Posts Tagged ‘Reviewer-Jack’

Captain Disaster

Del Shannon

Captain Disaster front coverKevin Tobin is a relatively ordinary twelve-year old dealing with the aftermath of his father’s tragic death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his sister through his superhero antics, his ability to escape inside his character’s (Captain Disaster) head becomes critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father s death. A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination, and after enlisting Kevin s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin s whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected. Del Shannon’s imaginative story telling and his appreciation for the powers of family and the desire of young boys to both escape reality and prove themselves within it make this a book with wide appeal for readers of all ages.

Back in the start of 2012 Jack reviewed a self published book called, Kevin’s Point Of View which he loved. Well Kevin has undergone a bit of a make over, with a new cover, new illustrations and a new title, Captain Disaster.
Read Jack’s original review below

Kevin’s point of view is a really great book that is about a normal 12 year boy still suffering from the quick, and suspicious, death of his father a year ago, who he loved so very much. He deals with this by wondering deeply into the depths of his talented imagination – separating himself from the rest of the world. A few days before he goes on his school field trip to the Rockies, a strange package arrives mysteriously for him at his home in Colorado. This package was meant to arrive at the home of Devin Talon but since when does anything ever go right in adventure books?!

The content of this important package is something called the I.N.F.L.U.X.I.T.R.O.N. With his friend Toby and his sister along with her boyfriend, a pizza delivery man, they work tirelessly to keep the I.N.F.L.U.X.I.T.R.O.N out of Devin’s desperate hands. But also Kevin has his own needs for this machine: to bring back his dad. They are able to do amazing things all around Colorado with the help of the “Shroom wagon” on their side.

I really enjoyed this book as it was full of danger and suspense all strung together cleverly by Del Shannon. At first I did actually struggle to get into the book as I found it a little confusing, but I persevered and found that this was a really exciting book that would keep me quiet for hours (much to my parents’ pleasure!).

Verdict: I would suggest this book to people who love books which include exciting, full-on action with plenty of fun and easy to understand humour.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Story Arts Media
Publication Date: April 2013 ( originally Oct ’10)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 515/559KB
Genre: Humour, Action, Adventure
Age: Middle grade
Reviewer: Jack
Source: Provided by author
Challenge: none
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Author Interview: Barry Hutchison

Here at Big Book Little Book we are delighted to welcome Barry Hutchison, author of The 13th Horseman (read Jack’s review here). Barry took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of Jack’s questions.


In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.

What inspired you to write The 13th Horseman?

I grew up reading funny books, and although I loved writing my Invisible Fiends horror series, I had a real urge to write funny stuff. I’ve had the idea for The 13th Horseman since I was about 18 years old (I’m 34 now!). I thought if the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had been created at the beginning of time, with the sole purpose of kicking off Judgement Day at the end of time, then what would they be doing in between times? I was sharing a flat with three REALLY annoying people at the time, and I thought that being one of the Four Horsemen would be a bit like that – the others would be getting on your nerves all the time, and you’d always be looking for things to do in order to make time pass more quickly. That’s why they’re always playing board games, just to try to stave off the boredom and stop themselves going mad like most of their Deaths have.

What is your favourite book (not the ones that you’ve written)?

That’s tricky. I read a lot of books, and my favourite changes almost every day. I love most of Neil Gaiman’s books – American Gods is a good one for adults, or The Graveyard Book is great for both adults and children. Growing up I read a lot of American comics – Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk – all that stuff. I still love reading comics, and some of my favourite stories are in graphic novel format.
A favourite book when I was young was The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. It’s a fantasy story set in Ireland, and although I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy books, I absolutely loved it and read it probably half a dozen times in the space of a few years. It’s quite a long book, but well worth reading. Every time I finished it I remember feeling sad because the story was over.

What is your favourite food?

Easy – seafood. Prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops – pretty much anything that comes out of the sea, really. If a giant sea monster rose up out of the ocean tomorrow I’d be after it with a fork and a slice of lemon. Seriously, if Godzilla ever emerges from the deeps, he’d better watch his back.

What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

My favourite is The 13th Horseman, although I’ll always have a soft spot for the Invisible Fiends series, with them being my first published books. I had a lot more freedom in Horseman to do anything I liked, and I loved setting my imagination loose. The Fiends books are very story driven, so you’re always racing from one thing to the next. It was nice to be able to slow down a bit and sometimes include scenes or conversations that don’t really matter much to the plot. For example, some of my favourite bits in Horseman come when they’re in Limbo. I like the Alfred Randall X-perience, and even made myself laugh writing the conversation between Drake and the wardrobe he thought contained the Deathblade.
That said, writing is like anything else you do – the more you practice, the better you get – so hopefully my next books will be even better!

What type of music do you like to listen to?

I listen to a huge range of music, from classical stuff like Chopin, to Lady Gaga. My iPod has got a real mix of stuff on it – Bruno Mars, Led Zepplin, Elvis, Mumford & Sons, Oasis, The Smiths, and lots more. I’m not sure I have a favourite band or favourite type of music, because it depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing. When I was writing the Invisible Fiends book, “Doc Mortis” for example, I listened to a lot of creepy horror music and some really old recordings of nursery rhymes. They helped set the scene and get me in the mood for writing really scary scenes.

If you could be any other author, who would it be and why?

What an interesting question. Sadly, the answer’s going to be quite boring. I don’t think I’d want to be any author other than me. I feel really lucky to be able to write the books I want to write, and we’re all really lucky that there are so many brilliant authors out there who are also writing the books they want to write. It means we have more books to choose from than we’ll ever be able to read, and I love reading almost as much as I love writing. If I was writing Terry Pratchett’s books, let’s say, then I would be robbed of the pleasure of reading them.

I wouldn’t say no to all his money, mind you…

The 13th Horseman is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is available to buy now.

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Kevin’s Point of View

Del Shannon

Kevin Tobin is a relatively ordinary 12-year-old dealing with the aftermath of his father’s death in a mountain biking accident near their home in Boulder, Colorado. To escape from his emotional turmoil, Kevin has developed his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes his sister through his superhero antics on an average Wednesday morning, his ability to escape inside a character’s head become critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death. A mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted down by a ruthless villain set upon world domination, and after enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the secret of Kevin’s whole existence is revealed to him by a source we never expected. Del Shannon’s imaginative story, appreciation for the powers of family and the desire of young boys to both escape reality and prove themselves within it, and fast-paced, adventure-filled storytelling style make this a book with wide appeal for readers of all ages.

Kevin’s point of view is a really great book that is about a normal 12 year boy still suffering from the quick, and suspicious, death of his father a year ago, who he loved so very much. He deals with this by wondering deeply into the depths of his talented imagination – separating himself from the rest of the world. A few days before he goes on his school field trip to the Rockies, a strange package arrives mysteriously for him at his home in Colorado. This package was meant to arrive at the home of Devin Talon but since when does anything ever go right in adventure books?!

The content of this important package is something called the I.N.F.L.U.X.I.T.R.O.N. With his friend Toby and his sister along with her boyfriend, a pizza delivery man, they work tirelessly to keep the I.N.F.L.U.X.I.T.R.O.N out of Devin’s desperate hands. But also Kevin has his own needs for this machine: to bring back his dad. They are able to do amazing things all around Colorado with the help of the “Shroom wagon” on their side.

I really enjoyed this book as it was full of danger and suspense all strung together cleverly by Del Shannon. At first I did actually struggle to get into the book as I found it a little confusing, but I persevered and found that this was a really exciting book that would keep me quiet for hours (much to my parents’ pleasure!).

Verdict: I would suggest this book to people who love books which include exciting, full-on action with plenty of fun and easy to understand humour.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Emlenl
Publication Date: October 20101
Format: Paperback
Pages: 402
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Provided by author
Challenge: None
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The 13th Horseman

Barry Hutchison

Drake Finn has just met the Horsemen of the Apocalypse but is that really the end of the world? Pratchett meets Python in this dark comic fantasy with plenty of action, perfect for 11+ boys Drake is surprised to find three horsemen of the apocalypse playing snakes and ladders in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they insist that he is one of them. They’re missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths and they think that Drake is the boy for the job. At first he’s reluctant to usher in Armageddon but does being in charge of Armageddon have to spell the end of the world? An apocalyptic blend of riotous comedy, heart-stopping action and a richly imagined fantasy adventure.

I now have a new favourite book and I shall be telling all my friends about it! The 13th Horseman is full of humour, action and suspense. This book is about Drake, a very normal school kid. Unfortunately, he gets expelled from school for the very silly reason that he blew up two toads, along with the top two floors of the school as well! It was all just an accident of course, but it means he had to move house in order to start a new school. He then discovers a shed in the garden – that bizarrely only he can see. Drake finds three of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse inside the shed playing snakes and ladders and to his surprise they decide that as they are short of a Horseman, and he was able to find them, Drake must be one of them too. He then finds himself becoming the 13th Horseman – the new ‘Death’!

Battling against the former ‘Death’, who is trying to end the world early, he finds his best friend Mel’s life is at stake… along with the world! One of the funniest parts for me was when yet another ‘Death’ has been travelling across the galaxies to find the garden shed – the meeting place of the Horsemen. He keeps cropping up during the book on his quest and when he finally gets there…well you will have to read it to see, but it really made me laugh out loud. I have enjoyed this book incredibly and would recommend it to anyone who loves a humorous adventure story. I now really REALLY hope there will be another book by Barry Hutchinson. This is the sort of book that would make a really good movie!

Verdict: A brilliant book, really good fun and very humorous.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British Book
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Skellig

David Almond

When a move to a new house coincides with his baby sister’s illness, Michael’s world seems suddenly lonely and uncertain. Then, one Sunday afternoon, he stumbles into the old, ramshackle garage of his new home, and finds something magical. A strange creature – part owl, part angel, a being who needs Michael’s help if he is to survive – Skellig. With his new friend Mina, Michael nourishes Skellig back to health, while his baby sister languishes in the hospital. But Skellig is far more than he at first appears, and as he helps Michael breathe life into his tiny sister, Michael’s world changes forever.

Skellig is a really great book stuffed with adventure, mystery and suspense. Michael moves house and while exploring, discovers something very strange in the shed. Michael then meets the mysterious Mina who loves birds and even acts like them in strange ways. They become friends and together, help the mysterious creature in the garage while constantly worrying for Michael’s prematurely born baby sister who may die. My favourite part was when Michael and Mina finally were able to take Skellig into an old building after Skellig has been teetering on the brink of death for ages!

This book is fantastic for anyone who loves an easy read, jam-packed with adventure. Apart from the great features this book possesses, this book wouldn’t be great for younger readers since it contains some complicated words and no pictures to help in their understanding. There is also a little swearing, but nothing major!

Verdict: Congratulations to David Almond and a little bit to William Blake, the famous poet who also features in this book.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: August 1998
Format: Paperback
Pages: 176
Genre: Fantasy
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: British Book
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Love Books Will Travel

What: Creative writing workshop.

Who: Kit Berry

Where: Waterstones 
Guildford
    Surrey

When: 25th August 2011

Why: To Promote The Stonewylde Series:
Stonewylde is an alternative community, hidden away in the heart of Dorset and ruled by the charismatic Magus. It’s a place of standing stones and earth energy – a place where the old ways are remembered. Within a great stone circle the eight pagan festivals are celebrated and ancient rites performed. The thirteen full moons are honoured and the people live natural and uncomplicated lives, as their ancestors have done for hundreds of years.
But all is not quite as it seems. There’s another side to Stonewylde; a darker side where cruelty is rife. There’s a more sinister purpose behind the rituals held in the Stone Circle than simply honouring the Earth Goddess and the elements of nature. Sylvie and her mother are invited into the community, victims of modern life. Suffering from the stresses of inner city life, they believe that by entering the enclosed world of Stonewylde, their troubles will be over. Magus promises them fulfilment; that they will lack for nothing. He promises to heal them and care for them, calling on the green magic that pervades everything at Stonewylde. But one boy alone understands the true reason for their invitation, and what malevolence their arrival has triggered.
As the series unfolds, the struggle between Yul and his master becomes more brutal and the stakes are raised. Sylvie is in terrible danger as an old prophecy is revealed and the pieces of the puzzle start to slide into place. Sylvie and Yul must battle not only to save themselves, but the very heart of Stonewylde.

My brother Jack and I attended a writer’s workshop at Waterstone’s in Guildford. It was hosted by Kit Berry who is the author of the Stonewylde series. Kit has just released her fourth book called Shadows of Stonewylde. The first book in the series is entitled Magus of Stonewylde followed by Moondance of Stonewylde and Solstice at Stonewylde. Kit used to be a teacher and began writing the books in her forties.

There were about ten of us in total who got to meet Kit Berry. First of all she introduced herself and the books that she had written. Her newest book has just been released in the last two weeks. The books are about a ‘hidden community’ called Stonewylde which is in Dorset. Sylvie and her mother go there as Sylvie is very ill and needs a place to heal and recuperate. But there are secrets at Stonewylde and all is not as it seems. These books are full of magic and mystery and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Kit then showed us how to expand events in our lives into possibilities for book ideas. She drew a map of her home and the area around it and listed some things that had happened around there and also some events that she had included in her book. Next she got us to do the same; to draw a map of our house or school or somewhere we had been and list out strange events that could be expanded into a possible story or smaller parts of stories. We all shared our ideas. She then took questions and signed our new Stonewylde books.

Verdict: I bought the first three books in the series and am starting to read them tonight! This was a good event, I enjoyed it.

Post by Dan (13)

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Alpha Force: Rat-Catcher

Chris Ryan

The elite young SAS team sees action in a South American operation to catch a drug baron, where their individual skills are tested to the max.

The second book in the Alpha Force series ‘Rat Catcher’ is a great story which takes Alpha Force to South America where they find themselves only seconds from death in the mountains of Chile. The story has many twists and turns. The team encounter both a dangerous drugs dealer and a young street boy who they learn to trust and who is able to help rescue them when they find themselves in trouble.

Verdict:This amazing book is full of tension and suspense. I couldn’t put it down.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: June 2004
Format: Paperback
Pages: 272
Genre: Action, Adventure
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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Survival

Chris Ryan>

Five kids: Alex, Li, Paulo, Hex and Amber bond on board a sailing ship. When they are marooned on a desert island, they must face the ultimate test — survival! The team is born.

Survival is the first book in the Alpha Force series by Chris Ryan. A team of five teenagers find themselves washed up on a deserted island after drifting away on a little boat that was ‘supposed’ to stay attached to The Phoenix, a yacht. All they have to do is survive blood poisoning, killer komodo’s, deadly sharks and a gang of pirates (nothing too hard!). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It will hold your attention and will stop you getting your homework done!

Verdict: I would really recommend reading this exciting action packed book.

Reviewed by Jack (11)

Publisher: Red Fox
Publication Date: June 2004
Format: Paperback
Pages: 304
Genre: Action
Age: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Jack (11)
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: N/A
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