Sunday, 18 March 2018

Game Over for The Book Zone

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This is the post that once upon a time I thought I would never write. It is also the post that I have put off writing for far too long.

I started The Book Zone (For Boys) back in October 2009, and for the following five or so years I loved every moment of my blogging journey. I read many fantastic books that might not have otherwise found their way to my bookshelf and I met some wonderful authors, publishers and fellow bloggers. 

However, a few years ago things had to slow down a bit, and the number of posts I was writing each month had to decrease. Work pressures increased bit by bit, and as I have mentioned in a previous post, we could not afford to replace our school librarian when she retired, and so I took it on as one of my Assistant Headteacher responsibilities to make sure it stayed open and running. I hope you will be glad to hear that nearly three years on the school library is still thriving and full of students before school and at every break time. I am still pushing brilliant new books into the hands of avid and reluctant readers on a daily basis, and this is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way blogging became less of a release from the daily grind and more of a chore, and the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that I have not written a blog post since October 2016. There are many reasons for this, some of which are personal and not for publication here. I have also been (almost) completely absent from Twitter since then (only two tweets in 2017!). However, part of me refused to accept that maybe it was time to bring The Book Zone to an end and so I never wrote this post, always believing that I would somehow find the time and the passion to start blogging again. I have now finally accepted this. 

I would like to thank all of the publishers and authors who have given me so much support with The Book Zone since it launched. It has been a genuine pleasure to meet so many of you and to geek out about the books you write and publish. At this moment in time, this is the only part of  blogging that I know I will miss (even if at the last few events I went to I have felt like a dinosaur compared with the new wave of fantastic young bloggers and vloggers that are doing such a great job of promoting books for children and teens). Thank you too for all of the books you have sent me over the years - I am just sorry that I could not read and review every one that cane though my letterbox. Thank you also to all of the readers of this blog, both young and old. Your emails and messages of support have always been very gratefully received, and if even a small number of young readers have discovered a love for reading through my recommendations then all of the time and effort has been worthwhile. Please also accept my apologies for bringing The Book Zone to a close - I know from your emails that many of you have found this a useful resource for finding books for boys to read.

So what now for me? I would like to say "never say never" as far as The Book Zone is concerned. Who knows? I may win the lottery and be gifted with the time to start loving writing about books again! In the meantime though, I am currently balancing my work responsibilities with a rekindled love for photography. Back in September I started studying a Level 3 (A Level equivalent) course in Photography as a weekly evening class at the local college and I am loving every minute of it. Until starting this course, most of my photography was travel or street art based, but I am now very excited about developing my skills at studio and location portrait photography and I have just purchased my first set of studio strobes from eBay. if you are interested I have two Instagram accounts (@djdazzler and @planetflux) and you can also find me on Flickr. Be gentle though, these are still early days :-)

Monday, 31 October 2016

Competition: WIN The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

This competition has now closed and the winner has been notified. Thank you to all who entered.

Happy Hallowe'en!

I wrote yesterday about how much I enjoyed Derek Landy's, dark and bloody Demon Road trilogy.

Now you have the chance to win the trilogy, simply by filling in your details in the form below. Thanks to the generosity of HerperCollins I have a set of the three books to give away.
The first name drawn at random after the closing date will win a set of books. The deadline for entries is 7pm GMT Friday 4th November. This competition is open to UK residents only.

Contest open to UK residents only.
Neither the publisher or I will be held responsible for items lost in the mail.
I hold the right to end a contest before its original deadline without any prior notice.
I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

I will contact winning entrants for their postal address following the close of the competition. Winners have 48 hours to reply. Failure to do so in this time will result in another winner being randomly selected.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Review: The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.

But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be

Witty, action-packed and heart-stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America.

Long time readers of The Book Zone will know that I was a huge fan of Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant books. When I was offered a proof of Demon Road, the first book in his new trilogy, I obviously shouted yes please, and dropped everything to read it when it came through my letterbox. And then calamity struck - I just couldn't get into it, and put it down after a few chapters and picked up something else to read, always meaning to give it another go. 

That 'other go' never materialised though, until at the tail end of August I was approached by the fab people at HarperCollins, letting me know that American Monsters, the third book in the trilogy was soon to be released and enquiring as to whether I would be interested in a set of the three books to binge read. I decided to accept the challenge and when they arrived I restarted Demon Road from the beginning... and this time I loved it! So much so that I leaped straight into the sequel, Desolation, with barely a pause for breath, and then moved on to American Monsters.

I genuinely do not know what was wrong with me when I first attempted Demon Road, as it has everything I loved about the Skulduggery Pleasant books: awesome characters; great action scenes; Landy's trademark of fabulous,witty dialogue; really nasty villains. And on top of that Demon Road, and its sequels, are true splatterfests - between them they have some of the bloodiest and goriest scenes ever to be printed under the YA banner. I don't know how Landy gets away with it; perhaps it is because there is the thread of wry humour that is woven through almost everything he writes?

If you're looking for a dark and bloody Hallowe'en read then you should really give this trilogy a go. Unlike the Skulduggery series of nine books (plus two other stories and now even more in the pipeline), you're not signing yourself up for the long haul - this is just a trilogy and the third book has a great ending, that brings the trilogy to a hugely satisfying end, but also does leave Derek the opportunity to return to the world and its characters in the future if he so chooses.

And if you have not yet discovered these books then come back tomorrow for a chance to win the complete trilogy.