Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Adam Gopnik - The Steps Across The Water - Book Review



                       The Steps Across the Water


Then one day in Central Park, Rose sees something truly extraordinary: a crystal staircase rising out of the lake, and two small figures climbing the shimmering steps before vanishing like a mirage. Only it's wasn't a mirage. Rose is being watched--recruited--by representatives of U Nork, a hidden city far more spectacular than its sister city New York. In U Nork, Dirigibles and zeppelins skirt dazzling skyscrapers that would dwarf the Crysler building. Impeccably dressed U Norkers glide along the sidewalks in roller skates. Rose can hardly take it all in.


This book is beautifully written. It's a heart-warming tale of Rose, a young girl caught up in a mystery, from the moment she sees a crystal staircase rising out of the lake. The book is reminiscent of the last book that I read by Adam "The King In The Window", which was equally as good. However, in this book the world of U Nork is a habitation of imaginable skill, it's so wonderfully detailed that you feel like you're in your own bubble, as you take a trip through familiar landmarks, but of course with a twist.


It has a fairytale-like quality - in fact it's like wandering through an old classic book written by one of the great writers. However, the book also focuses on the darker elements, through the Ice Queen who sets out on a revenge mission to destroy the city. Whilst evil continues to play a significant role within the Sin Trail Park, which is actually based on Central Park.


However, the book also has a wacky side to it through the character of Mr Murphy, who is a crazy person seeing the world through different eyes. This craziness is also developed through the city of U Nork, where the waiters fire meals directly into your mouth. These are fired across the street, from air pressured cannons, to the awaiting customer.


However, the book also deals with serious issues - the feeling of being different. Rose and her brother having to save the world that they know little about and the issue of her being adopted, when she was just two years old.


This book shows an inventive world that has been captured by a great talent. Adam tells such a great story that it will have everyone hooked. The beautiful illustrations created by Bruce McCall, capture and feed the imagination alongside the narrative. 


Book Published by Hyperion Books - November 2010

Monday, 25 October 2010

Mr Ripleys Book Cover Wars 2010 - Heat 2 of 4 - Plus Charlie Higson Book Giveaway - The Dead

You are now entering the book cover war zone for 2010. 

For any follower of this site, this is the chance to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (for the next 3 weeks) we are going to select four book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2010'.


We are now into the second heat, after a close tie between the last two books. However, the final winner was eventually "The Familiars" with a great big push at the end. Thanks to the authors who got behind their own book cover - congratulations and we'll see you in the final.

  • Week One - The Familiars by Adam Epstein & Andrew Jacobson - U.S Cover
  • Week Two
  • Week Three
  • Week Four


As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover but you will also be in with the chance to win a different signed book each week. 

This weeks book we have to give away is a signed copy of Charlie Higson's ' The Dead'. All you need to do is:

  • vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top of the page)
  • leave a comment through this post or send a tweet through Twitter
  • sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed)
  • Open Worldwide
Book One - Curtis Jobling - Wereworld:Rise of the Wolf - Published By Puffin - Jan 2011





Book Two - Hilari Bell - The Goblin Gate - Published By Harper Teen - Oct 2010




Book Three - Jenna Burtenshaw - Wintercraft - Published By Headline - May 2010




Book Four - A. G. Taylor - Alien Storm - Published By Usborne - Nov 2010



Friday, 22 October 2010

Michael Grant - The Magnificent 12 - The Call - Book Review


Michael Grant is the author of the bestselling "Gone" series - a dark dystopian thriller for young adults. However, his new series is somewhat different in its approach, in fact it's a lot different but equally as good. It is written with a much younger audience in mind and has been written really well - Michael has done a great job!


I really enjoyed this book, it's a totally compelling read as you follow the unlikely hero of Mac. Mac has so many phobias that one of them is actually having too many phobias! I know you're wondering where this type of story might lead but it actually becomes an action packed, laugh-out loud read, that's full of humour and whit, with a splash of sarcasm thrown in.  The adventure follows two story threads that eventually collide with one another. One story is set around 3000 years ago, at the time of the Pale Queen being imprisoned, which makes for an exciting tale. Whilst the other thread is set in real-time but it draws the characters into a fantastical adventure where they eventually collide with a bang.


Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.



And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. 

The good thing about this book it will appeal to girls and boys with the mix of characters used, and every reader will find something to laugh about. I also takes a lighter perspective on a series issue of bullying in schools. The genius part of the book is the character of Golem he's made from mud and has the ability to replicate Mac the twelve year old boy who goes dashing of to save the world. Golem stays behind and lives with his parents and sends reports back to him which made me laugh my socks off.

This is a really good book, especially if you want to smile and lose yourself between the pages. I feel we need more books like this - magical excitement and elements of humour which make 

reading an even more enjoyable activity. I look forward to the very next book soon.



I will leave you with the words of the Golem.

DEAR MACK,

TODAY I ATE PIZZA. BUT I REALIZED THAT I DO NOT HAVE A STOMACH AND HAD TO SPIT IT OUT ON THE TABLE. LATER I USED A SPOON TO REACH INSIDE MY MOUTH AND DIG OUT A STOMACH. I PLACED THE MUD CAREFULLY IN THE TOILED AND FLUSHED MANY TIMES. NOW THERE IS WATER ON THE FLOOR AND ALSO ON THE STAIRS. I THINK MOM NOTICED.

YOUR FRIEND,
GOLEM 



Monday, 18 October 2010

Arthur Slade - The Dark Deeps:The Hunchback Assignments - Book Review


Hunchback CAN

  
We find ourselves back again for the second book in this series. In this book, Modo sets off on another mission as a British secret agent, he is their secret weapon. He has the power to change his face and appearance, this enables him to become a special member of "The Association"- formed to protect Britannia from outside enemies. The start of this book finds Modo heading straight into action, it begins well for the first three chapters. However after this, the story starts to go little flat but incredibly this actually enhances the story! I'm not sure if this was a clever ploy on behalf of the author but when you actually get to the heart of the story, it turns into a brilliant piece of storytelling.

The book takes a rapid turn of events when Modo falls overboard; the ship he is sailing on comes under attack. At this point the story is injected with amazing detail, in fact this would not be out of place within a Jules Verne adventure.  I found this book to be a very enjoyable read - Arthur has brought lots of traditional ideas together such as an underwater city and an invisible man. He has used these to great effect by creating a unique world that takes you back in time.

The book still runs on a smarting of steampunk snippets - the Clockwork Guild leaps back into the fray allowing the story to become an action packed sea exploration. The detailed descriptions of the gadgets and gizmo's in this book are very engaging. Whilst the eclectic mix of characters show a diverse range of personal traits and emotions which enable the reader to interact with them.

This series is getting better with each book - I would love to see it published in the UK as I feel it would do really well. The next book due to be published is the Empire of Ruins which has an amazing book cover. In fact keep your eye on this website, as this cover could easily find its way into the 2010 'Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars'.

Please vote on heat one of Mr Ripley's Echanted Book Cover War's at the top of the page.  All your votes  are important to me and the author,and you could win a signed copy of Charlie Higson book "The Enemy". by leaving a comment.
Can anyone remember who won it last year?





Friday, 15 October 2010

Mr Ripleys Book Cover Wars 2010 - Heat 1 of 4 - Plus Charlie Higson Book Giveaway - The Enemy

They are finally back. . . . . you are now entering the book cover war zone for 2010. 


For any follower of this site, this is the chance to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (for the next 4 weeks) we are going to select four book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2010'.


As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover but you will also be in with the chance to win a different signed book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have a signed copy of Charlie Higson's 'The Enemy' to give away. All you need to do is:


  • vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top of the page)
  • leave a comment through this post or send a tweet through Twitter
  • sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed)





Book One is - Cristy Burne - Takshita Demons:The Filth Licker - Published By Frances Lincoln Children's Books - June 2011


                               Tobias and the Super Spooky Ghost Book
Book Two - Tom Percival - Tobias and the Spooky Ghost Book -  Published By HarperCollins - Sept 2010


                               
Book Three - Steve Feasey - Changeling:Zombie Dawn - Published By Macmillan Books - 2011


Book Four - Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson - The Familiars - Published By HarperCollins -  Sept 2010

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Erin Bow - Plain Kate - Book Review


                      
                                               
This is the first book that I'm going to review out of a lovely box of books from the US that I got some weeks ago.

This is her first book, as her previously published work was an adventure into poetry and won her a number of accolades. This Canadian-dwelling author has put her poetry skills to good use and has magically weaved them into her new YA book, which I really liked. The book takes a different journey than most books to date, and has you intrigued as to the direction the main character is going to take.

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.

The book starts off with a journey of sadness that catches you unexpectedly. It happens so early on that you end up following this grim and sad tale right until the very end - giving it a very realistic touch. Not every book (in my opinion) should end in a happy way - provoking unhappiness stops the story from becoming predictable. In this case the story stirs up many thought provoking images. However, there is a little sparkle of joy through the depiction of Plain Kate, who you follow to the end.

The book has an Eastern European feel; drawing on Russian folklore and culture to draw parts of the plot together. Plain Kate turns out not to be as plain as she thinks, as the loss of her father and the selling of her shadow (to a strange man called Linay) for a wish, colours her life dramatically. She soon finds herself running away from home, after the village she has lived in all her life, turns against her for being a witch. 

The haunting character Linay, enables the atmospheric element of the story to creep upon you like swirling fog coming off the sea. The fear pulls at you - every corner you take,and the out come is filled with a sleepy death. This is brought on by a turn of events which Linay is seeking revenge for and the ultimate trade of death to a whole city.

I maybe said to much about the story inside to say any more apart for the uplifting side you get from the true bond there is between a talking cat Taggle and Plain Kate  it's memorable and had me feeling sad and happy at the same time.

The book is out in the U.S and is published by Arthur A. Levine Books. We do get a U.K outing of this book next year in March by the great publishing group of Chicken House under the different title of "Wood Angel" - the new name and U.K book cover is not a good reflection of this book and should be read without prejadice and will appeal  to more readers in the U.S format.

If you like to read the first chapter click the link. Plain Kate - Chapter One



Friday, 8 October 2010

New Picture Book Round Up - September/October 2010

These are four of the best picture books that are going to be published during the next month or so. They have some great illustrations inside that are suitable for all ages - no-one is ever too old. . . .
                                   

Tom Percival - Tobias and the Super Spooky Ghost Book - Published By HarperCollins - 30 Sept 2010
A lonely ghost finds an unexpected friend in this fantastically atmospheric story which marks the debut of an exciting new picture book talent.
Night after night, Tobias the ghost hangs around the empty house where he lives, longing for something interesting to happen. That is, until one day, a girl named Eliza moves in with her family…
Armed with his grandad’s book of spells, Tobias starts to play tricks on Eliza, but has he met his match in this feisty little girl?
Tobias might just be in for a few surprises himself… not to mention finding an amazing new friend!
A delightfully energetic book, full of fun!




                               

Oliver Jeffers - Up and Down - Published By HarperCollins - 2 September - 2010
In this much-anticipated sequel to the internationally best-selling picture book Lost and Found, we re-visit the boy and the penguin after their trip to the South Pole…
The boy and the penguin still enjoy spending all their time together… That is, until the penguin starts to dream of flying, ignoring the boys advice that it is impossible.
Running away, the penguin visits place after place, searching for a chance to get his feet off the ground. But will flying be everything he had hoped? And is the boy missing him, as much as he is missing the boy?

                         The Beasties
Jenny Nimmo & Gwen Millward - The Beasties - Published By Egmont Books - 4 October 2010
On a starry, starry night Daisy hears a growl that makes her heart go pit-a-pat. It sounds like a story...Every night a new tale drifts up to Daisy - tales of robbers, shipwrecks and lost princesses. Until one night everything goes very quiet. Daisy very slowly looks under the bed to find...Three storytelling beasties! This is a lovingly crafted picture book about the power of imagination and the comfort of storytelling.

                             The Somebody for ME
 Minako Chiba - The Somebody for ME - Published By North South Books - 1 October 2010
A little girl and a doll find each other
 
The dolls sat in the toyshop window, waiting hopefully for somebody to love them.
            “I want a little girl somebody,” said one.
            “I want a baby somebody,” said another.
            “I want a grandmother somebody,” said a third.
            “I just want the somebody for me,” said Sumiko.
            This tender story will warm the hearts of young and old alike.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Steve Feasey - Changeling:The Demon Games - Book Review

                                   
I am reading this book some time later than expected, as the very nice people at MacMillan publishers have tried to send me this book on a number of occasions. However, the Demon, who I believe could be disguised as my postman, appears to like to run off with every copy. Finally, I got my hands on this book a couple of weeks ago and am now able to express my initial thoughts . . . . . . .

This is book four in the series from the ever growing talent of Mr Feasey, who certainly grasps the concept of writing good horror books for the younger generation. These are books that your mum and dad would be too scared to read. However, for the younger generation they are fun and gripping, although the fun part involves being totally frightened out of your skin. Every book that he writes evolves into an epic adventure that we find ourselves involved in, yet he still manages to keep the story feeling fresh and crisp.

This book is definitely about the plot - it shifts perspective in so many different ways and follows many characters by threading them together to produce a really captivating read. His imagination is growing and developing within each book. He really does have the ability to write imaginatively and still make it work.

Teenage werewolf Trey is facing the most important and dangerous mission of his life. He must journey into the dark Netherworld and rescue Alexa, daughter of his vampire guardian Lucien, who is being held hostage by a powerful demon lord. But strength and courage alone are not enough to succeed – instead Trey must ‘win’ both their freedoms by participating in a death-match against his deadliest nemesis yet. The forces of evil are stacked against him and Trey can only be certain of one thing . . . one of them WILL die.

I really enjoyed and appreciated the narrative development of Caliban the Vampire through his attempt to bring back the powerful sorceress - Helde 'Queen of the Dead'. This part of the story had me gripped, I really loved it. Another equally brilliant part involved the character Shentob, who again, is fantastically written. I was instantly drawn to his role in the book and the relationship played out between Trey and Shentob. This brought out an emotional side to the story, especially when Trey was fighting in the Demon Games, where the outcome was inevitably going to be in death.

The only downside to this book was that it had a really abrupt ending. This is partly due to the fact that the final part of the story was told after the events had actually happened and not as they were happening. However, we are now set up for the final book in this great series as the next book to be released is Zombie Dawn, which has the best book cover so far. Take a peek at it. Zombie Dawn- Book Cover.  I am looking forward to this next book as the story is coming to a big climax, however I will be sad to see the end of this series.



Monday, 4 October 2010

John Boyne Noah Barleywater Runs Away - Book Review

                                   Noah Barleywater Runs Away
One of the events I attended at the Edinburgh book festival this year was the John Boyne book event 'Noah Barleywater'. All I can say is that it was a privilege to be there, as we were the first people to hear John read, and talk about his new book. Each person came away from the event clutching a shiny proof copy, although there was a bit of a scramble and queue to get it signed, as well as an incredibly early opportunity to read this book.

John Boyne's first venture into the young adult book world, was through the emotional book 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas', which brought him great success and acclaim. The subsequent film introduced adults and children alike to his literary prowess. Therefore, his next book was always going to have a hard act to follow. The question is, has he managed to do this?

Noah is running away from his problems, or at least that's what he thinks, the day he takes the untrodden path through the forest. When he comes across a very unusual toyshop and meets the even more unusual toymaker he's not sure what to expect. But the toymaker has a story to tell, a story full of adventure, and wonder and broken promises. And Noah travels with him on a journey that will change his life for ever. 

I want to say a great deal about this book. However, I'm not going to be able to do this, as it may spoil your reading pleasure. Therefore, I will do my best to keep this review free from too many secrets. 

This book could have only been written by an Irish man, it has all the charm of a leprechaun - I was never quite sure of the forest path that he was leading me down (so to speak!). However, it is beautifully written and cleverly displays the writer's craft throughout.

The book starts with Noah, an eight year old boy, who is running away from home. The question posed to the reader is why he's running into the forest during the early hours of the morning.  The book reads like a modern day fairytale, leading into a much bigger and well-known fairytale by the end. The final outcome doesn't become clear until the very end, even though there are different clues and hints that are shared along the way.

The book is gripping and full of character. The author (for the first time) has been let loose within the imaginary world to tell a really powerful story. In fact so much so, that once you put the book down, it brings you back to the real world with an emotional bang. The book dances along to its own Irish jig - a blend of humour and whit that flow through most pages of the book. But the story also has a magical element to it, which uncovers a more poignant side to life - this doesn't always end happily.

I feel that this book is John's finest work to date, and heartily recommend it to everyone. It will change the way you see even your own life, at least that's what happened with me! The most memorable read this year.........

Book Published by David Fickling Books 30 September 2010

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Mail Box This Week: New Books From The U.S - 2010

                                             


Katherine Langrish - The Shadow Hunt - Published by HarperCollins - 1, June 2010
In this medieval fantasy, Wolf runs away from a monastery after years of mistreatment by his master, Brother Thomas. As he's fleeing across Welsh moors inhabited by ghosts and demons, he comes across a girl elfchild being chased by a pack of hunters' dogs. Wolf captures her and offers her to Lord Hugo, the head hunter. Lord Hugo is obsessed with the idea that his dead wife is actually alive and being held by the Demon Lord of the Underground, and he is convinced that the elfchild can lead him to her. He allows Wolf to accompany him home on the condition that Wolf make the mute elfchild speak. Nest, Lord Hugo's daughter, is soon to marry a man she's rarely seen but been betrothed to since she was five. To Wolf's horror, her fiancé arrives with Brother Thomas, who is furious to see him. In revenge, Wolf and Halewyn, a visiting jester, make a fool of the man, but Nest doesn't trust Halewyn. She suspects he's a demon in disguise, determined to lure her father underground in search of his dead wife. Can she and Wolf save Lord Hugo and the elfchild? This atmospheric story, set in a land inhabited by terrifying and benign magical creatures, combines fast-paced action with sensitive insights into the characters' inner fears and desires. Supernatural fantasy fans will enjoy this tale that effectively explores magic, mystery, and the struggle between good and evil.


Michael Grant - The Magnificent 12: The Call - Published by Katherine Tegen Books - 24, August 2010
Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.
And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call?
A laugh-out-loud story filled with excitement and magic, The Magnificent Twelve: The Call is the first book in bestselling author Michael Grant’s hilarious new fantasy adventure series.


Erin Bow - Plain Kate - Published by Arthur A. Levine Books - 1st September, 2010
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nickname in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square.For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

Ten-year-old Rose lives in New York, the city of bright lights and excitement, and a seemingly endless variety of people, architecture, and food--where extraordinary things happen every day on every block. But Rose wasn't born in New York; she was adopted as an infant from a far-away country. Though Rose loves her home and her adopted family, sometimes she can't help but feel different, like she's meant to be somewhere else.


Arthur Slade - The Dark Deeps - The Hunch Back Assignments: 2 - Published by Wendy Lamb Books - 14, September 2010
A fantastic Steampunk adventure in the deeps

Transforming his appearance and stealing secret documents from the French is all in a day’s work for fourteen-year-old Modo, a British secret agent. But his latest mission—to uncover the underwater mystery of something called the Ictíneo—seems impossible. There are rumors of a sea monster and a fish as big as a ship. French spies are after it, and Mr. Socrates, Modo’s master, wants to find it first. Modo and his fellow secret agent, Octavia, begin their mission in New York City, then take a steamship across the North Atlantic. During the voyage, Modo uncovers an astounding secret.

It's the second book in Arthur Slade’s Hunchback Assignments series, is set in a fascinating Steampunk Victorian world. Modo’s underwater adventures and his encounters with the young French spy Colette Brunet, the fearless Captain Monturiol, and the dreaded Clockwork Guild guarantee a gripping read filled with danger, suspense, and brilliant inventions.

Adam Gopnik - The Steps Across The Water - Published by Hyperion Books - 23, November 2010
Then one day in Central Park, Rose sees something truly extraordinary: a crystal staircase rising out of the lake, and two small figures climbing the shimmering steps before vanishing like a mirage. Only it's wasn't a mirage. Rose is being watched--recruited--by representatives of U Nork, a hidden city far more spectacular than its sister city New York. In U Nork, Dirigibles and zeppelins skirt dazzling skyscrapers that would dwarf the Crysler building. Impeccably dressed U Norkers glide along the sidewalks in roller skates. Rose can hardly take it all in.
Then she learns the most astonishing thing about U Nork. Its citizens are in danger, and they need Rose's help, and hers alone...
In a masterful new fantasy evocative of Alice in Wonderland, the brilliant novelist, essayist and critic, Adam Gopnik, explores the powerful themes of identity and the meaning of home, with stunning illustrations from Bruce McCall.