Watch out dragons... Here be Aaron!

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War Is now available as a book and ebook.

Aaron is a brat, which is understandable after everything he's been through. He also sees dragons when he hums, which isn't understandable by anyone, ever. He soon gets sucked into the dragons' dangerous war, where his only defences are his embarrassingly magical fingernails, and a fierce, ten-year-old girl.

Available everywhere across the world! Check out goodreads / amazon uk / amazon us / barnes & noble / book depository or your favourite book or ebook retailer.

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Lion King 2019 - Review

Well it's the 19th July 2019, which means the new "live action" version of The Lion King is out at a cinema near you. I was lucky enough to go to the Royal European Premiere last weekend at Leicester Square.

No really. I was, here's a picture of me in the same general area as Harry and Meghan, published by OK magazine (it really was that kind of day)!

I'm obviously a celeb now. But anyway, back to the movie review.

Firstly, they didn't have to remake The Lion King. The original is obviously an absolute classic. Not just one of the best Disney movies of all time, but one of the best films of all time ever in the history of film making. I wouldn't say the new movie is an improvement on the original, but I'm not sure it's trying to be.

What the new movie does is takes an amazing existing story, combines it with new technology, and creates something absolutely stunningly beautiful. You know the story's a good one, it's The Lion King. Now take that story and combine it with something that looks as beautiful as this:

That's not a real lion talking to a real bird! That's an animation! That grass isn't real, the trees aren't real! Every centimetre of scenery is realistic and beautiful and not at all cartoony! I'm using too many exclamation marks! Safe to say this entire film is absolutely awe-inspiringly stunningly beautiful! I remember when Toy Story 1 was released and everyone was like "Wow realistic animation is the future" well this seems bigger. This is the most beautiful animated movie I have ever seen. Go see it at a big screen at the cinema because I guarantee whatever size TV you have at home will not be big enough.

Which leads me to the soundtrack, which is similarly big, beautiful and awe inspiring. Like the story, the music is true to the original. The songs are great and apart from "Be Prepared" are mostly the same lyrics as the old versions (more on Scar and the hyenas later), but the orchestral bits in between feel so much bigger than they did in the original. Beyonce's new song felt a little bit out of place, but if you ever had the anniversary DVD where they forced in "Morning Report" as an extra song, this isn't as bad. 

Now I have "morning report" stuck in my head, so now I'm grumpy let's talk about the bad bits.

Okay so there aren't any real bad bits, but some of the throwaway humour from the original has gone. I'm guessing it's because the animals need to look more realistic, so they can't, for example, have Scar pulling faces like this:

The result is that Scar loses his quick wit and sarcasm, and instead becomes a much darker criminal mastermind. The hyenas are also dark and brooding, and although there are comic elements there, they're definitely more evil than their original counterparts. Generally this is a much more grown up film than the original, although Timon and Pumbaa are hilarious and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout.  I also like what they did with Zazu, who I respect much more in this version than I did in the original.

So I'm now a big fan of both the original and the remake, and I just hope that we all find away that they can live together, in the great circle of life.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Dragon In Space!

See this rocket?

Well that rocket sent this capsule into space:

And that capsule is called...

The SpaceX Dragon V2


This is obviously the coolest name for a spaceship ever. But why? Why is it called Dragon?

Well the capsule is made by a company called SpaceX, owned by a very rich man called Elon Musk. When he made SpaceX, loads of people told him that he couldn't possibly make successful rockets and capsules. They said it was all in his imagination. So he named the capsule "Dragon" after Puff the Magic Dragon, a story about a boy and his imaginary dragon.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

500 Words: One Week to go!

There's slightly less than one week to go until the entries have to be in for Radio 2's 500 words competition!

This exciting competition is for any 5-13-year-olds who just want to tell a story. The judges don't care about spelling or grammar or that kind of stuff. Instead they care about these things:

1) Is the story original and imaginative?

The judges are looking for a story that they've never heard before. They say they want something that's creative, imaginative and fun!

2) Characterisation

The judges want to believe that the characters in your story are real! How do they act? Can the judges see the world through your characters' eyes?

3) Plot

Is the story told in a way that makes you want to read right to the end? What's keeping the reader interested?

4) Language

This isn't spelling or grammar, but about how cleverly you use language to tell your story. You can have fun, play with words, and even make up your own words as long as it's clear what you mean!

5) Enjoyment

Do the judges love your story? Will it make them laugh, cry, or hide under a blanket because they're so scared? All of these are good things! 

How to enter

Just write your story of up to 500 words, and when you think you've got it perfect get a parent to send it to radio 2 via their website. It has to be all done before 7pm on Friday 8th March, and they're really strict and won't read it if you're late.

Loads more information can be found at

I'm off to help my daughter with her entry.



Monday, 15 October 2018

Game review: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

I wouldn't usually do this, as this is a book blog, but it's thanks to the Harry Potter books that I had the release date for this game in my calendar, and I've been playing it ever since, so I thought it might be worth a mention.

This is "Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery"

In the game you create your character, and then get your acceptance letter for Hogwarts! You learn spells and make friends and go on zany adventures. But there's a twist. Your brother, Jacob was expelled from Hogwarts for opening the "cursed vaults" and is now missing. Somehow the vaults are causing havoc again and coincidentally it seems to be you that will save the day.

I like it. It's immersive, funny, and obviously written by proper Potter fans. It's also possible to get through the game without spending any money, which these days is an amazing feat in itself. The story is entertaining and you get to make friends with lots of people in the wizarding world (the story is set just before Harry goes to Hogwarts, so you get to be friends with Charlie, Bill, Tonks etc.)

The only downside of the game is that it's not finished yet, so you get so far (Currently part way through year 5) and have to wait to continue the story. Any old school Potter fan will cope with this, and remember the good old days when we had to wait years until the next book, but they do put on a whole load of interesting challenges (with rewards like outfits or pets) to keep you busy while you're waiting.

I'm sure I'll waste many more hours on this!

Current book 2 status: Julia's trying to console a crying naiad.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

This is a nice review on Goodreads

Hi folks, remember me!

Sorry, the choice has been between writing the book or writing the blog, but I'm going to try to update this a bit more often so that people know I exist.

One of the things I should have posted was this wonderful review by Mark!

"I read this to my 9 year-old son and we enjoyed it immensely. The author clearly has a love of fantasy, dragons in particular, and this comes across in every page. Aaron is a troubled child, or at least is seen to be 'different' in the opening pages, but comes to better understand himself and work successfully (although there are lots of amusing encounters) with others on his quest. I very much enjoyed his story arc but there is more to this book than that. It is suffused with gentle humour and characters that charm. I would highly recommend it to adults looking for something funny, dramatic and memorable and is a perfect for middle grade children.

Highly recommended!"

My favourite thing about this review is that it's from a dad  who read the book to his child, and they both enjoyed it! Surely that's the dream?

Right I'd better go. Julia's stuck in a river prison and needs to prove to a Naiad that she didn't kill a dragon.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Proof that I did actual genuine research!

This week the BBC wrote an article on how to survive a parachute failure. Essentially how to fall from a great height and survive.

In chapter three of Aaron Gray and the Dragon War our heroes find themselves in a similar situation, falling through the sky from a huge height. It's not too much of a spoiler to say they survive at this point (I mean there's 39 chapters, they can't die in chapter 3!) but I got soooo many complaints from early readers that there's no way they could survive the fall, and that  I was being unrealistic.

The book's about magical dragons, but this was the bit that was unrealistic. Anyway....

Here's the things the BBC article says you need to do to survive a fall, compared to what Aaron and Julia actually did.

While Falling

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War
“Skydivers adopting the "box position" - lying front-down with legs stretched out and arms and head raised up and forming a "W" shape - are able to move horizontally in the air. They can bank their arms like an aeroplane's wings.”
“He looked to his left and saw Julia falling with him, arms and legs spread out in a star shape.”

The Landing

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War
“Skydivers, when their parachutes actually work, are advised to land on the balls of the feet first, rolling to the side. Another dictum is to keep the legs springy by bending the knees slightly. But any difference this would make to someone going at 200km/h is debatable.”
“Try to land on your feet and then roll,” Julia’s voice shouted from somewhere beside him.

What to land on

Aaron Gray and the Dragon War
“Prof Bj√∂rnstig says someone reaching terminal velocity needs at least half a metre of give - or deceleration distance - in the surface or object they hit to avoid fatal injuries. He recommends "forgiving structures", such as snow, a swamp or the branches of a tree.
“At the last minute, he took a deep breath, stretched out his legs and landed in a large pile of wet mud.” (There's more to this bit, but that would be spoilery, read the book!)

And one more thing....

Oh, and for those who were saying that the fall distance was too high, so none of this applies, the BBC article also says this...

"But after a point, the height from which a person falls won't make a difference to how fast they are going. It's estimated that the human body in freefall reaches 99% of its terminal velocity (full and final speed) after dropping 573m (1,880ft), which usually takes 13 to 14 seconds."

So nahh nah na nahh nahh!


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Congratulations, Coventry!

There were many many people who said it couldn't be done, but my home town of Coventry has won the bid to become the 2021 UK City of Culture. They will be only the third city to hold the title, following Derry in 2013, and Hull in 2017.

We should be in for a few exciting years, the events start next year with the Shop Front Theatre festival in March, when there will be performances in various shops and precincts throughout the city centre.

I'm really excited and proud of my city, but it puts me in a dilemma. Book three of the Breveny Chronicles places Aaron and Julia's home firmly in Coventry, with a lot of the action taking place in Coventry streets. It would be great to have this out in 2021 as my own way of being part of the celebrations. This would mean aiming to get book 2 out by 2019, which means finishing writing and editing it next year. Is that possible? Should I find a way of switching books 2 and 3? 

I really don't know!