An exciting horror adventure awaits … if you dare to read….

screaming staircaseTITLE = LOCKWOOD & CO. : The Screaming Staircase (Book 1)

AUTHOR = JONATHAN STROUD

GENRE = GHOSTS, FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, ADVENTURE, HORROR

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 10

A bit of horror, a bit of humour and a whole lot of adventure … this book has it all. Set in a world where ghosts come out to play at night, and they like to play nasty, scary, life threatening games! Lockwood and Co is a small company of psychic investigators; for a price they will come in and rid your home of those nasty spectres, they will banish the ghosts to eternity.

Well, that is what Lucy has trained for and that is why she has joined forces with the dashing Anthony Lockwood and his side-kick, their researcher, George. The three teenagers hope to make a name for themselves, even though they are working solo, without the usual adult supervisor. However, it is hard to be taken seriously when your exploits have a tendency to go slightly awry. Customers may want the ghosts to disappear but they don’t necessarily want their house to be burnt down in the process!

This is the predicament they find themselves in early in the novel. To avoid going out of business, they must solve a mystery and take on the scariest challenge ever: a challenge that has already taken the lives of many other ghost seekers. Can they survive the night on the renowned “screaming staircase”? Will Lockwood lead his charges safely or will they pay with their lives for his recklessness?

An exciting adventure awaits readers … and the best news is, this is the first in a series of books by Jonathan Stroud – so there are plenty more to come. This book has already been nominated for a number of awards, including the Edgar award (US award for mystery writing).

Check out the website based on the series or read the interactive shortstory featuring Lockwood and his crew, here.

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Silver Inky Award.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting foray into the gearpunk world

TITLE = THE RITHMATIST

AUTHOR = BRANDON SANDERSON

GENRE = GEARPUNK, ADVENTURE, MAGIC, FANTASY,SERIES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

Journey into the “Gearpunk” world of “the Rithmatist” for fun, fantasy and adventure. Young Joel is the son of a chalk maker and an enthusiastic devotee of Rithmatists, those who use chalk drawings to wield magic. Using complex mathematical formulae and symbols, Rithmatists can create in chalk elaborate defences and mount attacks against enemies. They can also create chalklings to further extend their powers. But what if these abilities are used against the Rithmatists themselves?? Who can stave off such attacks??

Joel is keen to help: he has an amazing knowledge of the Rithmatist’s lore and would dearly love to be able to wield power as they do; but he missed his opportunity as a youngster. Can he join forces with the professor and the remedial Rithmatist student, Melody, to save the day?? Or will he simply make enemies of those with great power? This is an exciting foray into a new fantasy series – one with engines powered by unusual gears and cogs, one with an odd mix of mathematics and magic, one where courage is needed to face great odds.

An exciting mystery and fantasy set in a gearpunk world created by a famed fantasy writer: Brandon Sanderson. Check out his website and blog here.

Check out the book trailer below, too:

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Ebook companion stories to entice Cassandra Clare fans

Kindle ebook review: Kindle 4

THE BANE CHRONICLES 1: What Really Happened in Peru by Sarah Rees Brennan & Cassandra Clare

A short story based on the character Magnus Bane from “The Mortal Instruments” series.

Genre= Fantasy, Magic

Fans of “The Mortal Instrument” series, especially fans of the character, Magnus Bane, will no doubt enjoy this companion story. It is certainly an intriguing look into his past adventures in Peru, with the occasional touch of humour but at times the story seems a tad self-indulgent and the ending may disappoint some.

 

Kindle ebook review: Kindle 4

THE BANE CHRONICLES 2: The Runaway Queen by Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson

A short story based on the character Magnus Bane from “The Mortal Instruments” series.

Genre= Fantasy, Magic

This companion story is sure to delight fans of “The Mortal Instrument” series, especially fans of the deliciously extroverted warlock, Magnus Bane. Set in Paris during the French Revolution we see glimpses of the Magnus we know and love: flamboyant, self-assured and clever. With its mix of gorgeous young men and evil vampires this story is a lovely excursion into the strange world of Magnus Bane.

A companion eBook story to enjoy

Kindle ebook review: Kindle 4

A SLIVER OF DOUBT (by Michael Pryor) : A Laws of Magic short story

Genre= Fantasy, Magic, Adventure

Fans of “The Laws of Magic” series will thoroughly enjoy this journey into the world of Aubrey Fitzwilliam: filled with Magic, Mystery and political intrigue … with a dash of romance and humour thrown in for good measure! And if you haven’t read the series, why not try this as a sampler?? (The first chapter of Book 1 (A Blaze of Glory) is included at the end of the short story as an added sweetener).

Doctor Who Anniversary eBooks are a lot of fun

Kindle ebook review: Kindle 4

DR WHO EBOOKS

Genre= Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, eleven ebook short stories are being written throughout 2013: ELEVEN Doctors, ELEVEN Months, ELEVEN Authors, ELEVEN Stories.

Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue (5th Doctor) by Patrick Ness : ★

In true Patrick Ness style and upholding the spirit of the Dr Who series, this is a clever and funny short story with a thoughtful message underlying the action. Set in 1945 in the Deep South of the USA, the Doctor and his companion, Nyssa, must right the wrongs of racism, slavery and truth telling! 

Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny (3rd Doctor) by Marcus Sedgwick. 

The action is fast-paced and non-stop, whilst the Doctor and his companion, Jo, travel from London in 1973 back to Uppsalla, Sweden in the time of the Vikings. Searching for a famous spear. But they may find more than they bargained for when they come up against the Vikings! 

Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil (4th Doctor) by Philip Reeve. 

This story takes a more traditional sci-fi approach as the Doctor and his companion, Leela land on a tree-like planet. Unfortunately for the Doctor it just happens to be a planet where they hate him and every living thing appears to seek vengeance upon him. Can the Doctor (and his beloved scarf) get them out of this fix?

An enticing opening to a fascinating fantasy series

TITLE = THE COLOURS OF MADELEINE: Book 1 – A CORNER OF WHITE

AUTHOR = JACLYN MORIARTY

GENRE = FANTASY, FATHERS, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, GROWING UP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 – 12

This is a truly enchanting book by Jaclyn Moriarty who writes in an evocative and original manner. It may take some readers a while to truly get into the book as it really contains two stories in one: the story of Madeleine and her Cambridge friends, set in the world we know as ours and the story of Elliott and his friends, in the Kingdom of Cello. But when a letter moves through a crack between these 2 worlds, the stories begin to merge and Elliott and Madeleine begin to tell each other about themselves and their worlds.

Both Madeleine and Elliott are living alone with their mothers and have missing fathers. But whereas Madeleine left her father by choice, for Elliott, there is a deep mystery surrounding his father’s disappearance. Over the course of the novel both teens must face the reality about their fathers, face the fact that these men who they loved dearly may in fact have been quite flawed. Both teens worry about their own failings and how much they may have followed in their father’s footsteps.

There is much to enjoy in this book. The letter writing and gradual friendship between Elliott and Madeleine does not run smoothly as she is initially quite dismissive of him, refusing to believe that he really exists. But they both help each other thorough some difficult times and by novel’s end may in fact need each other to survive the future. Certainly, Elliott’s friendship with Madeleine is daring: for in his world contact with the Other World is shunned, punishable by death…but surely, when you are a popular heroic boy like Elliott, your life couldn’t be at risk??

There are some very clever twists in the plot of this story that will keep the reader intrigued till the last page and eagerly awaiting the next instalment in this fantasy series. The author has said that she likes making her readers think and she has certainly achieved this with this amazing new book.

This novel is a worthy Notable Book for the 2013 CBCA Book of the Year (Older Readers).

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Magic may not seem all that magical sometimes…

TITLE = MAGIC OR MADNESS Book 2: MAGIC LESSONS

AUTHOR = JUSTINE LARBALESTIER

GENRE = MAGIC, FANTASY, FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-10

As a sequel to “Magic or Madness” this book will satisfy readers who loved the first book in this trilogy. This is an unusual fantasy series, as having magical powers appears to be more of a curse than a wonder, for Reason and her friends and family. Either you use your magical powers and die young (like JayTee’s mum) or you don’t use your powers and go mad (like Sarafino, Reason’s Mum and Tom’s mother). Having learnt this the hard way in Book 1, Reason and her friends are hoping that Esmerelda’s magic lessons will teach them how to save their magical energies so the 3 young friends can live a little longer.

However, things don’t quite go to plan. It seems that Reason’s hated father may be trying to steal more of their magic by breaking down the special doorway that provides a link between Reason’s Sydney home and New York. Whilst Reason finds herself back in New York desperately trying to find answers, the others have a different battle on their hands. There is betrayal and uncertainty from many sides as the 3 teenagers struggle to work out who they can trust and what secrets to tell.

The novel draws to an exciting end which provides answers to some questions for our young magic makers but will also make readers keen to lay their hands on the final book in the trilogy. Is history about to repeat itself in the Cansino family or will Reason find a way to help herself and others??

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Gothic fantasy continues delightfully

TITLE = THE GRIMSTONES: Mortimer Revealed (Book 2)

AUTHOR = ASPHYXIA

GENRE = GOTHIC, DIARY, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is a delightful story, part novel, part picture book, part diary. Martha Grimstone is the young child whose diary provides the story. She comes from an unusual family in an unusual gothic world. Her mother sews (and grieves for her dead husband) her grandfather is an apothecary (who weaves spells to heal illness and hopes to control the weather), her brother is a cute toddler with 3 legs and magical ability and her rather stern aunt is Martha’s teacher. Martha is inquisitive and perceptive. She desperately wants to help her family and is great at making plans for new ventures. Unfortunately her projects do not always turn out quite as she expected them to, often resulting in chaotic outcomes for both Martha and those around her.

This story is based on the puppet theatre created by the author, Asphyxia, so many of the illustrations are photos of the puppets and models that the puppeteer has created . As the story is told in dairy format, the pages often look exactly like pages in a dairy – with Martha’s sketches and plans supposedly stuck in or taped down. These notes and drawings and the illustrations in general, add a visual depth and richness to the story, providing an air of credibility to a very gothic fantasy tale.

The rich illustrations complement the rich language and vocabulary of the story – providing a perfect match for the charming imagery. All in all, a delightfully quirky tale told in a delightfully quirky way.

Look out for Book 3 (reviewed here).

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

 

A quirky new series is a visual delight

TITLE = THE GRIMSTONES: Hatched (Book 1)

AUTHOR = ASPHYXIA

GENRE = GOTHIC, DIARY, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is the first charmingly quirky book in the Grimstones series. We are introduced to Martha Grimstone and her rather odd family: her mother, Velveta, who sews wonderful garments by day and weeps mournfully by her husband’s grave by night; her grandfather who works day and night in his apothecary and her Aunt Gertrude, who grimly keeps house for the family and tries to tutor an unwilling Martha each afternoon.

With her mother and grandfather so busy, poor Martha is a lonely little girl who dreams of becoming “Martha the Magnificent” – she just needs to find out which of her talents or ideas will make her Magnificent! In her hopes of making her mother happier and proving her magical talents to her grandfather, Martha decides to create something rather special. While her creation hatches, Martha tells us her story in a delightful diary: filled with “taped” in pages and drawings that sometimes help tell the story.

Part of the delight in this story is due to the entertaining nature of Martha’s adventures (or misadventures) and partly due to the decorative features of the diary itself: the quirky sketches and photographs that adorn this book. “Hatched” is based on the puppet theatre created by the author, Asphyxia, so many of the illustrations are photos of the puppets and staged rooms that the puppeteer has created. A wonderful addition to the book comes at the end where Asphyxia explains how she created these theatre pieces. It is both fascinating and inspiring.

Readers might also like to view the Grimstone website and watch the youtube clip of the puppet show. Readers are sure to want to see the next two volumes in this gothic tale: Mortimer Revealed and Whirlwind (catch a review for this one here).

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

 

TITLE = DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT

AUTHOR = LAINI TAYLOR

GENRE = FANTASY, ACTION, ADVENTURE, ANGELS, WAR

INTEREST LEVEL = 10+

Wow!This is a wonderful sequel to a brilliant first novel. Given that the first book left readers on a knife edge wondering about the future between Karou and her angel lover, Akiva, readers will be keen to know how this situation has been resolved.

However, readers are likely to spend much of this novel on the edge of their seats wondering whether either of the main protagonists is alive or will remain alive for much longer. Because the odds are stacked against them: both the angels and the monsters are intent upon furthering the war between them and exacting revenge upon their opponents.

Indeed, it is hard to tell one side from the other: are the monsters any more monster-like than the angels when they start mimicking their retribution upon them? And can Akiva really be blamed for his revenge that took Karou’s  family from her when she seems intent on causing even more bloodshed than he and when she appears to have aligned herself with her old enemies??

There may be paralells between the worlds of these angels and monsters and current world events when it is so easy to typecast opponents as “monsters” and overlook one’s own monster-like behaviour – and for some time it seems that only Akiva can see this.

Are Karou and Akiva destined to remain on opposite sides forever, are they destined to remain separated by past actions and current allegiances – or  are they really soulmates and can  love transcend it all??

An absolute page turner with another powerful ending… who will still be standing for book 3 which will be eagerly awaited by fans??? Don’t forget to catch all the latest news about this exciting trilogy from the author’s blog.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****