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The UK - Young, Fresh and Magical


It just wouldn’t be the same to travel without the kids! Or perhaps you might just want to try to see the UK through the eyes of a kid? No matter which column you fall into (perhaps both!) we’ve got 3 of our favourite young adult novels that will end our week in The United Kingdom off on a sky-high note!

1. The Last Dragon Slayer, by Jasper Fforde

Magic used to be powerful, unregulated. Now, magic has started fading away and the government requires everyone to fill out forms to use it. Jennifer Strange runsKazam, an employment agency for soothsayers and sorcerers, many of whom used to be powerful enough to control the weather, and now have to resort to things like household repairs to pay the bills. When Kevin’s visions started everyone was surprised, especially Jennifer. The visions predict the death of the last dragon by a dragonslayer, and that Jennifer will have something to do with it. All of a sudden Jennifer is a celebrity and an outlaw. Jennifer has no idea what is going on, only that something is coming…Big Magic…

2. The Song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde

A Last Dragonslayer Novel

King Snodd has realized that whoever holds all the magic also holds the power to everything, including untold financial gains. The King has appointed Blix to be his head sorcerer, and the only thing standing in their way of total magical domination is sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange, the acting head of the only other House of Enchantment left in the world, Kazam. Ancient decree dictates that Kazam can refuse Snodd’s demands, but Blix challenges Kazam to a contest: the first team to rebuild their half of Hereford’s collapsed 12th-century bridge gains control of the other’s House of Enchantment. Even with only one functioning wizard and her faithful assistant, this might be Jennifer’s chance to vanquish Blix and derail King Snodd’s plans.

3. The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade

Modo has a peculiar gift, he can change his appearance at will. Mr. Socrates, a member of the shadowy Permanent Association, has been training him since he was an infant. Now 14, Modo’s training is complete and Mr. Socrates drops him off in the middle of downtown London with nothing but the clothes on his back, to try and survive. Modo fares well, mostly keeping to himself, until one day the beautiful Octavia Milkweed comes knocking on his door. Soon Modo and Octavia find themselves uncovering a sinister plot being formed in the sewers beneath London. Will they be able to stop the mad scientist Dr. Hyde before he unleashes his monstrous plans upon unsuspecting Londoners?

The Queen of Crime


Guest post by Jaclyn

No literary visit to the U.K. would be complete without a cup of tea with the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie. Known for complex mind twisters that keep the reader guessing until the detective’s big reveal, Christie revolutionized the detective fiction genre and is the bestselling novelist of all time (outsold only by the Bible and William Shakespeare). An Agatha Christie mystery is always a treat — an intellectual puzzle with colourful characters and beautiful locales.

Have a seat, pour yourself a cup of tea, and indulge in one of these Christie classics this summer!

 1. And Then There Were None

Ten strangers are lured to a mysterious island, where they start getting killed off one by one. Each of the victims has a dark secret, and each murder corresponds to a verse in the nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldiers.” It was this novel that hooked me on Agatha Christie’s works in the first place, and it remains one of my favourite mystery novels ever. It’s creepy and atmospheric, and by a certain point in the novel, you’ll be wondering if the answer may be supernatural.

2.  Murder on the Orient Express

Christie transports the English country house mystery into a train setting, and the Orient Express becomes such a character itself that I want to ride it someday. One of the passengers is murdered while the train is in motion, and Poirot must discover which of the other passengers is the murderer. The novel is a fascinating whodunit, and the David Suchet TV adaptation gives us the most morally conflicted Hercule Poirot I’ve ever seen.

3.  A Murder is Announced

It begins as a strange notice in a village newspaper: a murder will take place in Letitia Blacklock’s house at a certain date and time. This is a mystery that can only take place in a small town, where such an ad would inspire enough curiosity to actually show up. Why would a murderer announce his intentions, and why in a newspaper, of all places? This is one of my favourite Marples, and I love the small town atmosphere.

4.  Five Little Pigs

Poirot has always argued that psychology and his little grey cells are more potent than any examination of physical evidence, and proves his point when asked to solve an artist’s murder from sixteen years ago. He asks five suspects to recount their version of the artist’s death, as best as they can remember, and has to sift through the details and subtle differences in order to find the murderer.

5.  4:50 from Paddington

An elderly lady on a train witnesses a murder through the window of a train on another track, but when the police can’t find a body, only Miss Marple believes a murder even occurred in the first place. Who is the killer, who was killed, and where is the body? The only clue is a split-second eyewitness account, and Miss Marple is “too old for any more adventures.”

By Jaclyn

Visit Jaclyn’s blog Literary Treats

Follow Jaclyn on twitter @jacqua83

United Kingdom

Charlotte Street

Welcome to the United Kingdom!

This week we’re heading to London, with our first stop on Charlotte Street, the setting of Danny Wallace’s brilliant new novel, Charlotte Street!

Told with trademark British wit and style, this wonderfully light-hearted tale of boy meets girl, boy stalks girl, tours through the well-known London neighbourhood, both on and off the beaten path. Grab a spot of tea at a cafe or a pint at one of the local pubs and take in the unique sights and sounds of Charlotte Street.

Buckingham PalaceCharlotte Street

Now that you’re thoroughly acquainted with Charlotte Street, tour through the city’s hottest spots with Lindsey Kelk's I Heart London!

Follow world traveler Angela Clark in the conclusion to the witty and romantic “I Heart” series as she navigates her complicated love life and family when she’s summoned back to her hometown of London. Visit some of the trendiest restaurants, bars and shops in one of the world’s most fashionable destinations and plan your own getaway with Angela’s Guide to London included in the back of the book!

Ready to win a fantastic UK prize pack of books? Click here for your chance to win!