Monday, 20 February 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Middle-Grade Book Picks February 2017 - US Published Post

Amy Ephron - The Castle in the Mist - Published by Philomel Books (February 7, 2017)

Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wifi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn’t disappoint. She finds rose gardens, a maze made of hedges, and a boy named William who is just as lonely as she is.
But at William’s castle, strange things begin to happen. Carnival games are paid for in wishes, dreams seem to come alive, and then there's William's eerie warning: Beware of the hawthorn trees. A warning that chills Tess to the bone.
In a magical, fantasy world that blurs the line between reality and imagination, readers are left to wonder exactly what they’d wish for if wishes could come true. Perfect for fans of Half Magic and The Secret Garden—and for anyone who's ever wondered if magic is real.

Caroline Starr Rose - Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine - Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (February 7, 2017)

Hoping to strike it rich, two brothers escape an abusive father and set out on a treacherous journey to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Desperate to get away from their drunkard of a father, eleven-year-old Jasper and his older brother Melvin often talk of running away, of heading north to Alaska to chase riches beyond their wildest dreams. The Klondike Gold Rush is calling, and Melvin has finally decided the time to go is now—even if that means leaving Jasper behind. But Jasper has other plans, and follows his brother aboard a steamer as a stowaway.

Onboard the ship, Jasper overhears a rumor about One-Eyed Riley, an old coot who's long since gone, but is said to have left clues to the location of his stake, which still has plenty of gold left. The first person to unravel the clues and find the mine can stake the claim and become filthy rich. Jasper is quick to catch gold fever and knows he and Melvin can find the mine—all they have to do is survive the rough Alaskan terrain, along with the steep competition from the unscrupulous and dangerous people they encounter along the way.

In an endearing, funny, pitch-perfect middle grade voice, Caroline Starr Rose tells another stellar historical adventure young readers will long remember.

Aimée Carter - Simon Thorn and the Viper's Pit - Published by  Bloomsbury USA Childrens (February 7, 2017)

Simon Thorn only recently discovered that he's an Animalgam--one of a secret race who can shift into animals. Now, for the first time in his life Simon has real friends to train and study with at the secret Animalgam Academy. The only missing part is his mother, held captive by his evil grandfather, Orion, who's bent on taking over the animal world. 
To rescue his mom, Simon must head cross-country with his friends, battling rogue Animalgams and their own doubts and torn loyalties along the way. But if Simon's going to succeed, he will need to keep Orion from gathering together the fragments of a terrible weapon, or the lives of everyone Simon loves will be at risk.
With plenty of action and adventure and characters full of heart, this story is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull.

Kevin Emerson - Last Day on Mars (Chronicle of the Dark Star) - Published by Walden Pond Press (February 14, 2017)

Last Day on Mars is thrillingly ambitious and imaginative. Like a lovechild of Gravity and The Martian, it's a rousing space opera for any age, meticulously researched and relentlessly paced, that balances action, science, humor, and most importantly, two compelling main characters in Liam and Phoebe. A fantastic start to an epic new series.” —Soman Chainani, New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series
“Emerson's writing explodes off the page in this irresistible space adventure, filled with startling plot twists, diabolical aliens, and (my favorite!) courageous young heroes faced with an impossible task.” —Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of the Unwanteds series
It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova far sooner than anyone expected. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we have prepared for a second trip: a 150-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.
Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed. 
Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Andrew Guile - The Amazing Adventures of Skinny Finny and Super Spy Wobblebottom: The Mad Moon Mission - Book Review

Ten-year-old Skinny Finny and his twin brother, Tubby, are beginning a new life in London when their arch enemy, the evil Dr Buttscratcher, and his shadowy sidekick begin terrorising unsuspecting joggers and the elderly. Skinny Finny's hopes for a 'normal' life are shattered as he is set on a collision course with Dr Buttscratcher and his crazy plans for world domination. Will Skinny Finny join forces once again with the British Agent, Super Spy Wobblebottom? And who is the dastardly doctor's mysterious new apprentice? With over 150 black and white illustrations throughout, The Amazing Adventures of Skinny Finny and Super Spy Wobblebottom is a funny, enthralling and humorous tale for children aged 7 and over. This explosive children's book guarantees high adventure and hilarious mayhem for the enjoyment of all young readers.

Are you ready to enter the world of Skinny Finny? 

You only need to look at the book cover, which has been fantastically illustrated by Curt Walstead, to know that you are in for a crazy time. This is a story that will gather you up into a madcap caper and transport you to a place of laughter and comical humour. It will hit you on so many levels that it 
will definitely be loved by any age group, and any reader, who has a good sense of humour. 

One thousand feet high and the Shard (London) is the starting point for this brilliant story. There you are thrust into the lives of Skinny Finny and his whimsical twin brother, Tubby, along with his rather mysterious and strange family. You will be rocketed into a fantasy action-adventure full of zany shenanigans and a fiendish plot. 
You will find yourself flying into space on a mysterious futuristic spacecraft, that will rattle your fantasy teeth into orbit, and back again, but with the Queen of England!

The story is full of complex and crazy characters doing, and saying, silly things at any given moment, especially in times of danger. My favourite character is Super Spy Wobblebottom; he is just brilliantly well written and full of comical style. He is very distinctive, for a hero type character, and not typical at all. You will certainly remember him for a very long time to come, as he runs around in his own slapstick caper that will make you chortle. With his over-active personality, a cracking aura (his big bottom) and his rather outlandish behaviour and crazy actions, you will soon find yourself giggling like a school boy.    

I really loved every minute of this book. I was fully absorbed into this fantasy world - part reality and part nonsense. You walk the tightrope of danger, with quirky monsters of fur, and the biggest set of teeth that you are ever likely to see. 
Every page, and every chapter, is one big dollop of crazy imagination. It delivers a high-octane adventure which is full of mayhem and mischief. It's very cool, fun and will appeal to kids who love to be absorbed in a story that visually feels straight out of the pages of a comic book. 

This is one of my favourite reads so far this year, as it is original and very stupid. However, it also tackles the themes of good versus evil and develops empathy with the characters. It is all wrapped up with sci-fi goodness and a fantastic feel good factor ending, what more could you ever want?

This book needs to be tracked down, in my opinion, and read. However, there might be some difficulty in finding it in any big chain bookshop, but go and search it out and give it a try as you will not be disappointed. Published by Matador 11th January 2017.

Philip Pullman Unveils Epic fantasy Trilogy The Book of Dust - The Chapter in His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman has been writing the Book of Dust for a very long time. He has been writing it for several years. He has just recently announced the exciting plans for the publication. 

The new trilogy will be called The Book of Dust and the first volume is set to be released in October of this year by David Fickling.  It has been 17 years since the release of The Amber Spyglass, the last of Pullman’s His Dark Materials novels.

The new book will return to the worlds and characters of His Dark Materials, Pullman said, and heroine Lyra will be pivotal to the new story — but not in the way she was before. 

The first thing Philip Pullman has to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story. Events involving her open the first chapter, and will close the last. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. 

This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later.

So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is… an equel. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.
Third: why return to Lyra’s world? Dust. 

Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife 10 years before His Dark Materials, and at the centre of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more. Questions about our existence are infinitely interesting to me. There’s always more to explore.

Philip Pullman 
I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. I loved the feeling of making marks on a piece of paper, but it wasn't until some time later that I learned to connect that pleasure with a quite different pleasure, that of being absorbed in a story. Because I loved stories too - every kind of story, from fairy tales to Superman, from school stories to horror stories. As a matter of fact I still do.
What I like about being published by DFB is that David Fickling loves stories too. He first published a book of mine in 1985, and we're both still going, and that book is still in print; so that must say something for my luck. The DFB list is so varied and so full of good stories that I feel very privileged to be part of it.
Actually, I feel lucky just to be doing what I do every day. If I were to go back fifty years, or more, and ask the little boy I used to be what he most wanted to do when he grew up, I think he'd say "Write stories!" In fact, I know he would. So he started, and he never stopped. There'll be more coming soon.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) Feb 2017 - UK Published Post Two

Will Mabbitt/Ross Collins - Mabel Jones and the Doomsday Book - Published by Puffin (9 Feb. 2017)

Would you agree to go on a perilous TOP SECRET mission to save your best friend from the creaking gibbet?
Mabel Jones is on her way to the city of Otom in search of the legendary Doomsday Book - an ancient document that might help her save the hooman race.
But Otom is a dangerous place, packed with soldiers, spies and stinking rebels. Can Mabel escape with the book, or will she fall victim to the dreaded Grand Zhoul . . . ?
The third adventure in the hilarious Mabel Jones series, written by Will Mabbitt and illustrated by Ross Collins.

Trenton Lee Stewart - The Secret Keepers - Published by Chicken House (2 Feb. 2017)

When Reuben discovers an old pocket watch, he soon realizes it holds an incredible power: it can turn you invisible for fifteen minutes. He can't resist the lure of disappearance: for a time, he can vanish from the despotic regime of New Umbra. But the watch's power is even more extraordinary than he imagines. Soon, he's on the run from New Umbra's ruler, The Smoke, who's determined to possess it for himself ...

Ian Beck - The Carmody Casebooks (The Casebooks of Captain Holloway) - Published by Corgi Childrens (2 Feb. 2017)

The Disappearance of Tom Pile 
When bright lights are spotted above a tiny village in Dorset, the locals suspect German bombers. 
Jack Carmody believes otherwise. He is part of a secret government department, set up to explore the supernatural and the unexplained. 

Then a boy – Tom Pile – is discovered, alone and scared.

Tom went missing forty years ago

The Miraculous Return of Annick Garel

One year later two French fishermen see strange lights over the channel – and discover the body of a girl, still alive. 

Annick Garel drowned in a storm thirty years ago. 

Both children have powers that could change the course of the Second World War. Both sides in that war want their secrets

These are two extraordinary stories. 

These are the Casebooks of Jack Carmody.

Alwyn Hamilton - Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands Trilogy 2) - Published by Faber & Faber (2 Feb. 2017)

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.
Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible. 
Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Ally Kennen - The Everything Machine - Published by Scholastic (2 Feb. 2017)

Eleven year old Olly has a very special delivery - a 3D printing machine, stamped with PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER, which has magical powers... It has a name, it speaks, and it can print ANYTHING Olly asks it to - a never-ending supply of sweets, a swimming pool in the shed - but what Olly really wants is... his dad, who has separated from his mum and moved out of the family home. Cue the creation of Dad-Bot - he looks just like Dad (on a good day) but is totally chaotic - and his antics tip Olly and co into a heart-racing and heart-warming adventure!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

ParcelHero - The Decline of the High Street British Book Store

The last chapter for British book stores

2030: Dead End for the High Street 

As UK weekly online shopping reaches £1 Billion, a new report by e-commerce delivery specialists ParcelHero reveals home shopping will wipe out over 50% of town centre stores, and spell the end for the majority of High Street book stores by 2030.
UK shoppers’ weekly online spending has reached £1 Billion a week - an increase of 26.8% on 2015 - and a major new report by e-commerce fulfilment specialists ParcelHero says the death of the High Street as we know it may be far nearer than people think. The report - 2030: The Death of the High Street - reveals that by 2030, just 13 years’ time, the impact of online shopping and home deliveries will mean the majority of Britain’s local and chain book stores, will be a memory.
The report looks in depth at the final chapter for Britain’s High Street book shops, as ParcelHero's Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, reveals there will be less than 600 book shops remaining in the UK by 2030.
 David Jinks says:
  • Remember Borders, Booksetc, Dillons and Ottaker’s? The traditional high street book store industry is collapsing at 2.3% sales decline a year; with just 1,071 retail businesses remaining. 
  • Between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2012 the number of high street bookshops in the UK halved
  • We could have reached many bookshops final chapter with just 535 left in our major towns and cities by 2030.
  • Independent book shops declined from 1535 in 2008 to 987 in 2013.
  • With Amazon Prime members now receiving free Kindle bestsellers in the US, in its new Prime Reading offer, the story of the High Street book store is a long one; but it could be reaching the final chapter.
 The full report is available at

Don't miss the fascinating interactive timeline charting the demise of favourite High Street brands at
 The reports main author, ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research David Jinks MILT, is available to supply unique written comment or for interview. David is available at or on 07772 055748.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Christopher Edge - The Jamie Drake Equation - Book Review - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

How amazing would it be to have a dad who's an astronaut? Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake's dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it's cool but he just really misses him...Hanging out at his local observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad's mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he's a hero too? A cosmic adventure for anyone who's ever looked at the stars, from the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. 

As soon as you turn the first page, you will suddenly find yourself being transported into a gravitational time dilation. The real world will slow down, as the fantasy universe kicks in, and powers you on into outer space and beyond. The very first page will hook you into a cracking story about a young boy, called Jamie Drake, and his famous astronaut father, who recently left earth. He is flying through space on a mission to send small probes to the further reaches of space, hoping to find proof of extraterrestrial life, but what will they find?

The book is beautifully written. It fully explores science and scientific elements including the solar system and the possibilities of intelligent life beyond planet earth. It is a great educational ride; it subconsciously makes learning fun, cool and very interesting. Christopher really shows off his passion, once again, by showing readers just how much fun science can be through a good story narrative and mixing it with action adventure and family life.  

Another great element of this story is that it has a historical impact on the world today. With the ever-increasing topics of space travel and life beyond earth, the author asks many questions for the reader to think about and perhaps even discuss in class. Just like the characters in Jamie's school, the children are involved in making models, dressing up as aliens and being involved in a live broadcast to space which is beamed into the school from the International Space Center. All are very uber cool, right?

This story is a cosmic ray of light that will uplift your soul to the nebulae and back. It will take you on the best journey that the imagination has to offer and let you escape into a fantasy world that is filled with reality and fantastic characters that make you feel warm at heart. It is all delivered with a bucketful of heart and snappy middle-grade dialogue throughout. The mystery and a twist will keep the reader on their toes until the very end of the book. 

Chris and the team at Nosy Crow have delivered another award winning performance. It is published in paperback on the 2nd March 2017 and has been wrapped up in another fantastic book cover illustration by Matt Saunders.