studying the mythical beasts of English folklore. Both of them threaten the only life Birdie's ever known. But Birdie soon realises she needs Miss Eames's help, to save her master, defeat Sarah Pickles, and vanquish an altogether nastier villain.

Catherine Jinks, one of Australia's most inventive writers, has created a fast-paced and enthralling adventure story with edge-of-your-seat excitement and chills.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): An adventurous tale of a monster hunter, perfect for good readers 10 and up

Monday, February 11, 2013

Best Reads: The Fury

The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith

What's it About?
Brick, Cal and Daisy are three very different kids with one unfortunate thing in common – everybody wants to kill them. Otherwise normal people turn into ravening, zombie-like creatures when they come into range, so the only thing they can do is stay far, far away from other human beings. Easier said than done. They eventually find refuge in an abandoned themepark, but the problems don’t stop there. Because strange things are happening to them – things that could be called super powers – and they'll need to learn more about these powers if they're to defeat their terrifying new enemy.

And in a Nutshell? 
Zombies (sort of), edge of your seat terror, not a lot of gore, brilliantly written characters, 12+

Why is it a Best Read?
The Fury is a relatively new book, which makes it perfect for those keen horror fans who have read everything else. It’s such a great set-up: the spooky location, the horrible fate that awaits those targeted (and if the reader needed any convincing, a kid well and truly gets it in the opening chapter). But what really makes this book for me are the characters – the three main characters are all utterly different but you genuinely care about all of them, especially Brick, the misunderstood thug, and the introduction of less-than-warm-and-fuzzy Rilke later on in the book really rounds out the cast. 

The Fury is a long book, but it will absolutely keep you hooked the whole time. I was. This is the perfect book for fans of Gone – in fact, I think it’s much better than Gone, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the series holds (Book 2: The Storm out May 2013).

Buy It
My Review
Alexander Gordon Smith's Website

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pitch It

Have you written a book? Are you getting it ready for submission? Or is your book still just an idea in your head?

Either way, I'd encourage you to start thinking about a pitch.

For those who don't know, a pitch is a short sentence (or couple of sentences, at the most) which sum up your idea. I tend to think the shorter the better - Jurassic Park? Theme park with Dinosaurs. Jaws? Killer Shark on a rampage.

Basically, you need a good pitch for a couple of reasons.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Infects Review

The Eulogy (From the Publisher): 
Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren't bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.

Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

The Epitaph (In a Nutshell): A teen zombie comedy that tries to be ambitious with style, but ultimately becomes annoying.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Best Reads: Skulduggery Pleasant

Continuing my Best Reads series, here's the second offering. Again, these are in no particular order, they're all brilliant!

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

What's it About?
Skulduggery Pleasant. Living Skeleton. Ace Detective. Razor-sharp wit. Also, he can do magic.
Stephanie (AKA Valkyrie) finds herself working as his partner after he shows up at her uncle's funeral and introduces her to a whole world she didn't know existed - a world of magic-wielding maniacs who want to do things like raise ancient evil monsters. Now Valkyrie must harness her own powers in order to prevent the end of the world.

And in a Nutshell?
It's hilarious. You won't even care what the plot is (though it's a great plot) because you'll want to follow Skulduggery Pleasant anywhere. High-action, larger-than-life characters, starts out for readers 11/12 and gets darker as the series progresses, aimed more at 13/14.

Why is it a Best Read?
By now the popularity of this series probably means it needs no introduction, but for those of you who haven't checked it out (or have dismissed it because of the giant, grinning skeleton on the front) this is a plea to remedy that situation. Go out now and pick up book one, then stay nearby while you finish it, because I guarantee you'll be back to buy the rest.

The reason this series has been so popular with readers is, simply, because it's so funny. It's hard to find really funny horror books. Detective Skulduggery Pleasant tends to steal the show with his witty one-liners, but the humour isn't limited to him - a cast of brilliant characters means that almost every page will have you laughing out loud.

But it wouldn't be much of a horror book if it was all laughs, and the action itself is top-notch, with super-sized fight scenes and terrifying villains. The world-building is just spot on too, and the mythology Landy has created builds a fascinating foundation for a rollicking good detective series.

Buy It
My Review
Derek Landy's Blog

Friday, February 1, 2013

Parents - To Kill or Not to Kill?

If you're here, it's probably because you're a fan of books for readers under the age of 18. I truly believe that Young Adult writing is one of the best genres to write in because of both the freedom and the focus it gives you. You have write a gripping story, because your audience is going to appreciate that a lot more than sixteen pages devoted to making a cup of tea.

Of course, YA has its limitations, and one of those is parents.

I don't mean real world parents. Those are important. But if your character is going to go off on some adventure, risking his or her life to do some very dangerous things, a caring parent is probably going to object. Which is why you have to get rid of them. 

People often remark at the number of dead parents in kidlit, but step one on the teenage hero's journey isn't necessarily the Call to Adventure, it's the 'my guardian has kicked the bucket, now let's get on with the fun stuff'. Basically, your character can't do dangerous if there's a responsible adult around to stop them. So they have to go, and here's how: