Archive for September, 2013

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

War has finally come. But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making. But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

Last Stand of Dead Men is the second to last book in Derek Landy’s wonderful Skulduggery Pleasant series, and it sure is one tense, action-packed read.  The further we’ve been getting to the end of the series, the more dramatic the events of each book have been.  The magic world has been teetering on the brink of war for some time now and it’s in Last Stand of Dead Men that war finally breaks out between the Sanctuaries.  An epic magic battle ensues, with death and destruction galore.

As the front cover says, ‘no one is safe.’  The characters that we’ve come to love are caught up in the middle of the war and not everyone survives.  Heroes become villains, enemies fight together, some people aren’t who we thought they were, and others look completely different from the last time we saw them.  Derek also introduces us to new characters and creations, my favourite of which are the Warlock’s minions, the Wretchlings.

Last Stand of Dead Men is the darkest of the series so far and we see the darker side of Skulduggery coming out.  While it doesn’t have the same humour as some of the earlier books, the scenes with Scapegrace and Thrasher provide some light relief and had me laughing out loud.  One of the things I like the most about Derek’s books is his brilliant dialogue and there is plenty of this in this book.

Skulduggery will do anything to save Valkyrie and I certainly can’t wait until September next year to find out how it all ends.  Will Skulduggery save her or will Darquesse destroy the world?

Win a copy of Last Stand of Dead Men!

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have a copy of Last Stand of Dead Men to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 4 October.

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Kids’ Books: picks from our September newsletter

Check out some of the great new titles in our September Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of Art DetectiveCover of Bo at Ballard CreekCover of The Dragon's ToothCover of LEGO Man in SpaceCover of The  Name of This Book is SecretCover of The Mouse with the Question Mark TailCover of Romeo BlueCover of Smells Like TreasureCover of The Glitch in Sleep

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

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Where do stories come from?

One of the questions that kids (and adults) most often ask authors is “Where do you get your ideas from?” 

“From everywhere,” would be my answer. News items, research, things I overhear (I’m a terrible eavesdropper on other people’s conversations) and of course stories people tell me.

Today I was procrastinating about starting writing, so I went for a walk with Gus the miniature schnauzer. I bought the paper and some milk and the green thread I needed to make curtains (more procrastination) and then we stopped at a table outside a cafe so I could procrastinate even more by having a coffee in the sunshine.  And Jill, an elderly friend, stopped to chat.

I don’t know how we got onto the topic of lottery tickets, but she told me the story of her great-aunt. It was in the 1920s.  Jill’s great-aunt won a lot of money in a lottery, so she took her niece (Jill’s mother) with her on a ship to England. There, Jill’s mother met Jill’s father; they married and came back to Australia and Jill was born. That’s an interesting story, I thought, but because I’m very curious, I just had to ask a few questions. 
“How did  your mother meet your father? Were they strangers, or did your great-aunt have friends in England?”

Jill told me that years before the trip the England, her great-aunt was engaged to an English sea captain.  But he died before they could marry. When she went to England with her niece, they stayed with the sea-captain’s family…and in a kind of delayed, one-generation-later happy ending, Jill’s mother and the captain’s nephew fell in love and got married. What a lovely story, I thought. 

I also thought, I bet I can use that sometime!

Just an example of where stories come from.

Goodbye and thanks for having me on the Christchurchkids blog. Happy reading and writing!

 

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Heroes of Olympus: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die.
They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood.

The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

The House of Hades, the conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, is due out next month.  Reserve your copy from the library now.

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Walking the dog

Hi,

I had a visit yesterday afternoon from Indigo, a lovely year 9 student who’s doing a project on writers – and at the same time, she’s writing a novel herself. She asked me lots of interesting questions about how I wrote and where I got my ideas from and what advice I had for writers. It was good timing, because I planned to write on just those things on the Christchurchkids blog today.

I could be really silly, and answer “How do you write?” by saying that I sit at my desk and  tap away at the keyboard with my fingers.

Well, actually, that IS what I do, but other stuff comes first. One thing I do before I start writing most days, and definitely before I start a new project, is lots of walking. A walk around the park with my dog Gus is good because I find thinking and walking go really well together.
I don’t make lots of notes; I tend to work things out in my head. I play out scenes as if my mind was a movie screen. I try out ideas and (because I like an insanely complicated plot) I try to make twists and turns and figure out “what if?” as if I’m playing a game or doing a jigsaw. Gus is a great help because he needs to walk every day and he comes and reminds GUSme if I don’t take him.

Could you resist those doggy eyes?

Where do I get my ideas from? The answer is everywhere. I am like a magpie, collecting bits and pieces. News items, conversations that I overhear, people I see in the street, pictures, paintings, photos and places all go to making a story. In Verity Sparks Lost and Found, there is a strand of the plot about spirit photography. That got there because a friend was throwing out old books and there was one on the supernatural she thought I’d like. In the early days of photography, people were easily fooled by double exposures and other tricks, and there were some great pictures with “ghosts ” in them. So I used them in my book.

My main piece of advice for writers is simple. Finish that story! Don’t leave it half-finished or just started. When you’ve got it finished, then you’ll have something to work with. You can edit, rearrange, change, cut, add and polish to make your story much, much better. But only if you finish it first.

All the best,

Susan

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Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth is our Big Library Read!

Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth is available for download as an e-book or an audiobook right now.

Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth

Until 30 September 2013,  this book is available as part of a ‘global book club’ –  parents and children can read together.

Big Library Read sees 6500 libraries around the world offer the chance for thousands to read the same book at the same time!

Jane O’Connor’s Nancy Clancy titles are great fun so get Fancy Nancy Super Sleuth now!

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The Last Thirteen by James Phelan

Do you love sinking their teeth into a new series? Do you love books like The 39 Clues, The Infinity Ring and Conspiracy 365?  Scholastic have just released a new series, called The Last Thirteen, that’s perfect for fans of these series and anyone who loves a fast-paced story full action, adventure, and mystery.

I click my fingers and everybody dies.

Sam wakes from his nightmare to discover the terrifying reality. It will come true.

Kidnapped from school and finding out his parents aren’t who he thinks they are, Sam is suddenly running from danger at every turn. Nothing will ever be the same again.

With his life and identity shattered, Sam’s salvation is tied to an ancient prophecy. He is in the final battle to save the world, up against an enemy plotting to destroy us all.

He alone can find the last 13.

Are you one of them?

The first book in The Last Thirteen series has just been released and James Phelan kicks it off with a bang.  The first book sets the scene for the rest of the series, so we find out snippets of information about Sam, the Last Thirteen, and the organisations that want to get their hands on them.  The Last Thirteen are a group of teenagers with a special ability that some people will kill to get their hands on – their dreams come true.  Sam is the first of the 13 and the race is on to find the other 12 in order to save the world.

The plot races along (especially in the second half of the book) and the chapters are short, so readers will gobble it up and be waiting for the second book.  Each of the books ends with a dramatic cliff-hanger, and the end of the first book certainly makes me want to read the next one to find out what happens.

Like similar series (39 Clues, Infinity Ring) there is a dedicated fan website, where fans can register online and gain VIP access to a range of exciting features.  There’s also the chance to enter the competition, with your chance to become famous.

The Last Thirteen is perfect for ages 10+ who love action, adventure and mystery.  Get your copy today and join the race to find the Last Thirteen.

Check out the book trailer:

Win a copy of The Last Thirteen!

Thanks to Scholastic NZ we have 2 copies of The Last Thirteen to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Wednesday 18 September.

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