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December 2019 Book of the Month | ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas …’ but we’re on a snowy hillside where a lonely tree shivers in the cold. As it longs to be in the brightly lit little town below, suddenly footsteps suddenly approach. Somebody very important collects the tree and puts it at the centre of some special celebrations, before leaving with the familiar words: ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Taking inspiration from Clement C Moore’s classic poem, Chris Naylor-Ballesteros’ new book is filled with the joy of Christmas, and captures all its sense of magical anticipation. In a handsome small format, there’s a full page illustration on each right hand page and they tell the story with as much vivacity as the lines of verse opposite. It all concludes with a sparkling double page spread, the tree glowing in the foreground as St Nick flies off into the Christmas night silhouetted against the moon. If this doesn’t set you up for Christmas and its jollities, nothing will!
The series is currently in development for feature film by Disney’s Fox / Lucasfilm. | Inspired by the mythology of Western Africa, the first part of the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy garnered awards, critical praise and legions of fans. They will not be disappointed by the sequel but will be left yearning for the series conclusion with the dramatic cliff hanger ending. The fabulous world building continues with deepening complexity in both the political and religious layers of Orïsha. Zélie succeeded in restoring magic to the land at the end of book one, but now we see her dealing with the tragic and unexpected consequences. Magic has spread and the monarchy and military now have magical powers, too. Civil war follows and death and destruction run rampant. We see contrasting theories of governance and justice vie for the upper hand as Zélie, rebel princess Amari and her brother, the new king, Inan, all try to do the right thing for the country and their people while grappling with their feelings and their new capabilities. Misunderstanding and prejudice impacts them almost as much as deception and treachery. The lines between who is on the side of right or wrong are deliberately and fascinatingly blurred by Ademi forcing the reader to really think about the nature of power. Themes of guilt, grief, retribution, responsibility and self-sacrifice really resonate in this absorbing fantasy saga.
From the author of the mysterious The Village at the Edge of the World comes this allegorical adventure that melds timeless terrors and Alice in Wonderland absurdity with an engaging modern world heroine. After texting friends to say she wished she didn’t have to spend another weekend in her father’s sleepy village, Scarlett gets more than she bargained for when her wish comes true. In a terrifying turn of events, her train takes her to a peculiar place called Knoware where Scarlett encounters a creepy crone called Crimsin who steals Scarlett’s shadow, without which she can’t leave Knoware. Armed only with a crudely drawn map and a magic mirror, Scarlett embarks on a perilous Wizard of Oz-esque quest to Crimsin’s castle to reclaim her shadow, encountering all manner of troublesome beings and fairy tale figures along the way. There’s much menace, atmosphere and a tense sense of time running out as Scarlett strives for her very own “there’s no place like home” moment. Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
From the creator of the Mortal Instruments series and Infernal Devices trilogy comes this epic first instalment of the author’s highly anticipated The Dark Artifices series. Lady Midnight is populated with pretty much every kind of mythological and supernatural being you could wish for (witches, warlocks, werewolves, vampires, faeries to name a few), but none more intriguing than the Nephilim Shadowhunters, part-angel, part-human beings who adorn themselves with protective runes. Emma Carstairs is a Shadowhunter and, as such, she’s bound to her parabatai platonic soul mate Julian for life. Emma is also set on avenging her parents’ death. Then, when bodies bearing the same marks as those on her parents’ are found in her home city of Los Angeles, Emma’s search for their murderer leads her down all kinds of treacherously demonic paths. Clare has a real talent for creating richly-realised fantasy worlds and plummeting her gutsy, larger-than-life protagonists into seriously high-stakes situations. This is a hugely entertaining and expansive start to her new series, with more glamour that you can shake a stele stick at, and more than enough intrigue to keep forum threads spinning furiously as fans await book two. Take a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Dark Artifices.
Translated by the award winning Laura Watkinson | Available for the first time in the UK, this new translation is a real treat for fans of the breakout sensation Letters For the King, which brought the multimillion bestselling Dutch author Tonke Dragt to the attention of a UK audience for the first time and which then went on to win Children’s Book of the Year. Since then translator Laura Watkinson has continued her mission to bring us more of the award-winning author’s books. Written as twelve tales, the story of identical twins Laurenzo and Joacomo is perfectly suited to reading and sharing over the twelve days of Christmas! Each tale is a complete and satisfying adventure set in the wonderful fictional medieval world created so vividly in the Dragt books. The boys may be so identical that they can take turns to go to school, but they have very different talents and temperaments. Hard-working Laurenzo wants to make beautiful things and becomes a goldsmith; Jiacomo loves travel and adventure and in one tale is tempted to use his wiles to become an excellent thief. Although he gives up the immoral life, his skills come in very useful as from a case of mistaken identity involving the Knight of the Red Rose to the pursuit of the precious silver cups of Talamura, the brothers find themselves caught up in wild adventures that require all of their combined wisdom and cunning. A highly satisfying and totally absorbing read with prose that would be a joy to read aloud in class too.
The third book in Cressida Cowell’s new Wizards of Once series is full of magic – magical adventures and magical creatures, and it overflows with the magic of great storytelling. Our heroes, Wish the young Warrior girl and Xar the boy wizard, are continuing their dangerous quest to defeat the witches they accidentally freed in book one and which threaten both their worlds. They travel on a magic flying door, accompanied by their friends – sprites, a giant, snowcats, a werewolf and Bodkin, Wish’s young bodyguard – and come up against some awesome enemies. In hot pursuit are their parents, Xar’s father King Encanzo the enchanter and Wish’s mother, Warrior Queen Sychorax, both terrifying, both determined their children will do as they are told. Who will succeed? Can Wish and Xar change the course of history and write their own happy ending? We don’t know yet, but readers of all ages will be wishing with all their hearts that they can. Cressida Cowell’s invention and ambition for her characters is boundless, and this unputdownable story is as full of ideas and intelligence as it is of excitement.
When a travelling skycircus arrives in Brackenbridge, Lily and Robert can't wait to step aboard... But there's something sinister about the hybrid children who appear as part of the act. And before Lily and Robert can do anything, they're captured by shadowy figures and whisked off in the mysterious flying circus to somewhere far, far away... Treachery, tight-ropes and trickery combine in this incredible third Cogheart adventure...
The Moomintrolls are all tucked up in bed, sleeping their long winter sleep when the Hemulen falls into their attic and tells them they need to get ready for Christmas. With no experience of Christmas, the Moomintrolls are a bit rattled, but manage to prepare everything in time – tree, presents, a feast. They share it with the little creatures of Moominvalley, who appreciate it all very much indeed. Funny, cosy and reassuring, this charming little story will put everyone in the mood for Christmas and the new paperback edition is just the thing for winter bedtimes.
December 2019 Book of the Month | Set in 1912, this action-packed adventure feels both classic and contemporary, with Marina, its young heroine, yearning to break free from societal constraints to become the “new woman” she’s read about in modern magazines. Namely, the kind of woman who is “mistress of her own destiny”. Frustratingly, Marina’s father dismisses her desires outright. Being a naval captain he’s often away at sea and, with her mother gone, Marina is about to be shipped off to boarding school when all she really wants to do is set sail with her dad. So much so, Marina ends up stowing away on his ship. As his mission is vitally urgent, Captain Denham has little choice but to continue with Marina aboard. As their perilous voyage progresses, the thrilling dangers of enemy sightings, superstitious shipmates and icebergs are interlaced with myth and mystery as Marina feels an inexplicable “urgent tugging in her chest to go north” after being accused of possessing the power to “call up storms”. Indeed, Marina’s affinity with the sea adds an extra edge of intrigue throughout, leading to an eerie explanation as the novel twists and swells to its pulse-quickening crescendo.
Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | A fast-paced read packed with historical detail In the Shadow of Heroes is a clever blend of intrigue, politics, crime, history and a bit of fantasy. Set in Rome at the time of Emperor Nero, it weaves some Greek mythology – the tale of the Golden Fleece – into the world of the Roman elite. When unexpected visitors turn up at Tullus’s house one night, his slave Cadmus, an educated boy slave who was taken in by Tullus after having been abandoned as a baby, knows that something dangerous is afoot. The visitors bring a box with something that is clearly very desirable in it. What can it be? When Tullus disappears and Cadman is given a message by a slave who was formerly a British princess he set off on a trail to find out what is going on. The plot is twisty and inventive ensuring that the reader remains enthralled through out.
The second in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. His ‘Dark Materials’, is the story of Lyra, a young girl with an exceptional destiny. Brought up in Jordan College, Oxford Lyra uncovers a secret about her mysterious guardian which leads to some dangerous questioning. It also marks the beginning of Lyra’s search for her friend Roger, a search that takes her to the ice kingdoms of the North where armoured bears rule. Lyra’s courage and stubborn determination lead her on this mission of incredible danger in this brilliant and imaginative story. It’s completely original and totally spellbinding; a true classic that will stand the test of time much in the way Tolkien’s famous work has done.
Find out where the Throne of Glass journey began in this irresistible bind-up of all five of #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas's Assassin novellas. Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassins' Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed prequel novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery . . . Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine and find out how the legend begins in the five page-turning prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series.
November 2018 Book of the Month | Buckle up for an exhilarating, twisting, tormenting ride, Throne of Glass fans! The long-awaited conclusion to this expansive, thrill-a-minute extravaganza of high-stakes sass and skirmishes is here, and it certainly won’t disappoint the author’s legions of readers. Indomitable Aelin has dealt with everything that’s been thrown at her during her superhuman journey from slave to assassin to leader, but she now faces – of course! - her greatest, most tortuous challenge yet. Surrendering to the Queen of the Fae would mean dooming her loved ones’ destinies, but things aren’t looking hopeful from inside the iron coffin the Queen has her locked in, and she must muster every last drop of fight. There’s grit and glamour, gutsiness and conflict, not to mention the unexpected turns taken by characters readers are truly invested in. The sheer scale of this immense six book series means it’s quite a commitment to sign-up to, but its continued success shows that it’s a commitment fans of epic, female-fronted fantasy are gratified with making. As ever, the writing is crisp, direct, and dialogue-driven, with plenty of visual fireworks thrown in. A fitting finale, if ever there was one.
This is everything you could ask of a sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and then some. Readers are returned to the well-formed world of Emberfall and its neighbouring territory of Syhl Shallow, where political ambition and newly revealed secrets threaten Rhen’s crown, and where intriguing new characters take centre stage. Among these is Lia Mara, eldest daughter of Syhl Shallow’s Queen. Lia Mara has been overlooked as heir to the throne in favour of her beautiful younger sister and, in many ways, the driving message of this tale belongs to Lia, a wise, compassionate young woman who’s “used to being underestimated”, but stands her ground in the name of doing the right thing. While Prince Rhen has been freed from the curse of the malevolent enchantress Lilith, his kingdom is now subject to new threats. Rhen’s loyal right hand man, Commander Grey, has gone, assumed dead, and there are rumours that Rhen’s secret half-brother is about to lay claim to the Emberfall throne. In hiding rather than dead, Grey encounters Lia and accompanies her to Syhl Shallow. Handsome and powerful, he would make a fine husband for Lia’s younger sister, but his heart is elsewhere. The enthralling story of political struggle is thrillingly laced with conflicts of the heart - both romantic and familial - to create a satisfying feast of YA fantasy fiction, with a cliff-hanger climax that suggests a yet more explosive third installment is on its way.
Fly into a fiery and fantastical future with No. 1 bestselling author David Walliams, in an epic adventure of myth and legend, good and evil, and one small boy who must save the world... Illustrated by the artistic genius Tony Ross! is 2120 and London is in ruins. The young Prince Alfred has never known a life outside Buckingham Palace - but when strange goings-on breach its walls and stalk the corridors in the dead of night, he is thrust into a world of mystery, adventure and monsters. And when his mother, the Queen, is dragged away to the Tower of London, Alfred must screw up his courage and battle to save her, himself... and the entire city. In a future of myths and legends, join the bestselling David Walliams and venture forth into his most enthralling tale yet!
A high-stakes quest. A magical kingdom. A boy in possession of a coveted power. This mythology-rich novel for 10+ year-olds has all the ingredients of an epic adventure. Ankido is a twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy with a passion for words. So much so, his beloved grandmother calls him her “Word Boy”. One morning, his grandmother announces the terrible news that Ankido’s father, an eminent archaeologist, has gone missing on a field trip in Iraq. When she leaves to search for his dad, she entrusts him with a special book: “The cover was made of fine, gold-inlaid leather. The title read, The Land of Mesopo. Ankido wondered why it was so special but thought it best not to ask.” Left with his aunt and uncle, Ankido is destined to be sent to boarding school, but not before he’s forced to burn Grandmother’s special book when his aunt tries to take it from him. He knows the book is special - “When I started reading it, it felt so real. Almost as if it was calling me to step inside “ – and indeed it does turn out to be special. Rather than end up at boarding school, he finds himself in the Library of Nineveh after being pursued by “a creature of the dark” who “feeds on words. And she knows that you can make your own words.” Ankido’s quest to find his father, and to save the fantastical word-world of Mesopo as the Kingdom’s newfound Tale Smith is sharply evoked, and packed with heart-pounding peril, mysterious atmosphere and intriguing characters, among them scribes, princes and magicians. Joanne Owen, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
The Dark is Rising Sequence | This is the first of a brilliant and award-winning fantasy sequence. It's a book that grips you from the start and will transport you from your earth world to a world of fantasy. The characters are brilliantly imagined and the fantasy world so realistically described that you feel you're there. It's midwinter and Will Stanton, the seventh son of a seventh son, discovers his destiny on the eve of his birthday. Will must learn to harness the powers of the Old Ones and embark on a quest to vanquish the terrifyingly evil magic of the Dark, an evil entity that threatens the world's very existence. The Dark is Rising won the author numerous international awards, including the Newbery Medal. Whether you're 11 or 111 you'll love it. It's a novel that stands alone; however, there are sequels, four of them to complete the series, all reissued this month.
What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone else. The opening in which she cascades into the story world is as exhilaratingly bewildering as Alice’s entry to Wonderland: “Down she falls. Oh, how the world has tumbled.” Why does everyone think she’s a gifted dancer called Maria? Why can’t everyone see her? And so an intricate, suspenseful tale of identity plays out as Celeste struggles to untangle the truth, with dreadfully high stakes. Gardner’s cast of larger-than-life characters is vibrantly drawn, and special mention must be made of vindictive diva Madame Sabina and her awful daughter, and Celeste’s ally Viggo. But the true star of this production is - of course – Celeste, whose resolve is adeptly expressed through the thoughts of the mysterious man in the emerald suit: “Seldom has he met a child with strength enough to move on to the final part of the game.” This is a dream of a book for confident readers who relish fiction that ignites their imaginations and delight in flexing their cerebral muscles.
This first book in a new Shadowhunters spin-off series is a flavoursome feast for Cassie Clare fans. Co-written with Wesley Chu, it’s rich in action, romance and satisfying backstory detail about Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they race around Europe after the Mortal War. Magnus and Alec’s romantic vacation swiftly sours when an old friend turns up with news that a cult Magnus founded as “a joke long ago” is gaining power. Consequently, the Spiral Council “have issued a formal demand that you, Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, neutralize the cult of demon-worshippers known as the Crimson Hand. Immediately.” Initially reluctant to cut short his holiday, Magnus is compelled to clear his name and cull the cult before chaos is created. Pursued by demons, Magnus and Alec traverse Europe – from the City of Love (Paris), to the City of Masks (Venice), to the City of the War (Rome) - in search of the cult and its leader. Heady with action, sizzling with secrecy, and with strong LBGTQ+ representation throughout, the cliffhanger ending will leave fans yearning for the second instalment.
Winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2016 | Award-winning Neil Gaiman shows all his story telling skills in this gripping fusion of familiar fairy tales told in a dark-hearted version with some original characters. Especially a bold-hearted queen. Not far from where the queen lives, a princess is under the spell of an enchantress who has put a whole country to sleep. Despite it being the eve of her wedding day, the bold queen decides to take action. Slipping into her mail shirt she arms herself with her sword and sets off out of the palace accompanied by the three dwarves who will lead her through the tunnels…The dark magic, great courage and spell-binding imagination that power this story is perfectly realised in Chris Riddell’s awesome illustrations.
The Dark is Rising sequence | On holiday in Cornwall, Simon, Jane and Barney Drew discover an ancient map in the attic of the Grey House, where they are staying with their mysterious Great-Uncle Merry. They know immediately that it is special. But it is much more than just a map. It is the start of a quest to find a grail, a source of great power that could contain - or resurrect - the powerful, age-old forces of evil in the world. And the Drews are not the only ones searching for it.
This is a simple circular tale, full of drama and threat, as Rider sets out on a quest tasked him by the Ancient One. Throughout the wonderful bold illustrations, the Rider appears small against impossible, scary, huge foes. The story is told in rhyming couplets, in large easy to read text; some couplets are on one double page spread, others have one line on each spread with the rest of the space filled with large, striking black and red images against plain coloured backgrounds. A limited colour palette is used with consummate skill to convey so much. This book is a gem – an artistic tour de force – one which children will love for the adventure and the change in every page turn. An epic tale through a mythical fantasy land that will engage children and adults alike.
This deservedly best-selling series launches with a powerful love story that thrills and chills in equal measure. Sailing from New York, 16 year old Tessa Gray arrives in Victorian London to meet her brother. But nothing goes according to plan and Tessa finds herself instead in the Downworld, a terrifying supernatural place of vampires, demons and warlocks. How Tessa survives before falling in love – the biggest danger of all! – is a terrifying and passionate read. This is a new urban fantasy full of vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters from the bestselling author of The Mortal Instruments series.
Sarah J. Maas devotees certainly have a treat in store with this luxurious collector’s edition of the first book in her outrageously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The story that spurred the series is here presented in a beautiful black slipcase that’s embellished with gold foiling. The book itself features a stunning gold foil depiction of a forest scene on its cover, lavish metallic ink endpapers, intricate fairy tale-esque illustrative detail on every page, plus a handsome newly drawn map of the Faerie Lands of Prythian. It’s a beguiling package that befits the tale itself, an enchanting story that follows nineteen-year-old Feyre’s magical, epic quest through the beautiful, dangerous faerie lands. Reeling with romance, intrigue and outright “immortal horror”, Feyre’s journey feels timeless in setting and atmosphere, and contemporary in much of its straight-talking delivery.
With its compact format, violet ink decoration and unabridged text, this mini edition of Throne of Glass is the perfect stocking-filler for completest collector devotees, and a glam gift for newcomers to the series. But what of the story printed on the fine-papered glory of this mini-format? It’s a seductive cocktail of all-out action and fighting for survival in a wildly imagined fantasy world, with a smart, sassy eighteen-year-old assassin at its pounding heart. After a year of slavery and being “escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point” Celaena Sardothian is called to the castle and issued with a task that may secure her release. If she succeeds in defeating a band of warriors, she’ll be freed to serve as the King’s Champion. But with evil afoot, and duplicity, distrust and paranoia in abundance, our headstrong, sharp-tongued heroine must summon all her physical and intellectual strength.