Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Inventory: Black Knight by Andy Briggs – Blog Tour 

Black Knight is the third book in The Inventory series that follows Dev and his friends as they protect the world from dangerous inventions and those that seek to use them. You might remember me taking part in the blog tours for Book one – Iron Fist, and Book Two – Gravity

Author Andy Briggs has kindly returned with a guest post on writing sequels, and I’ll share my thoughts on Black Knight too. 

The process of writing sequels in a series

 

The Inventory is my third series of books. My first venture was the HERO.COM and VILLAIN.NET series, and they were a huge leap into the unknown for me. I hadn’t written a serial before and this one was effectively two separate series – one hero, one villain – in which each book in the series happens the same time as the other. Effectively two parallel series in which characters and plot points crisscross from book to book. And there were to be eight books all together!

 

It was a nightmare to plot and I ended up with a huge map on my wall that looked more like a subway map, the interconnecting lines were individual character arcs bisecting at key plot points. It had turned from a book into a science project – but amazingly, it worked!

Tarzan came next. I thought this would be an easier series to plot as I had the weight of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ legacy to fall back on. However, that also made it a difficult challenge as there was a huge fan base that were very protective of the beloved character. The challenge was to create a new Tarzan that also felt familiar. That was a huge challenge I hadn’t bargained for.

 
 When it came to the Inventory, I was delighted to once again have a blank canvas, something I hadn’t had since Hero & Villain. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to create new characters, with their own flaws and quirks, and not have to be guided by the past, and having a more linear series fused the best of both my previous series experience into one. 


Looking back on my various series I think I have found the path I prefer – something new, something linear and something in which characters can grow and keep surprising me. I’m already in Book 4 and am delighted that I’m in a story that I hadn’t fully anticipated in Book 1, working with characters who weren’t even born then. That’s a nice place to be – after all, it’s the same place my readers will be as they turn the page… the future still unknown…

 About the Author


Andy has extensive experience working on multinational co-productions and has worked in comics, books, TV, film and trans-media projects.

Andy wrote and Executive Produced Legendary, currently the most successful independent UK/Chinese co-production. Released in China and grossing $5 million in the first week, with a theatric US release in 2014. With his brother he worked on Hollywood features such as Judge Dredd and Freddy vs. Jason and TV shows for the SyFy Channel and Netflix.

He wrote and co-created Secret Agents, a trans-media interactive spy experience for children, currently on at the Discover Centre, Stratford. He has 16 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world.

He has written 20 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world. In 2016 his latest feature, Crowhurst, will be released.

http://www.andybriggs.co.uk

@abriggswriter

Synopsis 

Dev and his friends are back with more mind-bending tech in this third installment of the Inventory series. 

The World Consortium is recruiting more agents to defend the most advanced technology the world isn’t ready for, and it’s up to Dev, Lottie and Mase to train them up for action. But will they be ready before Shadow Helix’s next strike? And has Dev uncovered all the secrets of his past, or is there more to know about his special abilities? 

What I Thought 

The playing field in Black Knight is spread wider still (we spend little time in the Inventory but the time that we do will have you on the edge of your seat…) and new players are added to the mix including more people Dev, Lot and Mason’s age. These new recruits are placed under the care of Dev and let’s just say not all of them like being bossed around, especially not by someone that keeps ‘spacing out’. 

Something strange is going on with Dev and his memory, when he keeps having flashbacks into someone else’s mind. The other thing that drives him to distraction is a boy who seems to have taken a liking to Lot. Personally I’m liking this development in their relationship and hope it continues next time. My favourite parts are generally those from Dev’s point of view. 

As ever the Inventory series is a fast paced thrilling read full of inventions and chases. There’s one particular chase that I really enjoyed, and I’m sure you will too. 

We also have a new enemy – one that has been around much longer, and that has a potential super weapon at its disposal. I won’t let on the ending of course only to say that…Cliffhanger alert! But that means there’s more to come and I know I’ll be reading on.  

Thanks to Andy for the story and Katrina at Scholastic for my copy of Black Knight. Opinions are my own of course. 

Check out the rest of the blog tour at the stops below. 


 

The magic of the makeover – Guest post from author of ‘Becoming Betty’ Eleanor Wood


From Andie in Pretty in Pink to Tai in Clueless, the makeover trope has long been one of my favourites. It’s that wish fulfilment fantasy of being able to make ourselves into someone completely different – an escape from our own boring identity. We like to believe it’s possible.
 

When I was in sixth form, I used to dye my hair a different colour every week – bleached blonde, jet black, purple, pink, pillar-box red and (just the once) a terrible sludge green. Every time, I hoped it might change my life. Every time…it didn’t.

 

My best friend and I would walk around Camden Market, watching the cool people go by and trying to decide who we wanted to be like the most. We were indie kids who wanted to try out being goths, punks, 60s beatniks, 70s hippies… Anything that would give us the identity we craved.

 

We ignored Actual Fashion and trawled charity shops, made our own clothes and got new piercings whenever we were bored on a Saturday afternoon. There was a flirtation with stick-on Bindis. The phase of blue lipstick, which prompted my stepdad to say ‘you look nice, have you recently drowned?’.

 

I had a total style crush on the girl who worked in Rockit on Camden High Street. I had my hair cut just like hers (short bob with unfortunate tufty fringe that didn’t suit me), had a lip piercing just like hers (I took it out after a month because it went gross). I imagined her life was so cool and glamorous; as I got the train home to my own suburban small-town home, I dreamed that a little bit of it would rub off on me. It wasn’t just a haircut, it was a magic spell. It never, ever worked.

Eleanor with a cute hair makeover

In Becoming Betty, Lizzie is so uncomfortable in her own skin, she will do anything to change it. Whether that’s with a new name, a new look, new friends. Like all of us, it takes her a while to realise that’s not how it works…

 

Top five movie makeovers

 

1. Andie in Pretty in Pink: when she cuts up that pink prom dress, it’s the coolest thing ever. I mean, it still looks like a hideous 80s nightmare by the time she’s finished with it, but that’s not the point.

2. Tai in Clueless, courtesy of Cher: OK, Tai looked better before as a skater grrl, rather than a generic California babe, but Cher means well and they are both the cutest.

3. Sandy in Grease: It’s really not cool to change your look for a guy, but you have to admit she looks super-fierce.

4. Mrs Doubtfire: Yeah OK, it may not be capital-F ‘Fashion’… but you’ve got to admit it’s impressive.

5. Gracie Hart AKA Gracie Lou Freebush in Miss Congeniality: because I will never not love Sandra Bullock.

Thanks Eleanor. Gracie Hart is my fave of those five. I adore that film. I’d also add in She’s All That and The Princess Diaries for fun makeovers too. I also coincidentally watched the documentary Embrace by Taryn Brymfitt on Monday and I highly recommend seeing it if you can. Will make you think twice about transformations, which I’m guessing this book will do too. 

Becoming Betty is out on 20th April. 

Synopsis 

Lizzie Brown’s life is one big to-do list: 

1. Start college

2. Become cool

3. Decide wtf to do with her life

So when she meets Viv, the crazy, beautiful lead singer in a band, she thinks she’s on her way to achieving number two on her list. And when Viv asks her to be the bass player in the band, there’s only one problem – Lizzie can’t play a single note. And that she’s nowhere near cool enough (ok, two problems). And that she has a huge crush on the guitarist (ok, three), who happens to be Viv’s boyfriend (ok, this is a terrible idea). 

But Viv won’t take no for an answer, and decides that a makeover is the answer to everything. Boring Lizzie Brown is going to become Betty Brown the Bass Player and there’s nothing Lizzie can do about it…

I also spoke to Eleanor about her previous novel Gemini Rising a couple of years back and am look forward to catching up with her new release. 

 

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan – Blog Tour

Last year I read and enjoyed the first book in the series Shadow Magic. You can find my review, and more information about the author here. The second book in the series is out this week on the 6th and I’ve been lucky enough to get an early copy (opinions are still mine though). 


Synopsis 

In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery . . . Lileth Shadow, princess of darkness, is struggling with her growing powers. Castle Gloom is filling with ghosts, zombies roam the country and people throughout Gehenna are disappearing. Then Lily is attacked in her own castle by a mysterious sorcerer known as Dreamweaver and his army of jewel-spiders whose bites send victims to sleep. Thorn, and his giant bat Hades, must save Lily from the realm of sleep and help her overcome the evil Dreamweaver in order for her to reclaim her kingdom.

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf here. 

What I Thought 

First up, can I just say, I love these covers. They definitely make you want to pick up the books and delve in. I also love that they clearly feature young children and reflect the age of our protagonists Lily and Thorn.  

In this book, some of the challenges to be faced are, unwanted proposals, trolls, decomposing and wandering zombies and spiders whose bite can send their victim to sleep, as well as doing other nasty things (spiders – *shudders*). 

As we discovered in the first book, women aren’t supposed to do magic and this is another thing Lily battles with. She also discovers that as well as necromancy and power over shadows, dreams are another arena where she can use her power. 

In the first book I thought that our two young leads jumped to conclusions too quickly but I didn’t notice that here, instead they both appear to be growing into their responsibilities. 

These books are an engaging read within an interesting fantasy world, and they contain a fair bit of humour too. I certainly giggled a few times. I’m particularly fond of the character Dott, Lily’s troll maid, in this book. Gabriel is also back, and just as annoying. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in Burning Magic. 

Do check out what other people on the tour thought too. 

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