Thursday, 25 June 2009

Marissa Moss - The Pharaoh's Secret - Book Review


Mr Ripley's Review

I liked the look of this book just from its cover appeal and so read it with great interest. I really love the Egyptian theme in books, the strong history and heritage that the Egyptians had. This book uses factual information as its main basis and then adds a little bit of fiction to enhance. This well thought-out story transports the reader back in time to the Land of the Pharaoh's, the great rulers of their time. The story is about finding one's true-self, through a child's eye, whilst living with the difficulties of loosing a parent (at an early age) and discovering the history of the family.
Talibah and Adom go on an ordinary holiday vacation to Egypt, when things start to go strange. Talibah starts to hear cryptic voices that whisper strange things.The brown swirls of life are depicted in every single page read. The pages flow like the River Nile and before you know it the story has ended.
The adventure takes on many twists and turns, with many aspects to keep you thinking. The nicely captured, inter-spaced drawings help with the on-going depiction of the story.
The books inspiration has been drawn from two significant aspects in Marisa Marr's life. A family trip to Egypt with her three children and the very tragic personal issue of her family dealing with the loss of a loved one. This gives the story a personal emotional focus which subtly deals with bereavement. It is heart-warming to see the story being tied up as a happy ending.
I will give this gem of a read four out of five, as I would have liked greater battle scenes with more blood and gore. Only kidding!!!!
I will be very interested to see what Marissa writes next, as she seems to have a diverse approach to writing.


Published by Amulet Books 1 October 2009 (Ages 9-12)

Synopsis

Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.

When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.

About the author

Marissa Moss is the author and illustrator of over 20 books for children, including the popular Amelia's Notebook series. She lives in Berkeley, California with her three children. For Marissa's latest title, Max's Logbook, she took inspiration from her son Elias. Elias had been urging his mother to write a book of experiments and inventions. He even helped his mother with the different experiments and inventions in the book by sharing his scientific logbooks from the many classes he took at the local science museum. Marissa also wanted to create a toy-like invention she could use in the comic strips she created for the book. Once again she turned to Elias for inspiration. Marissa had noticed Elias playing with a coffee can full of army and alien erasers. And thus, the Alien Eraser was born, the ultimate Max invention.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tracey Morley & Kevin Morley - The Unravellers


This is my first re-post of a book review I did some time ago. This time I'm adding a 'YouTube' trailer for the book. It's a great old-fashioned classic, written in the present time, with great illustrations that leave you feeling happy. If you want to know more or buy the book please check out the web site by clicking on the author link half way down the page.

Book Synopsis
Grandad Bob died before he could put everything right. We’ve got to act in his place.’ Sam and Danny have gone to stay at their aunt’s inn in the sleepy, run-down fishing village of Travin Cove. But it’s not all sunbathing and paddling and prodding around in rock pools. They’re also on a secret mission – to hunt for a mysterious object discovered by their grandad many years before and in doing so somehow to bring the village back to life … The only clues Sam and Danny have are a rather puzzling letter from their grandad and the key to a dusty old cabinet at the inn. Then, when the key goes missing on a trip to the beach, an encounter with Winkle, the ‘thief’, plunges the children into the weird and wonderful world of the Beachcombers and the mystery begins to unravel at last … Beautifully told and superbly illustrated, The Unravellers will make you see a trip to the seaside in a whole different light!







Ripley's review
Firstly I have to say that this book cover is just great. The bright watercolour picture, featuring the main characters of the book sells itself well. This talented wife and husband team have done a very good job on the overall book. It's a great bedtime story for kids.
I loved reading this book with its great imaginative ideas. Sam and Danny find themselves on a mission to find the key. This unlocks the cabinet which holds an adventure that is written in a non-fussy way; keeping to the story and leaving a warm cosy feeling right through to the last page. A super easy read which is recommended to everyone.
The other great feature of this book is Kevin's amazing pen-ink drawings which sets the book apart from other books. I would buy this book just for these, especially being a big collector of pen and ink drawings myself. Also check out some of the great drawings on the Unravellers website I have listed.
I give this book four out of five. I hope you'll give it some support and buy this book as it is published by a small publishing company.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

New Children's Books from the U.S August -December 2009 Part Two



Also please read part one to this post.


September 2009


Tom Dolby - Secret Society - Published by HarperTeen September 29, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

An eccentric new girl. A brooding socialite. The scion of one of New York’s wealthiest families. A promising filmmaker. As students at the exclusive Chadwick School, Phoebe, Lauren, Nick, and Patch already live in a world most teenagers only dream about.

They didn’t ask to be Society members. But when three of them receive a mysterious text message promising success and fame beyond belief, they say yes to everything. Even to the harrowing initiation ceremony in a gritty warehouse downtown, and to the ankh-shaped tattoo they’re forced to get on the nape of their necks.

Once they’re part of the Society, things begin falling into place for them. Week after week, their ambitions are fulfilled. It’s all perfect—until a body is found in Central Park with no distinguishing marks except for an ankh-shaped tattoo.

Kate DiCamilo - The Magician's Elephant - Published by Candlewick Press September 8, 2009 (Ages 9-12)

Synopsis

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

October 2009

Marissa Moss - The Pharaoh's Secret - Published by Amulet Books October 1, 2009 (Ages 9-12)


Synopsis

Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.

When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh—a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.

November 2009

Tim Kehoe - The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow - Published by Little, Brown November 1, 2009 (Young Reader)

Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Vincent Shadow dreamed of being a toy inventor. He had notebooks full of ideas bubbles that carried sound, rockets that pop into kites, and a football that would rather bite than be caught.
Unfortunately, the secret attic lab where Vincent built his prototypes had seen more disasters than triumphs. But a chance encounter with eccentric toy inventor Howard G. Whiz, and the discovery of long-lost inventions by one of the world s greatest scientists would change Vincent s life forever.

December 2009

James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet - Witch & Wizard Published by Little, Brown and Company December 14, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they'd never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents--and maybe the world?

That's all the books in so far. If you would like to send any books to us please email us. Thank you!

Friday, 19 June 2009

New Children's Books from the U.S August -December 2009 Post One.


Lots of new books have turned up this week in Mr Ripley's very busy postbox. All the books are due to be published in the U.S between August and December, there are some very interesting and enjoyable reads, so I'll get on and introduce them to you.
Post one of Two.

August 2009

Daniel & Dina Nayeri - Another Faust - Published By Candlewick Press August 25, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the sideeffects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

Joanne Dahme - Tombstone Tea - Published By Running Press Kids August 24, 2009 (Young Adult)

Synopsis

In order to be accepted by the “in crowd” at her new high school, Jamie accepts a dare to spend one night in a local cemetery collecting rubbings from ten gravestones. Once inside the gate of the dark and frightening burial ground, Jamie meets Paul, a handsome boy who works as a caretaker at the cemetery. Paul explains to Jamie about Tombstone Tea: a fund-raising performance in which actors impersonate the people buried in the cemetery. The actors are supposedly rehearsing on this particular evening, but Jamie quickly discovers that they aren’t actors at all but the ghosts of men and women buried in the cemetery. When one woman decides to adopt Jamie to replace her lost daughter, our heroine fears she may never escape the cemetery.

September 2009


Matt Phelan - The Storm in the Barn - Published by Candlewick Press September 8, 2009 (Age 9-12)


Synopsis

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. With phenomenal pacing, sensitivity, and a sure command of suspense, Matt Phelan ushers us into a world where desperation is transformed by unexpected courage.

October 2009

Mary Amato - Invisible Lines - Published by Egmont USA October 13, 2009 (Age 10+)

Synopsis

For Trevor Musgrove, life isn't always bright and cheerful. His family has just moved to Hedley Garden, a tough housing projects its residents called "Deadly Gardens." He goes to school with rich kids who have everything, while he has to work just to afford soccer cleats. It doesn't help that the best athlete in school, Xander Pierce, happens to have it out for him. Mistakenly enrolled in an advanced science class taught by an odd but engaging teacher, Trevor is thrown headfirst into the world of natural science. Through all this, he will learn that life can spring up in the darkest places - maybe even Deadly Gardens.

Mark Teague - The Doom Machine Published by Blue Sky Press (Scholastic Books) October 1, 2009 (Age 9-12)

Synopsis

When a spaceship lands in Vern Hollow, Jack's hometown, he and his no-account inventor-uncle Bud are busy trying to fix a car driven by Dr. Shumway and her daughter, Isadora. Although Uncle Bud secretly knows the aliens are after one of his inventions, everyone is surprised when the space aliens capture seven of Vern Hollow's residents and take them into outer space on a wild adventure. . . . (more)
After a series of twists and turns, all of them are taken to Skreepia, the aliens' planet, where they have to defeat the Skreep queen before she can use Uncle Bud's invention to take over planet Earth. Filled with wonderful detail, humor, inventive dialog, and irresistible black-and-white spot art, THE DOOM MACHINE is a tour de force by one of America's most beloved storytellers.

Davido Russell & Andrew Auseon - Alienated Published by Simon& Schuster October 6, 2009 (Age 9-12)

Synopsis

Eighth graders Gene and Vince enjoy reporting wacky stories of local weirdos for their news rag,The Globe. What no one knows is that these wild stories of aliens-thanks to inside info from Gene's strange old cousin Fred are actually true. But when the aliens they've written about start disappearing, Gene and Vince find themselves at the centre of an intergalactic conflict that could be the death of the boys' friendship, or of the boys themselves - which ever comes first!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Di Toft - Wolven Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

The first thing you notice about this book, is the fantastic cover that looks great. The holographic image just works so well, it will be a hit with the book buyers. A great credit to Steve Wells, who did the design for the book, as it's in keeping with the story. This is another good quality debut book with a fresh outlook to story writing.
The book starts off when Nat Carver, a young boy, ventures to a farm searching for a dog to be his pet. But he soon finds himself looking at a very strange animal, whose origins sway more to that of Dr Frankenstein than Mr Darwin. The book develops into a really enjoyable read with lots of good story ideas. The horror side to the book was very subtle and will make it more appealing to a younger audience. It encompasses both a humorous and serious side which gives it more depth. All the characters in the book worked well and the depiction of the strange village, Temple Gurney, just gave the story more credence.
It really shows what talented up and coming writers are out there.
The ending delivers a Disney-good feel factor in a magical ending, setting a great adventure for books two and three. This book will go down well with readers who enjoyed Steve Feasey's book "Changeling". I give this book four out of five; I feel the best is to come as the author explores her full potential in the next installment. I am already looking forward to reading this in the near future. A story for the barking mad.


Book synopsis

WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

Book Published by Chicken House 3 Aug 2009

Monday, 15 June 2009

New Children's Books For August 2009 (Hardbacks)



Not many Hardbacks out in the month August. Next post we will look at some of the best releases in the U.S.

Lucinda Hare - Dragon Whisperer - Published by Bodley Head Children's Books 6 Aug 2009 ( Looks a great read)

Quenelda has always had a magical bond with dragons, and her greatest wish is to fly one and fight alongside her father in the war against the hobgoblins. Root, on the other hand, wishes only to avoid the fearsome creatures, so the role of Quenelda's esquire is the last thing he needs. But an unexpected friendship is forged, and when Dragons Dome is besieged by a deadly plot, this unlikely duo must find a way to defeat the dark forces. Epic battles, whispered legends and soaring magic combine in this breathtaking debut fantasy, with black and white illustrations by David Wyatt.
Marry Hoffman - Troubadour - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 3 Aug 2009

A story of persecution and poetry, love and war set in 13th-century Southern France. A troubadour, Bertran, witnesses the brutal murder of the Pope's legate, and risks his life to warn others of the war that he knows is certain to follow this act. The lands of the peaceable Cathars - deemed heretics - are now forfeit and under threat from crusaders who have been given authority by the Pope to take the Cathar domains by force. But the Pope is trying to track Bertran down and so is somebody else: Elinor, a young noblewoman, in love with Bertran but facing a loveless arranged marriage, flees her family and becomes a minstrel herself. Soon both Bertan and Elinor find themselves enveloped in a rising tide of bloodshed that threatens the very fabric of their society.

Michelle Paver - Ghost Hunter:Bk 6 Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - Published by Orion Children's 20 Aug 2009 (Next great story in the adventures of Torak)

As winter approaches and Souls' Night draws near, the Eagle Owl Mage holds the clans in the grip of terror. To fulfill his destiny, Torak must seek his lair in the Mountain of Ghosts. He must defy demons and tokoroths, and find his way through the Gorge of the Hidden People. Wolf must overcome terrible grief. Renn must make an agonizing decision. And in the final battle against the Soul-Eater, Torak must face the most heart-rending choice of all.


Michael Morpurgo - Running Wild - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books 24 Aug 2009 (Never let's you down,have this one to read)

An epic and heart-rending jungle adventure from the bestselling author of Kaspar and Born to Run. When 10-year-old Will's father dies in the Iraq war, his mother surprises him with a trip to Indonesia. But little could she have known what awaited them both there. The first Will knows that anything is wrong is when Oona, the elephant he is riding along the beach, begins to spook. Then, suddenly, she takes off into the jungle with Will on her back. And that's when Will sees the wave come crashing in! With his mother almost certainly drowned, with nothing to cling onto but an elephant and nothing to help him but the clothes on his back, Will faces a terrifying future. But maybe the jungle , and Oona the elephant, can help him!

Picture book pick for August.

Chris Gall - Dinotrux - Published by Little, Brown Young Readers 6 Aug 2009

Millions of years ago, DINOTRUX ruled the earth! These mighty part-truck, part-dino demolition dynamos rumbled, plowed and bulldozed their way through the centuries. From the nosy Craneosaurus and hungry Garbageadon to the bully of the jungle, Tyrannosaurus Trux, Chris Gall guides you on a safari through the wild world of these mechanical monsters of prehistoric times. Feast your eyes upon these mighty mobile creatures that once ruled the earth, but now only rule the highways. Buckle up for the ride - you'll never look at Dad's rusty old pickup the same way again! What happened to the Dinotrux? Find out in a fold-out gatefold detailing their evolution!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Books out in August 2009 Paperback



I have found quite a good mix of books to be released in the summer month of August; some great gems for every one to read.


Di Toft - Wolven - Published by Chicken House 3 Aug 2009 (Great holographic cover need to see it!)

WOLVEN is a fantasy firmly rooted in the mysterious present. A boy and his eccentric grandparents live near a strange wood - apparently cursed. He longs for a dog - but the dirty ungainly farm creature finally found by his grandfather hardly fits his image of the perfect pet. And it howls in the night. But it's only when his dog starts to grow human ears that he realises that something is seriously wrong. The truth is stranger than his wildest dreams -the boy who appears, alarmingly unpredictably, is a kind of special werewolf in reverse. A noble, almost heraldic breed of WOLVEN - the kings own werewolves from ancient times, who have been in hiding until rediscovered by evil government scientists who are trying to breed werewolves as weapons.

Steve Feasey - Changeling:Dark Moon - Published by Macmillan Children's Books 7 Aug 2009 ( I have had the pleasure to read an early manuscript copy of this book, which reads really well.)

Fourteen-year-old werewolf Trey is getting more powerful by the day. But can he control his powers - or will they bite back? Trey is sent on a dangerous mission to Iceland, where he must infiltrate the evil empire of the vampire Caliban. Trey's abilities are tested to the max, challenged by a rage he cannot regulate and a dark angel with looks that kill. Lucien Charon, Trey's mentor, lies in a coma in London, Trey is his only hope for survival. But the Netherworld is intent on destruction and Trey's about to face his nemesis...

David Whitley - The Midnight Charter - Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009 (See Book Review)

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?


Philip Caveney - Alec Delvin: Empire of the Skull - Published by Red Fox 6 Aug 2009 (Cover looks good, not had a copy yet.)

Mexico, 1924. At his father's hacienda, restlessly waiting for adventurer Ethan to arrive, sixteen-year-old Alec and his faithful valet Coates head out into the wilderness in search of an ancient archaeological site...only to discover that Mexico is every bit as perilous as The Valley of the Kings. Pursued by ruthless bandits, involved in a plane crash in the middle of remote rain-forest and finally an unwelcome guest in a lost Aztec city where the inhabitants still practice rituals of human sacrifice, once again Alec must use all of his skills and stamina to survive.


C.P. Goy The Seven Stones:Terry,the Torus and the Tumblestones - Published by Matador 3 Aug 2009 (From a small publisher)

Terry should never have been in the middle of Crow Wood that night - then the Torus couldn't have sucked him into the strange new world. But he was, and it did. So now he has a problem. To have any chance of getting home again, he needs to find the seven stones - but the Baron's secret police are closing in fast. Unless his new friends Gwen, Meeshka and Polka can help him solve the riddles and find the mysterious Watcher, Terry will never see his home again...


Harry Edge - Soft Targets - Published by Hodder Children's Books 6 Aug 2009 (Great read for boys)

New Yorker, Luke Kite has been estranged from his multi-millionaire father, Jack, for years. The result of a one night stand, he has never been acknowledged as heir to his father's globally successful business, Kite Industries - unlike his English half-sister Megan, the apple of her daddy's eye. But when his father is mysteriously killed on Luke's 17th birthday, Luke and Megan are brought together as they uncover the dark secrets, and corruption at the heart of their father's multi-billion business empire. Jack's death was not an accident, nor was the hit and run incident that Megan herself, narrowly escaped the day he died...The threats don't end there, as Megan again becomes a target for killer when she's staying at Jack's London flat. Again she escapes death, and another girl is killed in her place, but now Megan is on the run. Using her best-friend's identity, she travels to New York, to Poland, and Tokyo in order to escape whoever wants her dead. Luke, too, is wary of all those around him, even his mother and his reliable Uncle Mike, his dad's brother. Who can he trust and how can he protect his half-sister? In a tense game of cat and mouse, Luke needs all his resources to narrow down his enemies and those of Megan...what he discovers destroys what little faith he has in his so-called family, and in his own identity as no one is quite who they seem. As the action draws to a shocking and nail-biting conclusion, Luke and Megan discover they have only each other to rely on in the end...


Eoin Colfer - The Arctic Incident:Graphic Novel - Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009 (Great new way to read a great book)

Someone has been supplying Class-A illegal human power sources to the goblins. Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit is sure that her arch-enemy, thirteen-year-old Artemis Fowl, is responsible. But is he? Artemis has his own problems to deal with: his father is being held to ransom and only a miracle will save him. Maybe this time a brilliant plan just won't be enough. Maybe this time Artemis needs help . . .


Julia Golding - Wolf Cry Published by OUP Oxford 6 Aug 2009 (Have this one to read soon)


reydis has been left for dead following a raid by pirates on her father's Viking stronghold. Her brother has been kidnapped-and Freydis's father is hell-bent on revenge. But this is a volatile man who loathes his daughter and is driven by love of his son. Reluctantly he takes Freydis with him on his journey, giving her a slave-Enno-to tend her. As Freydis's father becomes more bitter and cruel, and the hunt for his son becomes increasingly desperate, Freydis and Enno draw closer together. But when battle looms on the horizon, the bonds of friendship, obedience and loyalty are tested to the limit.


Garen Ewing - The Adventures of Julius Chancer:The Rainbow Orchid V.1 Published by Egmont Books Ltd 4 Aug 2009 (Looks really good)

The Rainbow Orchid" is an ambitious blend of classic storytelling and cinematic artwork in which adventure, historical drama and legend are seamlessly intertwined. In Volume One, follow the story's hero, Julius Chancer, as he embarks on a hazardous quest for the rainbow orchid - a mythical flower last mentioned by the ancient Greek philosopher, Theophrastus, and steeped in legend. His epic journey takes him from 1920s Britain to the Indian subcontinent and its mysterious lost valleys.

Hope you found something to look forward to reading. We're always looking out for new books, so if you have a book you would like to see on this blog, drop us an email. The hardback post is soon to follow.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

David Whitley - The Midnight Charter Book Review


Mr Ripley's Book Review

It's great to see another promising debut author. I was told great things about this book, by an enthusiastic person at the publishing company. I had no preconception of what I was going to read. It started off quite slowly and it took some time for me to find my 'reading legs' but when I did, the book just clicked with me. It delivered a Dickensian feel with a great story concept and interesting plot development. I really liked the way he used his imagination to create a world, building up the key features developing the roles of the characters. Every page read impacts on the reader, the story leaves them guessing throughout.
Mark has been sold by his father. Lily an orphan from birth,has bartered for the her life and both characters are being watched mysteriously by the ruler of the city. Through out the book they are many questions asked will they all be answered by the end of the book.
This is a new voice and it will be interesting to see what other readers think of this book. I will give this book four out of five, due to the slow start and the lack of dialogue between various characters in the first few chapters.

Book synopsis

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?

Book Published by Puffin 6 Aug 2009


About the Author

David Whitley was born in 1984 and at the age of twenty he won the Cheshire Prize for Literature. He later graduated from the University of Oxford with a double first in English Literature. TV quiz fans will have spotted David on BBC2’s University Challenge, when he was a member of Oxford’s Corpus Christi team who became Series Champions in 2005.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Charlie Higson - The Enemy Book Review (Fourteen)



Mr Ripley's Review

Charlie Higson is a very talented writer, not only does he write screenplays and comedy sketch shows but he's also the co-creator of The Fast Show. He writes adult thriller novels but is best known as the writer of the bestselling 'Young Bond' series. More recently, out of the blue, he has just written a great teenage horror book. It's a cross between 'Shaun of the Dead' and the quality 'gory' parts of a Stephen King book.
The book starts with an understated opening, Small Sam is playing outside like a 'normal' child but then the plot soon escalates into the 'grown-ups' taking him! After a few more pages it soon becomes clear that Small Sam is intended to be part of the menu for the Zombie-like creatures, who are adults that have been infected with a sickness. The book then follows the story, of groups of children, trying to survive in a world which is unsafe and inhabitable.
I loved the way this book draws the reader into the deep depths of a frightening and macabre world. It explores the ways in which children have to live on the edge, fighting for survival when they should've been having fun. The story contains many action scenes including stand-offs between the sick infected grown-ups versus the children.
Charlie has managed to write a heart-stopping horror book, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats with their heart in their mouths. He has played a strong emotional card, portraying key elements of death and friendship resulting in a culmination of the two. The ending is a 'cracker' resulting in the story finishing with a bang!
Let us have more of this type of writing, it's captivating and stunning. The only problem I can envisage is it getting into the hands of younger children, as parents may think it is aimed at the 'Young Bond' market. Even with an age limit of 14+, the audience needs to be carefully monitored. I will have to go now there is a "Zombie" Knocking on my door for a cup of tea so I will catch you in the next post. Five out of Five what next?

Book synopsis

They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?

Book is published by Puffin out 3 Sep 2009


Young Bond Books:

1. Silverfin (2005)
2. BloodFever (2006)
3. Double or Die (2007)
4. Hurricane Gold (2007)
5. By Royal Command (2008)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Melvyn Grant -Digital Artist


Mr Ripley Say's Do you Know the book cover?

Sometimes artists behind great book covers never get a mention or credit for the contribution to the end product of a book. So I thought I would highlight some of the best creative people in this job. I really love the cover artwork of children's books, it always makes a difference as to how well a book will sell. Get the book cover right and you're already on the way to selling more copies.



BIOGRAPHY

Melvyn Grant was born in London, England at a time when it was quite possible that somewhere, a sun turned nova and the Earth, for a moment, probably orbited a little off centre. If this was indeed the case and caused a problem anywhere, we are all deeply touched…
…But this probably had nothing to do with the fact that Mel has been from the very beginning, an exceptionally talented and universal artist.

Within a few days of attending his first school, Mel’s artistic ability was soon noticed. But as mischief would have it, at the same time he was also reprimanded for sneaking a bite from a tasty apple left on his teacher’s desk. Fortunately, this teacher (whose name Mel remembers only as ‘Yesmiss’) was a patient woman with a good sense of humour. She readily enjoyed challenging the imp in her young pupil and took Mel under her wing. Although he was unable to fully appreciate this at the time, the creative guidance she gave set an important mark to his early life. But best, she had a keen eye for art and Mel’s talent was respected and even more importantly, encouraged.

From that time on it became important to Mel that he always achieved the highest class-marks in art each year throughout his school life. Also, being considered the ‘School Artist’ allowed acceptable leeway for a nonconformist and useful bohemian attitude. He became the only student to attend The Brassey Institute School Of Fine Arts at the early age of twelve, but the only paper qualification he ever took was an ‘Advanced’ level GCE in which he achieved a grade one with distinction.

After six years at The Brassey, he found the style of work encouraged by this environment (bus queues on a rainy day, with much use of grey) lacking in inspiration, and was becoming keen for a new and brighter pasture. Although his tutors did their best to encourage him to stay on and acquire more qualifications, Mel’s mind was made-up and at the age of eighteen, he dropped out. He needed a break and fresh input, and there was a big world waiting outside.

For a time, he gave painting a rest and pursued other interests, music and science in particular. It is said that where art points science often goes. He studied electronics and worked in a variety of short-term jobs. He designed and built several unusual electric guitars and played some good Rock and Roll. Finally, he shouldered his pack, took the reins of his mule (symbolically) and set foot to the big wide world.

Some years later Melvyn Grant quit his wandering, left the mule (a mean-eyed and stubborn fellow with a tendency to ferment) in a meadow by the gate and located in London. And went back into the world of art. Although his approach to painting is firmly rooted in traditional Fine Art, he found a much more exciting world in High-end Fantasy Illustration. Here he could give full vent to his imagination and with his strong mastery of figure work (Earthly or otherwise) soon became one of the leading British Fantasy Artists. His powerful imagery is always believable and has since inspired many other artists and fans alike around the world. And he is now considered, of the very best in this field.

Ever in great demand, Mel continues to work with publishers, mostly in the U.K., Europe and the U.S.A. He is happy to work with clients anywhere in (or off) the world (but off world is a little difficult as couriers are hard to find). He has worked with virtually all the major book companies, and has produced countless paintings as covers for the books of leading authors.

While Fantasy is Mel’s pleasure, his art is versatile and wide ranging. He has worked on Children’s books and posters through adult Romance, General, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. And although he prefers working with books, Mel’s art has also been used in Advertising, Animated Films, Prints, Gift Designs and Record Sleeves.

Until a few years ago Melvyn Grant worked entirely with oil paint mostly on stretched canvas or board. But sometimes he would also paint on other materials such as Masonite, blockwood panels, Kryptonite, or anything else that took his fancy, which could be straightened out, stuck down, battered flat, or in some way encouraged into becoming a receptacle surface. A perfectionist and ever thorough, Mel has researched and understood his subject well and his mastery of oil paint has become on a par with any of the Old Masters, often formulating his own mediums and grinding pigments to create personalised paints.

Now, moving with the times, Mel has embraced the future and some of his work is painted digitally. But although for this he uses a computer, his artwork still starts with a sketch and is hand painted mark upon mark as in traditional painting and still takes time. None of Mel’s digital work is ‘Computer Generated’. He has simply swapped paint and canvas for pixels and screen. The beauty of painting on a virtual canvas is that it is possible to mix mediums in a way that would not work in the physical world and Mel relishes this fluidity. But most important he says… he does not have to wait for the damn paint to dry.

Mel Grant, at this time, is living and working on the coast in the Southeast of England. He feels that to sit on the shore on a hot day (preferably on a dry rock) and share energy with his planet is a necessary thing. While to look quietly across the sea is important to his creativity and peace of mind… and with such an imagination there is always the tease that, one day, he might just step up and stand on top of a wave. But looking down through the water at the holes in his sandals, nothing is too serious to crack a smile… least of all himself. And like a soft breeze in a summer sky, a touch of caprice adds to the gentle art of being, Melvyn Grant.

Rose-Mae Bluestone.

If you want to find more out or buy some great book cover prints please click on the link below. And thanks for reading.
www.melgrant.com

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Chris Bradford - Young Samurai - The way of the Warrior Book Review

Mrs Ripley's Review



I first stumbled across this book through a free chapter sampler. I was intrigued but not overly fascinated by the subject content, as it primarily seemed aimed at boys. I bought it all the same but it remained unread until last Sunday. The weather was beautiful, my spirits high and my appetite for a different style of writing needed to be fulfilled. I was not disappointed at any point, I thought this book was a ‘cracker.’ From the very beginning I was captured by Jack Fletcher (the main character), the unlikely crew and the evil ninja pirates.
The style of writing captured the reader’s attention through descriptive action-adventure scenes and thoughtful dialogue. This was stilted at the beginning, as Jack could not converse in the warriors language. However we learnt how to communicate alongside Jack, through the many words introduced in Japanese. I found this both interesting and educational, although I am far from being fluent.
I actually read the book, cover to cover, in one sitting over several hours. I found learning about the warrior’s culture and traditions informative and intriguing. Whilst the book contains many scenes of adrenaline pumping, masculine competitiveness. This is mildly diluted by Akiko (female warrior) who introduces aspects of femininity through her sophisticated bow and arrow work.
A great read, thoroughly entertaining with a lot of intense drama but not too much unwarranted violence. I can’t wait for the sequel, which will not be left untouched for a long period of time like the first. Five out of Five.
For readers 11+

Book Published by Puffin 7 Aug 2008Book Synopsis

August 1611. Jack Fletcher is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan – his beloved father and the crew lie slaughtered by ninja pirates. Rescued by the legendary sword master Masamoto Takeshi, Jack's only hope is to become a samurai warrior. And so his training begins. But life at the samurai school is a constant fight for survival. Even with his friend Akiko by his side, Jack is singled out by bullies and treated as an outcast. With courage in his heart and his sword held high, can Jack prove himself and face his deadliest rival yet?

About the Author

Chris Bradford has earned his black belt in taijutsu, the secret fighting art of the ninja. He has also trained in judo, karate, kickboxing and samurai swordmanship. He lives in the South Downs with his wife and two cats called Tigger and Rhubarb.

The next book is called The Way of the Sword which is out in July.

Synopsis for book two.

One year of training in samurai school and Jack is in real trouble . . . He’s busy preparing for the Circle of Three, an ancient ritual that tests courage, skill and spirit to the limit. And, at the same time, Jack is caught in a running battle with fellow student Kazuki and his gang. But these are the least of Jack’s problems. He knows his deadly rival – the ninja Dragon Eye – could strike at any moment. Jack possesses the very thing he will kill for. Can Jack master the Way of the Sword in time to survive a fight to the death?