Review of Romans on the Rampage! by Jeremy Strong



Romans on the Rampage is the latest book by Jeremy Strong. It is set in Ancient Rome and follows Perilus, an eleven year old Roman boy who is obsessed with chariot racing. Perilus dreams that one day he will ride in the Circus Maximus, but in the meantime he must make do with a makeshift chariot pulled by the family goat. That is until his hero, Scrocha, disappears on the day of the chariot race and Perilus finds himself taking part in the race he only dreamed about.

This is a brilliant book that is hilarious to read and would be a great book for both boys and girls. We particularly loved Croakbag the talking Raven who had us laughing out loud. Perilus is a great character who is always getting himself into sticky situations. I can’t wait to read the next installment, which will be out next year.

Thank you to Puffin for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Dog on Stilts by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon


dog on stilts

Dog on Stilts is about a world filled with dogs of every shape and colour. However, medium dog feels very average and decides he must do something to stand out. So he makes some stilts and is suddenly so tall that he towers above houses and can whistle down chimneys, but is being super tall really better than just being medium dog?

This is quite a surreal book and is a little dark in places. We liked the use of colour – the illustrations are mainly pink, purple, red and green and this makes it feel quite unusual.

Review of Wanted! Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burglar by Emily MacKenzie


ralfy rabbit

Ralfy is not an ordinary rabbit. Other rabbits dream about carrots and meadows and lettuces, whilst Ralfy only thinks about books. All the time. In fact, he is so obsessed by reading everything and anything that he begins stealing books from anywhere that he can see them. However, Ralfy meets his match when a young book obsessed boy called Arthur spots a few empty gaps in his bookshelf and sets out to find out just how they seem to vanish into thin air.

This is a perfect bedtime story that is very funny and is sure to inspire a love of books in young readers. I loved the image of Ralfy in his I Love Books t-shirt! A fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more books by Emily MacKenzie.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending us a copy to review.

Review of The Deadly 7 by Garth Jennings


Deadly 7

Eleven year old Nelson is very close to his older sister Celeste who he sees as his only real friend and is devastated when he hears that she has gone missing on a school trip in strange circumstances. Nelson is sent to stay with his eccentric Uncle Pogo, a plumber working at St Pauls Cathedral, when his parents join the search party. Whilst helping Uncle Pogo source a leak at the Cathedral, Nelson comes across an abandoned bricked up room. Trying to reach a pipe, he stands on what looks like an ordinary table but slips and something very odd happens. Nelson was not just standing on any old table, he was balancing on a strange and very old machine that extracts the seven deadly sins from someone’s soul.Soon, he finds out that he has extracted his own seven sins in the form of seven monsters visible only to him.

The seven monsters are Crush, Hoot, Spike, Stan, Miser, Nosh and Puff (who is very stinky) and they, along with Nelson, set out on an incredible and totally bonkers journey to track down missing Celeste. On the way, Nelson finds himself in situations that he could never have imagined. Will he find Celeste and work out how she mysteriously vanished?

This has got to be one of the funniest books I have read, I found myself giggling the whole way through and didn’t really want the story to end. The Deadly 7 is a fantastic, action packed book that I would rate as a five star read. I loved the cover and illustrations inside the book, they really add to the story and help bring the monsters to life.

Thank you to Macmillan for sending us a copy to review.

Review of Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd


Savage Magic cover

Maleficium: from the Latin – wicked, vicious, criminal, evil . That is the dark, pervasive atmosphere created by the opulent prose of Lloyd Shepherd in this tale of dark deeds and malignant spirits. Once again the unassuming Charles Horton, Constable of the River Police, must bring his sharp wit to bear on problems both personal and in the public domain and deal with the unseen malevolent forces at work in society in the early 1800s.

Urged by Aaron Graham, one of London`s leading magistrates, Horton agrees to investigate a series of strange events occurring at the property of Thorpe Lee House , where his estranged wife and youngest daughter live with her volatile and ferocious cousin Sir Henry Tempest. The villagers of Thorpe are agitated by these events and consider witchcraft to be the cause, even though witchcraft is no longer recognised by the law. Horton`s wife Abigail is herself beset by bad dreams concerning evil spirits and has taken herself to Brooke House, an asylum for the upper classes, to undergo treatment paid for by Graham.

Horton acquiesces as he feels obliged to return the favour on Abigail`s behalf and finds himself unaccountably drawn in to the noxious atmosphere pervading the estate and its inhabitants.

In London, a ship arrives from New South Wales bearing a lady whose reputation as a pernicious enchantress goes before her. Soon afterwards, several gentlemen of the nobility are found gruesomely slaughtered in their beds with no evidence of any assassin carrying out the crime – in each case all doors to their residences are locked, and even latterly guarded, by constables. Aaron Graham is a loss to discover the identity of those responsible, hindered by the nefarious culture of prostitution, pimping and drunkenness which come alive in the capital at nightfall. Is there a possible link between the episodes at Thorpe House and these unsolvable murders, and will Abigail help her newly befriended fellow patient in Brooke House, Maria, overcome her demons?

Lloyd has produced a masterpiece of intrigue, evil and magic in this story. He illustrates the very real and overwhelming superstitions of the time while drawing on our own shibboleths, hidden and overlaid with modern reason though they may be, making the progression of events even more awesome in the true sense of the word.
I thoroughly recommend this as a great read, equalling, if not even more chilling, than The Poisoned Island and The English Monster.

Reviewed by Liz.

UKYA Book Blogger Awards



Today I am proud to announce that the UKYA Book Blogger Awards Nominations are open!

Use the form below to nominate the bloggers that you love.

You can nominate up to three bloggers per category – choose wisely!

Nominations will stay open until 26th January (that’s two weeks).

Then the shortlist will be sorted and voting will begin on 1st February.

Good luck to all the lovely bloggers!

Review of The Magical Snow Garden by Tracey Corderoy and Jane Chapman


snow garden

The Magical Snow Garden is a beautiful picture book about a little penguin called Wellington who longs to have a pretty garden of his own. However, everyone tells Wellington that it is far too cold and snowy to grow flowers where he lives. Undeterred, and with help from his friend Rosemary, Wellington starts to make a garden with shiny, glittery objects and wrappers that Rosemary has collected on her travels.

This is a wonderful, magical book about friendship and believing in your dreams. We loved the vivid colours and stunning illustrations.

Thank you to Little Tiger Press for sending us a copy to review.

Interview with Sarah Sky – Author of Jessica Cole: Model Spy Fashion Assassin


sarah sky picture

I am delighted to welcome Sarah Sky to Bookbabblers. Sarah has answered a few questions for us below…

Please tell us a little about yourself

I’m a freelance education journalist and live in London with my husband and two young sons. I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I was a child. I love reading, writing, baking and martial arts – I’m a green belt in kickboxing and a brown with two white stripes belt in karate, currently training for black.

Please tell us about Fashion Assassin and your inspiration for the book

Fashion Assassin is the second book in the Jessica Cole: Model Spy series and takes place six months after the action in Code Red Lipstick.

Jessica has no intention of spying again after nearly being killed by deranged supermodel, Allegra Knight and a rogue MI6 agent. That’s until she’s blackmailed into posing undercover as a bodyguard for brattish Russian supermodel, Katyenka Ingorovka. What seems like a simple job aboard Mr Ingorokva’s superyacht in Monaco soon turns into a deadly mission to stop the world’s most dangerous weapon from falling into the wrong hands. Jessica needs lots of cool gadgets to help get her out of this mission alive.

I got the inspiration for Jessica Cole after reading a diary a teenage supermodel wrote for a Sunday newspaper – detailing her time at Paris Haute Couture Week, while trying to finish her homework. I’ve always loved spy novels and films and it suddenly came to me that a teenage model – who travels the world, often unaccompanied by parents – would make a very good cover for a spy.
I keep cuttings of interesting newspaper and magazine articles about spying, gadgets and technological developments in warfare, because I’m interested in that sort of thing and think they can provide inspiration for thrillers and spy books. I was fascinated by one newspaper article I found about a recent scientific development – and knew that this would be the basis of the plot for Fashion Assassin. I built the premise of the book around that cutting. I can’t say what it is as it’d be a major plot spoiler!

What are you working on now?

Bizarrely and rather madly, I’m working on two books at once. I’m about 40,000 words into one and 20,000 words into the other. I love them both. They’re both very different to the Jessica Cole: Model Spy series. I can’t wait to finish them!

What was your journey to publication like?

I won’t lie, it’s been difficult and had a lot of ups and downs. Along the way I’ve lost agents (who have quit agenting or been made redundant). I also lost an eight-book publishing deal (which I’d completed all the books for) when my publisher went into voluntary liquidation. I was that close to publication and it was all whipped away from me. Eventually, I picked myself up, dusted myself down and tried again.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Years before I was published, I remember attending a talk by Philip Ardagh, which I found very inspirational. Addressing an audience of aspiring authors, he said something like: ‘The only difference between me and you, is that I tried longer and didn’t give up.’
Obviously, he was being incredibly modest given his huge talent, but he was right about publishing – you have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul.
My advice would be to keep going and don’t give up if this is what you’re really passionate about. It can be a very long journey but it’s worth it when you get there.

* @sarahsky23


Thanks, Sarah. Scroll down to read our review of Jessica Cole: Model Spy – Fashion Assassin.

Models, spies and lipstick gadgets in this fast-paced teen series. Supermodel Jessica Cole has no intention of ever spying again after she was nearly killed by an embittered ex-model and a rogue MI6 agent. That is until she’s blackmailed into posing undercover as bodyguard to a very rich fellow model. What seems like a simple job aboard a luxurious yacht in Monaco soon turns into a deadly mission to stop the most dangerous weapon in the world falling into the wrong hands. Jessica will need every gadget in her make-up bag if she wants to get out of this one alive.

Fashion Assassin is available to buy now:

Sarah Sky is the author of Scholastic’s Jessica Cole: Model Spy series with Code Red Lipstick and Fashion Assassin. Catwalk Criminal is published in June 2015.
Sarah is a freelance education journalist and lives in West London with her husband and two young children.
She grew up in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, and studied English at Nottingham University before gaining a post-graduate diploma in journalism at Cardiff University.
She trained as a journalist at the Western Daily Press in Bristol. Her highlight was interviewing screen legend Charlton Heston and lowest point was being sneezed on by a cow at a fatstock competition.
Sarah worked as an education correspondent for a national newspaper before going freelance. She now divides her time between journalism and writing.
She loves reading, baking, table tennis and martial arts. She’s a green belt in kick-boxing and a brown with two white stripes at karate, currently training for black.
Author Links:

Fashion Assassin2

Review of Jessica Cole: Model Spy – Fashion Assassin


Fashion Assassin2

Fashion Assassin is the second in Sarah Sky’s Jessica Cole: Model Spy series.

Jessica was almost killed by crazy supermodel Allegra Knight in her first spying mission and, with her father seriously ill, she is determined not to get involved in anymore assignments. However, she reluctantly accepts an offer to shadow spoilt teen model Katyenka and must spend a week on her father’s yacht after Kat received death threats.

Jessica thinks it should be a breeze compared to what she went through on her last mission, but things change dramatically when she realises that not only is she protecting Kat she is also guarding a secret deadly weapon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced read, which is packed full of twists and turns with surprises around every corner. It is an addictive, edge of your seat book that I read in one sitting. Jessica has some seriously amazing spy gadgets in her make up bag and reading about these was one of my favourite parts of the book. I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy to review.

Review of The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner


door cover

Life looks bleak to AJ Flynn when he only passes one GCSE, so he is completely taken aback when his usually distant mum arranges an interview for him at a prominent London law firm. AJ is even more shocked when he is offered a position, but little does he know how much his life will actually change with his new career.

AJ is sent to sort out the archives at the Chambers and is shocked when he comes across a mysterious looking key with his name and date of birth attached. However, nothing can prepare AJ for what he will find behind the door for he will not just be crossing the threshold of a building, but will be crossing into another era. 1830s Clerkenwell to be precise.

Soon AJ realises that this secret door to the past might lead to the many unanswered questions he has about his father and who he was. It also may just be the answer for his two best friends who have both got themselves into sticky situations, but will they choose to stay in the old world or return to the present day?

I absolutely loved this book and didn’t want to put it down. Gardner has brought 1830s London to life complete with all of its sights, sounds and smells. Full of mystery and intrigue, The Door That Led to Where is a fast paced novel full of twists and turns had me hooked from the very first page. I highly recommend it, especially for fans of historical fiction and mysteries.

5 stars

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending us a copy to review.

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