Sunday 6 February 2011

RHCB Bloggers Brunch - 22nd January 2011

A couple of weeks ago I was invited along with several other bloggers to Random House Children's Books for their 2nd blogger brunch.  We had such a fantastic time at the first brunch last year so I was really looking forward to the event and finding out about the amazing new books the have lined up for us in 2011.  I met up with Sammee (from I Want To Read That) at Waterloo so we could travel to Ealing Broadway together where we were meeting up with Caroline (from Portrait of a Woman) who was able to guide us to the RHCB offices.  A few people had been delayed on their trains so we ended up being a little late arriving at the offices (sorry to all at RHCB for that) but luckily they hadn't started without us.

When we had been greeted by Lauren and shown down to the conference room where we found some very exciting goodie bags waiting for us.  Let me tell you there was some exciting squealing from us all when we saw them and had a peek inside!

There were some very exciting ARCs in our goodie bags!

After we'd all found seats and settled down the RHCB Publicity team were very excited to tell us all about some of the books they have coming out this year.  I have to tell you we have some fantastic sounding books to look forward to and I can't wait to start reading them all!  Here are some of the books we heard about (descriptions and cover pictures have been taken from Amazon where available)

The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers

From the master storyteller, Aidan Chambers, comes a collection of Stories of Defiance - moments in life, realizations, insights and sudden revelations. Mixed with longer stories are some 'Flash Fictions' - very short but complete stories that reveal, as in a flash of light, a moment of awkward truth in the life of their characters. Prepare to be amazed, enchanted and to gasp with shock.

In 'Kangaroo', a girl loses her humanity when she takes an unusual summer job. In 'The Tower', a boy rescues a girl from a fiery death, only to have her disappear. And in the unforgettable title story, a seemingly innocent game between a boy and a girl takes a horrific turn.

Once again Chambers treats his readers to his intelligent prose, playfulness of form and incisive understanding on the wonderings of young people on the verge of adulthood.

This is a collection of short stories that is released in the UK on the 3rd of March.  We were lucky enough to receive an ARC of this one and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

They were taken from their beds one frozen night, when the world was covered in snow. The silhouette of a tall, thin man has haunted Kate ever since.

Ten years on, Kate, Michael and Emma have grown up in a string of miserable orphanages, and all memories of their parents have faded to a blur. Arriving at Cambridge Falls, the children quickly realise there is something different about this place – and Kate feels sure she has seen the dark, crooked house before.

As they explore, they discover an old, empty leather book. The moment they touch it, an ancient magical prophecy is set irrevocably in motion, and the children are thrown into a dangerous alternate reality of dark enchantments and terrifying monsters. Only they can prevent the terrible event that will ruin Cambridge Falls – and stop the world from falling into complete devastation.

This is a debut novel that is being released in April.  John Stephens is a scriptwriter who has worked on several TV series including The Gilmore Girls and The OC.  The Emerald Atlas is aimed at a younger audience than the books I usually read but Clare and the others were so enthusiastic about it that I'm looking forward to giving it a try.  It is one that fans of Harry Potter and Narnia should enjoy so I'm pretty sure I'll like it!  We were given an ARC so I'll be posting a review a bit nearer to the release date.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge.

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss . . .

When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years.

A haunting voice in an empty room ... A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ... A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church . . . Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi.

Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.

I am incredibly excited about reading Long Lankin, some of the others have already read their copies and I've been hearing fantastic things about it.  It's a debut from a UK author and was discovered when the author asked her neighbour (one of the Random House editors) to read it for her.  All of the publicists were very enthusiastic about this one and I'm expecting a very thrilling and creepy read.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a big hit when it is released in April!

Where She Went by Gayle Foreman

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, powerful prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Another April release Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay by Gayle Foreman.  I have to confess that I'd not heard much about If I Stay and hadn't read it when we were at the blogger brunch but I was very intrigued after the other bloggers raved so much about it - they were all incredibly excited about the sequel.  One of the publicists very kindly gave me a copy of If I Stay and I have to say that now I've read it I can't wait for Where She Went.  I will be posting my review of If I Stay soon but if you haven't read it I'd urge you to get your copy as soon as you can because you'll want to read the sequel!

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

I first heard of Blood Magic at the RHCB blogger brunch last year (it was one of the secret books that we were asked not to talk about yet) so if seems like I've been waiting a very long time to get my hands on a copy.  Luckily the wait is almost over as Blood Magic is released in May and this is probably one of my most anticipated reads of 2011.
Sorry there is no description currently available on Amazon for this one but here is a little bit of information from what we were told by RHCB.  The main character is a girl called Cilla.  Cilla has always been told that her father murdered her mother and then killed himself but is that what really happened?  When Cilla finds a book about blood magic written in her father's handwriting she is curious enough to want to try the spells for herself and begins practising magic in her local cemetery.  Blood Magic is a creepy story with a Grimm's fairy tale feel to it and is one I can't wait to read.
Passion by Lauren Kate
Before Luce and Daniel met at Sword & Cross and fought immortals at Shoreline, they lived many lives. . . An incredible new instalment in the series that has taken the world by storm
The third book in the Number 1 best-selling Fallen series serves up what readers are dying to know. . . Passion not only gives answers and insight into who Luce and Daniel were before we first met them, but also seamlessly moves ahead the main plot, setting up an incredibly thrilling and climactic introduction to the fourth and final chapter in the Fallen series - coming in 2012.
The publicity team weren't able to give us much information about Passion as it is currently so top secret that even they haven't been allowed to read it!  They did say that it concentrates on Luce's previous lives so I'm hoping we're going to get answers to some of the questions that were raised in Torment (I had a LOT of questions at the end of that book!).  I'm really looking forward to finding out more about Luce's history with Daniel.  On a side note I have to say how much I love the cover, I've liked all of the covers for this series but this one is probably my favorite so far.
Killing Honour by Bali Rai
‘Honour,’ I repeated, wondering how such a small word could have caused so much trouble.
When Sat's sister, Jas, is married off into the Atwal family she changes, she's quiet and distant. But Sat's too busy with his own life; his girlfriend, his friends, football . . . Then Jas disappears.

According to her new husband, she's run off with another man. Her family disown her; don't seem to care if she's ever found. But Sat doesn't believe it. Something has happened to his sister and he's determined to figure out what. But his investigations take him into dark and dangerous territory . . .

A powerful, hard-hitting teen thriller on the controversial topic of honour killing, by multi-award-winning author Bali Rai.

I've not actually read anything by Bali Rai before but I've always heard good things about his books so this one is definitely on my wish list.  It sounds like an action packed thriller and I'll be interested to read a story that includes an arranged marriage.  Killing Honour is released in June.

Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley

There is no description currently available for Violet Wings but we were told it is quite a dark story about  faeries with epic world building.  The main character Zaria gets her powers when she turns 14 and discovers that she has very strong magical abilities.  She visits Earth from the faerie realm and while she is here she falls in love.

Although the cover had already been decided on we were shown several different versions that RHCB had looked at and it was really interesting to see how everyone had different opinions on which one they liked best.  I think my favorite is actually the one pictured here.

For The Record by Ellie Irving

Luke is a gifted but awkward ten-year-old who is obsessed with The Guinness Book of Records, and is nervous about starting senior school a year early as ‘the swot with the dead Dad'. When Luke’s tiny, unique Jersey village is in danger of being bulldozed to the ground to make way for a waste incinerator plant, the only way to stop it is by putting the village on the map: by breaking 50 world records in a week. With the help of geeky adjudicator Simon and a colourful cast of oddball village characters, this is Luke’s chance to shine, to solve his mum’s relationship problems, and to face his biggest fears – with bizarre, extraordinary consequences.

For the Record is a debut novel by a UK author and will be released in June.  It is aimed at younger readers but it sounded like such a fun read.  It is full of quirky British humor and I'm curious to find out more about the different record breaking attempts the villagers make.

The Devil Walks by Anne Fire

Sorry but I couldn't find any image or description for this one so you'll have to rely on my memory for details!  We were told that this is an amazing story set in the past about a little boy who is bed ridden due to illness.  He has been told he has a "condition" but it turns out that his mother was unhinged and when she is sent to an asylum he is adopted by his doctor.  When he moves into his new home he takes a dolls house with him but whenever he plays with it something mysterious always seems to happen - especially if he plays with the strange 2 headed doll that he found inside.  The Devil Walks has an intense, Gothic feel to it and it is apparently perfect to be made into a film by Tim Burton.  Sounds really interesting doesn't it?  Unfortunately we have to wait until July before we can read it!

In the Sea there are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

One night before putting him to bed, Enaiatollah’s mother tells him three things: don’t use drugs, don’t use weapons, don’t steal. The next day he wakes up to find she isn’t there. They have fled their village in Ghazni to seek safety outside Afghanistan but his mother has decided to return home to her younger children. Ten-year-old Enaiatollah is left alone in Pakistan to fend for himself.
In a book that takes a true story and shapes it into a beautiful piece of fiction, Italian novelist Fabio Geda describes Enaiatollah’s remarkable five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he finally managed to claim political asylum aged fifteen. His ordeal took him through Iran, Turkey and Greece, working on building sites in order to pay people-traffickers, and enduring the physical misery of dangerous border crossings squeezed into the false bottoms of lorries or trekking across inhospitable mountains. A series of almost implausible strokes of fortune enabled him to get to Turin, find help from an Italian family and meet Fabio Geda, with whom he became friends.

The result of their friendship is this unique book in which Enaiatollah’s engaging, moving voice is brilliantly captured by Geda’s subtle and simple storytelling. In Geda’s hands, Enaiatollah’s journey becomes a universal story of stoicism in the face of fear, and the search for a place where life is livable.

In the Sea there are Crocodiles is already a best seller in Italy and I have to say it sounds like an incredibly powerful book.  Based on a true story it is a tale of hope, courage and optimism, a story about the search for a home and somewhere you belong.  This is being released in July and will be aimed at both the adult and YA markets with separate covers for each.  The cover pictured above is the adult version but my favorite was the YA one which features a photo of a young boy who has the most beautiful eyes that make you want to pick him up and hug him (sorry but I couldn't find a copy of that picture online yet).  I'm definitley looking forward to reading this one.

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

A pacy, bloodthirsty, hugely entertaining teen zombie novel with an unconventional but tender love story at its heart.
From the ruins of a cataclysmic ice-age a new society has emerged, based on Victorian customs. Nora Dearly, a feisty teenage girl and apparent orphan, leaves her exclusive boarding school for the holidays to return home - only to be dragged into the night by the living dead.

Luckily for her, this particular crack unit of zombies are good guys - sent to protect her from the real nasties roaming the countryside and zeroing in on major cities to swell their ranks. Nora must find a way to defeat the evil undead with help from Bram, a noble, sweet and surprisingly hot zombie boy for whom she starts to fall...
Dearly Departed is another debut, this time from an American author and apparently has a feel of Gone with the Wind meets Dawn of the Dead.  I have to confess I don't have the best track record when it comes to zombie stories but we were told it is well written with gory zombie attacks and has a steam punk feel to it which has made me tempted to give it a try.  I was a bit put off by the fact that it's a zombie romance but the publicists assured us that it is a really good read so I'm curious enough to give it a try.  We'll have to wait until the October release date before we can get a copy though.

At this point we also got told about a couple of secret books that I'm really gutted I can't tell you more about.  They both sounded fantastic though so I'm really looking forward to reading them!


After the presentation had finished we were invited up to the publicists offices where they were amazingly generous and let us loose on their bookshelves again.  If you saw my write up of the first blogger brunch you'll know that we all went a little crazy last time so I'm surprised they were brave enough to invite us back, especially as there was almost double the amount of bloggers at this event.  I tried really hard to be restrained this time around but it was so difficult to resist all the pretty, shiny covers!  I'd like to say a massive thank you to RHCB for their generosity!!
Even trying to be restrained I managed to pick up 9 books!

But how could I possibly resist this beautiful illustrated hardcover of Four Tales by Philip Pullman?

When we were finally finished raiding the shelves it was time to go back down to the conference room to raise a glass of champers to celebrate the release of Karen Mahoney's debut novel The Iron Witch.  We even had a slice of delicious Iron Witch cake and then Kaz was kept busy signing books for us all.  I'd taken copies of the lovely limited edition cover (that can only be found in Waterstones and is only being used for one print run so get hold of your copy quickly before they sell out!) and yes one of them will be given away on the blog in February.  Here are some pictures I took of Kaz:

We had a little time to mingle with the other bloggers which was really nice.  I already knew quite a few of the people there but there were a few bloggers that I'd been really looking forward to meeting!  I took quite a few pictures of everyone that you can see in the slide show below.  Someone also took pictures of all of us with Kaz, I've added everyone's names so you can see who is who.  Check the names compared to the link list below & you should be able to put faces to some of the bloggers you already know & love - if you're not following them all already you really should go and check their blogs! (if you click on the picture it should bring up a larger version)

We all had an amazing time so I would like to say a huge thank you to RHCB for inviting us again.  Also a big congratulations to Kaz on the release of The Iron Witch, I'm so glad we got to celebrate with you!!

After leaving the RHCB offices Sammee, Caroline, Jo, Lynsey, Lauren, Lyndsey, Emma, Kirsty and I decided to go and get lunch at a local pub (it was the same pub we discovered after the last event).  We had a lovely meal together and it was nice to have more time to chat.  We had planned on going book shopping in the afternoon but we'd all picked up so many books to carry and we were having such a nice time we ended up staying in the pub for hours until it was time for everyone to leave to catch their trains home.  I could have happily sat around chatting to everyone for even longer so thank you all for a lovely afternoon!

Who Was There:
Lauren, Clare, Kelly, Rosi & Lisa - RHCB Publicity Department
Lauren & Ruth - RHCB Editorial Department


  1. You take the best photos & the way you have the slideshow is brilliant.
    It was so nice to meet you, I hope it will be the 1st of many :D

  2. I've read a few posts about this event and it sounds like you all had so much fun! I wish I could've been there to meet you all too. And all those books you came away with! Wow!

    I really love Philip Pullmans books and that one looks awesome. What a gorgeous cover.

    Great photo's too. I enjoyed them all.

  3. I've read a few posts about this event and it sounds like you all had so much fun! I wish I could've been there to meet you all too. And all those books you came away with! Wow!

    I really love Philip Pullmans books and that one looks awesome. What a gorgeous cover.

    Great photo's too. I enjoyed them all.

  4. It looks like a fun event - You really are the photographer queen!

    The Emerald Atlas looks like it will be good, and I can't wait to read Blood Magic.

  5. Oh what a great time! I bet you had such a blast!

  6. @ Asamum - it was so nice to finally meet you! I'm glad you like the pics - I adore my camera LOL. Fingers crossed it will be the first of many events we'll both be attending!

    @ The Slowest Bookworm - It was a great day thanks. It would have been lovely to meet you, hopefully one day we'll get that chance! I love the Dark Materials trilogy but haven't read this book yet, I just couldn't resist that cover & am looking forward to reading it :o)

    @ Hannah - LOL I do get a bit snap happy with my camera :o) The Emerald Atlas sounded really good, definitely looking forward to that one. I'm desperate to get my hands on Blood Magic though - it sounds awesome!

    @ Sheila - It was a fab day thanks, I feel so lucky that I've been able to attend some publisher events & it is always great to spend time with other bloggers :o)



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