Book News

Bookish excitement.

I was so happy this morning to wake up to the news that later this year will bring the first book in a new trilogy by Philip Pullman, set in the same world as the His Dark Materials series. You can read it about it in The Guardian and The Bookseller.

His Dark Materials is one of my all time favourite series. I read The Northern Lights a few times before I read the rest of the trilogy – I would borrow it from the library thinking it sounded good then get a few pages in and realise I’d done it again (I have a slight tendency towards forgetfulness). I was working in a book shop when I spotted the boxed set of all three books, I gladly used my staff discount to treat myself and got stuck straight in. It was love at first read, and second read and each subsequent read.

My first thought on hearing the news of more books was excitement to be returning to Lyra’s world. My second thought was that it meant it was an excellent time to reread the books once more in preparation – it’s been a few years now since my last read through. 

I’m curious about what I’ll find on this return to the books. I’m certainly not the same person I was when I last read them. There have been life experiences, I’ve read more and learned more about the world. I’m going to be reading them with somewhat fresh eyes, it could be a whole new adventure!

Book News

A book to back.

Today, after the incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign that resulted in the superb, must read anthology The Good Immigrant, author Nikesh Shukla has announced another equally important campaign. This time, alongside journalist Sammy Jones he’s bringing us an anthology of essays on what it means to be young in Britain:

The country is messed up and our future is looking gloomy. We, Britain’s young people, have to live with the repercussions of what the oldies have done — we didn’t vote for Brexit, we didn’t vote in Theresa May, and you know what? We’re sick of being talked about instead of talked to. So here’s our book. Written for you by us. You’re welcome. If you think that’s all a bit in your face, you should know that it’s never been harder to be young, so it’s no wonder we’re angry. One in four people under 25 will be affected by mental illness. 52% of all people under 25 have looked for advice on homelessness. As university fees rise, job opportunities dry up and houses get more expensive, we are facing an ever-expanding chasm of doubt, instability and, basically, buckling down for a really, really rough time for the rest of our lives.

The voice of this generation is noticeably absent from mainstream media, online comment pieces and from news reports. Oi, editors! What are you so scared of? Why aren’t you commissioning us?

As usual, it looks like it’s up to us to commission ourselves.

Rife magazine in itself sounds like a brilliant set up – it’s by and for young people, based out of Bristol, and provides six month long paid internships. You can see more about that here.

I’m really excited to read the essays this book will bring. I’ve pledged already to the campaign, it’s currently standing at 14% funded so has quite a way to go. Why not think about getting involved? The website for it is here.

Book News

Cover Reveal – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.

I’m thrilled today to be one of the bloggers revealing the gorgeous cover for Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, an exciting debut coming from Faber Children’s in February 2016. The book is the first in a trilogy and follows Amani, a sharpshooter who goes on the run with a boy wanted for treason.

But enough, let’s get straight onto the reason for the post, this:


I’m really excited for this book, I can’t wait to have more to share with you about it!

Book News

Richard Armitage Narrates Love Poems.

I had an email this morning from Felicity at Audible to tell me about their free download for Valentine’s Day. As soon as I started to read the email I knew I had to blog about it – I could instantly think of people who were going to be very interested in it.

The download in question is a collection of love poems narrated by Richard Armitage.

The collection includes poems written by William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edgar Allen Poe amongst others. I personally love Richard Armitage’s voice so the idea of him reading aloud these beautiful poems is a welcome one!

This video features the man himself talking about the collection and sharing some of his own feelings about poetry – it’s well worth the 3 minutes of your time it’ll take to watch!

If this has persuaded you to give this collection a listen you can download it here.




This post is not sponsored, I simply love the sound of this and want to spread the love!

Book News

Cover Reveal: A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey.

Towards the end of 2014 I was very excited to receive a lovely package from Stripes Publishing. When I opened the padded envelope I found a sealed letter and carefully wrapped book:


When I could finally bring myself to unwrap the book I found it was A Whisper of Wolves the debut novel, and first in a series of four, from Kris Humphrey:

Do you feel it? she asked. Alice reached out with her Whisperer sense. There was a strange presence in the trees. It rushed towards her, taking on a sickening intensity, as if the air itself was tainted by a skin of oil. Alice drew back, alarmed and afraid.

The demons are close, said Storm…

A raven. A white feather. It can only mean one thing… It’s time to enter the fantasy world of Meridina and to witness the Whisperers’ banishment of the demonic Narlaw.

This coming March sees the publication of A Whisper of Wolves, the first title in a dramatic new 4-part series, Guardians of the Wild, by exciting debut author Kris Humphrey.

After many years of peace in the kingdom of Meridina, rumours are spreading of a planned invasion – could the Narlaw be returning from the Darklands? It is up to the Whisperers and their animal companions to defend Meridina, protect Princess Ona and stop the Narlaw from destroying their world.

When hunters from her village disappear without a trace, 12 year old Alice, a novice Whisperer, suspects that something sinister is at work. With the help of Storm, her wolf companion, Alice fights to save her village, and protect the entire balance of the natural world. The Narlaw are on the attack and it’s up to the Whisperers to stop them…

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers involved in revealing the cover so without further ado here it is.

A Whisper of Wolves cover

I really like this colour. I think the background colour is a really interesting choice – I haven’t seen any other books that I can think of with covers this colour which makes it quite distinctive. I think it works really well with the bold silhouette illustration – I’m already wondering what the subsequent book covers will look like and imagining how a set of four might work together.

What do you think of this cover? Do you like the sound of the book?

Guardians of the Wild: A Whisper of Wolves by Kris Humphrey will be published in paperback by Stripes Publishing on 2nd March 2015

Book News

Project Remix.


Yesterday Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate, launched Project Remix – a creative challenge for 13 – 19 year olds in the UK. Here’s Malorie herself introducing the competition:

From the Children’s Laureate website:

To enter, teenagers are asked to make their own creative work in response to a selection of acclaimed literature – featuring fiction, poetry, graphic novels and short stories from some of the bestselling contemporary and classic authors, including: John Green, Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker. Entries can be submitted into five categories: Music, Book Cover Design, Book Trailer, Creative Writing, and Comic Strip.

The aim of the competition is to engage young people with literature, using it as a creative springboard into other storytelling mediums, and to open doors to the arts and the creative industries. It was inspired by the growth of online fandom, including fanfiction and fan art and the surge in related digital communities.

I think this is a really interesting opportunity. Personally I’ve been involved in fandom for more years than I want to count, reading and occasionally writing fan fiction and admiring other fanworks created by like minded people. That the Children’s Laureate wants to highlight this as a way teens can explore creativity is great, particularly as this competition is aimed at encouraging and nurturing the teens (there have been other competitions in the past that haven’t had such a positive intention). If I was in the target age group I know my brain would be spinning into overdrive with ideas – I’m looking forward to seeing what the winning entrants look like.

You can find out more about the competition, including the list of books that have been selected as the source material, here at the Project Remix website.

Book News

Could you give a voice to a statue?

I had a really interesting email appear in my inbox yesterday about the Talking Statues project that’s been commissioned by Sing London. From the website:

Sing London have commissioned some of the nation’s most celebrated writers and actors to animate 35 public statues across London and Manchester.

Pass a Talking Statue, swipe your phone on a nearby tag and hey presto: your phone rings. And it’s Queen Victoria on the line… or Peter Pan… or Abe Lincoln…

Using drama, humour and location technology, Talking Statues breathes new life into the statues that surround us all.

Sounds interesting yes? Well even better than just being able to go along and listen, they’ve partnered with Audible to run a competition to find 4 unknown writers to write for four of the statues:

As the first wave of Talking Statues goes live on 19 August, Audible and Sing London are looking to the general public for four writers with the wit and vision to bring three statues and one enormous skeleton to life in just 400 words. Budding writers will be invited to invent stories for: –

· Leaping Hare on Crescent and Bell, by Barry Flanagan on Broadgate (London)

· Tyrannosaurus Rex in The Manchester Museum (Manchester)

· William Shakespeare, by Louis Roubiliac in The British Library (London)

· Isis, by Simon Gudgeon, in The Royal Parks (London)

The winning monologues will be voiced by known actors and will take their place alongside the other Talking Statues from 1 December 2014 and remain available until the project finishes in August 2015.

Would-be writers are invited to submit their own monologues by email to before 15 October. Entries will be judged by an expert panel of writers and winners will be notified by end of October 2014. Not only will winners get the opportunity for their stories to sit alongside monologues written by some of Britain’s best writers, but they will also be invited to attend the recording of their monologue and meet the actor bringing their story to life.

I think this is such a great opportunity for a writer to do something really unusual. I’m going to try and make sure I visit some of the statues over the next few months – it’d be great if I visited Isis and got to hear your story!

Book News · Book Review

Not a Review: The Child by Sebastian Fitzek.

Every now and then a book comes along that I get really excited about, and then when I come to read it something just doesn’t click and I have to give up part way through. Sadly this is exactly what happened when it came to The Child. Rather than not cover it I thought I’d still write about it – just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t me it won’t be for you.

For starters this is no ordinary book. It’s an audiobook, produced by Audible Studios as a multi-cast recording. This appealed a lot to me, I’ve found audiobooks don’t always keep my attention but radio plays do so I thought this would be something I’d get on well with. The audio cast has some great names – Rupert Penry-Jones, Emilia Fox and Andy Serkis to name a few.


The synopsis:
Defence attorney Robert Stern can scarcely believe his eyes when he meets with the mysterious client who has summoned him to a godforsaken industrial park. To his astonishment, the defendant is a ten-year-old boy, a fragile child with a chronic illness who insists that he was a murderer in a former life. Robert Stern’s surprise turns into horror when he searches the cellar described by Simon and finds a human skeleton whose skull has been split by an axe.

Mystifying, thrilling and often terrifying, German author Sebastian Fitzek’s international bestseller finds a perfect medium in this multi-cast audio dramatization, featuring an all-star cast.

The trailer:
In addition to that synopsis Audible have produced a trailer to whet your appetite for the book

My experience:
My attention was grabbed immediately by this audiobook, and for the first thirty minutes or so I was hooked. Then unfortunately I started to become increasingly disturbed by the subject material and before the first hour was up I had to make the decision to stop listening. I’m usually pretty unflappable when it comes to content but this was just too strong for me. It’s hard to talk about what I didn’t like because I don’t know how spoilery it would be (if you’d like to know more specifically do please feel free to email me.)

Other experiences:
For balance I thought I’d find a couple of alternative reviews from bloggers who did listen to the whole book, it gets good write ups at both Crime Thriller Girl and Jack Croxall’s blog.

The link:
If you are interested in The Child it is available from Audible here.

Book News

Trouble’s coming.

TroubleA boy. A girl. A bump. Trouble.

Hannah’s smart and funny … she’s also fifteen and pregnant. Aaron is new at school and doesn’t want to attract attention. So why does he offer to be the pretend dad to Hannah’s unborn baby?

Growing up can be trouble but that’s how you find out what really matters.

One of the 2014 books I’m already most excited about is Trouble the debut novel from Non Pratt who until the end of tomorrow is the commissioning editor at Catnip Publishing. I got to meet Non at a YA event last summer and was thrilled to discover she was as lovely as I’d heard, hearing soon after about her book I had a feeling it was going to be good. The early copies of the book are out and about already and I’ve been hearing uniformly brilliant things about it, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

The lovely people at Walker Books want to make sure as many people hear about this book as possible. They’ve worked with Thinkjam on this, and today have launched a dedicated Tumblr account – you can find it here. That wasn’t sufficient, so they’ve also launched a search to find VIP readers to read Trouble early and join in with spreading the word.

(Click to make it bigger and more legible.)
(Click to make it bigger and more legible.)

This is a great opportunity for readers to get to read the book early – why not get emailing?

Book Awards · Book News

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal nominations.

It’s that time of year again, today the nominations for the Carnegie Medal (list here) and Kate Greenaway Medal (list here) have been released. This year things are being done a little differently – the judges will meet to decide, based on the medal criteria, the longlists which will be announced on 4th February 2014. Following this the shortlists will be decided upon and announced on 18th March 2014 with the winners being announced at the ceremony in June. This year the lists of books nominated are once more the longest ever with 76 books nominated for the Carnegie medal and 61 books for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Both lists are chock full with exciting books, I’m thrilled to see books on the lists that I’ve heard loads about and books on the lists that I’ve never heard about – I think these lists are always such a great education, every book is on the list because at least one librarian felt passionately enough about it to nominate it.

Last year I watched as school librarian Caroline Fielding read her way through the entire 2013 Carnegie longlist before the shortlist was announced, and became increasingly inspired by her commitment. So in a moment of rashness I decided that I would like to try and match her efforts. The combination of the new process and the extremely long list of nominations means that whilst I definitely want to do some sort of reading based on the lit I think I need to rejig my plans for this year. I’ve actually only read the following 7 of the nominated 76 books so far:

Cousins, Dave. Waiting for Gonzo (Oxford University Press) [my review]
Dockrill, Laura. Darcy Burdock (Corgi Children’s Books)
Kessler, Liz. North of Nowhere (Orion Children’s Books) [my review]
Murdoch, Emily. If You Find Me (Indigo)
Pitcher, Annabelle. Ketchup Clouds (Indigo) [my review]
Smale, Holly. Geek Girl (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Syson, Lydia. A World Between Us (Hot Key Books)

I’d very much like to read my way through the other 69 books, but I think doing this by 18th March is a challenge bigger than I can manage – I have my degree to finish in the same time period, and I’m sat writing this whilst looking at my “to be read” bookcase that is stuffed full of exciting books (sadly few of them are on the list of nominated books).

I think therefore that this year I will pledge to read more of the nominated books, and that I will absolutely definitely read the shortlisted books. I’ll also make a concerted effort to read more new releases so that when it comes to this time next year and the nominations for the 2015 medal I’ll be in a great place to take on and complete the challenge of reading every nominated book (and I’ll have no pesky degree competing for my reading attention!)