Sunday 9 October 2016


I'm giving away some flash drives loaded with THE BLACK LOTUS audio-book. If you'd like to win one get in touch via the CONTACT page. Closing date for entries: Oct 31st 2016

Saturday 30 July 2016

Reading Ninja-Style

Real ninja, Daniel Soule, reading The Black Lotus shinobi-style!

Monday 4 July 2016

Review of MALADAPTED by Richard Kurti

MALADAPTED may be set in a distant future but it contains much relevance to the world of today. So much so, that I was a little freaked out to read the opening – a terrorist bombing of a Metro, as the same events unfolded in Brussels on my TV screen. One of the book’s protagonists, Cillian, walks out of the explosion unharmed, only to realise that his whole life has been a lie, because he is not, in fact, human, but a genetically engineered cyborg. As he searches for the truth he comes in contact with the second protagonist of the book – Tess, the terrorist who planted the bomb. The two characters, who should hate each other, are drawn together as Tess is betrayed by the fanatical religion she has been a devout follower of all her life.
Together, they try to make sense of a world in which robots do the menial jobs while people get to enjoy all the benefits of ultra-modern science and technology. Some people, that is. Because a mere scratch at the shiny surface of Foundation City reveals an ugly underbelly – ‘Foundations were always built on somebody’s bones.’
And indeed the book asks many important questions about science, technology, and genetics. Just because we can do something, does it mean we should?
The writing itself is super-sharp and as finely engineered as the robots that traverse the book’s pages. Chapters are short and always end on cliff-hangers which make for compulsive reading. The pace is incredibly fast and cinematic, which is no surprise given that the author is a BAFTA-nominated screenwriter.
A fantastic read which will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. (12+)

Thursday 23 June 2016

Kind Words from a Literary Hero

Some kind words from a literary hero of mine, Marita Conlon-McKenna.

Sunday 19 June 2016


This is the story of teenager, Olivia (Liv) Bloom who lives with her alcoholic mum and older sister, Hatty. When her mum is taken into rehab, Liv must face the trials and tribulations of teenage life alone. And even if the readers life differs from Liv's, teenagers will immediately relate to the problems in Liv's - friendships, peer pressure, bullying, poverty, sibling rivalry and school. Added to the mix is the fact that Liv knows almost nothing about her absentee father, and naturally is curious.

The real strength of this book is in the characters. Each is especially well developed, flawed and believable. Liv herself is kind-hearted but fiery in temperament, stubborn, and appropriately immature. The other characters that populate the book are equally flawed which made me empathise with them - even the bully, Mad Dog. I particularly liked the fragile and fuel-soaked relationship she has with Liv. There is one particular gruelling bully scene, but the other encounters between the two are equally as frightening, and painfully real.

Because Murray's characters are so well-rounded and complex, the relationships between them feel very real to the reader. In fact, everything about this book feels REAL, which is why I loved it. The events and characters are so realistic, one wonders if there's quite a bit of autobiographical detail in here?

I thought the way the novel was structured around a recipe book was inspired and original. Indeed, I loved the title of Liv's recipe book so much I thought it would make a great title for the actual novel - Recipes to Make Happiness Bloom. But I like Caramel Hearts too!

This book is immensely readable, written in a language to reflect Li'v's life - simple, but underscored with emotion and complexity. A most enjoyable read!

Monday 6 June 2016


The Black Lotus Quiz

Test your knowledge of The Black Lotus. Only smart ninjas need apply.

Which of these is NOT one of the Swords of Sarumara?

The Blood Sword
The Moon Sword
The Butterfly Sword

Which of these characters has a scar?


On what part of the body do Kyatapira police officers (Kats) wear a tattoo?


Renkondo is...

...the underground headquarters of the Black Lotus.
...a historical Japanese coming-of-age ceremony.
...a traditional Japanese food.

What superhero does Cormac have on his boxer shorts?


What superpower does the Jonin have?

Master of machines
Mind reading

How many horses do Cormac, Kate and Ghost steal from Yosa Castle?


Which of these creatures does NOT appear in the story?

A bat
A dinosaur
A mouse

What colour is Kate's hair?


The final part of the book is set in which US city?

New York City
San Francisco

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This thrilling novel, set in early 1900s London primarily centres around orphan, Sophie, who has just got a job in the magnificent department store, Sinclairs. But when the priceless Clockwork Sparrow is stolen, Sophie is led on a wild adventure in which she meets many foes but also friends like Lil, Billy and Joe. The narrative shifts seamlessly between these four characters as they try to solve the mystery and outwit the notorious Baron.

As a lover of fashion, my daughter was very much drawn to this book because it's full of decadence and style. The descriptions of the luxurious department store are particularly evocative of a different era and the reader is immediately drawn into this world.

Well written and researched, the tale keeps its readers on their toes with constant twists, double-crossings, surprises and danger by the bucketful. The ending in particular is extremely pacey and action-packed.

I particular loved the bit where Sophie escapes a locked room using the newspaper under the door trick because this was a trick (in games only!) we used to do as kids. I also liked the fleeting villain, the Baron, and how his identity is not revealed. I'm guessing he reappears in later books. I for one, have a sneaking suspicion that he is... Better not say!

Great story, full of wonderful characters. Kids (especially girls) will love it!

Monday 29 February 2016

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Black Lotus by Kieran Fanning

The Black Lotus

by Kieran Fanning

Giveaway ends April 10, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday 18 February 2016

Review of 'The Great Chocoplot'

The first thing I have to say about this book is it looks delicious - covered in squares of chocolate with a purple (synonymous with a certain confectionery brand!) foil background. It certainly looks good enough to eat. And what's inside is equally appetising.

The Great Chocoplot is the story of young Jelly and her family who live in the chocolate factory town of Chompton-on-de-Lyte. They are devastated to hear the announcement of a chocopocalypse (the end of chocolate!) which was predicted by the ancient people of Easter Egg Island. Panic buying and rioting ensues and a cloud of depression lands on Jelly's home town. Everyone is devastated, except for the pompous confectioner, Garibaldi Chocolati. Now isn't it a bit suspicious that the owner of a chocolate shop isn't upset about a chocopocalypse? Jelly certainly thinks so, and with the help of her wonderful Gran, sets out to solve the mystery.

I absolutely loved this book. Firstly, because it is so funny. I don't normally laugh out loud while reading but I did with this book. Jelly and her family are wonderfully quirky, original and hilarious. I especially liked the incompetent but loving dad. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the cast of secondary characters is pure comedy gold. Garibaldi Chocolati is a villain that even Dahl would have been proud of and indeed the book sits confidently and comfortably somewhere between Roald Dahl and David Walliams. Kids will eat this up (sorry!) because at its heart The Great Chocoplot is an adventure and mystery story full of charm and heart with the theme of family being central at all times. And it's about chocolate. What's not to love?

An impressive d├ębut, Mr Callaghan. I give this 5 (Milky Way Magic) Stars out of 5!

Monday 8 February 2016

US Book Cover!

What do you think of the US (Scholastic) cover of The Black Lotus?
I love it. Artwork is by the talented Matthew Griffin.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Which Black Lotus character are you most like?

Which Black Lotus character are you most like?

You are most like Kate

New Yorker, Kate is a strong, outspoken, intelligent girl who is brave and loyal to her friends. She can also communicate with animals.

You are most like Cormac

Naturally shy, but brave and stubborn, Cormac is a Hinin boy (orphan) from the Samurai Empire. He can run at incredible speeds, and even up the sides of buildings.

You are most like Ghost

Ghost lived in a favella in Rio de Janeiro, before being recruited by the Black Lotus. Burdened with guilt, he is nevertheless witty and fun-loving. As his name suggests, he can turn invisible.

You are most like the Jonin

The leader of the Black Lotus has long silver hair but cannot speak. It is believed that he bit off his own tongue to avoid revealing secrets to his enemies. Superpower: bio-luminescence.

You are most like the Bear

The Bear is a military man built like a mountain of hardened muscle. He is the Black Lotus' physical fitness teacher and is loud and tough.

You are most like Ami

This beautiful looking Japanese woman is the technology and gadgets teacher for the Black Lotus.

You are most like Sensei Iwamoto

He may be small, but this ninjutsu teacher packs a powerful punch and is in charge of weapons and combat at the Black Lotus.

You are most like Goda

As president of the Samurai Empire, Goda is a power-hungry villain who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

You are most like Makoto

Second in command and recruiter for the Black Lotus, the one-eyed Makoto is a master of disguise and has the ability to project his body to remote locations.

The world is flooding and there's only one seat left on your ark. What will you take?

Your pet
Your laptop/phone
A friend

The world is ending in an hour. What will you do?

Surf the internet

Which of these quotations would you like on your gravestone?

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.

Your headmaster drops dead in your classroom. What do you do?

Say something funny to relieve the tension
Organise the funeral

Which colour best represents you?


Which part of your body is your best feature?

Your hair
Your eyes
Every part is perfect.

The school bully steals your sandwich, what do you do?

Nothing. It wasn't a nice sandwich.
Use your wit and intelligence to expose him as a fool.
Kick his ass.

Which of these insults would most likely be shouted at you?

Big Mouth!

Which type of game player are you?

You play for fun and don't care about winning or losing.
You play to win but always abide by the rules.
You will do anything to win, even cheat.

Which chess piece are you?

A pawn
A queen
A king