Friday, 4 September 2009

Gill Harvey - Egyptian Chronicles:The Horned Viper Book Review

Book synopsis:
The Horned Viper is the second in a new series of four books set in Ancient Egypt. The Spitting Cobra, the first in the series, was published in August 2009. Two further instalments will be released in 2010. Each book is a well researched and atmospheric evocation of Egyptian life encased in an exciting adventure story. The boy and girl characters, Hopi and Isis, feature in each book and readers will be intrigued to follow their struggles for existence and adventure in Egypt circa 1150 BC. In this story, The Horned Viper, Isis and Hopi find themselves on the banks of the River Nile, pitting their wits against dangerous servants. 

Mr Ripley's Book Review
The authors love for Egypt is evident and allows the reader to feel and sense the events clearly, even without any prior knowledge of ancient Egypt. The book is written in the same vein as the debut book "Orphan of the Sun" which sets the characters headlong in to the world of Egypt, circa 1150 BC. The book develops around an adventure, following the characters of Hopi and Isis, overcoming dangerous enemies and their fears. The story flows like the River Nile; the historic culture of this book makes it an enjoyable read, with much more to be developed within the next few books. 
The other great feature of this book involves the factual and detailed notes which are included, these will help younger readers to enhance their understanding and interest of ancient Egypt. 
I give this book three out of five - only due to the short nature of the story, I wonder if some of the stories could have been compiled into two books rather than four?

Another recommended read is Marissa Moss - The Pharaoh's Secret - See book review. 

Egyptian Chronicle Series:
Book One     The Spitting Cobra  Published by Bloomsbury 3 August 2009
Book Two     The Horned Viper    Published by Bloomsbury 5 October 2009
Book Three   The Sacred Scarab  Published by Bloomsbury 1 February 2010
Book Four     The Deathstalker    Published by Bloomsbury 5 April 2010

About the Author
Gill Harvey studied French and Philosophy at Oxford. After experimenting with a number of careers, she eventually got a job as a writer/editor at Usborne Publishing in 1994. Five years later, and having reached the position of Senior Editor and completed an MA in Modern Literature, Gill decided to go freelance. Since then, writing has become a way of life. Her love of horses has resulted in eight of the Heartland titles for Scholastic Inc under the name of Lauren Brooke; she has also written a couple of Hodder Children's Books Animal Ark series as Lucy Daniels. A year spent commuting to Egypt led to the writing of Orphan of the Sun, Gill's first book for Bloomsbury.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New Books Out In The U.S In October 2009 - Patrick Carman

Patrick Carman - Ghost In The Machine (Skeleton Creek)
published by Scholastic Press October 1, 2009

Synopsis:Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek...and Ryan and Sarah are trying to find out why. Ryan writes down everything in his journal, and Sarah records everything on her videocam. The two move deeper into the mystery they've uncovered, determined to discover the secrets buried in Skeleton Creek, in the conclusion to Patrick Carman's thrilling series.

In this groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts -- Ryan's text in the book, and Sarah's videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

New Books Out In The U.S In October 2009

These are some of the best picks due to be released in  the U.S in October. I will add more during this week.

Brandon sanderson - Published by Scholastic Press October 1, 2009
Alcatraz Versus The Knights Of Crystallia 

Synopsis:When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, the Smedry home base, Alcatraz is shocked to see that he is, in fact, a legend. When he was a baby he was stolen by the Evil Librarians, and his mother, a Librarian herself, was behind the whole scheme. Now, with his estranged father, who is acting indeed strange, Bastille, who has been stripped of her armor, and Grandpa Smedry, who is, as always, late to everything (that's his Talent), Alcatraz tries to save a city under siege. From who? Why, the Librarians of course.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Jessica Meats - Child Of The Hive - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Review

Close your eyes and turn off all your senses . . . . .  all you should see is the blackest of black, even blacker than you thought possible, with voices (so many voices) all different, yet saying the same things. But your mind is telling you a thousand other things that you can't take in . . . . . what kind of place would you be in?
This book is a really interesting, debut Sci-Fi Fantasy teenage book which has been written incredibly well. It covers a great concept - if we ever get to the point where technology is developed to think for itself and function on its own, what would happen within this world for better or for worse. The action, which is on-going within the story develops the readers thinking all the way through the book. The characters are very well constructed and help to create the pace and build up within the middle section of the story. But then the story slows down somewhat to establish a gentler ending, which I thought perhaps needed more action and punch, like the start of the book. I found the general style of writing refreshing in its use of vivid and detailed description. I really connected to this book; its thought process and deployment of characters. I intend to read it again as I got a lot of out of it, and I don't say that everyday.
I give this book four out of five, as I would have liked some aspects of the story to have been sequenced slightly differently, in order to give maximum impact.

Book Published by Book Guild Publishing 30 Sep 2009

Book Synopsis:

Will is different... 'special'. He's a genius at maths and even though he's still at school studying for his A levels, he lives on his own in a dingy, run-down bed-sit and has to work at night to support himself. But there's something more that sets him apart - something he has to keep hidden from everyone, even his friends. Otherwise, he risks blowing his cover or, worse, losing his life…

Sophie is 'special' too. Deep in the bowels of a secret government facility she spends her days colouring in seemingly unfathomable patterns on endless sheets of graph paper, never speaking a word. To those around her she seems like a simpleton, but little do they suspect that she, like them, is fighting a secret war - a war against the deadly organization known as the Hive.

Set in a Britain of the near future, Child of the Hive is both a tense sci-fi thriller and a gripping philosophical exploration of what it means to be human in a world of ever-increasing technological sophistication. An unputdownable read.

About the Author

Jessica Meats grew up in Nottinghamshire and is a recent graduate in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of York, where she was a regular contributor to a university creative arts magazine. Today she works as a Technology Specialist.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sharon Tregenza - Tarantula Tide - Book Review

Book Review By Mrs Ripley

I bought this book whilst at the Edinburgh book festival. I was intrigued by the bold, simple front cover which gave hints of Viking adventure and . . . .  spiders! Unable to wait, I read the whole book on my train  journey home. I was so glad of this great book, it was a welcome distraction to accompany me home. The first chapter set the tone well and introduced key aspects which were returned to and developed throughout the book. I thought the way the book addressed Jack and his inner turmoil was sensitive and didn’t shy away from his raw thoughts and feelings. The friendship between him and Izzie enabled a great adventure to take place, with unexpected twists and turns. I loved the atmosphere established on Shetland - laid back and familiar yet still full of adventure, especially concerning smuggling and the discovery of an exotic creature.
A great read and a book I would recommend - four out of five.

Published by Floris Books 16 Oct 2008


Smugglers. Vikings. Shetland should be a fascinating place for a holiday, but Jack is harbouring a secret and is less than enthusiastic to be there. Then he meets Izzie and her exotic pets and things soon start to get more interesting: Jack finds an unexpected visitor underneath the fridge; the wandering tramp is not what he seems, and each night a mysterious person waits on the beach outside Jack's cottage. But what do all these have to do with an unusual visitor named Octavia? Jack and Izzie unwittingly find themselves in the middle of a dangerous adventure, wondering what the next tide will bring to the land of the Viking Fire Festival. "Tarantula Tide" is the winner of the Kelpies Prize 2008.

About the Author

Sharon Tregenza was born and grew up in Cornwall. She currently lives with her husband in an old mill house on the Welsh border. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has had almost four hundred stories, poems and articles published worldwide. One of her poems has been included in Pan Macmillan's recent poetry anthology, There's a Hamster in the Fast Lane. She was inspired to set her book on Shetland when her husband worked on the island and she fell in love with the warm people and varied wildlife.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Neil Gaiman & Andy Kubert - Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

Mr Ripley Say's

I was never a particularly big fan of comics and graphic novels, as a result I always stayed away from this format. But over the past year I have been drawn towards this media and have finally been persuaded by the illustrative lure expressing a story within its pages. Anyway to cut a long story short I was up in Edinburgh on the day of the Neil Gaiman event, where I was drawn to an area of the festival bookshop which had a nice collection of his books (some of the more popular titles and some not). After some time of perusing the books I got my hands on a nice Deluxe Edition (of the above title) and started to read this on my train journey back home. Unfortunately it remained unsigned, due to the incredibly long queue which took over three hours, by which time I had a train to catch! But hats off to Neil who persevered to sign for that amount of time.
The story is very good, I got into the spirit of the characters of the book really quickly and enjoyed every page. It actually left me feeling that Batman was an under-rated super hero! The images are particularly striking and work really well with the text. They capture your interest and allow you to delve deeper into the intended vision rather than the reader elaborating on a basic concept. A recommended read and a great book to have in any book collection.

Book Synopsis

Gotham City is plagued with crime and corruption in places high and low, but one man has taken a stand against evil of all forms: the dark avenger known as Batman. But now the Dark Knight is dead; apparently fallen at the hands of dying god Darkseid. "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader" is a captivating and mysterious tale, the likes of which Batman and friends have never experienced before. Delving into the realms of life, death and the afterlife, no stone is left unturned in this exploration of every facet and era of Bruce Wayne's life. Neil Gaiman, the multiple award-winning author of "Sandman" and "Coraline", is joined by legendary artist Andy Kubert ("Batman and Son") for the ultimate Batman story!

About the Author

Neil Gaiman is the most critically acclaimed comics writer alive and is the author of numerous bestselling books and graphic novels, winning countless awards. His best known work in comics is the epic Sandman series. Andy Kubert has long been one of comics' greatest talents, with work including both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men, Adam Strange, Captain America, 1602 and much more!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

On My Travels To Scotland And Back

I have been very busy in the last few weeks, so I have had very little time to do any reading or to update this blog. It is at busy times like this that it would be great to have a helper. Anyway I took a visit to the Edinburgh book festival this last week and had a great time. Whilst there I had a look in the local section of the well-stocked festival bookshop and found some of the below titles which might take your fancy.

Sharon Tregenza - Tarantula Tide - Published by Floris Books 16 October 2008

About the book:

When one expects Vikings and barbarians and simply finds civilization, you'd expect to be underwhelmed. "Tarantula Tide" follows Jack as he finds himself vacationing in Shetland, a land with a history far more interesting than its present. When he meets Izzie, his vacation suddenly turns strange, as Jack's own private secrets may soon come to light. "Tarantula Tide" is a unique children's mystery, sure to please young adult readers.

Lari Don - Wolf Notes and Other Musical Mishaps - Published by Floris Books 28 August 2009


Helen has won a place at a prestigious summer music school in remote north-western Scotland. But as she practises for a concert on Midsummer's Eve, her friends, the fabled beasts, prepare for battle - in the very forest where the young musicians are staying. When Yann the centaur arrives and warns Helen of impending danger, she is forced to cast her musical ambitions aside. Helen finds herself catapulted into a perilous quest, allied with fantastical creatures against a powerful enemy, the Faery Queen. She finds the mythical island of Tir nan Og, breaks the law and administers first aid to old friends and new ...but will it be enough to help her friends and save herself? This is the magical sequel to the bestselling "First Aid for Fairies and Other Fabled Beasts".

Sam Wilding - The Second Gateway: Book Two of the Denthan Series - Published by Olida Publishing 19 April 2009 ( Still need to track this book down!)


One year on, the zany villagers of Drumfintley are, yet again, all that stand between a peaceful world and certain disaster. When a whole new array of monsters and dark magic begin to emerge from the murky waters of Loch Echty all hell breaks loose. Beneath the Scottish loch, Mendel and James discover the submerged village of Fintley, a huge obelisk and a new crystal key. It is soon clear that they face a greater threat than ever before. In this, the second epic struggle to keep the Peck family together, some souls may be lost for good this time…

Will James, Craig and Bero still be able to save us all? Will Mendel, the wizard-goldfish, continue to outwit his oldest and greatest adversary? Will the second gateway take the villagers of Drumfintley on a one-way trip to catastrophe.

Douglas Bruton -The Chess Piece Magician - Published by Floris Books 10 Sep 2009


When Corrie's family returns to Uig Bay on the Isle of Lewis for yet another miserable summer holiday, he has no idea of the incredible adventure that lies ahead. He finds a strange figurine on a windswept beach, which looks very like the ancient chess pieces found there centuries ago ...but this one has a magician's staff. Corrie makes friends with local girl, Kat, who tells him the island's legends - of a terrible sea serpent who summoned up never-ending winter, and of a powerful magician who finally banished him. When Corrie hears a voice in the night and the strange little figure starts to glow, he finds himself drawn into an incredible battle between good and evil. Douglas Bruton's brilliant first novel tells a fictional story behind the famed Lewis chessmen, which date from the 12th century and were found in Uig Bay in the 1830s. This gripping fantasy adventure will have both boys and girls on the edge of their seats.

Friday, 21 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (paperbacks)

Some of the best paperback books for release in the normally quiet month October 2009.

Joseph Patrick Kanon & Rick Yancey - The Monstrumologist - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's - 1 Oct 2009


A gruesome gothic-horror adventure about a monster-hunting scientist and his apprentice. Will Henry is an assistant to a doctor with a most unusual speciality: monster hunting! In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown used to late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will's world changes forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi - a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest - and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to consume our world and find the rest of the monsters before it is too late...

Marcus Sedgwick - Raven Mysteries:Ghosts and Gadgets - Published by Orion Children's -
1 Oct 2009

Does my beak look wonky? Edgar's battered beak is nothing to crow about. He's so preoccupied that when Cudweed sees a guh..., a guh...You-Know-What, Edgar almosts forgets that he's the Guardian of Otherhand Castle. But the rumblings and wailing from the Lost South Wing can no longer be ignored. Lord Valevine is busy trying to save the family from destitution with his latest Gold-detecting-Gadget, so it's up to Solstice and Edgar to go ghost-hunting, and pit their wits against the obnoxious Captain Spookini.

Alexander Gordon Smith - Furnace:Death Sentence - Published by Faber Children's Books - 1 Oct 2009


In order to escape them, I must become one of them. We were so close. We had one last shot at freedom and we failed. This time the warden will show us no mercy. This time, our punishment is a death sentence. Only death won't come for us here, not in Furnace. It wouldn't dare. No, our fate is something much, much worse. Because in the bloodstained laboratories deep beneath the prison lies the horrific truth behind the warden's plans. Down here, monsters are made.

Andy Stanton - What's for Dinner, Mr Gum? - Published by Egmont Books - 5 Oct 2009


Well, Shabba Me whiskers! Mr Gum's back! But what's he up to this time? Oh, dreadful things my friends, dreadful things indeed. It seems he's found himself a brand new treat - rancid kebabs just dripping with dirty grey sauce. And he just can't get enough of them. He's gotta have more! More! Less! I mean, More! But not everyone's too happy about Mr Gum's new dinnertime arrangements and soon the town of Lamonic Bibber is gearing up for war. Can Polly and her friends save the town from being torn apart? Will Mr Gum's hunger ever be satisfied? And who on earth is Thora Gruntwinkle? All will be revealed when you read "What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?" You'll see a gingerbread man driving through London! You'll see an annoying little monkey driving everyone mad! You'll see Friday O'Leary falling asleep in a hedge! Yes, it's all there in glorious black and white, my friends. Except for the cover, which is in colour. It's Bonus.

Nancy Farmer - The Islands of the Blessed ( Sea of Trolls Trilogy) - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's - 29 Oct 2009


In the final adventure of Nancy Farmer's acclaimed trilogy a malevolent spirit of a vengeful mermaid is wreaking havoc on Jack's village and it's up to him, the old Bard and Thorgril to confront and vanquish the restless draugr. But the task will not be easy and the three find themselves travelling once more with Thorgil's northman brother and his crew into the most dangerous of waters. Their quest to right old wrongs leads them from a village plagued by a hogboon to the fin folk land of Notland and via every danger in-between. Can they escape the perils they face and return in time to help undead spirit to find peace?

Monday, 17 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (Hardbacks Post Two)

Some more great book titles to get your pulse racing. The next post will be paperbacks, picture books and novelty books for October.

Philip Reeve - No Such Things As Dragons - Published by Scholastic 5 Oct 2009 (See book review)


A dragon story with a brilliant twist from multi award-winning writer, PHILIP REEVE. Ansel's new master slays dragons for a living. He says he's hunted the monstrous worms all over Christendom and has the scars to prove it. But is Brock just a clever trickster in shining armour? Ansel is sure there are no such things as dragons. So what ishe man-eating creature that makes its lair in the crags of Dragon Mountain? Ansel and Brock must climb the ice face to discover the terrifying truth.

Ian Beck - Pastworld - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (Have this one to read)


Pastworld. A city within a city. A city for excursions and outings. Pastworld is a theme park with a difference, where travellers can travel back in time for a brush with an authentic Victorian past. But what if the Jack the Ripper figure stopped play-acting and really started killing people? For Caleb, a tourist from the present day, his visit goes terribly wrong when his father is kidnapped and he finds himself accused of murder. Then Caleb meets Eva Rose, a Pastworld inhabitant who has no idea the modern world exists. Both Caleb and Eva have roles to play in the murderer's diabolical plans - roles that reveal disturbing truths about their origins.

Chris Preistley & David Roberts - Tales of Terror from the Tunnel's Mouth - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (I love this series of books)


A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - stories with a difference.

Martin Howard - The Wickedest Witch - Published by Pavilion 19 Oct 2009 (One to look out for)


The headline in The Cackler is grim. Old Biddy Vicious, the Most Superior High and Wicked Witch and owner of the Black Wand of Ohh Please Don't Turn Me Into Aaaaarghhh - Ribbett is dead. But witches like their news on the dark side and there is great anticipation in the witching world. After all, there will need to be a new leader and a diabolical competition to find out who is to become the new Most Superior High and Wicked Witch. Esmeila Sniff fancies her chances, after all she is exceedingly wicked and has warts in all of the right places. As she and her surprisingly cheerful apprentice, Sam, set off to find three other witches to nominate her for the job, the meanest and the baddest witches in the world are hatching their own devious plan to become "The Wickedest Witch".

Angie Sage - Syren - Published by Bloomsbury Publishing 5 Oct 2009 (Book one soon to be a film)


In the fifth book of this Magykal series, Septimus and his friends find themselves on an island whose secrets are as dark and dangerous as its inhabitants. Septimus Heap returns to the House of Foryx with Spit Fyre to pick up Jenna, Nicko, Snorri, and Beetle. But the journey home does not go well and when Septimus and his friends are caught in a storm, Spit Fyre crashes into the Rokk Lighthouse. They are rescued by the lighthouse keeper who is disturbingly sinister, and who has an equally sinister cat And all the while, Septimus is trying to fight the strange pull he's feeling to the island and its mysterious secrets.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

New Children's Books For October 2009 (Hardbacks Post one)

So many good hardback book releases in October, I have split this into two posts.
Lots of great reading and something to wet your appetite.

Kate Thompson -The White Horse Trick (New Policeman Trilogy) - published by Bodley Head Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


It is the latter part of the 21st century, and dramatic climate change has made life in Ireland almost impossible. Meanwhile, Tir na n'Og is faced with a refugee problem, and the king of the fairies is not happy about it and when it is revealed that the warlord who is behind the problem is a member of the Liddy family, JJ is sent to sort him out...Following on from "The New Policeman" and "The Last of the High Kings", "The White Horse Trick" travels from the now to far distant futures: from world's end to world's beginning.

Steve Augarde - X - isle - published by David Fickling Books 1 Oct 2009 - (Great book see book review)


Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys are in with a chance, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves - the construction of a mighty weapon of defence. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it in order to secure their freedom? Powerful and compelling, "X Isle" is a fast-moving thriller that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

Scott Westerfeld - Leviathan - published by Simon & Schuster Children's 1 Oct 2009 (Looking forward to reading this one)


The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that his parents have been assassinated and that he is now a target for the Clanker Powers, a group determined to take over the globe with their mechanical machinery. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, so Alek knows his only choice is to keep on running. When he meets Deryn Sharpe, an orphan girl who has disguised herself as a boy so she can to join the British Air Service, they form an uneasy, but necessary, alliance. But the pair will soon discover that their emerging friendship will dramatically change their lives and the entire course of the Great World War...

Darren Shan - Hell's Heroes ( The Demonata) published by HarperCollins Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


The final dramatic conclusion to Darren Shan's international phenomena, The Demonata. Expect the unexpected..."The girl gazes up at me. She's even younger than I thought, clutching a small teddy bear in one hand. 'Are you the bogey man?' she whispers, eyes round. 'Yes,' I croak, then take hold of her head with my huge, scarred, blood-soaked hands and crush..." Beranabus and Dervish are gone. Bec has formed an unholy alliance with Lord Loss. Kernel is blind, held on Earth against his will. Grubbs is mad with grief and spinning out of control. The demons are crossing. The Disciples are falling. The Shadow is waiting. Welcome to the end.

Joseph Delaney - The Spook's Stories: Witches - published by Bodley Head Children's Books 1 Oct 2009


This is a fabulous collection of stories based on many of the witches from Joseph Delaney's Spooks books. Ever wondered why the Spook doesn't trust girls who wear pointy shoes? Or why Grimalkin became the Assassin for the Malkin Witch clan? Find out all this and more in this a dark and eerie collection. You don't have to know the Spook's books to enjoy the stories. They're all standalone and absolutely haunting. This is a perfect introduction to the world of "The Spook's Apprentice". But for any fans of the series out there, this collection will be a must-have.

Sam Wilding - The Magic Scales - Denthan Series - Book Review

Mr Ripley's Review

I've just had a nice Scottish week away to the gateway of the Highlands - the picturesque and once thriving fishing town of Oban, which now relies on the tourist trade. I only took one book on my hols and read that quite early on, so I went in search of a local book to read - keeping me in the Scottish spirit of the week. We found this book in the local section of the bookstore; I was hooked by the synopsis.
It's a great little tale - a fantasy adventure for the young and old. The book is laced with humour and action throughout.
The journey follows two boys, one asthmatic and the other highly talkative, plus a magical fish who used to be a wizard! I know it perhaps sounds a little unbelievable but it's not. They embark on a rollercoaster ride to the fantasy land of Denthan. It's a nice wee tale, incorporating lots of well written creatures, which have been developed from the author's great imagination.
The book reads really well; lots of action and split story segments which bring all the characters alive to great affect. The book also encompasses lots of Tolkien-like battles making it very memorable. The reader is thrown head-first into the adventure and in doing so the pages of the book fly by. This a well crafted debut book from a new writer. Book two is apparently also in the shops entitled "The Second Gateway" which I did not see - published in April 2009. I will give this book a good four out of five and will track down the next installment before book three is published.

Published by Olida Publishing; First Edition edition 16 May 2008
For more information please check the author's website and click the link to this post.

>The Magic Scales synopsis:

James's father is missing. With no clue why his dad would run out on him and his mum, he hides out by an ancient stone circle to think. There, James discovers a dead stoat, crushed in an impossibly huge footprint. The mystery of what smashed the little animal leads James into finding Mendel, a wizard from another world called Denthan. Mendel has his own problems though. He's trapped in the body of a goldfish and Denthan's sun is about to die and destroy the planet. James is soon drawn into Mendel's plight and hopes against hope that the goldfish can somehow help him find his dad.

Will Denthan be saved? Can Mendel regain his true form? But more importantly, will James ever find his father?

About the author:

Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, Sam grew up beside Loch Lomond on the edge of the Scottish Highlands.

He gained an honours degree in Zoology at Glasgow University and always maintained a strong interest in nature and the outdoors. He also became involved in songwriting and through the years played rock guitar in the UK, Holland and America.

Sam soon moved on from song writing to poerty, short stories and eventually on to his first novel, The Magic Scales, Book One of the Denthan Series, which he wrote in the early hours of the morning for his oldest son, Ryan.

Sam still lives and works in the Scottish Highlands and is currently working on Book Three of the Denthan Series.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Steve Augarde - X-isle Book Review

Mr Ripley's Book Review

My enthusiasm to get hold of a copy of this book to read, resulted in the nice people at Random House sending out an early copy. As a result I feel incredibly privileged (and nervous) to be one of the first to write a review for this book.

I am glad to say that the anticipation and wait has engaged me in a worthwhile journey. I will be honest and state that I am a very big fan of Steve Augarde's work, after devouring the 'Various' Trilogy. In fact when they came to their sad end, I was not sure that Steve would and could write books that would equal, never mind better them. But Steve has risen to and conquered the challenge; I now embark on my mission to review his exciting and new masterpiece.

Surviving in a world, where most of the land is underwater, pockets of people endeavour to keep themselves alive. Trading becomes common place, everything is traded - even human life. As Rae and Baz, two young boys (only related by association) are traded by their parents to the Eck brothers. Unfortunately the optimism of hope and a better life for their children are not upheld, but of course they aren't aware of this. Instead the brothers' ruthless and sometimes cringe worthy actions, as well as the cruelty embarked upon by Steiner and Hutchinson, enforcers of the Eck brothers and preacher John's rules, persistently taint the boys lives. However circumstances prevail (I don't want to give much away) and moral justice, of a kind, enables wrong-doing to be righted - cloak and dagger jargon to protect the ending of the story.

The story has been imaginatively written, it is original and thought-provoking making it a gripping read. The constant developments within leaves the reader musing, as to whether the expected will actually happen. The abuse endured, both mental and physical, added to the heightened sense of tension and melodrama. One of my favourite aspects of the story involves the depiction of the character Preacher John and his twisted beliefs, which bring the book alive and cement the story. The ingenuity of Rae and Baz's plans never failed to intrigue, their 'back-to-nature' ideas were cleverly devised to produce an outstanding ending.

A super book, one of the best books I've read this year. I loved every page and was left wanting more. Totally emotional and a truly captivating read. I give this book five out of five. I want to know, will there be another book?

Published by David Fickling Books (1 Oct 2009)

Book synopsis

Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what's left of the mainland. Only young boys are in with a chance, the smaller and lighter the better. Baz and Ray are two of the lucky few to be chosen, but they soon discover that X-Isle is a far cry from paradise. Ruled by Preacher John, a dangerous religious fanatic, it's a violent, unpredictable place where terrible things can happen at any moment. The boys hatch an extraordinary plan in order to protect themselves - the construction of a mighty weapon of defence. But can they complete this weapon in time, and are they really prepared to use it in order to secure their freedom? Powerful and compelling, "X Isle" is a fast-moving thriller that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

About the Author

Steve Augarde was born in Birmingham, but spent most of his life in the West Country, working as an illustrator, paper-engineer, and semi-pro jazz musician. He has written and illustrated over 70 picture-books for younger children, and has produced the paper-engineering for many pop-up books, including those by other artists - as well as providing the artwork and music for two animated BBC television series. His first book for older children, THE VARIOUS, won a Silver Smarties Award in 2003.