Category Archives: Robert Muchamore

Hachette Australia Roadshow: The Tez Edition

I recently attending the Hachette Australia Roadshow in Melbourne, which showcased upcoming books from the publisher that will be getting major publicity pushes.

I took home two books from the goody bag on offer: Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend and Kelly Rimmer’s Before I Let You Go. I’d heard of neither author before, but figured I’ll give these a try.

But my overall impression of the night was disappointing, because I’d hoped to hear that my favourite Hachette authors would be getting the big publicity pushes. Unfortunately, none of them were mentioned. Maybe because the night was focused on 2018 titles, perhaps?

But if you want a box hurled into the sun, you have to do it yourself. After searching through Hachette Australia’s website, I now present to you the upcoming Hachette books I’m interested in, plus a full list of Hachette authors I like – even if they don’t have anything upcoming listed on the site. Though the publication info – including covers and release dates – are for the Australian editions, I’ve included international pre-order links, so everyone can join in to support these authors and books.

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[REVIEW] New Guard – Robert Muchamore

Robert Muchamore
New Guard (CHERUB, Book 17)
Hachette Hodder (AU: 31st May 2016; UK: 2nd June 2016)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Hardcover) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

New Guard is the final novel in Robert Muchamore’s thrilling CHERUB series. It was time. I’d lost some interest, until I perked up again with the introduction of now-regulars Ryan Sharma and Fu Ning. But the Aramov case took three books to solve, so it seemed overly long. As for Lone Wolf, the penultimate, all I remember is the unveiling of the Campus Village at the end. (How can CHERUB afford all that, by the way? And the annual summer sojourn to a private Mediterranean island resort? While some may point out the improbability of underage people being spies, I instead get hung up on money issues. I am strange.)

New Guard is a wonderfully fitting farewell, doing the classic move of pop culture series everywhere: it gets the old gang back together for one last hurrah. Though this time the “Crustys” have some “Currents” with them on a mission to rescue two kidnapped oil well equipment maintenance workers in Syria.

What’s great about CHERUB is that it’s not all about James Adams. It may have started with his POV, but quickly expanded to include his sister Lauren, his girlfriend Kerry Chang, and more recently characters like Ryan and Ning. Indeed, the strongest characters in the series are the girls. This instalment also includes the awesome Tovah, and the future’s looking bright with a new youngster we meet at the end.

As for the boys… Well, in the past James cheated on Kerry. Ryan’s still hung up on someone he met on a mission, though he could do better. And while Bruce Norris’s choice of girlfriend is otherwise awesome…she’s seventeen, and he’s about twenty-three.

Though Lauren stars on the front cover, the character with the biggest arc in the book is Kerry. She goes through a lot of tripe and upheaval, but it looks like she’ll be OK.

Free Books on Amazon: Why & What

NOTE: For the purpose of this article, I don’t count “Free if you’re with Prime/Audible/etc” as free, on account of they’re conditional. E.g. Free-to-air TV has extra channels, but you can’t access them because they’re only compatible with high-definition televisions and you only have standard-definition.

A tech-giant recently released a new gadget, and possibly an updated operating system, and thus their affiliated online bookseller is marketing this as a great time for readers to stock up on some free books. (I don’t know who decides which books to make free, but I hope the publisher chooses, so the bookseller isn’t going rogue.)

Because of price-matching and whatnot, other booksellers are hosting the same deal. This is great, because I tried to download the software for the gadget’s affiliated bookseller, but apparently it’s not compatible with devices that aren’t affiliated with that particular tech-giant. (Yet their music software IS compatible…)

So I turned to Amazon, and they indeed have some of the same books for free. During my searches, I learned that offering the first-in-a-series for free – permanently, instead of just temporarily – is a great way to snag a potential reader’s interest, and self-publishers in particular are really going for this. And as self-publishers, these authors can change their prices if or when they want. (For traditional publishers, I figure their authors don’t get much say, but hopefully their publisher consults them about making a book available for free.)

Also, even traditional publishers offer short stories or novellas for free, to get readers interested in trying the full-length novels. Whether temporary or permanent, it’s a great opportunity for consumers.

Of course, in the past some self-published authors have been dismayed to learn that offering the first for free may not automatically boost sales for the author’s not-free books. So patience is a must – please understand that consumers may not immediately read something they just purchased, but buy so they have the OPTION of reading at any time. As much as publishers and authors may wish readers to read and review ASAP, readers actually have independent thought and decide what’s best for them.

As with any eBooks, geographical restrictions may prevent certain readers from accessing these stories. If books have the same publisher globally (such as in the case of self-published authors), there may not be restrictions. But if a book hasn’t sold World Rights or whatnot, that eBook may not even be available to PURCHASE in some regions, and certainly not free. Welcome to the world of geo-restrictions, which is an unfortunate hurdle that gets in the way of some people (e.g. me) buying some of the books we want to read. And because we only acquire books legally, we go without these eBooks.

But I digress.

Going through my author checklist today, some of their works are currently free on Amazon. (If the links don’t work for you, they may be geo-restricted.) Some may be free permanently, and others temporarily, so please check the price before automatically clicking the Buy button when it appears:

Maree Anderson: Freaks of Greenfield High
Abigail Barnette: The Boss
Kylie Chan: White Tiger
Debra Driza: The Fire
Colleen Hoover: Finding Cinderella
Katie McGarry: Red at Night
Richelle Mead: Bloodlines
Robert Muchamore: Rock War: The Audition
Diana Peterfreund: The First Star to Fall
Jodi Picoult: Where There’s Smoke
Veronica Roth: Free Four
Carrie Ryan: Flotsam & Jetsam
Karin Slaughter: Blindsighted

But these are just the authors I’m interested in, so use your own author checklist to find some legally free goodness.

Notes on Not-Reviewed Books: February 2014

I never read a book twice. It has only one chance. And my brain’s not good at retaining information – even with my favourite books I struggle to remember the characters’ names.

These are the books I read in February that I didn’t review because I was couldn’t be stuffed. Let’s see if they’re memorable.

SECRET WHISPERS by V. C. Andrews: Le Grand Casino in Monaco doesn’t let citizens of its own country into the gaming rooms? But isn’t that…prejudiced against its people? Dude, that’s not cool. Mind you, I hear they’re building a casino in Queensland that’ll only be for foreign high rollers, and not locals, but you know James Packer and his other wealthy Australian mates will get in… But I digress. Would’ve thought it’d give Semantha more agency to banish Cassie in order to turn her life around, instead of after the fact. Instead, she just needed a certain character to die, and then she was fine. Huh. 3 stars.

CHILD OF DARKNESS by V. C. Andrews: It’s so obvious early on what Ami’s motives are, and Celeste does question them to herself, but doesn’t come up with any answers until after the plan comes to fruition. And Celeste has a douchebag boyfriend. 3 stars.

BLACK FRIDAY by Robert Muchamore: Although they’re spies, the CHERUB series features the most realistic and believable kids and teens, compared to most YA fiction. Ryan could do so much better than Natalka, though. 4 stars.

THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters: Electrical therapy! Facial surgery! Other than those, this Gothic novel was kind of disappointing. 3 stars.

[REVIEW] People’s Republic – Robert Muchamore

Robert Muchamore
People’s Republic (CHERUB: Aramov Clan, Book 1)
Hachette Hodder Children’s (UK: 5th April 2012; AU: April 2012)
Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

I haven’t bothered with the author’s Henderson’s Boys series, as the excerpt of Book 1 just didn’t appeal. As for the CHERUB series proper, I really enjoyed it until it moved to hardcover. I properly read the first 100 pages each of Brigands M. C. and Shadow Wave, and then “sped-read” the rest (reading only the dialogue). These hardcover books are longer, and I was more interested in campus life than the missions.

I have trouble believing/relating to most teen characters in fiction, but Robert Muchamore’s Cherubs are the ones I like most. They stuff up but own their mistakes, they think and behave age-appropriately, and they’re funny. Admittedly, most books I read are American, so maybe these Brit kids are just a breath of fresh air. In speculative fiction (these teens are spies), the non-spec elements must be as realistic as possible so the spec bits don’t require as much suspension of disbelief. Robert Muchamore has mastered the balance.

After the original CHERUB series comes People’s Republic, Book 1 in this special CHERUB: Aramov Clan trilogy, with new characters as well as cameos from old favourites. Ryan Sharma travels to California, to befriend Ethan Aramov, the descendant of a Kyrgyz crime matriarch.

Meanwhile, rebellious girl Fu Ning needs to leave China fast. Escaping through Kyrgyzstan to England, Ning is captured and tortured by an Aramov Clan member, but later tests to become a CHERUB agent.

Fu Ning is an awesome teen heroine – finally, someone whose story revolves around her and not a romance/stalk. She’s a boxer who becomes a stronger person mentally, and CHERUB can only improve her life.

Ryan and Ethan’s story is far from over, so we have to wait until August for Book 2, Guardian Angel. People’s Republic is a return to form from this great author, and this Aramov Clan instalment is a real page-turner.

Tez and the City

Warning: I currently have 176 pics on Flickr. Once you get to 200, they make you upgrade. So I’ll be doing a photo cull soon, or starting up a new account. Just letting you know.

You know I love freebies, so a freebie session (as part of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival) with one of my favourite authors? I’m so there. Well, I was so there this afternoon. Robert Muchamore is a fab YA writer, and though the target audience are 12-year-old boys…well, this 22-year-old lass likes the books. Though I haven’t read any past The Fall because I haven’t been to the library for months.

My word, I felt old. I think I was the oldest person in the audience, except for the parents. But it’s just so nice to see good books being appreciated. Kids were lining up to buy more books, and talking about T-shirts and beanies they’ll order off the Internet… And the lines, my word. Long line to get in (I was near the front because I was about 40 minutes early), and an even longer line for the signing. I didn’t bring anything to be signed, on account of I don’t actually own any of the books (I’ve borrowed them from the library). But I did get this photo taken. You probably can’t see my new hair length too well because of my dark locks and black top. But I seem to still have a head tilt, and my teeth still look yellow. Though my cheeks look a bit chubbier in this photo, so it’s possible I’ve put on face weight since May. If you zoom in on the photo, you might be able to see my undiagnosed-condition-ravaged fingers – though they’re not looking too bad today. Sure are wrinkly, though.

Instead of the Malthouse, this year the Festival venue is Federation Square. It’s opposite Flinders Street Station, has weird architecture, and looks kinda fugly. I wasn’t sure exactly where BMW Edge was, so I had to ask. I photographed the stage, and it’s on my Flickr (don’t want to overload you with pics right now; I’m feeling considerate).

Anyway, afterwards I thought I’d take a few photos of Melbourne for you. Didn’t go far, though. But along Swanston Street between Flinders Street and…whatever road the Town Hall is on, there was not one, not two, but three tacky Australian souvenir shops. Great range of postcards, though.

Still, I photographed part of Flinders Street Station, an iconic building that’s no doubt on a postcard somewhere – just not my shoddy photo. Actually, I don’t think I did too bad with this one. Yay me.

That ad I saw on the side of a building. Wicked has come to Melbourne, and as we all know, “Oz” is really Australia. Just don’t follow the Yellow Brick Road, ’cause you’ll take a wrong turn at Albuquerque…

And these horses. (Sorry about the guy’s arse; he was cleaning hooves.) I saw a few horse-and-carriages on the move, but this one was stationary, so I stopped and snapped. They didn’t even freak out at the flash. Good horsies! 🙂

Don’t ask me about the feathered headpieces. They probably have delusions of Kylie Minogue.

Anyway, I’m back in the city tomorrow for the session with Rachel Cohn and Simmone Howell. Now what else should I photograph for you?

Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Webcams & Reading Wishlist

Melbourne Writers’ Festival
The schedule for the MWF was released today. Though there are really only two authors I’m interested in seeing, I will say straight out that the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference could learn a lot from the MWF. I only wanted to attend one session/workshop (about 1 hour) of RWA, on a Sunday, and they expect you to pay for all of Saturday and Sunday. Yeah, not going to happen. I’ll try to catch Keri Arthur some other time, because there’s no way I’ll pay for two days’ worth of stuff when I only want to attend a one-hour thing. But if that’s the go in America, I don’t see how y’all can afford to attend so many cons.

SUNDAY 24 AUG: 1-2PM: Undercover with Robert Muchamore (BMW Edge: Free Event)
WEDNESDAY 27 AUG: 11:15AM-12PM: Rachel Cohn in Conversation (ACMI Cinema 1)

Rachel Cohn’s one is actually part of the schools programme, so I’ll have to investigate to see if non-student me is allowed to attend, and what the price is. Students get to pay $6. I have a concession card; would that get me a discount? 😉

A free event with Robert Muchamore? Count me in! Along with Alex Sanchez and Jacqueline Wilson, he’s one of my favourite writers of YA. The plots are great fun, but most of all the characters are so utterly believable. Which makes them less like characters and more like real people, which makes the writing all the more endearing. None of that Mary Sue/Gary Stu faff. Sure the characters are living the fantasy of being spies, but… If you haven’t read the CHERUB series, get to it.

Since the lovely Gwen/Faith Hunter requested, here’s the important stuff to know about webcams:

Is it compatible with your system? I have Windows 2000. Some webcams specify Windows XP or Vista. But the most common reason I saw for people selling their webcams on eBay is that they weren’t compatible with their Macs.

Does it come with a microphone, built-in or otherwise? If not, you’ll have to supply your own.

Does it come with an installation CD? No point buying the cam if it doesn’t have the necessary bits.

Does it come with an instruction manual? Hopefully with English instructions, and not just pictures. (I don’t know if IKEA and I will get along.) Because I’m afraid of screwing things up, I need to know what’s the right way, other than “not what you’re doing” 😉

Did a quick check on JB Hi-Fi, and they sell webcams for $40-60, or something like that. I’m not willing to spend that much, so I hit eBay. I made sure to tick the box so I only saw listings where the seller’s in Australia. (Just makes me feel safer.) My search function always lists from cheapest to most expensive, so I worked through the entries, making sure they listed what I needed to know, and asking if they didn’t. Added some to my Watch List, bid on one, and I won it on Friday: $16 including postage. The seller’s confirmed my payment and left feedback, so now I await the delivery, which’ll probably be on Monday. “Webcam 8 LED 1.3 Mega Pixels USB 2.0” – don’t ask me what the brand is; I don’t know.

Reading Wishlist
I’m slowly working through the list with and UK, and then I’ll hit the Australian publishers’ sites. Where I’ve listed two dates for one title is where Amazon and UK had different dates. Mind you, that doesn’t mean it’s published in both the US and UK – probably just pubbed in the US, and the UK lists when they’ll get it imported. I’m up to the F authors.

The 10 Books I Read in November

Regular readers will notice that 10 books is a rather low number for me. But keep in mind that this doesn’t include the books that I started but didn’t finish for one reason or another. Also, as the weather gets warmer, I tend to behave like my cat – collapse on the couch and do nothing: he naps, I watch nothing-in-particular on telly 😉

Robert Muchamore, CHERUB: Divine Madness I love this series, and this particular novel takes place in England, Hong Kong and a large chunk in Australia – yes, my country. The author (English, I presume) did quite well with the dialect, except one of the little kids asks for a pacifier – we actually call them dummies (the pacifiers, not the kids).

Kate Wilhelm, The Price of Silence

Gabrielle Lord, Shattered A minor subplot makes reference to a reality show in which woman compete to marry to a European nobleman. Unfortunately, that show was real: Australian Princess lasted one or two seasons.

Allison DuBois, Don’t Kiss Them Good-bye
Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events #7: The Vile Village

Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies I’ve tried two books under the author’s maiden name, Lisa Miscione, but I just couldn’t connect with them. But this one, under her married name, is terrific. Here’s hoping I can get my hands on Sliver of Truth soon!

Kathryn Fox, Without Consent Reviews keep mentioning the author in the same sentence as Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs. But those two authors’ protags work with the dead. Forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton, Fox’s creation, works with the alive: sexual assault victims. Really, these novels are more like Linda Fairstein’s, so it’s not surprising that Fairstein has blurbed this book. If you read too many US/UK books (and even if you don’t), try this Australian author.

Curtis Sittenfeld, The Man of My Dreams

Cassandra Clare, City of Bones Incest alert!

Kate Wilhelm, A Wrongful Death It’s mentioned that Alex has a ‘disfiguring birth defect’, but it’s not described, which is annoying because I couldn’t imagine the character very well. – My stand-in website