26 February 2012


Psychic talents, those that can see the dead, reincarnation and time travel, scrying, witchcraft are common features of many YA and paranormal stories. But there are many paranormal phenomena and abilities that are less popular in YA and paranormal fiction. Maybe because they have older roots and aren't seen as 'modern' or perhaps because they aren't as interesting. But like I did with my Mythical Creatures post, I'm going to champion some less popular phenomenon and talents. Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily a firm believer in these phenomenon (I always like a little theory or proof - even in fiction), but I do like diversity and something different in a genre that be saturated with similar themes. So, could this be the future of paranormal fiction?

Crop circles
Despite its connotations with aliens, I'm always amazed at the crop patterns that are produced (no matter how they are done!). The earliest recorded image resembling a crop circle was depicted in a 17th century English woodcut called the Mowing-Devil. The image depicts the Devil with a scythe mowing a circular design in a field of oats. The pamphlet stated that the farmer, disgusted at the wage his mower was demanding for his work, insisted that he would rather have "the devil himself" perform the task.

Bi-location is the ability to be in two places at the same time, in a physical rather than spiritual ability, making it different from astral projection. Bilocation is an ancient phenomenon, claimed to be practiced by mystics, ecstatics, saints, monks, holy persons, and magical adepts.

Remote viewing
Remote viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means, in particular, extra-sensory perception. For example, a remote viewer might describe a location on the other side of the world which they have never visited; or an event that happened long ago.


The I-Ching, or Book of Changes, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts, and contains a numerological divination system. The I-ching incorporates even numbers as Yin, and odd numbers as Yang. In the hexagrams, Yin is represented by a broken line, Yang is represented by a whole line. To use the I-ching coins for divination, one side is designated as Yin, the other as Yang. Tossing the coins, and recording the results, forms the hexagram from the bottom line up. Once you have formed your hexagram, then it is time to turn to the Book of Changes for the meaning of that hexagram. There are sixty-four possibilities.


Carromancy from the Greek carro, 'waxen', and manteia, 'divination', is a form of divination involving wax. One of the most common methods of carromancy is to heat wax until molten, then to pour it directly into cold water. The shapes and movements of the wax as it cools and solidifies can then allegedly be read to forecast auguries of the future.

Carromancy also has roots in ancient Celtic times. According to scraps of knowledge salvaged from around the period CE 500, it appears that the candle burned during a druid's vigil was poured into a bowl and then into a clear pool of cold water. The auguries for the future could then be read.

I actually tried this back when I was a teenager and watched The Craft far too often - my friends and I poured wax into water to see what the initial of our husbands' first name would be. I've no idea what the letter was, but at the time it was good fun.

25 February 2012


The 13th Horseman
Author: Barry Hutchison
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
UK Release date: 1st March 2012
Genre: MG
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

When Drake Finn finds a mysterious shed in his back garden, little does he know that inside he will find the three horsemen of the apocolyspe. Or that he will be given the job as the fourth…well technically the 13th. But having just started a new school and facing problems of his own, Drake doesn’t want to take up the role of Death. As long as he can work off his notice period without anything happening he’ll be fine…or so he thinks!

Review: I couldn’t wait to read this one, because it just looked so fun. And I have to say it was fun, and funny and witty and… I’ll stop there, but you get the picture.

The three horsemen of the apocalypse, War, Famine and Pestilence, are brilliant characters. War is big and gruff, Famine can’t stop eating, and Pestilence is wracked with diseases and all manner of ailments. Their personalities are so unique and distinct, each funny in their own way. By the end I adored all of them, even Famine who at first I was a little sceptical of.

Hutchison’s writing style and natural humour and wit reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett and Garth Nix. I was smiling throughout the story because the characters themselves are so well written and come out with some cracking lines.

The story itself was so absurd but in a fun and easy-to-grasp way that you possibly couldn’t guess what was coming next. But there is no way you could get bored reading the story either. It’s full of action and adventure and bizarre mishaps. OK, so it’s not grandly complex, but that doesn’t matter when you’re reading it. For me, Barry Hutchison has now become one of those authors that I always want to read more of, and when I get to read his books it will feel like a real luxury.

The 13th Horseman is action packed with larger than life characters and plenty of humour. Young boys and fans of Terry Pratchett alike will love this one! It's out on 1st March 2012, and I thoroughly recommend reading it.

Rating: 4*

24 February 2012


Before I post up my review of this book tomorrow, I thought I would share the content of a very charming and witty email from HarperCollins Children's Books... it was too good to leave sat in my inbox:

The apocalypse is coming. There’s no way out of I’m afraid. Nope, not even through that sneaky door labelled “exit” – it’s fire and brimstone for us all.

But hey! Let’s not be downbeat about it! Why not laugh your way to the end of the world with some commentary from one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse himself? Ok so he might not be the most mysterious or powerful of the four, but he’s probably not the ugliest anyway. Pestilence has set up his very own blog to document the lead up to the end – which you can read at http://www.the13thhorseman.com/

Conveniently the countdown to the end of the world coincides with the publication of the hilarious new book from Barry Hutchison, The 13th Horseman on the 1st of March. Barry has created this innovative blog to feature all sorts of extra information on the lives of the horseman. You can now learn why exactly Toxie the Hellhound owes them one, where Pest got that nasty rash and watch Death descend into madness (well, waiting for an apocalypse for thousands of years can be pretty boring). The end of the world has never been so entertaining.

This additional content will really lead readers into the book, acting as a prequel to the text. If you enjoy reading it, do consider linking to it, tweeting about it, or just telling that person next to you on the bus they should read it.

Barry is available for comment and interview or can be followed on:


20 February 2012


It seems that web-chatting is quickly becoming the next big thing in author-reader interactions, as the lovely Karen Mahoney will be taking part in a webchat on Thursday on the fiercebook page on facebook.

Karen is the author of The Iron Witch and the soon to be released The Wood Queen.


I met Karen at a writers event almost two years ago, and it was her talk that inspired me to set up My Book Journey. She is very lovely and personable, so start thinking of questions and log into facebook at 4.30pm to ask her your question. Make it a good one!

19 February 2012


Fantasy as well as paranormal writing has seen its fair share of mythical creatures come to life in their pages. Many of them are well know and have been written about on numerous occasions including vampires, shape shifters and werewolves, dragons, and even centaurs, kelpies and mermaids.

But there are still so many mythical creatures that are less well known and hardly used in stories, despite being so interesting. So I have decided to champion some of these lesser known creatures. Some you may recognise, some you might not. Hopefully we will see more of these lesser known mythical creatures featuring more heavily in fantasy and paranormal stories in the future. Move over vampires and werewolves....this is the future:

Greek mythology
Humanoid & Deadly

The Cyclops were single eyed Giants with their one eye in the middle of their forehead. They were extremely vicious, every thought and moved was filled with a mind of aggression. According the the writer Hesoid, the Cyclops were stubborn strong and 'abrupt of emotion'.
There were two generations of Cyclops inn greek myth. The first generation consisted of three Cyclopses called Brontes, Steropes and Arges and were once imprisoned in Tartarus by the Titans but were rescued by the Olympian gods who persuaded them to join them. The second generation of Cyclops were a band of lawless shepherds who lived in Sicily. They were not good at manipulating metals like their ancestors and so they spent their time farming.


Direach Ghlinn Eitidh
Celtic mythology
Humanoid, Cave Dweller & Haunting

A human-like creature that has an extra leg and arm protruding from its chest. He has but one eye and tuft of hair on his head. He lurks in the valley of Glen of Eiti or Eitidh which is near Ballachulish.


Greek mythology
Serpent like water spirit

A serpent beast/dragon with nine or more heads.and poisonous breath so virulent even her tracks were deadly. The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He fired flaming arrows into the Hydra's lair, the spring of Amymone, a deep cave that it only came out of to terrorize neighboring villages. He then confronted the Hydra, but upon cutting off each of its heads he found that two grew back. The weakness of the Hydra was that only one of its heads was immortal.


Greek mythology

A bright blue bird with a long neck and purple and white markings across its body. It has the ability to calm the seas when it lays it eggs. The weather remains calm for seven days after the chicks have hatched.
This time is known as the ‘Halcyon Days’ and seamen use the tranquil weather to their advantage. The bird was originally a Greek woman who consulted Apollo. Zeus was offended by this and sent a storm to destroy her home city. When she returned she found her dead husband and tried to commit suicide by drowning but was turned into the Halcyon instead.


Irish mythology
Water horse

The aughisky is the Irish Water-horse. They were supposed to come out of the sea, particularly in November, and gallop along the shore or through the fields. 
Anyone who could catch one and lead it away from the shore could use it as a splendid mount, if not the finest steed to be ever seen. But, if it came within sight or sound of the sea, it would gallop wildly into the depths and tear it's rider to pieces, and devour them eating all but the liver.. November seem the month most likely for the aughisky to be seen, and it is also said that they devoured mortal cattle. If ridden inland, it is safe unless it catches the slightest whiff of sea water, triggering the same lethal behavior as above. It is similar to the kelpie, but more dangerous.

18 February 2012


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where you can list all the books you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.
My choices this week are ones that I've just stumbled upon in my wanderings of the internet. What do you think? Will they go on your wishlist?

Ghost Town by Phoebe Rivers
To be published May 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Sara Collins is a normal 12 year old girl with an abnormal secret: she is psychic. Sara has had her abilities for as long as she can remember, but she doesn't like to talk about them. She hopes that if she ignores them, they might go away. Sara wants nothing more than to have a normal life, and to her
"normal" doesn't include anything paranormal.

But Sara's abilities aren't going away... in fact, changes are happening in Sara's life that will make her abilities even more powerful. Her life is about to be turned upside down because she's moving across the country with her dad to an old shore town in New Jersey. A shore town with a lot of history... and
more than its fair share of ghosts.

Ghost Town places Sara in the fun setting of a shore town with a beach and a boardwalk. As Sara tries to settle into her new home, she discovers that not only is she surrounded by ghosts, but for the first time, the ghosts around her can communicate with her. One ghost in particular is intent on
communicating with Sara because he desperately needs something from her. Sara wants to help, but she's scared. Can Sara put her fear aside and help the spirit? Will doing so put her in jeopardy?
Meanwhile, Sara meets a great local girl named Lily Randazzo, and against all odds, really bonds with her. Sara has made a true friend for the first time in her life. Maybe New Jersey isn't so bad after all....


Green Rider by Kristen Britain
Published April 2000 by DAW Books

On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G'ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak. But her thoughts are interrupted by the clattering of hooves as a galloping horse bursts from the woods, the rider slumped over his mount's neck, impaled by two black-shafted arrows. As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan that he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of the king, and that he bears a "life and death" message for King Zachary. He begs Karigan to carry his message, warning her not to read it, and when she reluctantly agrees, he makes her swear on his sword to complete his mission "for love of country." As he bestows upon her the golden winged-horse brooch which is the symbol of his office, he whispers on his dying breath, "Beware the shadow man..."

Karigan's promise changes her life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent specter of the original messenger, she herself becomes a legendary Green Rider. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the message, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.

16 February 2012


Lauren Kate will be chatting online tonight from 8.30-9.00pm (UK time) about her Fallen series and about the brand new and beautiful FALLEN IN LOVE.

Log into facebook and go to Random House's teen page, fiercebook to ask Lauren Kate a question!

12 February 2012


Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Gollancz
UK Release date: January 2011
Genre: Contemporary paranormal

After 2 years in the police force as a probationary constable, Peter Grant is facing a future career of humdrum paperwork and filing; until he meets the sole witness to a brutal murder. It’s just a shame the witness is a ghost and he’s the only person that can see him. But as Grant discovers, the Metropolitan Police Service has a special ‘arrangement’ for paranormal activity within the capitol: namely Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale. Taking Grant under his wing as an apprentice wizard, he is led into a world of magic, mayhem and plenty of mischief. 

Review: Right from the start Aaronovitch’s distinctive writing style grabbed me; Grant’s narrative has been written with humour, wit, and a real sense of personality. Observations and commentary of human behaviour, such as how people behave on public transport, is something we all pay little attention to but notice more on a subconscious level. And by adding these observations into the narrative Aaronovitch makes the story feel real and very true to life.

Grant's narrative does try to maintain a delicate balance between magic and science, which should satisfy readers like myself that need a little 'proof' or theory behind paranormal activity and a bit of natural scepticism to make the magic feel a bit more realistic. The fact that the paranormal elements are also balanced with the crime element, adds more importance to Grant's role and puts him in lots of dangerous situations. Grant in himself is interesting, as well as his role within the police service. He doesn't stick to the rules, he's curious, inquisitive and makes things up as he goes along, which often gets him in trouble. Grant continuously tries to figure out where the magic comes from and how it works, experimenting with magic and sometimes trying things beyond his means. This curiosity and intrigue keeps the plot interesting and helps him get out of a few sticky situations.

With an action packed plot, Grant has a tumultuous start to his new job as apprentice wizard. Skipping easily through ‘quieter periods’ of his training and learning kept a steady pace to the story, leaving the rest full of action, mystery and intrigue. 

Rivers of London is richly woven with London’s past and geography, adding a real sense of place and history to the story. Magical elements are also linked into geography in an intriguing way, such as rivers being connected to living embodiments through some mysterious magical force. I did find myself confused at the ‘Punch and Judy’ historical link, but that may because the plot was purposefully filled with mystery and questions.

The characters ranged from normal, honest but likeable Lesley, who was steady and dedicated to her job, to Beverly Brooks, a London river in corporeal form. There was obviously chemistry between Grant and both of these very different women, and I'm intrigued to see where this little triangle goes. I also loved Toby the dog and how he ended up involved in the story and helping investigations. There’s something about a lovable, furry side-kick that I adore in any story.

Combining investigative crime-fighting with magical forces and a witty narrative, Rivers of London has potential to be a great series.

Rating: 4*

2 February 2012


Desert Angel
Author: Charlie Price
Series: No, standalone
UK Publisher: Random House Children's Books
UK Release date: 2nd February 2012
Genre: YA Thriller
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review

Fourteen year old Angel has been dragged across the country by a mother who cares about the no-good men she hooks up with more than she does for Angel. And the latest boyfriend is a real piece of work. He’s killed her mother, and now he’s coming after Angel. Can she outrun the hunter in the unforgiving desert, or can she learn to trust others?

Review: From the first page Desert Angel throws the reader straight into the conflict and danger of Angel’s life. The story was so gripping and tense that I didn’t want to put it down even when Scotty become hideously evil trying to kill Angel. Although the story was a thrilling cat and mouse chase, it also felt very real. I think because of Angel’s character and how well she was brought to life, the story felt human and personal, and I found Angel’s fears and thoughts were very tangible and easy to understand and sympathise with.

Right from the off I was rooting for Angel, even though she wasn't what you would naturally expect as a main protagonist. She was aloof and emotionally withdrawn, and prone to run at any conflict. Her mother had constantly neglected her and put her second to her latest boyfriend. She hadn’t had a good childhood, she didn’t get to make friends and play games, and you could see that the same was happening to little Norma, unless someone steps in. Just like Jessie was stepping in and being there for Angel, Angel was faced with the dilemma of whether she could do the same for Norma. And I have to say, I adored both Angel and Norma, especially when they were together – Norma’s thoughts and the way she described adult things was so funny and sweet, and you could see that underneath the grumpiness and hostility there was a lovely girl just waiting for someone to be there for her and love her.

It wasn’t just these two characters that I liked though; all of the people that helped Angel felt real, including their concerns of being discovered as illegal immigrants or fear of retaliation from Scotty. I think this is one reason why Jessie stands out as such a strong and positive character; ignoring all of the potential danger and taking Angel under her wing and acting more like a mother than her real mother had. Everyone should have someone like Jessie in their lives!

The harsh desert setting was interesting because it wasn’t something I had come across often in books. It felt stark and unforgiving and really added to Angel’s predicament. It also mirrored Scotty’s evil nature – both him and the desert were harsh, unrelenting and ruthless. At times, he felt like prey stalking its weak victim. I would have liked the story to continue for longer in the desert, as the start of the book felt more dramatic compared to when the setting changed to Angel living with others.

As a character, Angel goes through an emotional and rather reluctant development. For so long Angel had no one to rely on, no one to love her or look after her. But as she spends more and more time with Jessie and her family, and she finds people willing to protect her for no reason other than caring, Angel just doesn’t know how to deal with it. Her instinct is to run and hide; but for Angel that means being mercilessly hunted and tracked by Scotty.

A thrilling and emotional cat and mouse chase, Desert Angel is a ruthless hunt to the end.

Rating: 5*