Monday, 31 October 2016

Competition: WIN The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

This competition has now closed and the winner has been notified. Thank you to all who entered.

Happy Hallowe'en!

I wrote yesterday about how much I enjoyed Derek Landy's, dark and bloody Demon Road trilogy.

Now you have the chance to win the trilogy, simply by filling in your details in the form below. Thanks to the generosity of HerperCollins I have a set of the three books to give away.
The first name drawn at random after the closing date will win a set of books. The deadline for entries is 7pm GMT Friday 4th November. This competition is open to UK residents only.

Contest open to UK residents only.
Neither the publisher or I will be held responsible for items lost in the mail.
I hold the right to end a contest before its original deadline without any prior notice.
I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

I will contact winning entrants for their postal address following the close of the competition. Winners have 48 hours to reply. Failure to do so in this time will result in another winner being randomly selected.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Review: The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.

But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be

Witty, action-packed and heart-stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America.

Long time readers of The Book Zone will know that I was a huge fan of Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant books. When I was offered a proof of Demon Road, the first book in his new trilogy, I obviously shouted yes please, and dropped everything to read it when it came through my letterbox. And then calamity struck - I just couldn't get into it, and put it down after a few chapters and picked up something else to read, always meaning to give it another go. 

That 'other go' never materialised though, until at the tail end of August I was approached by the fab people at HarperCollins, letting me know that American Monsters, the third book in the trilogy was soon to be released and enquiring as to whether I would be interested in a set of the three books to binge read. I decided to accept the challenge and when they arrived I restarted Demon Road from the beginning... and this time I loved it! So much so that I leaped straight into the sequel, Desolation, with barely a pause for breath, and then moved on to American Monsters.

I genuinely do not know what was wrong with me when I first attempted Demon Road, as it has everything I loved about the Skulduggery Pleasant books: awesome characters; great action scenes; Landy's trademark of fabulous,witty dialogue; really nasty villains. And on top of that Demon Road, and its sequels, are true splatterfests - between them they have some of the bloodiest and goriest scenes ever to be printed under the YA banner. I don't know how Landy gets away with it; perhaps it is because there is the thread of wry humour that is woven through almost everything he writes?

If you're looking for a dark and bloody Hallowe'en read then you should really give this trilogy a go. Unlike the Skulduggery series of nine books (plus two other stories and now even more in the pipeline), you're not signing yourself up for the long haul - this is just a trilogy and the third book has a great ending, that brings the trilogy to a hugely satisfying end, but also does leave Derek the opportunity to return to the world and its characters in the future if he so chooses.

And if you have not yet discovered these books then come back tomorrow for a chance to win the complete trilogy.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Review: Cogheart by Peter Bunzl

Lily's life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends - Robert, the clockmaker's son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox - Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart...

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.

Three was the magic number for Bob Dorough, Blind Melon and De La Soul, and it's also the magic number for some of my reviews on The Book Zone. Here are three reasons why I loved Cogheart by Peter Bunzl:

1. It's steampunk

I have often questioned the lack of space-set science fiction published for kids, but here's another question for you: why are there not more steampunk books written for children? In my opinion, the genre is perfect for a middle grade audience, with the opportunities it gives for exciting, imaginative adventure stories full of derring do, set in either an almost real or wildly alternative Victorian era. Perhaps Peter Bunzl's debut, Cogheart, will be the book that changes this as it is easily one of the best I have read in the genre, for kids or adults and at times I was reminded of Joan Aiken's wonderful Wolves Chronicles books, but with the added fantastical steampunk elements.

2. The pace

This story takes a little while to get going but this gradual build up is worth it as sets the scene for a plot that is fast-paced and full of unrelenting action and adventure for the heroine and her friends. Steampunk books for younger readers, sometimes more that science fiction, require this kind of set-up at the beginning as the world is so similar to our own Victorian era, and the steampunk elements need to be introduced in a way that isn't jarring or confusing. Peter Bunzl manages this with ease.

3. The characters

Be it Lily and her new friend Robert, or Malkin the mechanical fox, or even Roach and Mould, the particularly nasty and thuggish villains of the piece, Cogheart is chock full of cracking characters. Lily is brave but sometimes this comes with a degree of recklessness, whilst Robert's bravery is not quite so outwardly obvious as he is more cautious in his nature, but the courage is there when it needs to be. Malkin is irritable and proud, but also fiercely loyal and great to have around when everything's hitting the fan. And Roach and Mould have just the right level of pantomime about them to have young readers on the edge of their seats, and also wanting to boo their every appearance in the story.


Cogheart is a very well plotted action adventure story that is one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I believe there is a sequel out next year, and I for one cannot wait to read it. Cogheart has a satisfying conclusion but does leave the reader with enough questions to have them wanting more. My thanks go to the fab people at Usborne for sending me a copy to read.