Anne’s Good Reads – The Poison Boy

I regularly post book reviews here on the blog. I read a lot. I don’t believe you can be a writer without also being a reader. I read a variety of genres and I’m equally fond of non-fiction and fiction. The only category that I’m not all that keen on is literary fiction. I’m either not intelligent enough to get it – or it really is pretentious twaddle.

Anyhoo – why am I telling you all this? Because today I’m starting a new series – yes here comes another series – of posts – which will all be book reviews. The reviews will all be categorised here on the blog as  Anne’s Good Reads and any subsequent reviews that I do after this series ends will also have this phrase as a prefix to the book title. The books reported on will all be new publications i.e. brought out in the current year. And they will be drawn from all genres.

And why only ‘good reads’? Because I say so. I’ve said here before that I only review books that I can say mainly positive things about. For me life’s too short to dwell on, or write about, the negatives. I suppose you could say that I do book recommendations rather than reviews.

So let’s  begin with the first official entry on the list of  Anne’s Good Reads :

The Poison Boy by Fletcher Moss

         Poison Boy              

magical storytelling for all ages

Wow! What a read! It’s easy to see why this first novel from Fletcher Moss won the 2013 Times/Chicken House Children’s novel competition.

It’s a swashbuckling, sewertramping, riverswimming, mudswilling, punchflinging, pistolshooting adventure story. Set at an indeterminate time – but one that recalls aspects of the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras – and in the fictional town of Highlions – a sort of smaller, darker London type city – complete with river running through, the book has crime, intrigue and plenty of surprises – as well as a bit of sweet and innocent first love.

And, hurrah, there’s not a vampire in sight!

The story is told in a succinct and uncluttered way which gives it the brisk pace that its target readership demands. The plot is essentially a quest – a quest for justice and to solve a mystery. The main character is Dalton Fly who works as a poison boy. His work involves pre-tasting the food of the rich in order to ensure it’s safe to be eaten. After his friend and fellow poison boy dies horribly having drunk some poisoned wine, Dalton is on a mission to find the poisoner. The mission is dangerous, shocking and throws up some unexpected truths for Dalton.

The characters are complete originals. Dalton is a wonderful and endearing hero who is both brave and vulnerable. His friends, acquaintances and adversaries are also well-drawn. A few deft brushstrokes and his friends including Sal Sleepwell, Scarlet Dropmore and Luke Eppington  are brought instantly to life. You only need to meet them once and you feel you know them.  Dalton’s enemies are equally vivid. The truly awful Pallis Tench is gruesome, grotesque and great!

We are led through sewers and tunnels, up chimneys and along rivers, lanes and streets. We are steeped in mud, river water and filth. We see the sights, hear the sounds and smell the smells with lifelike clarity.

The imaginative use of language is superb. I especially love the character names and the ‘swear’ words – all complete inventions.  And I suspect readers may well want to adopt ‘dreck’ and ‘kite’ as undercover curses.

The novel is aimed at 10 to 14 year-olds and would probably appeal most to the middle of that age range. But I have a feeling it could well be a ‘crossover’ book – appealing to adults and children alike.

This a stunning debut. I would love to read  Dalton Fly’s further adventures and really hope there’s a sequel planned.

The Poison Boy is published by The Chicken House and is available from bookshops and on Amazon.

You can follow the author is on Twitter at @FletcherMoss

A novel for those who are over ‘Chick-Lit’

Shameless self-promotion alert!

I thought this would be a good time f0r a bit of a summer book promo.

Are you, or any of the grown-up, intelligent women in your life looking for a good beach, cottage, staycation read? If yes, then please consider my novel ‘Change of Life’. According to Amazon reviews it’s ‘delicious’ , ‘moving’, ‘gripping’ and ‘romantic’.

The book is available on and and is in both paperback and ebook format.

Below is the press release for the book:

New Generation Publishing

Prize-winning novel ‘Change of Life’ – for those who are over ‘Chick-Lit’.

‘Change of Life’ by Anne Stormont, winner of Edinburgh Writer’s Club 2010 Unpublished Prize, has been receiving rave reviews and lots of  interest. In particular its appeal is to those readers who have graduated from ‘Chick-Lit’ – an intelligent, mature readership.

Anne Stormont set about writing the novel following a cancer diagnosis from which she has fully recovered. She lives in the stunningly scenic Hebrides and is currently writing a second novel.

‘CHANGE OF LIFE’ is an emotional tale, full of warmth, love, hope and moments of sadness – a contemporary story of a modern family under pressure – with very real and three-dimensional characters.

Be careful what you wish for… Wife to heart surgeon and control
freak, Tom and mother to four adolescent children, Rosie feels taken for
granted as she juggles family life and her work as a teacher. She longs for a
change of life. When she hits a teenage boy with her car, her life explodes
into uncharted territory. The boy is Robbie – and Rosie discovers he is part of
a terrible secret that Tom has kept for seventeen years. Then Rosie is
diagnosed with breast cancer. Rosie leaves home and begins the fight for her
life. Meanwhile Tom, is forced to learn what it means to be a husband and
father. He struggles to keep his family together and strives to get his wife

‘CHANGE OF LIFE’ was selected by Waterstones St. Andrews as a
Summer Read and Anne Stormont has been featured in print and on radio.


To request a review copy, please email


For more information on New Generation Publishing, see:


Captivating, enchanting, entertaining – quality writing for children

‘Peggy Larkin’s War’ by Trevor Forest

It’s often a sign of
quality in a children’s book that it has equal appeal for adults. And, in the
case of ‘Peggy Larkin’s War’, this is certainly true.

Set at the beginning
of World War Two, it tells the story of Peggy Larkin, a young girl who is
evacuated from London
to the countryside. There’s the mystery of a locked room in the house that
Peggy lodges in and of the reason behind the sadness of Mrs Henderson, the
house’s owner. There’s also the sinister presence of a stranger in the woods. The
story follows Peggy as she endures separation from her parents and makes a
brave attempt to settle into her new life. Along the way she makes a new friend
and demonstrates remarkable stoicism and resilience.

Forest’s writing is excellent and is pitched
perfectly for its intended readership of upper primary school age children. He
doesn’t patronise and he writes with an immediacy and economy that will appeal
to children. Forest never intrudes into the story, and it never feels like he’s
trying to educate or preach. This is child-friendly, accessible entertainment.
It’s all about the story. It’s vividly told and it’s easy to visualise the characters and settings. It has the feel of a BBC children’s drama at times.

The only disappointing
aspect for me was the book’s brevity. Having set up such great characters and a
setting with so many possibilities, it would have been good to have further
chapters and more adventures for Peggy.

It would also be great
to see this book in paperback. At the moment it’s only available for Kindle and
at least as far as my own pupils are concerned primary school children don’t
tend to own e-book readers. It’s got a cracking good cover for one thing. But
more importantly than that, it would be a good book to have in school libraries
and in World War Two project boxes.

But in the mean time
parents, grandparents and teachers it would be well worth purchasing Peggy’s
story for your Kindle’s and reading this aloud to the children in your lives.