Shakespeare Plot 1: Assassin’s Code
“…the plot in this excellent book gallops along at such a brisk pace that the few bits of information given simply add to the drama. A thrilling climax, which takes place at Shakespeare’s Globe itself, will have young readers on the edge of their seats, frantically racing through the pages to discover what happen to the two young friends.”
Linda Lawlor, The Bookbag
“…an exciting historical adventure set in and around London in 1601…. Woolf vividly portrays the life of an actor, and that of servants … and the ordinary people living in early seventeenth-century London…. This is all great fun, a book where historical detail can be painlessly absorbed.”
Bridget Carrington, Armadillo Magazine
I didn’t think they produced books like this anymore. No wizards, werewolves, spider people or time warps, just real people doing tremendously exciting things in the real world. Yes, reality is a key feature of this excellent book. Woolf spares us nothing as he wades through the dung and disease of late-Elizabethan England. His research is impeccable, from the beggars on wheeled trolleys to the appearance of the decaying Queen and the character of one of the book’s heroes, Sir Francis Bacon.
Against this Bosch-like background Wolf weaves a wonderful, fast-paced story of intrigue and affection. Story? At least half of what happens, including the productions at the Globe to the Earl of Essex’s ill-fated and ill-advised rebellion of 1601, is fact-checked history. The author’s skill, drawing on his experience as a highly successful writer of information books, is to persuade us that his fetching heroes, Alice Fletcher and Tom Cavendish, really did influence the great events of their day. This makes the best sort of historical fiction: using an educated imagination to fill in the tantalising gaps where the history books stop.
The central character, Alice (aka Adam) Fletcher, follows stride for emancipated stride in the feisty footsteps of Suzanne Collins’ Katniss and Philip Pullman’s Lyra. For sheer dexterity she exceeds them both: I could imagine Katniss climbing up a stone wall to sneak into a fortified Tudor palace – but after playing Ophelia in the first-ever performance of Hamlet? Never! Move over Spider Woman.
If this makes Assassin’s Code sound like a sixteenth-century Stormbreaker, think again. Woolf has written an unashamedly intelligent book for intelligent 9-15 year-old readers. He throws in enough Elizabethan language (‘aye’, ‘nay’, ‘bid farewell’, etc.) to remind us that we are not in 2017, and he neatly interpolates lines from Shakespeare (whom we actually meet – brave move!) into his brisk prose. It’s interesting to find how easily the two sit together, reminding us that the language of the Bard is much closer to our own than we sometimes realise.
A word of praise for the publishers, Scribo / Salariya. For a £9.99 hardback, Assassin’s Code is exceptionally handsome. It looks and feels like a book that’s worth keeping (too right), with beautiful endpapers, a fetching cover, and 33 manageable, well-designed chapters. And at the end, we’re treated to a ‘sneak preview’ of The Dark Forest, the second volume in The Shakespeare Plot trilogy. If I had a complaint about its predecessor, it was the swift demise of Alice’s brother, Richard. How could Woolf kill him off before we had hardly got to know him? And then I peeped into The Dark Forest… I can’t wait to read the whole series!
Stewart Ross, author of the Soterion trilogy
Iron Sky: Dread Eagle
“Alex Woolf sets out his bookworld with rich texture and tapestry, immersing the reader in a parallel universe that is as intoxicating as the choking coal-fumes issuing from every page.” Read It Daddy
“Adventurous steampunk at its very best, three cheers for the start to a fabulous new series that will leave you by the end of the book wanting many more…. The adventures undertaken are tense, and the characters need grit and guts galore to try to complete their mission. A fabulous read!” LoveReading4Kids
“From first page to last, Woolf keeps you guessing, wondering what will happen next, and when the bottom drops out from under your feet, you gasp for breath while you wait to see how Arabella escapes her latest predicament.” Pirates and Privateers
“It’s hard to put into words how exciting this book is. Iron Sky – Dread Eagle offers a fantastical take on the 19th century… the perfect adventure for confident readers with a passion for other worlds.” Creative Steps
“A great story for adventure lovers of all ages…. pure, enjoyable excitement from beginning to end.“ The Book Zone
“My only sadness about this book is that ends just as another really exciting mission is being launched.” Juniper’s Jungle
“The detailed drawings which accompany the book will intrigue the reader as he (or she) enjoys this pacy and unusual story.” Parents In Touch
“an exciting, action packed novel” Jake Fletcher, age 13
“I found it hard to put the book down” Amelie Chatham, age 11
“I would rate this book five out of five stars” Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 12
Shortlisted for the 2014 RED Book Award
I can’t say it enough: I loved this book! I am certainly going to read it again sometime. I don’t usually read books again but this has to be an exception. Alex Woolf has thought of an amazing plot and together with amazing writing, they form Soul Shadows.
…a fast-paced horror story where the action kicks in before the end of the first chapter and doesn’t relent until the final page…. Soul Shadows has many genuinely scary moments, but at times it is the moral issues that are more terrifying.
a great psychological thriller!
Book Addicted Girl
dark and creepy… the kind of terrifying that I love to read.
I thought this book wouldn’t be for me – and I was wrong! I tried it anyway and it is brilliant!
Omigod! I didn’t think this would be my kind of story, but just from the first chapter I can tell it is. It’s a little bit scary, and it really makes you sit on the edge of your seat.
The Mile Long Bookshelf
Wow! Soul Shadows had me gripped from beginning to end. The writing style is very vivid and descriptive, which is perfect for this creepy story…. I really recommend this one.
Aldo Moon and the Ghost at Gravewood Hall
Aldo Moon is a real delight, witty, ghostly and at times deliciously ghastly.
Peter James, international bestselling crime writer
The use of illustrative language is exceptional and the narrative style is gripping and highly enjoyable
Parents in Touch
Alex Woolf has made an interesting mash-up of a traditional crime thriller and something more eerie…. It is full of gruesome revelations set in a richly detailed, claustrophobic world.
K M Lockwood, Serendipity Reviews
This amazing story is truly the best – it captures and preserves just the right genres and twists. Woolf is a fantastic author, so good that he creates pictures so vivid that it almost feels as if I’m actually there in the story; as I read I gasp at the groans, I shudder at the noises and I even take a step back for some of the scenes!
Aimee Sweet, age 11
An incredibly exciting book, full of unexpected twists and turns.
Jasmine Randall, age 11
This book is an amazing read. There is so much adventure in it. Every page you turn uncovers a new adventure for Aldo Moon.
Mary Murphy, age 13
An exciting, dark and plot-driven whodunnit… As clever as I tried to be in deducing possible suspects, I found my opinion constantly wavering thanks to the author’s sneaky way of making all the characters believably suspicious.
Amazing! I really enjoyed reading this book because it is mysterious, mind blowing and ghostly; the author could not have constructed this book any better.
Hannah Blundell, age 11
This captivating tale keeps you hooked at every moment and wanting to know the answer.
Charlotte Crisp, age 12
This story twists and turns but is clevery delivered to keep the reader wanting more. It is ghostly, amusing and, at times, most surprising.
Rosie Cousins, age 13
…this delightful story…
Cliff Shephard, Dartington Bookshop, Totnes, Devon
This is an absolutely fantastic book with two equally brilliant sequels. This book and the series as a whole tells of Raffi and his time-twisting adventures in the (at first) seemingly Utopian Chronosphere. Written by someone with an absolutely first-rate imagination. I just could not put down this book until it ended, and had to buy the sequels. Brilliant…. This trilogy is the best series of books for young adults I’ve read since – dare I say it – the (later) Harry Potter novels. Cracking stuff.
Fire Dragon, 2015
I have to say that I loved the idea of the Chronosphere… And I loved the descriptions of this new world which made it really easy to imagine what it would be like… The writing is fast paced and engaging… Time Out Of Time is a great start to the Chronosphere series and I can’t wait to see what twists and turns lay in store in future books and what more Raffi and friends have to deal with.
A blend of high-tech and rural picnicking, with copious odd-sounding drinks, lots of choices, and suitably memorable hourglass-shaped central habitat, it’s a place teen readers could easily see themselves in… for a debut novel this has an oomph, a drama and a gusto… In fact, and this is high praise, I could easily see this sitting along Scott Westerfeld’s future-set teen sci-fantasies.
I was hooked within the first page of this book… Raffi’s a great leading character, I think teens and adults alike will be able to identify with his wish to put off growing up a little longer… The world created in this book is fascinating, the technological developments are all really exciting though there are points where the technology becomes quite scary. I liked the way that the science behind the time bending aspects of the book is included, there was a risk this could have been confusing but for me it was balanced just right.
This imaginative and well-researched debut novel is set in the twenty-third century, when … you can buy anything – good looks, strength and stamina, even the ultimate designer accessory, time itself…. The author has created a future world where the trade-off for a life of luxury is control by a ruthless police state. The story is in turn exciting, sexy and thought-provoking and the author shows an intuitive knowledge of his target audience, the gadget-savvy teenager.
Leicester Library Service
I loved the whole concept – who wouldn’t like to buy themselves some more time?
The Time Detectives: The Mystery of Maddie Musgrove
My Year 5/6 class loved the first chapter of Maddie Musgrove. We used it as a whole class text – like a whole class guided reading session.
Simone Goddard, Year 5 teacher, Pulham Primary School, Norfolk
I know my Year 4′s can’t wait to read the next instalments. Knowing them, they will have read them before we begin Guided Reading next week… But my word, I wonder what they’ll make of them – they are breathlessly exciting!!
The class did enjoy the final part of The Mystery of Maddie Musgrove. In fact they broke into spontaneous applause at the end of it!
Sue Burn, St Matthew’s C of E Primary School, Gloucestershire
Time Detectives Book 2: The Disappearance of Danny Doyle
My class at Flint High School are already hooked by The Disappearance of Danny Doyle. We are going to read the previous book because we (especially Jake) want to know how the children got a time travel device.
Class already in love with Disapearence of Danny Doyle! Can’t wait for chapter 2!!
I asked my Year 7s how they had got on with the reading and voting last weekend and they said they were really frustrated (in a good way) that they had to wait a week to see what happened next.
I am officially hooked with this book! I am desperate to read the next chapter! I think Mr. Woolf is a really talented writer and I’m bursting with excitement to see what will happen next! I didn’t know that this is the second book and I’m going straight to the library to order the first edition! Thank you SO much Mr Woolf!
A Roman Journey
Woolf’s writing is packed with information without being patronising, and he manages to mix well-known facts with rarer nuggets of information.
Using the theme of transport and travel, Alex Woolf provides an utterly absorbing background to the social conditions prevailing in the Roman Empire at that time.
Battle of Britain
I started reading for information but found myself hooked on the stories, always a sign of a good reference book.
A Short History of the World
Alex Woolf is to be congratulated for cramming in so much information and commended for his even-handed coverage of the world’s regions… this is an accessible book that will help anyone coming fresh to history and. it is hoped, will encourage them to pursue their interests further.
Keith Surridge, writing in History Today
An undiscovered gem, 5 stars… You can tell the author is an experienced writer because the narrative flows along beautifully.
Amazon reviewer, 2012
Fantastic resource! I have used this with great success as a spine for writing an intensive course in ancient history. The book presents the information in an interesting and concise manner, giving the student a broad overview of the period and culture.
Barnes & Noble reviewer, 2011
Living Through: The Arab-Israeli War Since 1948
Living through the Arab-Israeli War since 1948 is commended as an excellent resource on the Arab Israeli conflict because of its ‘honest attempt to present both sides while not offending any moderates.’ It is also very readable, making a complex subject accessible to a high school audience.
Judge’s comments at the Middle East Outreach Council Book Awards 2012, after awarding the book an ‘honorable mention’
Well written and thorough. It is a very sad story, told as fairly as it could be. Very well done. Indeed, I could use this as a primer on the subject for an introductory college class.
John Allen Williams, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University, Chicago, USA
History on Your Doorstep: Roman Britain
A selection of reviews from the Amazon Vine Programme, in which the most trusted reviewers are invited to offer their comments…
A great non fiction book for my nephew who is in year 5 at primary school. Its not too chunky and has loads of excellent photographs and drawings. With a timeline at the back and an index page it’s a really good start for his Romans project. I also likes the section about places to visit including internet links — these have really extended his research internet skills. A great little book.
I like the fact that it is intelligently written with no dumbing down for a younger audience. This book would be perfect for teaching or for a school library and certainly contains lots of information for a KS2 homework or project.
I like the fact that it isn’t ‘dumbed down,’ but it is still simple enough to be understood by children from around the age of 7.
What a breath of fresh air this book is! Perfect for teachers. Perfect for children. Perfect for adults…. Definitely a 5 star in this house!
This is a perfect addition to either the class library or for homework. Great pictures, enough facts and easy to read, I would recommend for children aged 6 – 9.
The best feature is the ‘see for yourself’ sections which list where you can see the best sites. A great attempt to get the next generation interested in ancient history.
This little book has just the right amount of information to get a child interested and hopefully inspire them to look for more books on the subject. the writing is not patronising , nor is it too difficult to understand. The pictures are very good and so are the reconstruction drawings. There are maps of Britain with sites on so the children can see where their nearest Roman site is. I wish I had had books like this when I was a child. Excellent first book on the subject.
I shared this book with my 7 year old godson before a visit to Bath, I found it a good tool to talk about some of the roman history before we saw it for real. Its a great book to get a child interested in history and to learn together from.
If you need a book on Romans and their impact on Britain, rather than life in Rome, try this one – I think that its very good.
This book is really great: the language is clear without being patronising or ‘talking down’ to children…. for curious children I can’t recommend it highly enough.
An absolutely brilliant book full of lovely photos, fab facts and useful information. My 7 year old son really loved this book…. He took it on holiday with us, and it kept him amused for the journey and most of the week! I think it will be a book he will keep on coming back to, as his class are studying Romans this term!
Animal Attack: Killer Bears
Ravishingly illustrated with color photographs. There are numerous sidebars throughout the text with titles such as “Chew on This” and “Snack on This” or facts about a particular type of bear. Although the book is directed at young readers, the information is interesting enough that parents/caregivers will also enjoy reading along with the child.
National Science Teachers Association, Jan 2012
Emergency! Chemical Accident
Both the writing and the images convey a sense of urgency and immediacy.
School Library Journal, April 2012
Global Issues: Terrorism
This offers a good lead into using the media to examine world issues. Quotes from different media and individuals are provided but readers are encouraged to seek out other coverage for themselves. The book covers the history, causes, impact on societies and responses to terrorism and converges on a section which asks questions about what part the media play in publicising terrorism. Both the content and the photographs are likely to trigger reactions.
Pat Thomson, Carousel NF, March 2009
From “Causes of the Conflict (1897–1947)” to “What Have We Learned?,” chapters in this balanced and important volume offer both broad history and “Up Close” sections that focus on specific topics.
Junior Library Guild
Days That Shook the World: The Wall Street Crash
The Wall Street Crash paints a vivid picture of the background to the financial mayhem that came at the close of a decade epitomised by jazz bands and speakeasies, by flappers and sporting heroes like Babe Ruth.
Books For Keeps
Building Blocks Geography: Earth’s Processes and Changes
This is masterful! I just can’t gush enough about how well this covers this topic. The author’s rearrangement of the sequence is really sensible. All the concepts and explanations are clear, concise, and flow well into those that follow. I like the use of questions to the reader—engaging readers even more! I like the choice of “guest characters.” And the first-person story-telling is very effective. The characters and their actions are delightful—and give life while adding meaning to the topics on each page. The images chosen for insertion are good additions. It’s just wonderfully put together. I had such fun going through this. Alex obviously has a strong science expertise along with the writing and creative skills.
Editor at World Book