Title: Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel

Author: AW Jantha

Pages: 528 Pages

Publisher: Freeform

The Blurb

Hocus Pocus is beloved by Halloween enthusiasts all over the world. Diving once more into the world of witches, this electrifying two-part young adult novel, released on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1993 film, marks a new era of Hocus Pocus. Fans will be spellbound by a fresh retelling of the original film, followed by the all-new sequel that continues the story with the next generation of Salem teens.

Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.

Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest vile scheme.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I absolutely adore the movie Hocus Pocus. I was ten when it was released in cinemas and it as the first time that me and my older sister were allowed to go to the cinema by ourselves. It has always been a firm favourite of mine, one that I re-watch every Halloween. Now, I have my niece watching it (although she did make me watch it three times in the space of 24 hours).

So you can imagine my joy when I saw that the movie has been made into a book AND that there was a sequel included also. Joy of joys.

Firstly, let’s talk about Hocus Pocus. It doesn’t deviate from the film and for that I am thankful. The film is perfect. You should never monkey around with Bette Milder – whose hands are perfect in that film might I just add.

The sequel, however, was surprising. It follows on from the adventures that Max, Dani and Alex had 25 years ago and the story centres around Poppy, Max and Allison’s daughter (it is nice to know that they stayed together). The reason why the story is surprising is the LGBTQIA element to the story. Essentially, Hocus Pocus is a Disney classic and whilst strides have been made recently to make Disney more inclusive (just this week it was announced that there will be an openly gay Disney character in one of their next up and coming movies) it is still a major step for the wholesome Disney family oriented image. I, for one, salute this move and hope that it brings about more.

Ok, so the sequel wasn’t (and probably – in my eyes – never could be) as good as the original. However, a modern audience may appreciate it more than me. I did enjoy the story though and I loved revisiting much loved characters. I kind of hope that they make it into a movie – that would be amazing.

Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel by AW Jantha is available now.

Title: The Skeletons of Scarborough House (The Chapelwick Mysteries Book 1)

Author: Kitty French

Pages: 258 Pages

Publisher: Bookouture

The Blurb

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate fudge cake comes served with a side of murder.

Scarborough House is haunted, and it’s not doing much for Donovan Scarborough’s investment portfolio. No one wants to buy a place with levitating crockery, or (the wrong kind of) rhythmic pounding throughout the night.

Luckily, Melody “I-See-Dead-People” Bittersweet has just launched her own ghostbusting agency with best friend Marina, geeky, keen Arthur, and a one-eared pug called Lestat. They’re quick to take the case, even if it has already sort of (definitely) been given to Leo Dark, Melody’s rakish, despicable ex.

Melody soon discovers the resident phantoms are three brothers, one who was murdered at twenty, while the others lived to old age. But did the family exile the right person, or did the true killer get away with it?

Donovan Scarborough doesn’t care who solves the case. Whoever gets rid of the ghosts gets paid.

Can Melody and her new crew untangle the mystery, and bring the brothers peace, before Leo? Or will his distracting sexiness and Melody’s bonkers family cause the agency to fall at its first hurdle?

This is the PERFECT choice for fans of HY Hanna, Janet Evanovich, MC Beaton, and Gina LaManna, who’ll find themselves completely hooked and crying with laughter as they join Melody and her crew on their spooktastic adventure.

The Review

Sometimes all a girl really needs is a little bit of light-hearted escapism and dammit Kitty French delivers that in style in The Skeletons of Scarborough House (The Chapelwick Mysteries Book 1).

Melody Bittersweet is the daughter and granddaughter of local mediums – Chapelwick’s real life answer to the movie ghost. Melody, too, shares this gift and decides it is about time for her to start using her god given abilities to help the lingering dead pass over.

She is not without competition in this area of business. In fact, she is fighting for a job against her ex – a man who has capitalised on his link to the deceased by getting himself a TV deal.

It is a race against time to see who can sort out the problem of lingering ghosts at Scarborough house.

I genuinely think it is a real skill to be able to write a book that you can get invested in but feel comforted when you turn the final page. Kitty French has done herself proud with the first in The Chapelwick Mysteries series.

The Skeletons of Scarborough House (The Chapelwick Mysteries Book 1) by Kitty French is available now.

For more information regarding Kitty French (@KFrenchBook) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bookouture (@bookouture) please visit www.bookouture.com/pitch/.

Title: Songs About a Girl

Author: Chris Russell

Pages: 496 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Heartbreak, romance, fame and pop music – for anyone who’s ever dreamed of saying ‘I’m with the band’.

Charlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band, Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman Gabriel West and his boy-next-door bandmate, Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mindblowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs …

The Review

So, it was always my dream – to say I’m with the band. It never happened for me sadly but I got to live that dream vicariously through the awesome YA fictional story of Charlie Bloom.

Songs About a Girl is the story of Charlie Bloom and how she is fast-tracked to the world of fame – something that she didn’t expect or actually want. Charlie is asked to take photographs for TV talent show winning band Fire&Lights and whilst taking the photographs she finds herself becoming the proverbial Yoko Ono. She begins to fall for frontman Gabriel West who she has this bizarre connection with and it upsets the delicate balance of the how the band works.

Amidst all of this Charlie is dealing with family issues, falling out with her best friend and dealing with her new found infamy. No one ever said that being a teenager was easy.

I absolutely adored Songs About a Girl. It made me want to be a teenager again….which as a 34 year old woman is not something I say lightly or often. Chris Russell really has got down to the nitty gritty of what it is like to be a teenager.

I am so glad that I have the sequel to this book downloaded and the third in the series pre-ordered.

Songs About a Girl by Chris Russell is available now.

For more information regarding Chris Russell (@chrisrusselluk) please visit www.chrisrussellwrites.com.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Second Best Friend

Author: Non Pratt

Pages: 82 Pages

Publisher: Barrington Stoke

The Blurb

Jade and Becky have always been best friends; inseparable and often indistinguishable. But when a spiteful comment from an awful ex pushes Jade to the edge, she begins to see that she has always been second best in everything. When the school election offers her the chance to finally be number one, Jade learns just how far she is willing to go to be better than her closest friend.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Non Pratt is one of my go-to authors. Ever since I read Trouble I have been hooked on her writing which makes it rather strange that it took me so long to read Second Best Friend. This is her second dyslexia friendly text released through Barrington Stoke and I must say, Non Pratt does not patronise her readers.

Second Best Friend is the story of Jade and Becky – best friends but political enemies in an upcoming class project. However, the seemingly perfect Becky is beginning to push Jade’s buttons – through no fault of her own, I might add – but jealousy and a mild inferiority complex turns Jade into the worst version of herself. Through her manipulation she realises that the grass isn’t always greener and most people do not have all of their ducks in a row.

I really loved this story. It displayed how toxic even some of the best friendships can become when outside influences start rubber-necking. Non Pratt also focuses on the morals of teenagers without being condescending – she knows that teens are going to do questionable things but rather than tell them off she shows them the consequences of their actions along with recognising how difficult it is to grow up in a social media age.

What I really love about Non Pratt’s Barrington Stoke releases is that she still writes for a mature audience. I work in a school and in particular with weaker readers and some of the stories available to them are – for want of a better word – boring. They don’t speak to a modern teenager. Non Pratt has her finger firmly on the pulse of the young adult genre and Second Best Friend is a clear example of this.

Second Best Friend by Non Pratt is available now.

For more information regarding Non Pratt (@NonPratt) please visit www.nonpratt.wordpress.com.

For more information regarding Barrington Stoke (@BarringtonStoke) please visit www.barringtonstoke.co.uk.

Title: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Author: Peter Turner

Pages: 177 Pages

Publisher: Picador

The Blurb

On 29 September 1981, Peter Turner received a phone call that would change his life. His former lover, Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, had collapsed in a Lancaster hotel and was refusing medical attention. He had no choice but to take her into his chaotic and often eccentric family’s home in Liverpool.

Liverpool born and bred, Turner had first set eyes on Grahame when he was a young actor, living in London. Best known for her portrayal of irresistible femme fatales in films such as The Big HeatOklahoma and The Bad and the Beautiful, for which she won an Oscar, Grahame electrified audiences with her steely expressions and heavy lidded eyes and the heroines she bought to life were often dark and dangerous. Turner and Grahame became firm friends and remained so ever after their love affair had ended. And it was to him she turned in her final hour of need.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is an affectionate, moving and wryly humorous memoir of friendship, love and stardom.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is the absolutely lovely account of Peter Turner, a Liverpool born actor who had a chance encounter with an Oscar winning film star that changed his life. The fact that all this really happened makes it all the more Hollywood-esque and utterly heartbreaking.

Turner’s autobiographical account of his tryst with Gloria Grahame is the ultimately sad story of Hollywood’s devaluation of age and how, for female actors in particular, physical demise can be career destroying. Turner’s care and love for Grahame oozes off the page, besides love you feel an ultimate sense of respect and pain as he watches someone who he loves fall apart.

For me, one of the best parts of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is Turner’s portrayal of Liverpool. He neither writes in clichés or disgust which is how I have found Liverpool to be portrayed in some books. However, Liverpool being his hometown may be how and why he manages to show it with such love and respect; similarly to what he shows Gloria Grahame.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool by Peter Turner is available now.

For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit www.panmacmillan.com/picador.