Thursday, 30 December 2010

+++Mr Ripleys Enchanted Top 10 Books of 2010+++

book cover of 

Mortlock 

 (Mortlock, book 1)

by

Jon Mayhew

1. Jon Mayhew - Mortlock - Published By Bloomsbury - Jan 2010

book cover of 

Havoc 

 (Malice, book 2)

by

Chris Wooding


2. Chris Wooding - Havoc - Published By Scholastic - May 2010

book cover of 

The Prince Of Mist 

by

Carlos Ruiz Zafón


3. Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Prince of Mist - Published By Orion - May 2010

book cover of 

Wintercraft 

 (Secrets of Wintercraft, book 1)

by

Jenna Burtenshaw


4. Jenna Burtenshaw - Wintercraft - Published By Headline - May 2010

book cover of 

iBoy 

by

Kevin Brooks


5. Kevin Brooks - iBoy - Published By Puffin - July 2010

book cover of 

White Crow 

by

Marcus Sedgwick


6. Marcus Sedgwick - White Crow - Published By Orion - July 2010

book cover of 

The Dead 

 (Enemy, book 2)

by

Charlie Higson


7. Chrlie Higson - The Dead - Published By Puffin - Sep 2010

book cover of 

Reckless 

 (Reckless, book 1)

by

Cornelia Funke


8. Cornelia Funke - Reckless - Published By Chicken House - Sep 2010

book cover of 

Trash 

by

Andy Mulligan


9. Andy Mulligan - Trash - Published By David Fickling Books - Sep 2010

book cover of 

The Mourning Emporium 

by

Michelle Lovric


10. Michelle Lovric - The Morning Emporium - Published By Orion - Oct 2010

The end of the year is finally upon us, yet again. However, before we head into 2011, I just wanted to take this final opportunity to reflect on all of the books that I have read this year.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my reading in 2010 although, I would have liked to have read more then I actually did.  Please find below a list of some of my personal favourite books for 2010 - they are in no particular preference order, but just ordered by the month in which they were published. I hope that some of these titles might take your fancy and find their place in your own, ever growing pile of books.

I  would like to thank all of the authors and publishers, out there in the real world, for their continued enthusiasm, support and help with my blog. Without you, this blog would not happen. Also many thanks to you, the reader. You are slowly growing in numbers and make every post I write worthwhile. So, don't be shy next year; keep your comments coming.

I would like to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the very best, for whatever the future may hold.

Mr Ripley

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mr Ripley's Memorable Reading Moments 2010 ( U.S Published)

book cover of 

The Kings of Clonmel 

 (Ranger's Apprentice, book 8)

by

John Flanagan
Last year, putting together a list of some of my personal favourites was a very hard and tricky thing to do, so I never actually produced a year end post. However, this year I have made the decision to do one list for books published in the UK and another list for US published books. Both lists give a true reflection of the books that I really enjoyed and that I would recommend without a second thought. So, without further ado here is the U.S list - I hope one of the following books or all of them might take your interest.
                                         
John Flanagan - The Kings of Clonmel:Book Eight (Ranger's Apprentice) - Published by Philomel - May 2010

Mankind puts its faith in many things—gods, kings, money—anything for protection from the world's many dangers. When a cult springs up in neighboring Clonmel, promising to quell the recent attacks by lawless marauders, people flock from all over to offer gold in exchange for protection. But this particular group, with which Halt is all too familiar, has a less than charitable agenda. Secrets will be unveiled and battles fought to the death as Will and Horace help Halt in ridding the land of a dangerous enemy.
The worldwide phenomenon is back with a gripping new adventure. Yet for these Rangers, the peril is only beginning . . .

book cover of 

Ship Breaker 

by

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi - Ship Breaker - Published by Little,Brown Books - May 2010 

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota—and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life. . . .
In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future. See Book Review


book cover of 

The Gardener 

by

S A Bodeen

S.A. Bodeen - The Gardener - Published by Feiwel & Friends - May 2010
On a visit to the nursing home in which his mother works, Mason discovers that her job does not involve caring for the elderly patients as he imagined, but for several apparently catatonic teenagers. When his mother steps away, one of the teens awakens in response to a DVD that he puts on. She suffers from amnesia but somehow knows she must escape her current environment and begs Mason for his help. He suddenly finds himself on the run from TroDyn Industries, the scientific corporation that owns most of his town. It has been using the girl as part of some sort of research—but what kind? And might there be some link to the father Mason has never met? See Book Review


book cover of 

The Danger Box 

by

Blue Balliett

Blue Balliett - Danger Box - Published by Scholastic Press - Sept 2010

A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.
A mischievous girl who won't stay in one place.
A mysterious notebook .
A fire.
A stranger.
A death.
These are some of the things you'll find within The Danger Box, the new mystery from bestselling author Blue Balliett. See Book Review


Erin Bow - Plain Kate -  Published by Arthur A. Levine Books - Sept 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. See Book Review
book cover of 

The Steps Across the Water 

by

Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik - The Steps Across the Water - Published by Hyperion -  Nov 2010
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.
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. See Book Review


Tuesday, 28 December 2010

John Stephens - The Emarald Atlas - Book Review

                                           book cover of 

The Emerald Atlas 

by

John Stephens

This was one of the most talked about books this year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair - the buzz surrounding this book was hailed as a "Narnia-like" classic. After a fellow blogger got hold of it and gave it a glowing report, I decided I had to try and get a copy in order to read it as soon as possible. I had to know whether this book lived up to the buzz or not . . . . .

The author is the US screenwriter, John Stephens, who has written the first novel in the trilogy known as the 'Books of the Beginning'. This is aimed at the 8-12 age range. However, like all good stories this book appeals to both every one and every age group. It is actually one of those rare books in fantasy fiction that doesn't fly past your bookshelf very often. It's certainly a book that you want to read over and over again and again.

From the start of this book you soon find yourself riding the wave of a fantasy adventure of great proportions.  The story is crafted from magic itself, as you follow three young orphans and their mysterious past from orphanage to orphanage, until one day they find themselves on a train to Cambridge Falls. They arrive at a strange crooked house as the mist rolls in, as they begin to explore their surroundings things start to happen, and happen they really do, through every word that is read. 


The book is full of great ideas, from the very well written section on the Screechers (straight out of Middle Earth) leaving you feeling chilled to the bone, to the evil power-hungry Countess of Cambridge Falls, who needs to posses the magic atlas with all its secrets and untold power. The book has many characters who you genuinely fall in love with. Through the epic battles which are played out, it keeps the readers on their toes, genuinely hoping for the best outcome. It's a great page turner propelled by magic as the prophecy unfolds.


This is one of the best stories that I have had read in this genre for some time. It has a great blend of humour with lots of plot elements to keep the pages being turned rapidly. From one wicked queen and her evil sidekick, to dwarves that live under the mountains and well depicted dark monsters, all of these ingredients make for an enchanted read that will be a classic of the future. It will most definitely be a movie at some point in the future, I believe. It's a really strong debut book as an appetiser for the next book.


The only minor issue with this book is that it's not being published by Doubleday until April 2011 in the U.K and Knopf in the US. Whilst I do apologise for the incredibly early review of this book, I was just far too excited that I needed to share it with you all, instantly!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Darren Shan - Ocean of Blood (Saga of Larten Crepsley) - U.S Book Cover


book cover of 

Ocean of Blood 

 (Saga of Larten Crepsley, book 2)

by

Darren Shan
                                        
I've just been sent the US book cover image of the next book in the Saga of Larten Crepsley, which I really like. It certainly gets you thinking about what's going to happen in this next little episode of Mr Crepsley's life. As a reader of my blog, I know that you'll be excited to see this and also to get copy of the final book, once it has finally been published. It will be very interesting to see the UK book cover in order to see if it stands out as much as the first book cover, which was a recent winner of my book cover wars. Therefore, it certainly has a reputation to live up to.

For anyone who wanders along my blog, and doesn't know anything about these books, I have posted a YouTube clip of Darren at this year's Edinburgh Book Festival. You can watch him talking about the first book in this series as well as some of his other books. Hopefully, you should find this both interesting and informative - it might tempt you into reading something scary. So make sure you check it out.

Monday, 20 December 2010

+++The 12 Deaths of Christmas Blog Tour+++

                (Drawing By Chris Odgers subject to copyright  -   Published By Sawhorse)                      


This little number should have been posted on the 16th December. However, due to a little excitement on my behalf and a gory accident with a Chainsaw, I found myself unable to post this missing verse of the tour. Fortunately, my fingers have now been stitched back on and I can now post this. So please have a sing along to the words of the elite horror band know as the Chainsaw Gang.


On the first day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me 
A corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the second day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Two werewolves howling
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the third day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the fourth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the fifth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the six day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the seventh day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Seven Templars fighting
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the eighth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Eight crawlers creeping
Seven Templars fighting
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the ninth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Nine Knights of Nowhere
Eight crawlers creeping
Seven Templars fighting
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the tenth day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Ten gods a-quarrelling
Nine Knights of Nowhere
Eight crawlers creeping
Seven Templars fighting
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Eleven crows pecking
Ten gods a-quarrelling
Nine Knights of Nowhere
Eight crawlers creeping
Seven Templars fighting
Six yetis freezing
Five buzzing saws
Four Wheezers wheezing
Three zombies snarling
Two werewolves howling 
And a corpse hanging from a pear tree.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Will Cleveland - The Baboons Of Dawn - Book Review

                                                   
The Baboons of Dawn
Synopsis:
Three curious youngsters, an unsolved disappearance dating back to 1976, and a strange stone monkey engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs—the ingredients for a bizarre and scary journey through history on a quest to get back to the present. Twelve baboon statues are scattered through the ages, and Maggie, Ben and Zoltan have to find them all. In the process of doing so, they witness some of the most catastrophic events in history, from the Great Fire of London to the destruction of Atlantis, and encounter everyone from Marie Antoinette at the height of the French Revolution to Montezuma at the moment of the bloody Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. In the course of their civilization-hopping adventures, they find their own lives in mortal danger. Will they escape from the Well of Death and make it back to their own time? Will they solve the mystery of the missing Colonel Moon? And will Mum and Dad—who think the youngsters have only popped out to play—ever get a whiff of the amazing journey through time that they embarked on that eventful evening when they decided to dig up the Colonel’s overgrown garden in an effort to find his body.


Book Review
The first thing that I need to mention about this book is its cover - it's very different. In fact it leaps off the cover in an amazingly striking way. I love the use of colour against the image in order to get a sense of the story behind the cover. A really good job has been made of this.


The story has a great start, with the intriguing mystery of a missing person. . . . Three children find themselves on an amazing journey of discovery, which sends them off to the far reaching corners of the world (mostly historical places), through varied time travelling action. Unfortunately, in my opinion, a down side to this idea was that some of the places that they visited needed to be a little longer in content. I really wanted to know more about the people and the places that they visited. Instead it felt like a sprint to the end. 


Anyway, the children find themselves on a quest to seek out twelve stone monkeys in order to eventually get them back home. However, each one that they find leads them into more and more danger. This idea felt both original and fresh, through the interesting historical and mythological element, in which it was contained.


The book was very enjoyable to read - towards the end it became quite surreal and was not at all what I expected. It was perhaps not quite in keeping with the story, but I felt the ending finished well; making it open for more possible adventures. 


All in all this is another great book to have been published by the versatile publishing company, Book Guild.

Monday, 13 December 2010

++++New Book Picks For January 2011++++

book cover of 

Tyme's End 

by

B R Collins
                               
B.R. Collins - Tyme's End - Published By Bloomsbury - 4 Jan 2011
Bibi feels out of place everywhere - everywhere that is, except for Tyme's End, the deserted house that she breaks into when she thinks nobody is nearby. There she unexpectedly meets Oliver Gardner, the owner of the house, who's just returned after ten years away. Their story and the story of Oliver's grandfather becomes inextricably entwined, linked as they are by Tyme's End itself. For Tyme's End is more than just a deserted house. It is a house that by turns can be romantic, beguiling, sinister and malevolent. It is a house that had a cruel and manipulative owner. And anybody who enters Tyme's End must prepare themselves for terror ...Part mystery, part psychological thriller, set in the present yet with forays into the past, this is a cleverly ambitious novel that makes for a compulsive and gripping read.



                                        book cover of 

The Faeman Quest 

 (Faerie Wars, book 5)

by

Herbie Brennan
Herbie Brennan - The Faeman Quest (The Faerie Wars Chronicles) - Published By Bloomsbury - 4 Jan - 2011
In the exciting conclusion to Herbie Brennan's "New York Times" bestselling "Faerie Wars" series, a child who is half faerie, half human has the power to determine the fate of both worlds. The Faeman Girl is Mella, daughter of Lord Henry and Queen Holly Blue, half faerie, half human and all trouble. When Mella accidentally travels to the country of Haleklind, she discovers rebel forces preparing an invasion using magical manticores. Old favourites are here - Brimstone, Lord Hairstreak and Pyrgus - but readers will identify immediately with Mella, whose stubborn streak and feisty daring must save the faerie realm from mass destruction.
                                          book cover of 

0.4 

by

Mike Lancaster
Mike Lancaster - 0.4 - Published By Egmont Books - 3 Jan - 2011
It's a brave new world. 'My name is Kyle Straker. And I don't exist anymore.' So begins the story of Kyle Straker, recorded on to old audio tapes. You might think these tapes are a hoax. But perhaps they contain the history of a past world...If what the tapes say are true, it means that everything we think we know is a lie. And if everything we know is a lie does that mean that we are, too?
                                        book cover of 

Pip and the Wood Witch Curse 

 (Spindlewood Tale, book 1)

by

Chris Mould
Chris Mould - Pip and the Wood Witch Curse - Published By Hodder Children's - 6 Jan - 2011
The great walled city of Hangman’s Hollow is at war with the forest outside.
Into this war, one dreadful winter’s night, fate delivers a skinny, helpless boy.
But maybe Pip isn’t as helpless as he seems. Maybe he is the one who will defeat the wood witches and rescue the children of Hangman’s Hollow ...

                                       book cover of 

Blackout 

by

Robert Swindells




Robert Swindells - Blackout - Published By Corgi Children's - 6 Jan - 2011
Another gripping World War Two drama from the master storyteller and multi-award-winner, Robert Swindells.
Life in a small village is boring now the war is over, there is still rationing and bomb damage and war losses. But when a group of children hear of some treasure kept locked in the village, things look at bit more interesting. And then two strangers turn up in the village - and they've heard of the treasure too . . .

Friday, 10 December 2010

Mr Ripleys Book Cover Wars Final Winner 2010 - Darren Shan - Birth of a Killer

                                        
The first win is the hardest....! Or is it?


Over the last six weeks or so, there has been tremendous support for "Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars". Now, in its second year, there have been some really gripping and memorable clashes. Authors have been drumming up support for their book covers through many different forums and groups. Apparently, one person even went to great lengths by asking random people in the street to vote for a particular book in the book cover wars. Extreme (some might say) but we like the individual style and unique display of enthusiasm.


I would like to thank the many people who got behind this little idea of mine. I hope you all had as much fun as I did, either as an observer or a contender.


The final saw the biggest battle that we've had so far. Battling it out were Curtis Jobling's debut book cover 'Wereworld:Rise of the Wolf' illustrated/designed by Andrew Farley (published in January 2011) and also, Darren Shan's book cover 'Birth of a Killer' - first in the new series of "The Saga of Larten Crepsley" illustrated/designed by David Wyatt. 


Over 2100 votes were cast just in the final alone - making this a battle until the very last second. There were some tense and nail biting moments. However, the mighty army behind Darren Shan finally clinched the title with a massive surge at the end. In fact, it nearly sent my stat counter to the grave itself. David Wyatt, illustrator of this years winning book cover, now has his artwork joining the cover of last years winner 'Mortlock', written by Jon Mayhew.


Therefore, without further ado, I'd like to award the title of 'Mr Ripleys Book Cover Wars 2010 book cover of the year' to . . . . . . .  DARREN SHAN or SHAN "THE" MAN for the book cover of the UK hardback 'Birth of a Killer' published by HarperCollins 2010.


I have pasted some words, from the man himself, thanking all those who voted for him in both heats.
"Birth Of A Killer” WON the Mr Ripleys Covers War with 51% of the vote! Hurrah!!! It was neck and neck most of the way—in fact, I trailed for much of the time, only taking the lead and consolidating it near the end when I started hitting up all of my contacts through my various online channels!! Many thanks to everyone who voted!! 

The winner of the competition will be picked later today - thank you again, one and all.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

+++The 12 Deaths of Christmas Blog Tour+++

                               

                                  
On the first day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me 
A corpse hanging from a pear tree. 

On the second day of Christmas, 
my true love sent to me
Two werewolves howling
And a corpse hanging from a 
pear tree. 


We all have something to sing about this Christmas - yes, it's the 12 Deaths of Christmas blog tour.  This has been a fantastic opportunity to ask some searching questions to some of the UK's finest horror genre writers. These feature some of my favourite authors - they continue to prove their worthy talent. So have a merry knees up as we post (each day) a new verse of the merry Jig. Could this be the new 2010 Christmas no.1? 

In less then 150 words how would you describe yourself, as a character, to be portrayed within one of your books? 

“The fat writer’s corpse was a banquet of mince and jelly, teeth marks gnawed into the few bones that remained. It was spread over the table like breakfast, the skull a breadbasket littered with grey crumbs, the ribs a toast rack in which only meagre crusts were still propped, the intestines unpicked and unravelled as if by a fastidious hand, some fussy eater. Moans rose up from the figures who crowded around it, their contentment unquestionable. Those who had feasted here today had feasted well. Even the appetites of the dead could be sated.”
A reclusive writer with clichéd hermit-like habits, and as many cats as will fit in the house, who spends most of her time hunched up over a keyboard, griping at anyone who interrupts her work. An eccentric oddball of a person who drinks too much Red Bull, and probably spends too much time in a make-believe world with make-believe people.
I have a Hitchcock-style cameo role in Crawlers. Look for "A big, bespectacled, balding man dressed in black" on page 35: I think 150 words is about as long as I last before they get me!

“The last thing Dave saw, as he opened the fridge to reach for the last of the beers hiding at the back behind the bowl of half-eaten shepherd’s pie, was the reflection in the window of a mouth. It was as wide as he was tall, laced with teeth, and at its very pit, where a throat should’ve been, was a spinning vortex of broken bodies, limbs and flesh. He reached for the beer. Then died. Horribly.”

Steve looked out across the snow-covered street and imagined the Christmas shoppers scattering in panic as they spotted the creatures coming down the street towards them. Bags rammed full of gifts were abandoned, instantly forgotten as the people fled in panic, their screams penetrating the glass window through which the writer observed them. The author smiled as a man fell to the ground. He watched as the shopper struggled to get up again, his feet unable to gain any purchase on the slippery ground. The man looked over his shoulder, his eyes widening in horror. The white snow was quickly turned a sinister red. Steve sipped his coffee, and wondered if he should order another. Things were working out 
nicely today.

The stark desk-light shone off the shining dome of Sarwat’s head. His dark brows furrowed with confusion as he rested his slim, long fingers over the keyboard. The entire posture was one of slumped despair, head low and back bent as though the words trapped inside him were weighing him down. If only they could be released! Gloomy shadows clustered at his shoulders. He glanced back towards the window, to stare at the black, spindly branches trying to claw their way in. The trees creaked, black, malevolent spirits that cackled at him, patient, yet eager, for that moment when the window would open and all the spites that had tormented him for so long would finally overwhelm him.Sarwat turned back to the empty page, as white as a shroud.

I’m too dull to be in one of my books! But it’s true that Jake Harker inWitchfinder has many of my childhood traits – he loves horror comics and writing. However, Jake’s much braver than me, and I’m not sure I’d like to share his destiny…
An old curmudgeon who lives in a run-down shack on the edge of a haunted marsh. Always grumbling and griping about people bothering him but secretly likes company and comes alive when talking to others. Can pick up a fair lick of speed when running and shows stamina but actually stays calm under fire and proves loyal when the dark things come lurching around the corner. Oh, loves a cup of tea or a beer, hates the cold.

I would like to thank our leader Sarwat, for arranging the blog tour, and all the time and effort he has put in to enable this to take place.
Next stop on the blog tour is  - Narratively Speaking