Friday, 30 November 2012

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Emerald Fennell - Shiverton Hall - Bloomsbury


     
                   
It is always a delight to be sent a book that you really want to read. Therefore, I was amazed when this book fell out of it's white envelope and into my eager little hands. I got stuck in straight away and never looked back. Emerald Fennell, an actor who starred in the Channel 4 adaptation of Any Human Heart, has now turned her hand to writing. The book will hit the shelves in January 2013 - it should easily stand out amongst the other books with its fantastic eye-catching book cover. It's a firm winner with me and a job well done by the Bloomsbury team. 

Shiverton Hall is the fantastic setting for this book. Steeped in tales of curses and evil, its chequered past proves to be very dark and macabre. I was drawn to this immediately, like a ghost floating through a haunted house. However, the current role of this building is to house the Coleman Scholarship for Academic Excellence. This delivers an interesting slice of school life drama which felt quite similar to the Andy Mulligan series of books (Ribblestrop). I have been led to believe that the author takes her inspiration from the friendly, quiet ghost that lives with her in London! Perhaps we all could benefit from one of these, especially when reading the quality of the synopsis......

They slowed as they reached the gate; two stone columns, each with its own crumbling angel perched on top. The angels held up a rusty, wrought-iron arch that read, in curling, serpentine letters: SHIVERTON HALL. Arthur Bannister has been unexpectedly accepted into Shiverton Hall, which, as it turns out, is an incredibly spooky school, full of surprises. And it is just as well that Shiverton Hall has made its offer, because Arthur had a horrible time at his previous school, and was desperate to leave. Timely indeed . . . But Arthur has no time to worry about the strange coincidence. He is too busy trying to make head or tail of Shiverton Hall, dogged as it is by tales of curses and bad fortune. At least there are a few friendly faces: George, who shows him around; also Penny and Jake. But not all the faces are friendly. There are the bullying Forge triplets for starters. And then there is the acid tongue of the headmistress, Professor Long-Pitt, who seems to go out of her way to make Arthur's life a misery. Luckily Arthur has his new friends to cheer him up. Although there are some friends that you don't want to have at all, as Arthur is soon to find out.

This is a great story that will send shivers of phantom terror rushing down your spine. It has been written for the 9+ range or grown ups, who are still young at heart, like me! This is one of those books that you just won't be able to put down. Even if it means having to hide under the covers in order to get to the end of each page. You will be blown over by its spirit, dazzled by the horror and hooked by its tale, this book will spirit you away!

I hope that this review hasn't spoilt the story for you and has wet the appetite instead. I feel that we definitely have a great new voice that will be unleashed into the book world next year. A fantastic plot driven adventure that is full of enough mysterious intentions in which to fill a cupboard. I'm really excited about this one - it has left me quivering with anticipation for the next book. I hope I won't be left for too long in such a state!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS: HEAT FOUR 2012/13 - PLUS BOOK COMPETITION TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF UNREST BY MICHELLE HARRISON


Book Cover Wars is back again for the fourth year and is looking for another worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another exciting year or are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

We now into the last heat before the big Grand final - The third book now joins the right to be in the final. It will get it's chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2012/13'.

Congratulations to the Winner's
Heat One - Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - with 90 Votes. 

Heat Two - Thomas Taylor - Haunters - with 95 Votes

Heat Three - Derek Landy  - Kingdom of the Wicked  - With 92 Votes

An easy winner in Heat 3, well done to another worthy winner.

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 special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have an amazing collectable book which is a Signed, Paperback copy of Unrest by Michelle Harrison.

If you are interested then all you need to do is:

  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top right of the page)
  • Leave a comment through this post
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open Worldwide
  • This poll will end on 5th December 2012 - 10PM
So here are the four book covers to vote for this week:



                                         
Book One - Alexander Gordon Smith - Execution: Escape from Furnace Published By Farrar Straus Giroux - November 13, 2012  Cover By Christian Fuenfhausen

                                                                   
Book Two - Niel Bushnell -  Sorrowline (The Timesmith Chronicles) -  Published By Andersen - January 3, 2013 - Cover  By James Fraser 



                                                                 
Book Three -  Barry Hutchison -  Afterworlds: The Book of Doom - Published by Harper Collins  - February 28, 2013 - Cover By David Wyatt 




                                                               
Book Four - Jeff Norton -  The Dead are Rising (MetaWars)  - Published by Orchard -  November 1, 2012 - Cover By Paul Young




 Happy voting and let the best "Book Cover" Win.  Don't forget to leave a comment to win the signed Book.
 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

William Alexander - Goblin Secrets - Book Review

                                                   

Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving — and only the goblins know how.


I bought this book purely on the book cover as you probably know that I'm a sucker for a good front cover. In fact I was drawn in purely on this alone - it has been illustrated brilliantly by Alexander Jansson Perhaps a question that might be asked is did the cover live up to the story within? I have to say that it did ...

I didn't know anything about the author or the book before I started reading. Therefore, I was very interested to see how it would read. The first thing that I noticed from the start was its cast of colourful characters that leapt off the page. They were very interesting to read and intriguing to follow. 

The author soon sets out his stall in building a great setting. I immediately became immersed and lost within it. I have not read many books this year that will come close to establishing such a great setting. The author has skilfully dreamt up a place of awe and one that I enjoyed visiting and being apart of very much. 

Equally, I loved the unique and original ideas - these are becoming harder to find as so many books are now being published. However, they really worked within this story. The distinctive language had a style of its own that flowed through the pages. This perhaps holds similarities with the great writer, Catherynne M Valente, who also has a similar style of writing. Every page you read makes you think and evaluate the story. The heart of the book is very complex and at times I wasn't sure whether I was grasping what the author was intending. Therefore, I found myself revisiting certain parts of the book, but it was a good for me to do this as I did not want to miss anything by rushing through the pages.

I was really intrigued by the masks coming to life - this section was fascinating to read as it gave the story a real fantasy element. The idea of the inhabitants of Zombay running around with clock work parts, gears and sprockets to fix the human body was a particularly cool concept. It injected the story with a slight steampunk theme, and one that I really loved reading. 

There is a lot going on within so few pages. In fact once the story comes to an end, you will want to start the book all over again. This book is like a clockwork automaton as it runs on its very own magic right up to the end. This is a book for the reader who enjoys the power of words and a great story. A recommended book for definite.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

COSTA BOOK AWARDS CHILDREN'S SHORTLIST 2012


Originally established in 1971 by Whitbread Plc, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK's most prestigious book prize in 2006. 2012 marks the 41st year of the Book Awards.
This year’s Costa Book Awards attracted 550 entries. Judges on this year’s panels (three per category) included author and comedian Mark Watson; authors Wendy Holden, Marcus Sedgwick and Matt Whyman; actress and broadcaster Janet Ellis; novelist and Editor-in-Chief of Red Magazine, Sam Baker; poet Daljit Nagra and novelist and biographer, DJ Taylor.

Winners in the five categories, who each receive £5,000, will be announced on Wednesday 2nd January 2013. The overall winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2012 will receive £30,000 and will be selected and announced at the Costa Book Awards ceremony in central London on Tuesday 29th January 2013.
The winner of the inaugural Costa Short Story Award, voted for by the public, will also be announced at the ceremony. The shortlisted six stories for the Costa Short Story Award will be revealed on the Costa Book Awards website, www.costabookawards.com, on Tuesday 27th November.

Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won ten times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, seven times by a collection of poetry and once by a children’s book. The 2011 Costa Book of the Year was by novelist Andrew Miller.
To be eligible for the 2012 Costa Book Awards, books must have been first published in the UK or Ireland between 1 November 2011 and 31 October 2012.

Here are the four nominated books:


                                                         

Sally Gardner - Maggot Moon - Published by Hot Key Books - 30, August 2012
Narrated against the backdrop of a ruthless regime determined to beat its enemies in the race to the moon, MAGGOT MOON is the stunning new novel from award-winning author Sally Gardner. When his best friend Hector is suddenly taken away, Standish Treadwell realises that it is up to him, his grandfather and a small band of rebels to confront and defeat the ever-present oppressive forces of the Motherland. It is impossible not to be moved by MAGGOT MOON's utterly original, powerful story and the unforgettable heroism of Standish.

                                                        
Diana Hendry - The Seeing - Published by Bodley Head - 5,July 2012
1953. When wild, dangerous, break-all-the-rules Natalie arrives in the quiet town of Norton, thirteen-year-old Lizzie is drawn irresistibly to the new girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Desperate for Natalie's friendship and respect, Lizzie soon discovers a side of the town - and of herself - that she had never imagined.

As the girls grow closer, Natalie and her strange, eerie brother, Philip, reveal a shocking secret. For Philip has a second sight, and all around them he sees evil - 'left-over Nazis' lying in wait until the time is right for revenge. Natalie and Philip believe it's up to them to root these people out of Norton.

Lizzie is swept up in what starts as a thrilling game - but the consequences of Philip's 'gift' quickly spiral into disaster.
       
                                                       
Dave Shelton - A Boy and a Bear in a Boat - Published by David Fickling Books - 5, January 2012
A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book and a ukulele. They are only travelling a short distance and it really shouldn't take long. But then their boat encounters 'unforeseeable anomalies'...

Faced with turbulent stormy seas, a terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich, the odds soon become pitted against our unlikely heroes. Will theHarriet, their trusted vessel, withstand the violent lashings of the salty waves? And will anyone ever answer their message in a bottle?

Brilliantly funny and tender, this beautiful book maps the growth of a truly memorable friendship and tells the story of how, when all becomes lost, the most unexpected joys can be found.


                                                       
Hayley Long - What's Up With Jody Barton - Published by Macmillan Children's Books - 24, May 2012
Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different. Well, actually, we're a lot different . . . It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG. Told with the trademark warmth and laugh-out-loud humour of the much-loved LOTTIE BIGGS books, this is a book that will make you think, with a gobsmacking twist you won't believe.


Monday, 19 November 2012

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS: HEAT THREE 2012/13 - PLUS BOOK COMPETITION TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF GHOST KNIGHT BY CORNELIA FUNKE


Book Cover Wars is back again for the fourth year and is looking for another worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another exciting year or are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site, then this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (now for the next 2 weeks) I am 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 2012/13'.

Congratulations to the Winner's
Heat One - Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - with 90 Votes. 
Heat Two - Thomas Taylor - Haunters - with 95 Votes
A clear winner in this heat, we'll see this book cover again in the final.

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 special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have an amazing collectable book which is a signed, hardback copy of Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:

  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top right of the page)
  • Leave a comment through this post
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open Worldwide
  • This poll will end on Tuesday 27th November 2012 at 10pm. 
So here are the four book covers to vote for this week:

Book One - Chris Priestley - Through Dead Eyes - Published by Bloomsbury Children's - March 14, 2013 Cover By ?

                                                 
Book Two - Derek Landy  - Kingdom of the Wicked (Skulduggery Pleasant) - 
Published by HarperCollins - August 30, 2012 Cover By Tom Percival/HarperCollins Team


                                          
Book Three - Daniela Sacerdoti - Dreams ( Sarah Midnight) - Published By Black and White Publishing - May 17, 2012 Cover By Stuart Polson
                                               
                                               
Book Four - Curtis Jobling -  Nest of Serpents ( Wereworld) - Published by Viking U.S -  January 15, 2013 - Cover By Nekro 

Happy voting and let the best "Book Cover" Win.  Don't forget to leave a comment to win the signed Book.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Gill Jepson - Out of Time: Raven's Hoard - Book Review


Matador is a small publishing company that prides itself on providing high quality self-publishing services since 1999. Therefore, I was delighted to find that this book had been pushed through my letter box. Recently I've been really impressed by some of the newly published titles that this company have produced. This book is no exception. The really striking book cover reflects the true sense of the story inside.

Once I had picked this book up, I found myself reading it in under two hours, and I hadn't even realised that this was the second book in the series. I certainly had no problems in following the story. In fact, on reflection, I don't feel that I really needed to read the series in sequence as it appeared to me to read as a stand alone book. It would certainly fit the bill for children (approx. 8 upwards) with a vivid imagination or for people like me, who just love a really good story!

Nate is a young archaeologist who finds himself embroiled in an exciting and, at times, terrifying adventure involving smugglers, Vikings and treasure hunters. He comes face to face with a real 18th century Revenue man and his betrothed, Dolly. They become entangled in a race to find a sacred sword and are beset by all kinds of difficulties – not least of all being catapulted between different times. They witness great events, including a horrifying Viking battle, strange discoveries in a graveyard and the mysterious appearance of John Stell a scribe from Furness Abbey.

This book hurtles you from the present day into the past within a blink of an eye. It has an interesting blend of historical detail, which may be fact or fiction, but either way it works very well. The Viking battle is particularly well written and leaves you thinking after the event has happened. The delicious slice of action contrasts well with the stark reality of what may lie ahead. 

It would appear that a lot of research has gone into this book and has been incorporated into the plot. The solid development of background detail helps the story along nicely. Although not all of the parts of the story have been developed in this way and, as a result, some sections are slightly less vivid in description and detail. However, it might be debated that this style of writing encourages the fantasy side to flourish more.

This is a great roller-coaster adventure which is full of mystery and intrigue. I will definitely be visiting the first book in the series 'Out of Time: The Secret of the Swan' on the strength and quality of this book. 

Many thanks to the lovely people at Matador for sending this copy out to me - it was a delight to read and review.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

New Books: Children's Book Picks December 2012 - US Edition

                                                    
S. S Taylor - The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man's Canyon Published by McSweeney's McMullens -  11,December 2012
Set in a future where the hacking of computers and depletion of natural resources has caused a return to steam and clockwork engines, Taylor’s novel crosses dystopian and steampunk genres in this fast-paced, plot-driven tale. An Explorer with a clockwork hand smuggles an old book to Kit, the book’s narrator. With his two siblings, brave Zander and preteen inventor M.K., he forms the Expeditioners, breaking the code hidden in the book and finding half a map from their late father, Alexander West, an Explorer of the Realm. Off they go to find the other half of the map and follow it, facing giant green slugs, huge birds and evil government agents. The black-and-white cartoon-style illustrations and the portrayal of wrench-wielding, smart-mouthed, fearless M.K. lighten the tone of the lengthy text and its underlying message of mistreatment of natural resources and indigenous peoples. The premise that there are undiscovered places, that '[a] map of the world isn’t a fixed thing. We know only what we can see,' is an intriguing one.
              
                                                   
Jeremy Bastian - Cursed Pirate Girl - Published by Archaia Entertainment - 25,December - 2012

Adventures on and under the high seas lead a cursed pirate girl to encounter mythic creatures, gnarled and crusty pirates, and ghostly apparitions as she tries to find her lost father, one of the dreaded Pirate Captains of the mythical Omerta Seas. Cursed Pirate Girl is a whimsical, swashbuckling tale of wonderland journeys and unimaginable dangers, starting in Port Elisabeth, Jamaica in the year 1728, and quickly heading across - and beneath - the waves!
                                               
J. Scott Savage - Case File 13: Zombie Kid - Published by HarperCollins - 26,December - 2012

You hold in your hands a very dangerous record.
I have collected every side of the story and every piece of evidence on case number 13. Now, in this file, you will find all you need to follow the dark adventures of Nick, Carter, and Angelo, three boys who possess an unhealthy obsession with monsters, in a town so grisly, so horrific—

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're telling it all wrong, dude. You make it sound like it's a scary story.
Ahem. Well, Nick, it is a scary story. In this volume alone, there are voodoo queens, graveyards—even the dreaded Zombie King himself.
Yeah, but there's also the part where Angie gets mashed potatoes all in her face, and the part where I use my cool zombie powers to—
All right, point taken. Now, if you don't mind . . .
You hold in your hands a very dangerous, very funny record, detailing the hilarious adventures of three boys who have an awesome obsession with monsters. This is the first volume. Read on if you dare. . . .


Sunday, 11 November 2012

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS: HEAT TWO 2012/13 - PLUS JON KLASSEN BOOK COMPETITION


Book Cover Wars is back again for the fourth year and is looking for another worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another exciting year or are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site, then this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (now for the next 3 weeks) I am 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 2012/13'.

Congratulations to Heat One Winner - Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - with 90 Votes. This was an exciting late run, we'll see this book cover again in the final.

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 special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have an amazing collectable book which is a signed, hardback copy of Jon Klassen - This is Not My Hat. This is a great read and a fantastically illustrated book for you to win.

If you are interested then 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
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open Worldwide
  • This poll will end on Sunday 18th November at 8pm. 
So here are the four book covers to vote for this week:
                        

Book One - Laura Lam - Pantomime - Published By Strange Chemisty - February 7, 2013 Book Cover By Tom Bagshaw



                                                 
Book Two - Conrad Mason - The Goblin's Gift - Published by David Fickling Books -  April 4, 2013 Book Cover By David Wyatt 




                                               
Book Three - Thomas Taylor - Haunters - Published By Chicken House -  May 24, 2012 - Book Cover By Steve Wells 





                                                 
Book Four - Susan Gates - Viridian (Quicksilver) - Published by A&C Black - October 11, 2012 Book Cover By Melvyn Grant 

Happy voting and let the best "Book Cover" Win.  Don't forget to leave a comment to win the signed Jon Klassen -  This is Not My Hat.