Thursday, 17 October 2019

Guest Post: Nick Tomlinson - The Ghouls of Howlfair - How I Became a Horror Writer

Hello everybody. The nights are getting darker and Halloween is getting closer. I hear you all asking, what's new in the scary kid's book world? What book is going to get your heart racing and your spine-tingling? Well, this is the book for you. It's the fantastic debut spooky mystery by Nick Tomlinson (illustrated by Kim Geyer). The Ghouls of Howlfair will be published by Walker Books this October (2019). This might just be the book that you've been looking for. 

Welcome, Nick, to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you for writing this guest post about the book and how you became a Horror writer. I am sure that this post will entice everyone to pick this book up and read it this coming autumn.

Firing Jacob and Hiring Molly – How I Became a Horror Writer 
Aeons ago, after my first book (written for grown-ups) got good reviews but only sold four copies, I decided to become a children’s writer. Everyone was going loopy about Harry Potter, and becoming a famous children’s writer struck me as the best way to achieve my artistic dream of selling more than four books. Also, I’d had an amazing idea for a middle-grade fantasy story, and I wanted to write it before someone else got there first. 

In kids’ fantasy books, you tend to get the main character who journeys to a magical world (say, Narnia) from somewhere real (say, Smethwick). Often there’s a reason why the character’s destined to go to that fantasy world. They have credentials - they’ve defeated Voldemort or they’re meant to fulfil an ancient prophecy or something. This is where I tripped myself up: I had a good reason why my character, Jacob, was supposed to journey to my fantasy land (Howlfair, a scary town full of monsters), but it was so flipping complicated that it took me half the book to explain it. Jacob and my book were doomed from the start, but I wrote it anyway, and rewrote it, and rewrote it. 

There was something pure about my early efforts to write the book. Specifically, they were pure rubbish. Every other page saw some soothsayer step from behind a curtain and deliver a speech about a meaningful aspect of Jacob’s backstory. By the final scene, the monsters were so bored with delivering speeches that they wanted to be killed. 

My agent didn’t deal with children’s books, so we parted ways and now I had no agent. I wrote hundreds of drafts and sent them to scores of agents; many liked the opening chapters but spat out their coffee when I told them the final word-count. They’d advise me to cut fifty-thousand words, so I’d chop the manuscript in half and then neaten up the edges by adding some clarifying dialogue about Jacob’s highly significant past, and suddenly presto! The manuscript was even bigger than before. Like a self-renewing monster from Greek myth. 

I carried on hacking down and bulking up my manuscript for fifteen years, always convinced that the next draft would be the one that’d get published. 

My fantasy setting, Howlfair, was a town built over a gateway to Hell. Miners had accidentally opened the gateway, flooding the whole valley with monsters. The townsfolk had organised themselves into special groups to take on the monsters – the Order of Noble Vampire Hunters, the Order of the Silver Bullet, etc. My protagonist, Jacob, accidentally found himself joining a group of wimpy warrior-farmers that everyone else laughed at. But, owing to a three-hundred-page backstory involving a potion Jacob had drunk when he was four, Jacob’s destiny was to lead this rag-tag group in a mission to save Howlfair from a demon. It was a pretty good premise, I thought - but I couldn’t make it work. It wasn’t until I was lounging in a beer-barrel hot-tub on a dog-friendly eco-holiday in Wales, a holiday my wife and I had booked after adopting a dog we’d found outside a petrol station in Birmingham, that I suddenly realised how to save the story. 

What if I stopped trying to write a fantasy book and wrote horror instead? In horror, a character doesn’t go from Smethwick to Narnia. In horror, something malicious comes from Hell to Smethwick. Something evil invades the day-to-day. Your character doesn’t need a reason to go where the action happens, because in horror the action happens right here. 

Unfortunately, this meant that I had to fire poor Jacob. His backstory was a many-tentacled presence in my mind. The thought of him gave me vertigo. I needed a new protagonist, one without baggage. 

For a long time, a character called Molly Thompson had been patiently haunting my imagination. I’d never considered her for this story because she wasn’t a feisty brave hero like you nearly always get in kids’ fantasy books. She was a shy bookworm, based on the shy bookworms I’d taught in a Birmingham girls’ school, girls who described themselves as weird and clumsy and socially awkward. I’d hoped to write a book one day in which these girls could meet a character like themselves, a character who was shy and awkward but 
unstoppable, and Molly would be the star of that book. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt as though Molly wanted to be in my Howlfair story. 

I turned Howlfair from a fantasy world into a corny tourist town with lots of silly old legends about monsters, legends nobody believes in. Nobody, that is, except a shy, unstoppable amateur historian named Molly Thompson, who lives in the creepy Excelsior Guesthouse. Molly knows the old legends better than anyone else, and she certainly knows them well enough to spot when one of them – the legend of the Ghouls of Loonchance Manor – is starting to come true… 

How does Molly fare? Well, she’s definitely not your usual brave adventurer. But, though I feel bad for Jacob, I hope readers will agree that once the scary old stories of Howlfair begin coming to life and someone needs to stop them, Molly turned out to be the right person for the job.

Twitter: @Tomlinsonio

Monday, 14 October 2019

P.G Bell (Author), Flavia Sorrentino (Illustrator) - The Great Brain Robbery (The Train to Impossible Places BK 2) - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review

Here we are being whisked away on another fantasy adventure all aboard the Impossible Postal Express. The Great Brain Robbery is the second book by P.G Bell and will hit the bookshops this month (October, 2019) with a fanfare of smoke and whistles. It has been published by Usborne Children's Books in amazing hardback goodness. The book cover has been superbly illustrated, once again, by the talented Flavia Sorrentino. Remove the holographic dust jacket and it will reveal an illustrative treasure; a marvel of design and colour that fully captures the reader's attention. Whilst inside, the book has twelve brilliant illustrations to complement the story.

In this book, we are treated to another all-out adventure which has clearly stretched the author's imagination. The inventiveness and playfulness is a really strong feature of the story; it makes a fantastic reading experience. You will easily find your self immersed in a quirky race for time in an unpredictable plot that will have your pulse and brain buzzing with energy and excitement.

We return to the Union of Impossible Places with Postal Operative Suzy. The magic shimmers from the very first page, as we slide back into a sparkling universe that will make your dreams sing and your heart pulse with eager expectations. The town of Trolliville is in danger - cracks begin to appear as tremors shake the foundations but what exactly is afoot? The crew of the Impossible Postal Express has a mystery and a puzzle on their hands. However, Suzy, Wilmot and friends soon uncover a dastardly plan that might derail their postal duties and bring Trolliville crashing down.  

Delivering the post has never been so deadly. However, "A good Postal Operative is not only courteous and efficient but embodies the ideals of honesty, courage, and trust" (Book of Knowledge - Postal Operative Handbook). With this in mind, you'll be rampaging across the amazing landscape in seven-league boots. Flying across the sky in a fold-away hot air balloon called Bertha and visiting secret caverns. Life has never felt so impossible in this thrilling narrative both above and below Trolliville.

This is another treasured book with a fantastic story to match. It's full of great ideas, humour, adrenalin and mild emotion that will be loved by everyone. Strap yourself in for a narrative full of mayhem and madness that will have you eating the pages up in no time at all. The story has a great ending to whip up a memorable fast-paced fantasy storm that will leave you wanting so much more. This is an excellent book so buy it or borrow it but you definitely have to read it; it is a great armchair reading experience.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: US Kids/Young Adult Book Picks - October 2019

Cassie Beasley - The Bootlace Magician - Published by Dial Books (October 1, 2019) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-0525552635 - Age: 9+

Welcome back to Circus Mirandus . . . a place with magic so wondrous, you need to believe it to see it. Micah Tuttle--magician in training--lives and works at Circus Mirandus alongside his guardian, the ancient and powerful Lightbender. The circus is a place filled with dazzling fire shows, stubborn unicorns, and magicians from every corner of the world. And Micah is doing everything he can to prove he belongs there. When a dangerous enemy from the past threatens his new home, Micah will have to untangle the mystery of his own potent magic, and he'll have to do it fast. With trouble this deadly on its way, every magician will need to be ready to fight. Even the youngest.

Jake Burt - The Tornado: A Novel - Published by Feiwel & Friends (October 1, 2019) -  Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-1250168641 - Age: 10+


Bell Kirby is an expert at systems, whether he’s designing the world’s most elaborate habitat for his pet chinchilla, re-creating Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest inventions in his garage, or avoiding Parker Hellickson, the most diabolical bully Village Green Elementary has ever seen.
Since third grade, Parker has tormented Bell, who’s spent two long years devising a finely tuned system that keeps him out of Parker’s way. Sure, it means that Bell can’t get a drink when he wants to, can’t play with his best friend on the playground, and can’t tell his parents about his day, but at least he’s safe.
Until Daelynn Gower touches down in his classroom like a tornado.
Bell’s not sure why the new girl, with her rainbow hair, wild clothes, and strange habits, is drawn to him, but he knows one thing--she means trouble. It’s bad enough that she disrupts Bell’s secret system, but when Daelynn becomes the bully’s new target, Bell is forced to make an impossible decision: Finally stand up to Parker. . . 
Or join him.

Liesl Shurtliff - Time Castaways #2: The Obsidian Compass - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (October 15, 2019) -  Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-0062568182 - Age: 8+

Mateo, Ruby, and Corey Hudson have lost their friend Jia to the villainous Captain Vincent’s clutches, and now they’re determined to bring her back to safety. But the Hudson kids don’t have a way to time-travel without the Obsidian Compass, until Mateo figures out the secret component to get his own homemade compass working. 
Soon the whole family—plus their wacky neighbor, Chuck, and his rusty orange bus, Blossom—are swept up in another epic journey. 
With their own time-traveling vehicle and some help from history’s most famous young markswoman, Annie Oakley, the Hudsons think they’re prepared to sneak onto the Vermillion. Unbeknownst to them, Captain Vincent already knows they’re coming. In fact, he’s counting on it…

Peter Lerangis - Throwback - Published by HarperCollins (October 1, 2019) - Hardback - ISBN-13: 978-0062406385 - Age: 7+

Corey Fletcher has an active imagination. He sees things no one else does. Cracks jokes no one else gets. And goes places few would ever dare go. Like the past.
All he needs is a metal artifact from a point in time, and Corey can go there. Although hundreds of time travelers live in secret throughout the world, including Corey's own grandfather, none has the ability to change past events.
But when Corey accidentally saves a life while time traveling, he realizes that he is the first-ever “Throwback,” with the power to alter life as we know it. Which means his own life is now in all sorts of danger.
This is the first book in a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat adventure series from New York Times bestselling author Peter Lerangis, whose books have sold over five and a half million copies worldwide.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Jamie Smart - Flember: The Secret Book - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Get ready to visit the bookshops this October (2019) for the rip-roaring release of the first book in the world of Flember. The Secret Book is written and brilliantly illustrated by Jamie Smart and published by David Fickling Books. The fabulous illustrations make it a brilliantly visual adventure. They not only show images of the characters and the setting but also have diagrams of Dev's wacky inventions. There are also entire pages from the mysterious secret book highlighting the plot in creative detail. All of the illustrations pull the reader along a magical path that totally immerses them.

The main character is Dev, a young inventor whose creations go spectacularly wrong. In fact they often leave a cheesy taste in the reader's mouth. Here, in the little sleepy village of Eden, Dev finds his flying wings with his latest invention. However, the surreal aviation lesson leads to a heavy landing and a chain of spectacularly madcap disasters. 

The village has banned all books and the power they contain. However, one day Dev discovers THE SECRET BOOK and the magical power called FLEMBER. This leads to EVEN more chaos as Dev builds a GIANT RED ROBOT BEAR called BOJA. What could possibly go wrong? I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that the consequences and events that ensue are both chaotic and spectacular.

The story is both fantastic and painful to read - it is very creatively written with fantastically memorable characters and settings. It will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. There really is a great community spirit at the heart of the story. It's a great family read that will fill you with wonder. The quirkiness will lead you into the mysteries of the plot and towards a climactic ending that will make you want more. This is a fantastic new series with (hopefully) more great adventures to come.  

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks - October 2019 - Post Two

Sophie MacKenzie (Author), Martin Remphry (Illustrator) - Harry and Kate at the Book Museum - Published by Barrington Stoke (15 Oct. 2019)

The old books in the museum are worth a lot of money. So, when Harry and Kate spot a man acting oddly, they decide to investigate! A brilliantly accessible short story with a reading age of 6, Harry and Kate at the Book Museum is designed to help severely struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 8+

Amy Wilson - Shadows of Winterspell - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (17 Oct. 2019) 

Deep in the forest, magic is waiting . . .
Sparkling with frost and magic, Shadows of Winterspell will sweep you up in a world of friendship and magic, to uncover family secrets and find out who you really are.
Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.
A wintery magical adventure from the critically-acclaimed Amy Wilson, author of A Girl Called Owl.

Catherine Fisher - The Velvet Fox (The Clockwork Crow) - Published by Firefly Press (3 Oct. 2019)

After rescuing Tomas from enchantment, orphan Seren Rhys is enjoying her first summer at Plas-y-Fran. But as autumn arrives, it brings with it a mysterious new governess who seems intent on drawing Tomas away from Seren and his family. Dangerous figures from a bewitched toy carousel stalk the house and, fearing the worst, Seren calls on the clockwork crow to help her. But can he reach her in time, and will Tomas be able to escape the magical creatures threatening to ensnare him, led by the Velvet Fox?

Gerald Killingworth - The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules - Published by Pushkin Children's Books (24 Oct. 2019)

Do you dare to enter the Dead World?
Welcome to the Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules - a place just on the other side of that door, a grey place with a dreadful secret. A boy called Edwin stumbles from our shiny world into this twilit one in search of something very precious to him. The only person who can help him is Lanthorne Ghules, a frightened boy his own age who is trying to escape the horrifying old ways.

In this inventive, funny and at times scary book, author Gerald Killingworth plunges us into a land of thrilling horror, full of menacing creatures and rotten surprises. It is a dangerous place, but there is kindness too - you just need to find it.

Robin Scott-Elliot - The Tzar's Curious Runaways - Published by Everything with Words (17 Oct. 2019) - Mr. Ripley's Book of the Month - Book Review Here. 

A magical, captivating tale of adventure set in imperial Russia. St Petersburg, Russia 1725. Katinka Dashkova is running for her life because everything she knows is changing. Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the dwarf are different. That's why they are part of Peter the Great's Circus of Curiosities. But the Tzar is dead and they must flee the Winter Palace. Guided by a special map, they set out across Russia running for their lives. An enthralling and delicious blend of history and fiction.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Paul Mason (Author), Katy Riddell (Illustrator) - The International Yeti Collective - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

The International Yeti Collective is the first installment in a brand new series by Paul Mason. The book will swing its way from fantasy into reality on 17th October, 2019. It is being published by the mighty Stripes Publishing Company. The finished copy has been beautifully illustrated by Katy Riddell, daughter of the former Children's Laureate, Chris Riddell. Unfortunately, the illustrations are missing from my advanced copy, however, the book cover image is absolutely fantastic. It invites the reader into a wild adventure that is a real delight and a joy to read. 

The story instantly transports the reader to the fantastic backdrop of the Himalayas in search of the elusive Yeti. The author draws upon these mythical creatures to whip up the fantasy and get the reader galloping through the pages. He has crafted a brilliant backdrop which may have been inspired from his home (an island in New Zealand). As you follow Ella and her broadcasting explorer uncle, you will be hurtled into a thrilling action-adventure that covers many themes that are incredibly relevant and topical today. The story playfully brings attention to climate change, habitat destruction, and other ecological themes. This underlying message is cleverly woven into the fabric of the story and will resonate with many readers. 

The split narrative will cleverly show you both sides of the story as the rolling mist and the snap of twigs take you into a land of escapism.  You only have to turn the first pages before being introduced to the main character Tick and the secretive collective. Unfortunately, the lovable character and his inquisitive mind put all of the Yetis in danger. When humans arrive on the mountainside, he finds himself peering through the trees to get a closer look. Tick knows it's against Yeti law to approach humans as it threatens the existence of Yeti all over the world and the natural balance of nature they bring to the planet. However, he just can't help himself!

This is a fantastic family read full of hairy warmth, hope, friendship and putting things right within the world. You will experience an uplifting and heartfelt plot packed full of excitement and exhilarating moments. The story is easy to read and full of wit, empathy, and humour. The story is imaginative and very cleverly written. I loved the broadcasting angle of the story which brings it all neatly together and creates some fantastically surreal moments. I also loved the reference and introduction to some of the nineteen different Yeti setts as highlighted in the Encyclopedia Yetannica! This is a great book for discussion both in the classroom and at home. I certainly can't wait for the next book in the series - I'm eagerly anticipating a fantastic sequel. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Book Picks - October 2019 - Post One

Holly Webb - The Runaways - Published by Scholastic (3 Oct. 2019)

It's London in the late 1930s, and the Second World War is imminent. When a young Londoner called Molly hears that the children in her neighbourhood are being evacuated, she feels relieved. The war scares her, and living in the city means living in the heart of danger.
However, Molly's relief is short-lived because her mum refuses to let her go, telling her that she has to stay and help with the war effort. And that's not all - times are tough, and food is already being rationed, which means there's not enough for people, let alone pets. This means that Molly's beloved dog Bertie is now considered "surplus to requirement".
So Molly decides to escape.
Stowing away on a train, Molly makes it to the country, but once there the reality of her situation dawns on her: she doesn't know where she is or who to trust. It's not until Molly comes across two other runaways that she starts to feel safe again. Maybe, just maybe, with each other's help, they have a chance of overcoming the trials put in front of them.

Onjali Rauf - The Star Outside my Window - Published by Orion Children's Books (3 Oct. 2019)

Following the disappearance of her mum, 10-year-old Aniyah suddenly finds herself living in foster care. With her life in disarray, she knows just one thing for sure: her mum isn't gone forever. Because people with the brightest hearts never truly leave. They become stars. 
So when a new star is spotted acting strangely in the sky, Aniyah is sure it's her mum, and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to make sure everyone else knows too -- an adventure that involves breaking into the Royal Observatory of London, a mischievous scurry of squirrels and the biggest star in Hollywood...

Sophie Dahl (Author), Lauren O'Hara (Illustrator) - Madame Badobedah - Published by Walker Books (3 Oct. 2019)

A timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination, from an exciting new voice in children's literature.
Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly in-ter-est-ing old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN.

Jamie Littler - Frostheart - Published by Puffin (3 Oct. 2019)
Bursting with brilliant characters, heart-stopping adventure and tons of laughs, this magical tale is perfect for fans of NevermoorFrozen and How to Train Your Dragon!
Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. 
There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them... and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu.
But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash. 
When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he's whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family . . . ?

Friday, 30 August 2019

Liz Hyder - Bearmouth - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

Published by Pushkin Press / Hardback / 19 September 2019 / £12.99/ISBN-13: 978-1782692423

Today, I have a review for a powerful debut book by Liz Hyder. The book will be published on the 19th September 2019 by Puskin Press. It's aimed at a young adult audience from the age of thirteen upwards and has one of the more intriguing synopsis you will find this year.  The book cover will certainly inspire any reader to pick it up this autumn.

The story is both bold and brave, in my opinion. The plot is told from a young person's perspective - a character called Newt. The story is written in the language of his learning of letters and words. Some of the words need to be worked out as it's told more or less phonetically.  However, this gives the reader thinking time and makes the dialogue a little unique; it's a nice workout for the mental brain! The nature of the book is very dark and matches the character's surroundings deep down in the mine. There are some graphic scenes of death and other adult themes in this book, so it holds no punches for the reader as emotions see-saw up and down with the narrative. 

The story is very atmospheric and gripping. It's an epic journey into the unknown and has been written with great intelligence through a powerful and descriptive plot. The book and the characters question their beliefs as they fight the religious tyranny and social injustice they find down the mine. The working conditions are brutal and dangerous (the book explores the themes of child labour and Victorian-style working conditions). However, the bravery, courage, and friendships which are formed along the way, hit the reader with a beacon of light in a place of total darkness.

As you follow resourceful and clever Newt through his day-to-today adventures, the candlelight flickers on the reader with hope and justice for him and his fellow friends and workers. The story has some lovely twists and turns to uncover the truth as they conquer their fears in a claustrophobic environment.  It's a brilliant and thought-provoking piece of writing that you will not be able to put down. It will shock you, grip you and punch you in the fantasy face as Newt's perspective will pluck at every reader's hearts leaving each one feeling very emotional. What a great reading discovery full of gritty realism in a bygone world! Don't delay - pick it up and enter the world now. 

Book Synopsis: Life in Bearmouth is one of hard labour, the sunlit world above the mine a distant memory. Reward will come in the next life with the benevolence of the Mayker. New accepts everything - that is until the mysterious Devlin arrives. Suddenly, Newt starts to look at Bearmouth with a fresh perspective, questioning the system, and setting in motion a chain of events that could destroy their entire world.

In this powerful and brilliantly original debut novel, friendship creates strength, courage is hard-won and hope is the path to freedom.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books: US Kids/Young Adult Book Picks - September 2019

Erin Entrada Kelly - Lalani of the Distant Sea - Published by Greenwillow Books (September 3, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0062747273 - Hardback - Age: 8+

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut fantasy novel is a gorgeous, literary adventure about bravery, friendship, self-reliance, and the choice between accepting fate or forging your own path.
When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea in the hope of safeguarding her own future. Inspired by Filipino folklore, this engrossing fantasy is for readers who loved Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Disney’s Moana. 
Life is difficult on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores. 
When Lalani Sarita’s mother falls gravely ill, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task—she must leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest—how can an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Margaret Peterson Haddix - Remarkables - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (September 24, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-0062838469 - Hardback - Age: 8+

One minute they’re there: laughing and having fun at the house next door. The next minute, the teens are gone. Like magic. Marin can’t believe her eyes. Who are they? Can anyone else see them? What makes them so happy?
Marin is lonely in this new town of hers and eager to figure out more. Then she meets Charley, who reveals that he knows about them, too.
He calls them the “Remarkables.” Charley warns her to stay away from the Remarkables—and him. Charley and Marin both have painful secrets they’re holding on to, but could solving the mystery of the Remarkables help them both?
In addition to building an intriguing world filled with mystery, Haddix also grounds the story with real issues that many children face. Characters deal with the complexities of bullying, the guilt children experience when parents have addiction issues, and the uplifting power found in strong families of all shapes and sizes.

Melissa Grey - Rated - Published by Scholastic Press (September 3, 2019) - ISBN-13: 978-1338283570 - Hardback - Age: 12+

The ratings are real. One number, 0 to 100, determines your place in society. Earn a high rating, and the world is yours for the taking. But fall to zero, and you may as well cease to exist.

Societies thrive on order, and the Rating System is the ultimate symbol of organized social mobility. 

The higher it soars, the more valued you are. The lower it plummets, the harder you must work to improve yourself. For the students at the prestigious Maplethorpe Academy, every single thing they do is reflected in their ratings, updated daily and available for all to see.

But when an act of vandalism sullies the front doors of the school, it sets off a chain reaction that will shake the lives of six special students -- and the world beyond.

A . M .Robin - Hidden Scales (Merrows) - Published by A.M. Robin (September 1, 2019) -  ISBN-13: 978-0578490014 - Paperback - Age: 8+ (

Merrows are supposed to be extinct. No one has seen the water-breathing creatures in over a century. 
That's all eleven-year-old Mira has time to think as she stares at the silver scales that have spread over her foot before she accidentally triggers a curse that will change her world forever. She and her best friend, Peter, are forced to embark on a journey across the kingdom, escaping from ruthless spies who will stop at nothing to capture them before anyone else learns Mira's secret. 

With the help of a runaway scholar and a familiar young boy who reveals that he, too, has just discovered that he is a merrow, the children begin to train to beat the spies at their own game. Before they can truly find safety, Mira must learn to use the mysterious powers of her people, or else she and her friends may never be able to return home again.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Nick Ward - The Night's Realm - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

  • Are you afraid of the dark? Well, you might be if you read this book. Nick Ward (author and illustrator) will see his latest project come to life as it's published by David Fickling Books on the 5th September 2019. The book supports a fantastic cover design that will invite many readers to look and read it. With its title foil-blocked, it will certainly sparkle on the shelves just like the story inside. The book features some brilliant black and white illustrations which are a visual treat. They will certainly gravitate any young and/or reluctant reader into giving this story a try.

  • Dare to Enter...  and turn the pages. Billy has a secret. A secret he doesn't want anyone to know. Shhh! .... he is absolutely terrified of the dark. Surely not? However, things are about to get very scary and maybe a little crazy for Billy as finds himself trapped in a land where it is always dark. Unfortunately, he is the only one who can remember home. Can Billy step up, face his fears and save all the other children? It's time for him to believe in himself.

  • You have come this far reader...  This is a fantastic story to read from the very first page. Instantly transported into a world of nightmares, darkness, magic, witches and warlocks, you'll eventually arrive at the perfect setting. A parallel wobbly world, where things are not quite what they seem. There's a foreboding fortress of darkness leaking through the foggy air of unnaturalness. This story is very imaginative and creative - there are some fantastic ideas that have been conjured up. All of which help to pull on the spooky plot as you run for your dear life... and you will RUN.

  • As the main character (Billy) needs to face his fears and become the reluctant hero, he finds himself needing to overpower the magician in a strange realm. He needs to save his newfound friends before the fear is sucked right out of their living bodies. It's a fantastic reminder about what lies in the dark and facing your fears, especially when you are young. 

  • This is a brilliant read perfect for Halloween or readers who like a little scare when they are reading. Although, it is also uplifting, charming and relatable on so many levels. It's a visual treat and a charming delight with some surreal magical adventure moments that you will love. So step up, face your fears and be brave enough to accept this book recommendation from Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books.
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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Ellen Renner - Under Earth Quiz - Which Elemental Would Choose You? (Nosy Crow Books)

Storm Witch is the first book in a thrilling fantasy quartet which was published September 2018. It is set in a world of islands where Elemental spirits rule and pirates, known as the Drowned Ones, roam the seas looking for a home. 
At the heart of the story is thirteen-year-old Storm, who is bestowed with great but dangerous, magical powers. In this book, we ride the Storm of turbulent times on a wave of magical fantasy. It is an epic adventure which is why the next book, Under Earth, has been eagerly anticipated. It is due to be published by Nosy Crow Books this August (2019). 
Are you ready to join the fantasy middle-grade realm once again? The island's new Weather witch, Storm, finds herself sailing with the fleet into dangerous waters. The Drowned Ones are out for revenge, the sea is treacherous, but it’s Bellum Town that brings Storm her first real test. It's where she learns that her magic could save her or it could be the end of everything…  

Another great story worth investigating...

To celebrate this release Ellen Renner has created a brilliant quiz based on the books and the series– ‘Which Elemental Would Choose You?’ – to find out if you are a child of Air, Water, Earth or Fire. Take the quiz today and maybe share the results on social media. One lucky person might win a copy of the book. So, why not check it out and have some summer holiday fun.