Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks April 2018 - US Post

Kwame Alexander - Rebound - Published by  HMH Books for Young Readers (April 2, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0544868137

From the New York Times, bestselling author Kwame Alexander comes Rebound, a dynamic novel in verse and companion to his Newbery Award-winner, The Crossover, illustrated with striking graphic novel panels.

Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshiping, basketball star his sons look up to.   

A novel in verse with all the impact and rhythm readers have come to expect from Kwame Alexander, Rebound will go back in time to visit the childhood of Chuck "Da Man" Bell during one pivotal summer when young Charlie is sent to stay with his grandparents where he discovers basketball and learns more about his family's past.  

Erin Entrada Kelly - You Go First - Published by Greenwillow Books (April 10, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062414182

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First is an engaging exploration of family, bullying, spelling, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Her perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale.
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This engaging story about growing up and finding your place in the world by the Newbery Medal-winning author of Hello, Universe and the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Dave Eggers - The Lifters - Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 24, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524764166

Journey to an underground world where adventure awaits and heroes are made in this middle-grade novel from the bestselling, Pulitzer-nominated author of The Monk of Mokhaand Her Right Foot.

When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly but surely sink.

When Gran's friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to an underground, he knows that she is extraordinary and brave and that he will have no choice but to follow wherever she leads. With luck on their side, and some discarded hockey sticks for good measure, Gran and Catalina might just find a way to lift their town--and the known world--out of danger.

In The Lifters, critically acclaimed author Dave Eggers establishes himself as a storyteller who can entertain and inspire readers of any age.

Joshua Khan - Burning Magic (A Shadow Magic Novel) - Published by Disney-Hyperion (April 10, 2018) - ISBN-10: 1368008429

In Book 3 of a three-book series, when Lily, aka the "witch queen" and bat-rider extraordinaire Thorn travel to Sultanate of Fire, things go terribly wrong. Instead of celebrating a reunion with their old friend K'leef, they are thrust into royal murder, an epic quest, and a deadly battle for the throne.
While investigating the murder, Lily learns shocking truths about her life that could destroy all she has achieved. Yet, among the ruins of her old life, she has the opportunity to become someone greater . . . and more terrifying.
Thorn and the magnificent bat, Hades, join the timid K'leef and the idiotic Gabriel Solar in a quest to find a phoenix. These fire birds are the key to saving the sultanate, but they nest within the Shardlands. The boys must defeat not only the monsters of that magical wilderness but also rivals eager to claim the throne for themselves. Rivals that include a renegade from House Shadow . . .
Chilling surprises, ghostly encounters, and belly laughs are just some of the treats in store for readers of this burning-hot desert adventure.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Harriet Whitehorn - The Company of Eight - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Cass has always wanted to audition as an acrobat for the famous Circus Boat that sails the warm seas of the Longest World. But when her chance is snatched away, she comes up with a new plan. Soon she has secured a job on the Palace Boat, following the circus around the islands. Yet Cass has been invited on the boat for a very different reason – and it’s not long before she is embroiled with thieves, sword fighters and a mysterious group of women called The Company of Eight… 

Are you ready to set sail on a perilous voyage? Here we have a marvelous rumbunctious tale from Harriet Whitehorn the author of the Violet books. The Company of Eight will dock in the harbour on the 3rd May 2018 by Stripes Publishing. Exploring this book from page one was an absolute delight and really enjoyable to read. Here we have a fast-paced and spectacularly delivered story from the perspective of Cass, a plucky and courageous young female. It will warm the hearts of the readers as she set sails into a world of peril and self-discovery.

You will hurtle into a swashbuckling affair that will take you to the far-flung corners of the world. Visiting an impressive landscape full of ice bound cities and tropical Islands you will be led into a world full of enchanted magic. It is a creatively imaginative story fuelled by strong-lead female characters. They find themselves facing danger and leaping into a wild and abundant action full of pirates, swordfighters, thieves and slave traders. 

It's a brilliant and easy going read that everybody will love and enjoy, regardless of age or reading ability. It is a book that explores the dreams and ambitions of Cass whilst searching for a life as an acrobat in a circus and travelling the world.  The young female heroin chases her goal and takes some big risks by running away from home. When things don't go to plan, the story unfolds in a dramatic and thrilling way which will captivate your imagination on so many levels.

The narrative will leave the readers asking questions and even challenging their own perceptions. It's a brilliant escape into fantasy which is brimming with peril. It delivers intrigue, fantastic twists and plot-turns with copious amounts of action both on land and sea. However, there is also a sprinkling of old-fashioned magic that gives this book another dimension, which I really liked. 

This is an epic start to a new series with so much more to explore. Especially after the explosive and brilliant ending. So are you ready to join the company? 


Thursday, 12 April 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks for April 2018 - UK Post Two

John Matthews - The Sword of Ice and Fire (Red Dragon Rising) - Published by The Greystones Press (5 April 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1911122173 - Paperback

This is an exciting re-imagining of the early years of the boy who would become King Arthur. John Matthews has imagined a quartet of books under the title Red Dragon Rising, of which this is the first volume. We meet Arthur, Merlin, the Questing Beast, the Green Knight and the mysterious Nine women who rule the castle of Avalon, with its ever-shifting rooms and prophetic bronze mirror. There are horrific enemies such as Amangons and the hideous Fir Bolg. And stalwart companions in the shape of the four Eldest: the shape-shifting Salmon, Stag, Eagle and, Blackbird. And there is Mabon, the shining golden boy-god, whom Arthur and his companions must rescue from an underground dungeon which quenches his powers. He must also achieve the four Hallows of Albion, of which gaining the Sword of Ice and Fire is the first quest. 



Em Lynas (Author), Jamie Littler (Illustrator)  - Get Me Out of Witch School! - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (5 April 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1788000383 - Paperback 

Daisy Wart is now Twinkle Toadspit, the witchiest witch of all, AND she is still an amazing actress! How can she do all her school stuff AND tour her play? By doing all the magic spells really, really fast and without practising first, that's how! Even if it means CHAOS and DISASTER, the show MUST go on! The second in the spellbinding, spine-tingling school series in which Twinkle Toadspit tests out her new powers with MAGICAL results! Look out for Twinkle's first adventure, "You Can't Make Me Go To Witch School!"

Victoria Williamson - The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle - Published by Kelpies (19 April 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1782504900 - Paperback

Reema runs to remember the life she left behind in Syria. Caylin runs to find what she's lost. Under the grey Glasgow skies, twelve-year-old refugee Reema is struggling to find her place in a new country, with a new language and, without her brother. But she isn't the only one feeling lost. Her Glasgwegian neighbour Caylin is lonely and lashing out. When they discover an injured fox and her cubs hiding on their estate, the girls form a wary friendship. And they are more alike than they could have imagined: they both love to run. As Reema and Caylin learn to believe again, in themselves and in others, they find friendship, freedom and the discovery that home isn't a place, it's the people you love. Heartfelt and full of hope, The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle is an uplifting story about the power of friendship and belonging. Inspired by her work with young asylum seekers, debut novelist Victoria Williamson's stunning story of displacement and discovery will speak to anyone who has ever asked 'where do I belong?'

Rowena House - The Goose Road - Published by Walker Books (5 April 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1406371673 - Paperback

France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. "I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won't change either." But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears... In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother's flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.

Christopher Edge - The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (5 April 2018) ISBN-13: 978-1788000291 - Paperback -  

(Book Review Here)

How do you know you really exist? It's Maisie's birthday and she can't wait to open her presents. She's hoping for the things she needs to build her own nuclear reactor. But she wakes to an empty house and outside the front door is nothing but a terrifying, all-consuming blackness. Trapped in an ever-shifting reality, Maisie knows that she will have to use the laws of the universe and the love of her family to survive. And even that might not be enough... A mind-bending mystery for anyone who's ever asked questions.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Favourite Self-Published Children's Books

Have you ever thought about self-publishing? 
There are so many things to think about when you remove the traditional  publishing house from the equation. As a self-published writer, you take on the conventional and additional roles of editor, designer, salesperson and marketeer. You have the opportunity to make every decision regarding the publishing process and juggle all of these aspects until, finally, the book is ready to be published. You have full control and responsibility for everything but you also have to get it printed, market, promote, distribute and sell the book. It sounds like a daunting task but it also can be very rewarding. 

Here are some of my favourite self-published reads that managed to create, not only a brilliant story, but also establish and promote themselves effectively as a self-published writer. It set the foundations for most of these authors to then land a traditional publishing deal and go on to have a brilliant writing career. Here are some of my favourites. If you haven't read or heard of some of these then I would recommend that you check them out - you won't be disappointed.

Christopher Paolini - Eragon - Paolini International, 2001.

One boy . . . 
One dragon . . .
 A world of adventure.
When Eragon finds a polished stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. 

Overnight his simple life is shattered and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands...

* G. P. Taylor - Shadowmancer - Published by Mount Publishing Ltd, 2002.
Shadowmancer takes you into a world of superstition, magic and witchcraft, where the ultimate sacrifice might even be life itself.
Obadiah Demurral is a sorcerer who is seeking to control the highest power in the Universe. He will stop at nothing. The only people in his way are Raphah, Kate, Thomas and the mysterious Jacob Crane.
Packed full of history, folklore and smuggling, Shadowmancer is a tale of an epic battle that will grip both young and old. The thrills, suspense and danger are guaranteed to grab the attention and stretch imaginations to the limit.

Charmian Hussey, and illustrated by Christopher Crump - The Valley of Secrets - Published by Saint Piran Press, 2003.
Abandoned as a baby, Stephen had nearly given up hope of ever finding his family. This epic adventure follows his change in fortunes as he receives an unexpected letter from a strange source and sets off on an unforgettable journey. From a drab room in London, where the rain comfirms the greyness of his life, Stephen travels to a Cornish Valley; remote, exquisitely beautiful and heavy with secrets.

* Mark Lamb and illustrated by Matthew Armstrong - Farperoo - Published by Madriax Press, 2005.
Dare to enter a fabulous tale of angelic magick, dark ritual and strange, inedible food. Thirteen year old Lucy Blake is an orphan with a talent for telling lies, or as she prefers to call them, inventions. Our heroine has the power to move between worlds and can conjure changes in reality simply by telling stories. Not that her life isn’t interesting enough already. Before her fourteenth birthday comes round she’s going to steal a priceless work of art and find herself pitched in combat with the winged hordes of heaven. An evil angel has kidnapped Lucy’s friend Fenny, but the mistress-of-lies has a few problems of her own. Her wafer-thin stepmother wants the family boarding house, and is prepared to have her lying stepdaughter committed to an insane asylum in order to get it. And the despicable Doctor Veraciter is only too willing to help, because he’s noticed something interesting about Lucy’s lies. Bentley Priory, a penniless private detective, thinks the talent might be linked to Lucy’s real mother, who vanished from a locked room years ago and has never been seen since. In a move that soon has the police on her trail, Lucy comes into possession of a manuscript that existed before the world was created. Raziel, the angel reputed to have written the book, is prepared to do anything to get it back, and Lucy and her friends are forced to flee into a sinister world known as Assiah, where even the handbags aren't quite what they seem. Surrounded by tales of lost rivers, fabled dragons and mythical cities, they explore a strange world of shew stones, talking maps, and truth cabinets. What exactly is the ‘Light’ and where did it come from? Will we ever discover the identity of the Grand Architect of the Universe? And who are equally mysterious Sisters of Perpetual Mercy? Why are they so interested in Lucy that they're willing to destroy an entire world in order to get their hands on her?

* Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams - The Highfield Mole: The Circle in the Spiral - Published by Mathew and Son Limited, 2005.
The Highfield Mole - The Circle in the Spiral is the first volume in a series of Highfield Mole books to be published. It is a story of discovery and adventure in which Will Burrows embarks on a quest to find his father, an archaeologist, who has inexplicably disappeared. Will’s investigations lead to a deadly conflict with the sinister forces that have abducted his father, and a dark and tyrannical world from which he may never return.

* Panama Oxridge - Justin Thyme (Tartan of Thyme ) Published by Interrobang, 2006. 
Justin Thyme is a self-made billionaire living in a castle overlooking Loch Ness. The day he turns thirteen, he receives an anonymous gift: a fabulous watch with a puzzling message hidden on it. When he tells his father of his plans to build a time machine, the Laird of Thyme reveals tantalising fragments of past espionage and warns his son of a ruthless enemy keeping him under constant surveillance. At first, Justin fails to take Sir Willoughby seriously, but when a stranger arrives claiming to be his long-lost grandfather, Justin is wary – especially after his beloved Nanny insists the old man is an impostor.

*Marcus Alexander - Who is Charlie Keeper? - Published by Marcus Alexander Publishing, 2008.
'Who is Charlie Keeper?' tells the tale of Charlie, an iron-willed, twelve-year-old girl suffering an unjust and unhappy fate. Forced to flee her home in the gloomy, rain-drenched landscape of London by a bloodthirsty and terrifying new foe, she escapes to the vibrant, parallel land of Bellania with nothing more than her common sense and razor-sharp wits to keep her safe. Bellania, a land of myth, magic and marauding giants with bad attitudes and poor anger management. With the fate of a world resting squarely upon her shoulders, Charlie must learn about her destiny in order to defeat Bane, the Stoman Lord. And even with all the unspeakable betrayals, vicious enemies and terrible odds that are stacked against her, Charlie could probably succeed... ...if only she could learn to keep her big mouth shut and her opinions to herself. Who is Charlie Keeper? is the first installment in the Charlie Keeper Trilogy. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Marcus Alexander - Keeper Of The Realms - Self-Publishing (Yay or Nay)

There is no better person to ask about the road to self-publishing than my good friend Marcus Alexander. In my opinion, he is a super "five" star person and a fantastic ambassador for children's books. No other person comes near to him in motivating and enthusing a classroom of children. Armed with his big sonic-boom personality, his cheeky smile and a range of nifty acrobatics. 

Check out his vlog it's brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! It should help you if you are thinking about the road to self-publishing. 

This post will be followed by my favourite self-published children's books article so make sure that you check it. It is coming out very soon. There are some brilliant reads. Check it out HERE

Monday, 9 April 2018

Robert J. Harris - Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon (Kelpies) - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Book Review

One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. 

Artie and his friend Ham are hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen world-famous magician, the Great Wizard of the North. It seems someone is determined to sabotage his spectacular new illusion. 

When the huge mechanical dragon created for the show vanishes, the theft appears to be completely impossible. Artie must reveal the trick and unmask the villain or face the deadly consequences. 

The cards have been dealt, the spell has been cast, and the game is afoot once more! 

Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon is the second book in the series by Robert J. Harris. The book swooped into bookshops on the 22nd March 2018 just in time for the Easter Holidays. The book has been published by Kelpies, which is a small but perfectly formed children's independent publisher in Scotland. To celebrate this brilliant publication I hosted a stop on the blog tour which you can read HERE. The post talks about a new generation of mystery adventures for the young. 

This series is definitely a mystery series that I would choose to read. It is definitely worth tracking down if you want a jolly good read. Fast-paced and full of action, it follows two absolutely brilliant characters. Artie and his sidekick Ham are a loveable and perfectly crazy pairing. They solve mysteries across Edinburgh's Victorian landscape - Ham follows the crumb trails whilst Artie follows the clues. Where there is danger and a crime to solve, Artie and Ham will find themselves in the thick of it. 

In this book, there is a theatrical feel to the story as it starts with a mysterious invitation to an evening with magic. To be exact it is a performance by the Great Wizard of the North. This sets the plot in a shroud of mystery as the duo, armed with humour, will have you chuckling to yourself as they set off on another detecting spree. It is a brilliant adventure full of complex puzzles to solve that will leave you captivated.

This story is full of thrills, chills and excitement around every corner. It is a  brilliant and well-imagined story that will leave you feeling very satisfied as the adventure unravels. It's a story borne from the author's childhood reading based on the theme of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes. This is a great book for the reluctant reader as it is easy to follow, packed with great imagination and no unnecessary dialogue.  

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's and Young Adult Book Picks - April 2018 - UK Post

Jess Butterworth - When the Mountains Roared - Published by Orion Children's Books (5 April 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1510102118 - Paperback

I thought we'd live here forever ... but then, I thought Mum would be here forever too.
When Ruby's dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India, Ruby is devastated. Not only are they living in a run-down building in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home - not without her mum there.
Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. 
But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. Ruby vows to do all she can to protect them - if she can only overcome her fears...

Scarlett Thomas - The Chosen Ones (Worldquake, Book 2) - Published by  Canongate Books (5 April 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1782119302 - Hardback 

EFFIE TRUELOVE has learned to travel through magical books to the Otherworld.
MAXIMILIAN UNDERWOOD, Effie's classmate, is more interested in the dark and forbidden Underworld.
When Effie and Maximilian both mysteriously vanish, their friends Raven, Lexy and Wolf don't know where to turn for help. Raven is a witch and her horse, Echo, has revealed that Effie is in deep danger and time is running out.
To make things worse, Raven's mother, the author Laurel Wilde, is caught up in a plot with the ruthless billionaire Albion Freake, who, it seems, will stop at nothing to become invincible . . .
Where are Effie and Maximilian? Are their disappearances connected?
And can Albion Freake's deadly plan be stopped?

Andrew Zurcher - Twelve Nights - Published by Puffin (5 April 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0141385549 - Hardback

Kay and her little sister, Eloise, never imagined that their standard icy Christmas Eve in Cambridge would be the start of a twelve-night odyssey . . .
Kay's father is working late - as usual. Fed up, her mother bundles her daughters into the car and drives to her husband's Cambridge college to collect him herself. But when they arrive, the staff claim that nobody by his name has ever worked there . . .
Kay is puzzled by her mother's reaction - silent tears, not anger and confusion. And what is even more puzzling is the card on her pillow when they return home:
Will O. de Wisp, Gent. F.H.S.P. and Phillip R. T. Gibbet, Gent. F.H.S.P. K.Bith. REMOVALS. 
That night, Kay is woken by voices at her window: the voices of Will and Phillip, the Removers. But they are not human. And Kay shouldn't be able to see them. Except she can . . .

David O'Connell (Author) Claire Powell (Illustrator) - The Chocolate Factory Ghost (The Dundoodle Mysteries) - Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books (5 April 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1408887066 - Paperback  

Archie McBudge knows his lucky underpants must really work because when he and his mum are summoned to Honeystone Hall in the remote Scottish village of Dundoodle, they find Archie has inherited not only the enormous hall, but the whole of the world-famous McBudge Confectionery Company from Great-Uncle Archibald. That's a new home, a fortune and a lifetime's supply of treats rolled into one!

(See Book Review HERE)

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Sarah Govett - The Territory: Truth (The Territory Trilogy) - Book Review (Firefly Press)

Limited Space requires Limited Numbers. Noa and Raf have found Jack, but at great personal cost. They must get back into the Territory and let people know what is happening. But how can they even scale the electric, gun-turreted fence, let alone fight the fake news of the Territory authorities?

The final installment of The Territory Trilogy is here; alive and kicking into the world of the fantasy readers. The Truth was published on the 1st April 2018 by Firefly Press and ends another series which started back in 2015. The first book started the experience in a dystopian whirlwind of imagination that captivated the readers instantly. It was a fantastically gripping start which we all wanted and got. 

The second book was The Territory: Escape in 2016. It was very enjoyable and built on the initial foundations of brilliance. This book delivered a real and intimate connection to the characters focusing on emotions and friendships. However, this meant the action side of the story became less of a focal point, in my opinion. The Truth started off in this same vein - very slow and shy. The characters, emotions and dialogue took centre stage for me and, at times, clogged up the potential. In Truth, what I really wanted was more action and more of the brilliantly imaginative and creative fantasy elements that we were treated to in book one. I wanted to explore and be transported to First City; the vivid, vibrant and active place that captivated me as a reader. 

Fortunately, this arrives in bucket loads with an explosive bang after the first one hundred pages or so. It leads to an amazing and well-thought out plot that will have you hooked and gasping for more. The more you read, the more you feel that Disneyland has never been invented. The author takes a brutal path and weaves strands of harsh reality ofor the reader to follow, which I absolutely loved and engaged with on so many levels. Death, destruction and fraying friendships come crashing down on the reader leaving mixed emotions that turbo-charge you into the reality facing the characters. This was all brilliantly written and very well-thought out. 

Empathy and love for the characters really grows throughout the book. The full and all-action ending was captivating and very memorable; it was exactly what I was hoping for. It left you guessing, satisfied, but also a feeling of awe from the outcome of the story. However, there was also a pinch of sadness as you finally left such a brilliant world. I think there is more to be explored and developed; it could certainly become a futuristic masterpiece. This is a great ending to a brilliant series full of highs and lows. I am hoping to read more stories like this by Sarah Govett and Firefly Press. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks March 2018 - US Post Two

Marcus Emerson  - The Super Life of Ben Braver - Published by Roaring Brook Press (March 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1626727106

Packed with black-and-white art and comic strips throughout, The Super Life of Ben Braver is the first book in a hilarious adventure series about the greatness that lies within any middle schooler who dreams big from Marcus Emerson, the author of the smash hit Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series. 
Ben Braver is an ordinary kid. All he wants to do is finish his summer watching awesome TV shows and eating his favorite candy. But when some kid screams for help, Ben, like his favorite comic book heroes, tries to save the day. Let's just say it ends badly. But it does lead him to a secret school where kids with super abilities learn to control thier powers. Ben's never had any powers―and never thought he could be special. So when he's offered a spot at the school, Ben realizes this is his. 

Joelle Charbonneau - Time Bomb - Published HMH Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0544416703

Seven students trapped in their school after a bomb goes off must fight to survive while also discovering who among them is the bomber in this provocative new thriller from the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing Trilogy. Perfect for fans of This Is Where It Ends. 

A congressman's daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who's tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who's done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion.

They couldn't be more different, but before the morning's over, they'll all be trapped in a school that's been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they'll also be looking to one another for answers.  

Told from multiple perspectives, Time Bomb will keep readers guessing about who the bomber could be—and what motivated such drastic action. 

Wesley King - A World Below - Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (March 6, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1481478229

Mr. Baker’s eighth grade class thought they were in for a normal field trip to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. But when an earthquake hits, their field trip takes a terrifying turn. The students are plunged into an underground lake…and their teacher goes missing.

They have no choice but to try and make their way back above ground, even though no one can agree on the best course of action. The darkness brings out everyone’s true self. Supplies dwindle and tensions mount. Pretty and popular Silvia does everything she can to hide her panic attacks, even as she tries to step up and be a leader. But the longer she’s underground, the more frequent and debilitating they become. Meanwhile, Eric has always been a social no one, preferring to sit at the back of the class and spend evenings alone. Now, he finds himself separated from his class, totally by himself underground. That is, until he meets an unexpected stranger.

Told from three different points of view, this fast-paced adventure novel explores how group dynamics change under dire circumstances. Do the students of Mr. Baker’s class really know each other at all? Or do they just think they do? It turns out, it’s hard to hide in the dark.

Blue Balliett - Out of the Wild Night - Published by Scholastic Press (March 27, 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-0545867566

Out of the Wild Night is master storyteller Blue Balliett at her spooky best, a spellbinding tale about the haunted residents of a very special place.

Ghosts are alive on the island of Nantucket. You can hear them in the wind and in the creaks of the old homes. They want to be remembered. And, even more, they want to protect what was once theirs. 

The ghosts have chosen a few local kids to save the island against the adults who would do it harm. But the kids can't be sure how the ghosts are going to act. Things tend to disappear when ghosts are around. People tend to get trapped - especially if they're up to no good. Only the kids can make things right . . . if the ghosts will let them.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Sophie Anderson - The House with Chicken Legs - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review

Some stories are truly inspired by the soul. They dance with the wind until one day it's time for that story to be born. The House with Chicken Legs is one of those stories. It is Sophie Anderson's debut book for middle-grade readers and is due to be published by Usborne on the 1st May 2018. The story is beautifully told and delicately carved from Slavic folklore; it has been inspired from tales told by Sophie's Prussian grandmother during World War II.

The narrative from the first page leads the reader into a rich fantasy world that is wildly imaginative and very bold. You'll find yourself being swept away in the blink-of-an-eye as 'the house with chicken legs' takes off without warning in the middle of the night before nestling in a dark forbidden wood on the edge of civilization. This is a super start to an epic tale which skips and dances its chicken legs into a macabre world of fantasy.

The book explores the theme of death and the afterlife which are all told through the eyes of the young and loveable protagonist Marinka. Baby Yaga, her grandmother, is an inspirational character. She is a spiritual witch who is wise and very old. Her role is to guide the dead through the gate with tradition, ceremony music and lots of food. This delivers an edge to the story and sends a spine-tingling feeling down the back as the dead march on to the afterlife, or do they?

The story is told with heart, passion and love. Marinka dreams of a normal life, but her destiny may have a different path for her in this gripping adventure that will captivate the reader in so many ways. It's a truly magical story that will transport the reader into a narrative full of emotional challenges and many questions to be answered. As Marinka faces loneliness, friendship and death she tries to challenge her destiny and break free from her grandmother's footsteps.  Unfortunately, her house has different ideas and delivers an endless amount of possibilities.

You will journey across a creative landscape through mystery and sadness. You'll fly over a vivid backdrop like no other and explore the sounds and taste of another culture. It's a story full of tragic events but, eventually, the light shines bright. In fact, the stars come out to play and dance a merry jig leaving you with a warm feeling inside. This is a really memorable classical story that transcends time. It will stay with you forever, regardless of the next adventure that you find yourselves on. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Robert J. Harris - Artie Conan Doyle and the Vanishing Dragon - UK Blog Tour (Kelpies)

Welcome to day two of the UK blog tour for Robert J. Harris and his brilliant new mystery 'Artie and the Vanishing Dragon'. This is an opportunity to celebrate the unveiling of a brand new book in the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries. Published by Kelpies, The Vanishing Dragon will fly into bookshops on the 22nd March 2018. 

This is a week-long mission to entertain and entice you to pick up these brilliant books and read them. So sit back and relax as we're going back to the scene of the crime to investigate where and how it all began. Have your magnifying glasses at the ready throughout the week to follow the author's footsteps each day. Please see the blog tour list in the top right-hand corner of the blog.  Happy Reading. 


I was about eight years old when I read my first detective story. It was The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat by Enid Blyton, featuring a group of young investigators called The Five Find-Outers. Though they never achieved the same level of success as Blyton’s other quintet (The Famous Five), nevertheless the Find-Outers had a long run of cases from 1943 to 1961.

Young detectives have long been a part of the mystery genre, including such stars as The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. My own favourite series is The Three Investigators, who began their career in 1964 with The Secret of Terror Castle. Their stories were introduced by famous film director Alfred Hitchcock, who played a role in that first case. I personally think the best of these is The Stuttering Parrot, which is both very clever and entertaining.

One of the most significant features of these mysteries for younger readers is that they are not centred on the sort of gruesome murders that dominate adult crime fiction. A good thing too, I say.

While I think of the tales I tell as primarily adventure stories, these adventures always include an element of mystery. With The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries I have shifted towards detective stories (though they are still exciting adventures). As with all my books, my main rule is that a good book for younger readers should be one that adult readers (like me!) will also enjoy. By the same principle the mysteries in these novels are to be just as good, just as baffling, as any you would find in the great crime classics.

Part of the fun is trying to guess not only who committed the crime but why. In Artie’s first adventure, The Gravediggers Club, he needs to discover not only who has been digging up dead bodies, but also why they’re doing it.

The clues are another vital element to a good mystery. The clues, far from shedding any light, should make things even more baffling. The clues Artie comes across give him a headache more than anything else - that is until he finally understands what they mean.

It’s also hugely fun for the writer and reader if the crime itself appears to be utterly impossible. My favourite mystery writer John Dickson Carr is the acknowledged master of such puzzles as ‘How was a man able to jump into a swimming pool surrounded by witnesses and completely disappear?’

In The Vanishing Dragon Artie is faced with a similarly impossible crime; a gigantic mechanical dragon is stolen from a warehouse when the only exits and entrances are a door securely fastened with multiple locks and a window far too small for the dragon to fit through.

The crucial point in any mystery story is when the truth is revealed. If this is done well, the reader will see all the pieces of the mystery falling into place like a magical jigsaw puzzle fitting itself together. My aim is that as they behold the completed picture readers will cry out in delight, “Of course! Now I see!”

That’s what I enjoy in a good mystery.