Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free ebook (short story) from Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth's Free Four, a short story set in the Divergent world is currently free as an ebook at Kobo and Sainsburys (ie epub). It's 49p at at the moment.

Fans of the Divergent series by No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by the knife-throwing scene from Divergent, now told from Four’s perspective. This brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory and relationships.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Publishing Deal - Holly Smale

A new publishing deal was announced yesterday for Holly Smale:
Roald Dahl Funny Prize finalist Holly Smale, the author of the biggest children's debut of 2013, GEEK GIRL, has signed a new three-book world rights deal with HarperCollins. Negotiated by Elizabeth Clifford, Commissioning Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books,  this new deal sees Holly's publishing extending to six titles.

The GEEK GIRL series champions loveable self confessed geek Harriet Manners as she struggles to navigate the glamorous yet ridiculous world of fashion. 

The best in the business at launching home-grown talent, HarperCollins Children's Books has seen GEEK GIRL off to a flying start. This trendsetting debut coined a new sub-genre 'clean teen' in the children's market. 

First published in March, GEEK GIRL is 2013's highest-selling UK debut in the children's and teen market. The hotly anticipated sequel , MODEL MISFIT, followed in October and series sales in the UK total over 100,000 copies.

Elizabeth Clifford said, "Holly has conquered the market with her fresh funny 'clean teen' series and looks set to dominate the charts for many years to come. I'm absolutely thrilled to sign up more GEEK GIRL books with the brilliant Holly Smale."  
Read the whole article at Book 2 Book.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Lawless by Jeffrey Salane

Lawless by Jeffrey Salane (May 2013, Piccadilly Press, ISBN: 1848123213)

Twelve-year-old M Freeman has been home-schooled up until now but is then sent on an interview to the secretive Lawless school. She passes the interview and is immediately thrown into a new life. She barely has time to say goodbye to her mum (her father having died in a plane accident) and home before being whisked away in a limousine with her “guardian”, a teenager called Zara.

The journey to the Lawless School is very eventful and introduces M to the concept of the Fulbrights – a group opposed to Lawless and who attack the pupils at every opportunity.

After a headlining-grabbing few days, M settles down to learn along with her small group of friends. But Lawless is not just a private school, it's a private school for offspring of criminals who want to keep the family business going. This is all news to M but she soon feels at home and wants to learn about her mysterious father who is well known at Lawless.

Thus begins a twisty adventure tale with M not knowing whom she can trust, including Zara and one of the teachers - Miss Watts - who had been close to M's father. The school setting gets left behind as M runs her first heist - in Europe – and it's action all the way, the ending leaving you wanting more.

Lawless is billed as book one so I hope there's a sequel as there are many loose ends*. M is a resourceful, clever main character – perhaps too clever for her years – and the villains a bit megalomaniacal, but this was a fun read and with no bad language or even romance this is a suitable read for younger teens and below.

*breaking news - Justice is out in April 2014.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Kobo Offer on Catching Fire

Kobo has a deal on Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins at the moment.

Currently £2.84 but with the code CATCHINGFIRE75 it's just 71p.

This offer ends on 27 November.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review: A Double Helping of the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger

The Secret of the Fortune Wookie by Tom Angleberger (Sep. 2012, Amulet Books, ISBN: 1419705172) &
The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger (Sep. 2013, Amulet Books, ISBN: 1419710451)

Review: After finishing a very downbeat Scandinavian crime novel I decided I needed something light and funny to read and fortunately I had The Secret of the Fortune Wookie and The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett, books three and four in the Origami Yoda series in my library book tbr.

As with the previous two, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back they take the form of case files ie lots of short chapters from different pupils at McQuarrie Middle School collated by Tommy and annotated/doodled on by Harvey and Kellen.

With the absence of Dwight and his Origami Yoda it's Sara's turn to dispense Jedi wisdom via her Fortune Wookie and the case file is, is the Wookie as good as Yoda? Also what is happening with Dwight? He's at a new school and has had a personality transplant to a “normal” person but is he happy? And will he come back to McQuarrie after he's served his suspension?

In Jabba, rather than one finger puppet, many required are they, as the gang, form the origami rebel alliance to bring down the evil empire of FunTime, a new and tedious learning programme brought in to improve their test scores which has replaced all their non-academic modules such as drama and robot making. Each of the contributors to the case file has their own origami figure puppet – Tommy has Foldy-Wan Kenobi – and all must recruit more of their fellow pupils to the cause.

I really enjoyed these two books, they make me smile. I now feel I'm getting to know the individuals – Sara, Tommy, Kellen, Harvey, Dwight and more who contribute to the case files. I love the Star Wars theme and there are lots of clever doodles in the margin. The gang have to face a serious problem in Jabba and it's not resolved yet; I'll have to wait until next year's Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue to find out if they succeed.

Also available is Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling which shows you how to make many of the origami finger puppets and doodles and much more. It also comes with some coloured sheets of paper in it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Read Unwind online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Neal Shusterman's Unwind is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 20 October.

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would "unwind" them

Connor's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can't be harmed -- but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

In Unwind, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award winner Neal Shusterman challenges readers' ideas about life -- not just where life begins, and where it ends, but what it truly means to be alive.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Publishing Deal - Teri Terry

Announced today on Book Trade, two new books for Orchard from Teri Terry, the first, Game of the Few (which sounds fantastic) is out in Autumn 2014.
Orchard Books announce a further two books from multi-award winning author, Teri Terry.

Game of the Few is a futuristic thriller scheduled for publication in Autumn 2014; the second book is untitled.

About Game of the Few: A futuristic thriller about a power-hungry organisation who manage the Game, a virtual world that the majority of people now live half their lives in.

Luna has always been able to exist in the virtual and real worlds at the same time, feeling what is happening in the real world while plugged into the Game. It is a secret she is warned to keep, so she hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can't hide any longer. The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Read When You Were Mine online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Rebecca Serle's When You Were Mine is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 14 October.

An intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told—narrated by the girl Romeo was supposed to love.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blog Tour: Lucy Christopher's Favourite Crime Novels

I'm very pleased to welcome Lucy Christopher to Teenage Fiction for All Ages and as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of The Killing Woods, Lucy will be sharing her five favourite crime novels.

Here's a bit about The Killing Woods:

Emily's dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl in the woods behind her house, the place she played in as a child. She's sure he's innocent, but what did happen? Determined to find out - and afraid of what she might discover - Emily seeks out the boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But Damon Hillary has his own secrets about the dangerous games that are being played in the dark.

Lucy Christopher's Five Favourite Crime Novels

The Famous Five Series, Enid Blyton

Perhaps these novels aren’t strictly a crime series, but I grew up with the Famous Five and it’s hard not to imagine that my early reading of these stories of young people tackling crime and dark deeds hasn’t influenced me at least a little bit. Blyton’s trademark series was published between 1942 and 1961 so they are a little dated now, but at the heart of each one is a crime to be solved. Reading these novels, I grew up with dreams of going camping and foiling smugglers and the like. They aren’t dark or too serious or grizzly, but they’re full of heart and adventure.

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

There’s not much to say about this book that someone else hasn’t already said. It’s a sensation. As a Creative Writing lecturer as well as a writer, sometimes I find it hard to appreciate a new book on both the story and craft level, but I felt no such difficulty with this one. It’s interestingly plotted and intricately written. It also had the true marker of a good crime novel – it kept me up reading until the small hours of the morning.

You Against Me, Jenny Downham

Like The Killing Woods, You Against Me also contains a dual narration between a boy and a girl. Both of these characters are trying to uncover the truth of the most serious event of their lives up to now – the sexual abuse of a girl they both know. Part of the reason I like this book so much, aside from the fact that it’s so well written, is that Downham’s approach to the subject matter is bold and fresh and utterly convincing. This is emotional, skilful writing. UK YA at its best.

I Am the Cheese, Robert Cormier

Entering the YA library somewhere in between The Famous Five and Gone Girl, Cormier’s 1977 novel has been a favourite of mine since I first read it. This book is not afraid to break rules – you only have to look at its deeply layered, twist-filled plot to see this. The first person narration never wavers as Adam gradually begins to uncover the mystery of who he really is and what happened to his parents.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Is a detective story the same as a crime story? You can’t have a detective without a crime, and you can’t think of detectives for too long without coming back to the prototype for the modern detective. Holmes is an interesting and strong protagonist, focused to the point of obsession, often alienating those around him: an early anti-hero. The Hound of the Baskervilles is the quintessential Sherlock Holmes’ story - full of mystery, suspense and a brilliantly moody setting.

Many thanks to Lucy Christopher for stopping by and thanks to Riot Communications and Chicken House for arranging it.

Catch-up with the rest of the Tour here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (February 2013, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, ISBN: 1471116883)

Burn for Burn is the first book in a new trilogy from Jenny Han co-writing with Siobhan Vivian set on Jar Island. The chapters alternate between three girls: Lillia, rich who is BFF to Rennie; Kat, not so rich and ostracised by lies told by Rennie and Mary who returns to the island after a few years absence. All three girls have been hurt, Lillia by a boy, Kat by Rennie and Mary by the star quarterback. When they are accidentally thrown together an idea sparks and Kat decides to act on it. Lilia and Mary don't need much persuading and they meet in secret to plan the ultimate revenge on their three enemies...

trilogy (by Jenny Han) I absolutely flew through Burn for Burn. I could appreciate that the girls wanted revenge but they do get more than they bargained for resulting in an ending which leaves the reader desperate to get Fire for Fire. I hoped that one assumption they'd made would turn out to be false and, really, how far should the girls go to right a wrong? Initially I found the chapters from Mary's point of view the least interesting of the three (and her experiences the most painful to read) but it looks like she's more than she seems...

The sequel Fire for Fire has recently been released in the UK.

NB. As the characters are around eighteen, there is some adult content.

[Burn for Burn can be read online at Pulseit until 6 October 2013.]

Monday, September 30, 2013

Read Burn for Burn online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's Burn for Burn is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 6 October.

[My review of Burn for Burn is here and I thankfully have the sequel to hand.]

Payback is paradise in this start to a trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently...” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Read Chantress online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Amy Butler Greenfield's Chantress is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 29 September.

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Read Just Like Fate online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young's Just Like Fate is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 22 September.

One decision changes everything in this compelling novel that explores split realities of romance and family loyalties.

Caroline is at a crossroads.

Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline’s been at Gram’s bedside since the stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape—both her family and the reality of Gram’s failing health. So when Caroline’s best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: Stay by Gram’s side for what might be her final hours, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequences of this one decision will split Caroline’s fate into two separate paths—and she is about to live them both. And though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones

Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones (July 2013, Orchard Books, ISBN: 1408327546)

Dead Jealous is the first book in the Poppy Sinclair thriller series and is set in the Lake District. Poppy is sixteen and has come with her mum and step-dad Jonathan to an alternative/new-age festival on the shores of Scariswater where her mum and Jonathan are to have a handfasting ceremony. They are regular attendees to the annual festival but of late Poppy doesn't believe in the pagan ways.

Poppy is in love with her best-friend Michael but he has a girlfriend and to protect herself, Poppy has been turning away from him. At the festival she meets the gorgeous, slightly older, Tariq – can he take her mind off Michael?

On the first night Poppy seeking seclusion climbs a hill and meets Beth. Beth is looking for a girl she's in love with – Maya – who hasn't been seen since last year's event. Though Poppy and Beth only meet briefly, they connect and so when Poppy discovers Beth's dead body in the lake she knows it was murder. The police think it's an accident and despite Poppy's assertion that it wasn't, do very little. So it's up to Poppy, with occasional help from Michael, to get to the bottom of things.

One of my favourite adult crime series is Martin Edwards's Lake District mysteries so I was very much looking forward to Dead Jealous and I wasn't disappointed. Good use is made of the setting – both the countryside with its erratic mobile phone signal reception, and the new age festival including tarot reading and sweat tents. Poppy is haunted by Beth and Maya – possibly in more than just a manner of speaking as it's left to the reader to choose whether there's something supernatural going on or whether it's just that Poppy is under a lot of strain. As Poppy works through the mysteries she also resolves some personal issues. I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, Dead Silent, which is set in another of my favourite places (Cambridge) and is out in February 2014.

NB. As Poppy is sixteen, there are some references to sex, some F-words and there are some drug mentions as well (plus a few dead bodies!).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Publishing Deal - Maggie Stiefvater

Good news for Shiver fans as Scholastic announce Sinner a companion novel from Maggie Stiefvater. Read the whole press release at Booktrade:
Scholastic has bought world rights in a companion book to the Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, set to feature Shiver character Cole St Clair.

Sinner will be published simultaneously in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada on July 1st 2014. The deal was negotiated by Scholastic publisher David Levithan with Laura Rennert from Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Levithan said: "Legions of fans—myself included—have wanted Maggie to return to the world of Shiver,and now she's found an ingenious, sexy, utterly compelling way to do it."

Scholastic UK group m.d. Catherine Bell said: "Maggie's loyal fans will devour Sinner and new generations of readers have the pleasure of succumbing to the addictive world of The Wolves of Mercy Falls afresh."

Stiefvater said: "For me, finishing the Shiver trilogy was a bittersweet moment—I knew that I wouldn't be returning to Mercy Falls once Sam and Grace's story was over. But Cole and Isabel still lurked in the back of my mind. Both of them were only half-fixed at the end of the trilogy, and I wanted to know if they could be fixed the rest of the way."

Sinner will be published as a £14.99 hardback and simultaneous e-book.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Read Fury online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Elizabeth Miles's Fury is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 15 September.

In this chilling start to a trilogy rife with revenge, two teens learn the hard way: Sometimes sorry isn’t enough. Start reading book two: Envy!

It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems . . .

Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better—the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.

On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel . . . something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.

In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay. Em and Chase have been chosen.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Read The House of the Scorpion online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 8 September.

This modern classic takes on an iron-fisted drug lord, clones bred for their organs, and what it means to be human. Winner of the National Book Award as well as Newbery and Printz Honors.

Matteo Alacrán was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patrón. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patrón’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn’t even suspect.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee (May 2013, Hodder Paperbacks, ISBN: 144477851X)

The world is in chaos. Angels have destroyed civilisation as we know it and Penryn is living with her mentally ill mum and disabled sister Paige in a shady apartment block in Silicon Valley. One night they are about to make their escape to the country and are on the streets when several angels swoop down and have a fight amongst themselves. One angel is heavily outnumbered and is punished by having his wings cut off. When the victorious angels leave, one of them swoops up Penryn's sister and flies away with her. Penryn offers to help the de-winged angel, Raffe, get his wings reattached in return for him helping her to get her sister back. Angelfall tells of Penryn and Raffe's journey to get to the angels' headquarters, and what they see and who they meet along the way.

Angelfall is a compulsive read and you really feel that you are in this apocalyptic world. The relationship between Penryn and Raffe is a difficult one as, though he looks like a god he is one of the race that has burnt her world; and she is one of the despised humans. They have to help each other to achieve their respective goals but is that the only reason they get on quite well? With their antagonistic banter, Penryn and Raffe make an appealing pair of strong characters in a broken world.

Susan Ee's Angelfall has been an internet phenomenon and I was a little anxious about whether it would live up to the hype but it does in spades. I can't wait for the sequel, World After.

NB. I'm not sure whether Angelfall is YA (seventeen-year-old-protagonist) or adult (where it's shelved in my library) but it does contain a couple of unpleasant scenes, one involving children.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Read Rot & Ruin online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Jonathan Maberry's Rot & Ruin is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 1 September.

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Taming of the Tights by Louise Rennison.

The Taming of the Tights by Louise Rennison (July 2013, HarperCollins Children's Books, ISBN: 0007323921)

The Taming of the Tights is the third book in the Tallulah Casey series. Tallulah, Irish, is now fifteen and is back at Yorkshire's Dother Hall for a third term of learning the craft of performance. She has her own band of friends – the Tree Sisters – and a couple of suitors, sort of. Plus she has a crush on the brother of her friend Ruby.

The storyline in the series has become increasingly about boys rather than performing, with the Tree Sisters all having or obtaining boyfriends with Tallulah increasingly confused by the intentions of Charlie, who apparently has a girlfriend back home and the bad-boy of the moor, Cain.

Tallulah has to suffer the hatred of Dother Hall's head and the embarrassment of acting as the back-end of a horse and the very odd but affectionate replacement family she boards with. As Tallulah invents her own Lulu-Luuuve List she has to decide who and what she ultimately wants.

The Taming of the Tights is a romp and is very funny. I raced through it straight after reading A Midsummer Tight's Dream and hope that there will be more in the series. I love the setting, the banter between the girls, the down-to-earth young Ruby and of course the elusive Cain (with his hidden depths...) and Tallulah is a great narrator and a good and loyal friend. The series covers things that teenage girls might worry about – especially the art of kissing!

The two previous books are reviewed: #1 Withering Tights (by me) and #2 A Midsummer Tights Dream (by Milly).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blog Tour: #MurderontheBeach

I'm very pleased to welcome Kate Harrison back to Teenage Fiction for All Ages. Today she's joined by James Dawson and they will be interviewing each other as part of the #murderonthebeach blog tour to celebrate the release of Soul Storm and Cruel Summer.

I'm not going to say too much about Soul Storm as it's the final part of the Soul Beach trilogy, other than it is a murder-mystery with a paranormal element. here are my reviews of the first two parts: Soul Beach and Soul Fire.

Here's the blurb for Cruel Summer: A year after the suicide of one of their friends, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They're hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives - claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually murder. When she is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of them - but who is it? And will they strike again? A compelling psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.

Ever wondered what authors talk about when they get together? We asked #murderonthebeach authors Kate Harrison and James Dawson to interview each other via Facebook – here are the results!

Kate Harrison: Morning, James! We're supposed to be interviewing each other, so I get to ask all the questions I've always wanted the answers to... like, what's your writing routine? I want the real version, not the 'I work out, write 5,000 words before breakfast' stuff most writers claim they do.

James Dawson: Hi Kate. Given that I'm still in my pyjamas at 9.40 this is clearly not the case! Usually I do try to be writing before 10, but I actually do go to the gym most days at some point in the morning. Then I write until about 6 and have the evenings off unless I'm on a really strict deadline. How about you?

K: Impressive! Well, I am in my gym kit, which is my way of trying to make sure I actually go. Writing full-time from home five years now means I have to shift my writer's booty or it expands very quickly! My routine is get up, do loads of social media, answer emails around writing, and then try to do some ACTUAL writing. I try to write against the clock, otherwise I get really distracted.

So what was Cruel Summer like to write? Loads of writers suffer quite badly with Second Book Syndrome, where they get scared about doing it again. Was that a problem after Hollow Pike did so well?

J: You are looking amazing at the moment! Are you still 5:2ing?

K: *Blushes*. Yes, I've been on this 5:2 diet now for a year. In fact, this Friday is my 'Fastiversary' - exactly 12 months since I first tried this. Since then I've lost loads of weight, written two books about the diet (including a cookbook, yummy) and met 10,000 new dieters on Facebook. But I've been dying to get back to fiction, so it's exciting that Soul Storm is out.

You're not avoiding my question about 2nd book syndrome, are you?

J: Cruel Summer was a funny one. Initially I had envisaged a Hollow Pike sequel as the next book and had more or less written it before I got a book deal (rookie mistake), so in a weird way Cruel Summer is actually my third book! That said it was a leap into the unknown because while the characters in Hollow Pike were based on faces from my past, the Cruel Summer gang were original creations. I did worry that fans of Hollow Pike wouldn't welcome the characters in the same way that they did the Hollow Pike gang, but early reviews have been great, thank God!

How do you feel at the end of the Soul Beach Saga? That must be YEARS of your life?!

K: Yep. Years. About five since I first thought, 'ooh, I wonder what a social network for the dead would be like, where teens could carry on with the lives they're missing out on.' It was more emotional than I expecting, finishing it off. I don't often cry or get spooked or scared when I am writing, but this time I did all three. I was very conscious that I had to finish it in an exciting way for all the readers - including my mum - who'd invested so much time in the trilogy. The first reports are that I managed it, phew...

Cruel Summer feels quite different to me from Hollow Pike. I love both but I think so far *haven't finished so no spoilers* Cruel Summer has the edge. Why the change?

J: I think I have a clearer idea of my brand as an author now; a better understanding of what is it I do well. I think they both have my fingerprints all over them - hopefully snappy dialogue, cliff-hanger chapter endings, creepy imagery - but I agree that Cruel Summer has a clearer voice and perhaps a little more originality.

I can't wait to read Soul Storm. I really think Soul Beach is one of the most original concepts in YA. Will there be further teen offerings from you?

K: Thank you. I definitely plan to write more YA and have about three ideas buzzing round my head right now. They are all quite different - scary but also emotional I think. For me, it's never been about writing for a genre or an age group, it's about writing the stories and ideas that fascinate me, but the brilliant thing about writing for teenage readers is they are so open to mixing it up. I've written novels for them and for women, TV scripts, and now even this diet book. But I think I always come back to the same themes: being tested to your limit, being scared but also excited by what the future holds, and ALWAYS the importance of friendships.

Right now, though, I am working on some short stories and also ideas for my next adult novel as well. How about you?

J: I agree - YA works so well because it's such an open playing field. You can do pretty much anything unconstrained by adult literary rules or adult genre rules.

I have just finished SAY HER NAME which is a proper, actually scary horror YA so I'm frantically trying to finish what will be my second non-fiction book. The deadline is looming.

K: Can't wait!

But talking of deadlines. I reckon that's our cue to finish this and get writing/going to the gym. But I thought it'd be good to share what we're reading right now. I am most of the way through an adult novel, Dearest Rose, by Rowan Coleman, and then it's Fractured by Teri Terry, the follow-up to her brilliant Slated. Too many books, too little time...

J: No! But then I’ll have to do actual work! But you're right of course. I'm presently reading something VERY exciting - a YA offering from an adult author before moving on to Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo!

K: Must get that one next. Fun chatting to you, Mr D. Hope you have a very excellent summer with Cruel Summer - #murderonthebeach is going to run and run!

Thanks so much Kate and James for your interview and Indigo for arranging it.

Look out for reviews of both these books soon on Teenage Fiction for All Ages.

The blog tour continues tomorrow at Winged Reviews.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Read Dangerous Girls online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Abigail Haas's Dangerous Girls is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 25 August.

Paradise quickly gets gruesome in this thrilling page-turner with a plot that’s ripped from the headlines and a twist that defies the imagination.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Read Burn for Burn online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Jenny Han's Burn for Burn is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 18 August.

Payback is paradise in this start to a trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently...” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Free Ebooks: Evernight & Atticus Claw

Here are a couple of free reads:

Evernight by Claudia Gray is currently free on UK Kindle and Kobo.

A lonely girl, a beautiful boy and a load of terrifying vampires. Think you’ve seen it before? Well get ready for a shock, because this is paranormal romance with a twist… and a razor-sharp bite.
Welcome to Evernight school. Don’t chew gum. Don’t feed on humans. Try not to die…

Bianca is devastated when she finds herself uprooted from her small town and sent to Evernight Academy, an elite boarding school. Hidden in the woods, there's something more than a little creepy about her mysterious new home… Soon Bianca discovers she could never fit in with the Evernight students – they're just too sleek, sophisticated and beautiful to be real.

Just when Bianca has resigned herself to being lonely forever, she meets Lucas – an outcast like Bianca, even if he’s way too hot to possibly be interested in her. Lucas is on a mission to uncover the secret behind Evernight Academy – but he has his own secrets, and so does Bianca. Both of them are about to discover that secrets can be very dangerous things, and that a simple kiss can change your life forever… or end it.

Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray is currently free on UK Kindle.

I reviewed it recently  as part of my crime month, here.

When Atticus receives an anonymous message summoning him to a meeting in a sleepy English coastal town, he packs his bags and sets off. The world's greatest cat burglar likes a good mystery and this time curiosity has got the better of him. The writer of the message, it turns out, is none other than Jimmy the Magpie, gang leader. He is morning the death of his friend Beaky, who has been run over by a Rolls Royce. Now he wants Atticus to steal all the jewels in town and leave the humans baffled. What could be more straightforward? But when Atticus moves in with Inspector Cheddar and his family, he starts to wonder if a life of crime is really for him . . .

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Review: Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Everbound by Brodi Ashton (August 2013, Simon & Schuster Childrens Books, ISBN: 0857074636)

Notes: Everbound is the second part of a trilogy so there will be spoilers below for the first book, Everneath.

Review: If you haven't read Everneath I think enough information is imparted so that you won't be lost in Everbound.

Nikki Beckett has only escaped the Tunnels of the Everneath - and a future of being sucked dry of energy - because her boyfriend Jack sacrificed himself. Her only hope of saving him is Cole, the Everliving who loves her and wants her to be Queen of the Everneath.

After some blackmailing he agrees to help her and they and another Everliving, Max, enter the Everneath in a quest to rescue Jack which involves many perils along the way and a humdinger of a finale!

What I particularly liked about Everbound is that through the narrative device chosen by the author we get to see how Jack and Nik become a couple and also more about Cole. The author keeps you swinging with your feelings for Cole, one minute bad guy, one minute possible friend. I raced through Everneath and wish I didn't have to wait until 2014 (Jan (US), Feb (UK)) for Evertrue.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Read What Really Happened in Peru online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan's What Really Happened in Peru is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 11 August.

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices know that Magnus Bane is banned from Peru—and now they can find out why. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

This standalone e-only short story illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality populates the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. This story in The Bane Chronicles, What Really Happened in Peru, is written by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Soul Fire by Kate Harrison

Soul Fire by Kate Harrison (August 2013, Indigo, ISBN: 1780621477)

Notes: As this is the review of a second part of a trilogy it may contain spoilers for the first book, Soul Beach
Review: Alice continues to spend time online at the Beach where she can spend time with her murdered sister Meggie and the virtual boy in her life the American heir, Danny. In Soul Beach she was able to solve the mystery of  the death of Beach resident, Triti, which meant Triti moved on from the Beach. Alice know that if she solves Meggie's death Meggie will move on too and she, Alice, will not be allowed back to the beach and not only will she lose Meggie but Danny also.

Nonetheless in the real world she continues to suspect several of Meggie's close friends, all of whom seem keen to keep Alice in their circle. The apparent suicide of Meggie's boyfriend seems to close the police investigation into Meggie's death but Alice believes he's innocent. Especially when he turns up at the Beach.

Meggie's friends and Alice and her best friend plan a weekend break in Barcelona where they will meet up with Meggie's ex-room-mate. They are also joined by Alice's hacker friend Lewis who helped her so much in the previous book. Once in Barcelona Alice takes the opportunity to help one of the Beach's other residents.If Alice wasn't spooked enough the whole trip takes place during a Barcelona Fire Festival with firecrackers and street events leading to more confusion and a possibly fatal accident involving one of their group.

So who is following Alice? Alice begins to have a strong suspect for Meggie's murder but is she correct? Is the author leading us up a blind alley? Why does Lewis keep turning up (is it just friendship or something more sinister?) and what will happen to the Beach if/when Alice solves Meggie's murder?

There are lots of things to be tied up in the imminent Soul Storm and I have a mad theory re the Beach which I'm looking forward to seeing if it's true or not. Soul Fire is a very enjoyable follow-up to Soul Beach, full of romance, drama, tension and mystery. You do though have to go along with the whole premise that Alice can touch/feel the Beach and its residents - I wonder if the how of that will also be explained in the eagerly awaited Soul Storm.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Read The Forsaken online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Lisa M Stasse's The Forsaken is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 4 August.

Choose a tribe. Watch your back. And don’t stop running.

Filled with thrilling adventure and romance,
The Forsaken is praised by as “a fast-paced novel [that] you’ll get sucked into. You just can’t seem to put [it] down.”

As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the US, and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help standing out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to the wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on the wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and a charismatic warrior named Liam concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Interworld by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves (April 2013, HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks, ISBN: 0007523424)

Interworld is the first in a new science-fiction series and introduces Joey Harker, most famous for getting lost. A school project by an unorthodox teacher has the students dropped off around town in groups, and told to find their way to a certain point. Joey, initially confident, to impress one of his female companions soon has them lost and when he goes ahead enters a mist. When he comes out of the mist things are slightly different and he when he gets back to his home he finds that's changed and his mum doesn't recognise him. He's then attacked by people on hover-boards and is subsequently rescued by a someone in a space-age suit who sounds awfully familiar but whose identity is concealed. Joey runs, as instructed, and finds himself lost and not just geographically...

It seems that Joey is a Walker who can walk between worlds – worlds that can appear when an important decision is made – two choices – two worlds – and that he, along with all the other variants of Joey, is needed to help maintain the balance between two very different groups who want to control all the worlds.

Interworld is a classic story told against a SF background. Joey, initially gauche and not that bright finds a purpose and through training becomes stronger and cleverer and ultimately a leader. Along this journey he faces antagonism from his Walker peers, rejection, before a reluctant acceptance and a future.

Interworld is a quick read and is based on a tv premise that Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves tried to sell over fifteen years ago. I'm not sure that the tv, at least at that time, would have been able to do visual justice to the crazy worlds that the story visits. I quite enjoyed Interworld, though I found Joey's transformation a little implausible, and I also didn't find I was immersed in it as much as I should have been, due to a lack of depth in the world-building and an uneven tone. Nonetheless I shall read the sequel The Silver Dream (out now). The third part of the trilogy will be out in 2014.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Read Poison Princess online at Pulseit (1 wk only)

Kresley Cole's Poison Princess is this week's online read at Pulseit. You have to register and the book can be read in full until 28 July.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces The Arcana Chronicles, post-apocalyptic tales filled with riveting action, the dark mysticism of Tarot cards, and breathtaking romance.

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life—until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, killing everyone she loves, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally trust Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side…

In Poison Princess, New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole introduces a dark and intriguing world, full of unspeakable danger and irresistible romance.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Free Ebook - Will Hill novella

Will Hill's The Secret History of a Teenage Vampire (96 pages) is free on both Kindle and Kobo.

A short story from the world of Department 19.

In 1891, Abraham Van Helsing and a group of friends faced Dracula, the world’s first vampire – and won. The survivors of that battle founded Department 19, and have been secretly saving the world ever since. A highly classified archive exists recording every act of bravery in that time.

That archive is now open.

These are the Department 19 files.

Secret Department 19 headquarters, present day.

Larissa Kinley is a fully armed Operator for Department 19, a secret branch of the government dedicated to saving us all from the supernatural. She's also a vampire. And a teenage girl. When the 17-year-old survivor of a vampire attack is brought to the Department's base, Larissa finally finds the courage to tell someone her deepest secrets. But when the past catches up with you, sometimes it has fangs…

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse by Caroline Lawrence

The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse by Caroline Lawrence (June 2013, Orion Children, ISBN: 444006460)

The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse takes place straight after The Case of the Deadly Desperados and sees the return of the young orphan P K Pinkerton. It's 1862, PK is twelve and is now running a detective agency in Virginia City. PK's first case is to solve the biggest mystery in town – who strangled Short Sally? PK is hired by Sally's maid, an ex-slave girl of a similar age to PK, who witnessed her mistress's murder and is in fear of her own life. So much so that she disappears almost straight away. The description of the murderer is that he is tall, blond and has a “billy-goat” beard. As the investigation progresses PK finds that there are many such men matching that description!

The reader gets to know more of PK's little foibles and eccentricities and way of coping with the world such as tricks to remember people's names. PK's “thorn” is an inability to read people but several friends of PK offer words of advice and tips. PK still remains somewhat mysterious though and has a “secret”...

The Case of the Good-Looking Corpse is a fabulous entry in the series, possibly even better than the first. I was completely immersed. I loved the setting, the snippets of American history, the inclusion of real characters like “Mark Twain” and there's plenty of action and lots of close calls for PK. The case is solved in a very Sherlock Holmes tradition and though I had my suspicions as to the guilty party I hadn't spotted all the clues. PK returns in the intriguingly titled The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows (out now).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some upcoming crime novels

The CWA's crime writing month officially finished last night however I have a couple more posts I'd like to include so I'll carry-on a bit longer!

Crime is doing big business at the moment looking at what's coming in the next few weeks alone These all look very good and I haven't even included Soul Storm by Kate Harrison as I didn't want to see any spoilers as I'm half-way through book two, Soul Fire, as I write.

4 July

Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones

People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she's also Death. Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn't been so lucky. As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise - too late - that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time.

Carnaby by Cate Sampson

Sarah aka Carnaby has a tough life, but it suddenly gets a whole lot tougher when her mother is found murdered, her sister goes into labour and her new baby nephew is threatened with being taken into care. Sarah doesn't remember finding her mother's body, but she does remember hearing about other murders on the estate where they live. Is there a connection - and can Sarah find out what is going on, without putting herself and her family in even more danger?

18 July 

Spy Society by Robin Benway

Believe it or not, there are some drawbacks to being a 16-year old safecracker, daughter of spies, and member of an organization that fights corruption and wrongdoing around the world. For example: never getting to stay in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend, being the only spy ever to have a 10 p.m. curfew, and being sent on assignment to Russia. In the winter. For Maggie Silver, the compensation for the vast inconvenience of being a teenage spy has been avoiding high school and its accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple security on the lockers. (If it's three digits or less, why even bother?) But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York on a major assignment, all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend the aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the information she needs to crack the case, all while trying not to blow her cover. The first in a new series from Robin Benway, Also Known As, is the perfect read for fans of The Gallagher Girls.
The Dead Girl Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

Solving the mystery behind your death can be murder. Charlotte wakes up at Hotel Atessa, home to murdered New York teenagers and HQ of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. Before she has time to adjust to her new, erm, dead self, she's thrust into the arms of her new afterlife companions, Lorna, Nancy and the cute - if slightly hostile - dead boy, Eddison. But where does this leave Charlotte and her boyfriend David? Is it possible to have a long-distance relationship from beyond the grave? The only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed her, or she'll have to spend eternity here. But who could hate her enough to want her dead?

 Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love. As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

1 August

Cruel Summer by James Dawson

A year after the suicide of one of their friends, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They're hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives - claiming to have evidence that the suicide was actually murder. When she is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of them - but who is it? And will they strike again? A compelling psychological thriller - with a dash of romance.

And a January 2014 release in the US -
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Kentucky Thriller by Lauren St John

Kentucky Thriller by Lauren St John (July 2013, Orion Childrens, ISBN: 1444006479)

Eleven-year-old Laura Marlin is back in her third adventure Kentucky Thriller which not surprisingly is set mainly in Kentucky. Laura, her best friend Tariq and her guardian Uncle Calvin are setting off on a picnic not far from their St Ives (Cornwall) home when they nearly collide with a horse box abandoned after a crash. They are shocked to discover that there is a horse inside - thankfully unhurt - and the situation seems very fishy. There is a delay but eventually they find that the horse is a valuable thoroughbred stolen from the US and the owner is so overjoyed that he offers them a two-week holiday with his family at their horse farm as they prepare for the huge race that is the Kentucky Derby.

Laura has to leave her beloved dog Skye and uncle behind but is accompanied by Tariq. No sooner have they arrived then strange things happen. Both the children have life-threatening experiences at the hands (feet?) of horses. It seems someone doesn't want then around but who and why? After a rocky start they make friends with their hosts' grand-daughter (whom I hope will reappear in a later book) and set to work to solve the many mysteries surrounding them.

Kentucky Thriller is my favourite so far of the series I think. Though it has an exotic setting the crime is a classic one involving betrayal, skullduggery and greed. I love that Laura is an environmentalist and a vegetarian - though the author does not labour the points - and that the series covers important themes in an accessible way. Tariq has a much welcomed larger role than in the previous two books. The fourth book, Rendezvous in Russia is published 1 August 2013.

Read my reviews of the previous two books here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Crime Writing Month: New Historical Crime Titles

Sharon Gosling's Victorian mystery, The Diamond Thief, published in February 2013 has been well received and is currently at a bargain price in both kindle and epub formats.

No-one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots, and makes a friend of a nice young police detective...  

First published last year, Theresa Breslin's Spy for the Queen of Scots has just come out in paperback.

As lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots, the beautiful Ginette - known as Jenny - is the young queen's closest childhood friend. Growing up in the elegant but ruthless French court, surrounded by enemies and traitors - not least the jealous, manipulative Catherine de Medici, and Mary's own scheming half-brother, James - Jenny has always been fiercely loyal to her mistress. But when she overhears a mysterious whispered plot, closely followed by several unexplained deaths at court, she puts her own life in danger and turns spy for Mary. Jenny quickly realises not a soul at court can be trusted, and when she and Mary return to their Scottish homeland for Mary to claim her throne, they face even greater peril. Desperate to protect her friend from those who would slit her throat to steal her crown, while battling her feelings for the charismatic nobleman Duncan Alexander, Jenny becomes embroiled in a dangerous web of secrets, betrayals and lies.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Crime Writing Month: Chris Ould's Street Duty series

Last October Chris Ould's Street Duty introduced sixteen-year-old trainee police officer Holly Blades. She returned in The Killing Street published last month (June).

Victim: teenage female (13-14?). Unconscious. Head injury, laceration to arm. Struck by lorry. Driver present at scene. Possible victim ID = Ashleigh Jarvis. Bus pass + purse in pocket. No shoes. Feet dirty. When Ashleigh is taken to hospital following a traffic accident, an examination of the unconscious girl reveals injuries that suggest a disturbing series of events prior to her being knocked down. Ashleigh has been keeping a dark secret - and sixteen-year-old Trainee Police Officer, Holly Blades, will stop at nothing to discover the truth. Gritty, electrifying drama from BAFTA award-winning writer, Chris Ould: the freshest blood in YA crime fiction.

Gemma loves Dean, but he's making her do things that she doesn't want to do. Ryan did a deal to join up with the Kaddy Boys, but now he's in, there's no getting out. Taz is being paid to be an informant for the cops, but is she getting too close to the targets? And when Trainee Police Officer Holly Blades attends her first suspicious death, is she really ready for the impact that being a copper can have on your family, your friends and your life? Especially when you know one of the suspects...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham

Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham (May 2013, Hodder & Stoughton , ISBN: 9781444728934)

Thirteen-year-old wannabe lawyer Theodore Boone is back in his fourth adventure The Activist. The politicians for Theodore's home of Strattenburg want a bypass around the town to alleviate congestion. The plan is a controversial one and soon becomes personal to Theodore when his friend Hardie asks for his help. Hardie's family home and its substantial acreage, lie in the path of the proposed bypass and the US equivalent of a compulsory purchase order will be enacted, destroying it.

Theodore is pushed into helping Hardie after a violent confrontation with contractors on Hardie's land. Theodore works with the environmental group to fight the bypass. In addition he obtains some illegal information which would win the fight - but should he use it?

The Activist takes it time to get to the actual protesting as we follow Theodore briefly through a debating contest (ultimately relevant) and a lengthy scouting outing where Theodore is for once not portrayed as the golden boy (not so relevant). Overall however it is an uplifting tale if not totally plausible which should inspire younger readers. Aside from the disappointing The Abduction, the other three books in the series have been of a similar, solid, standard. We've had murder, kidnapping, victimisation. What's next for Theodore Boone and will we ever find out the reason for his uncle's disgrace?

There are some moral dilemmas in The Activist and the book includes a series of questions on these to spark further discussion.

As usual this is marketed at both teens and adults though the writing is aimed at slightly younger than teen I feel. Theodore knows the law but has to have the term bypass explained to him; he's also not a very fast cyclist as it takes him and April thirty minutes to cycle one and a half walking speed.

Read my reviews of the first three books here.