Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Shane Hegarty - Darkmouth Illustrated by James de la Rue - Book Review (HarperCollins)


Synopsis: Around the world, there are various towns where the border between our dimension and the dimension of the monsters - properly called Legends - is weak. Legend Hunters keep the population safe. But for a while now, the Legends have stopped crossing over. Apart from in one place: Darkmouth, in Ireland where Legend Hunters are very much in demand. Our hero Finn is the son of the last remaining Legend Hunter. In a society where Legend Hunting skills are passed down through generations, Finn will carry on that tradition. The only problem? He's really not very good at it. And in a fabulous bit of timing, it turns out there's an extraordinary and disturbing reason that it's all gone a bit quiet everywhere else.

HarperCollins has always been known for its particularly strong connections with Irish horror writers both past and present. Shane Hegarty has recently joined the infamous corridor of fame alongside the likes of Darren Shan and Derek Landy. His recent book, Darkmouth, was hotly contested at this year's Bologna Book Fair. Shane Hegarty, the former Arts Editor for the Irish Times, has since negotiated a four-book deal in this series.


Darkmouth is an imaginative adventure for 8-12 year olds which is full of monster-hunting action. It definitely marks the arrival of a major new voice in children's books. Fresh, fun and very witty; it is incredibly cool and will pull in readers of all ages who love a good story. 

It was a real pleasure reading this fantastic story. Shane has forgone the more popular route in my opinion. There are NO Vampires, NO Zombies, NO Werewolves and NO mundane ghosts. In fact, it was a breath of putrid air reading this book. I'm sure that you are asking, so what will I find in this book? Well, you will find a range of monsters routed in folklore and others that have been dreamt up from the good old-fashioned imagination. Shane plays with the reader very cleverly feeding off your emotions. You will laugh your pants off one minute and then the dark explosive plot will scare the socks of you the next. 

Copyright © James de la Rue 2104 

You'll notice that another extra special element are the layered illustrations throughout this story. The fantastically detailed black and white pencil sketches are by the talented James de la Rue (aka PencilsMcDraw). These really enhance the fantasy horror shenanigans immensely as they create a parallel world between words and images. You will be easily transported between these two elements from the start of the book right until the very end.        



All images are subject to Copyright 2014 by James de la Rue. Always get permission before using any images. Contact  James de la Rue at the following website :http://www.jamesdelarue.co.uk/

It's a monster quest for Finn, a boy who must follow fifty generations of his family to become a Legend Hunter, and save the world from monsters who wish to destroy it. However, the huge problem is that Finn is not very good as a Legend Hunter - you might want to PANIC now! Fortunately, help is on hand from his dad and a mysterious girl called Emmie. The relationship between these two characters is captured incredibly well and adds extra appeal as it pulls you through a turbulent dimension. 

At the time, it felt that the beginning of the book perhaps started a little too slowly, but on reflection this was perhaps needed to create the world and introduce the story. I recognise that this is particularly important for the first book in a series in order to establish future books and storylines. 

I have to say that this is one of the most promising debut books that I have read for a long time. The tone has been set for a fantastic new series which I'm really looking forward to reading. MG horror is on the up with another name in Irish writing. 


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank James de la Rue for granting me special permission to share the above illustrations from the book.

Published by HarperCollinsChildren's Books (29 Jan 2015).

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Top Ten Favourite Reads 2014


Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books is coming to the end of yet another reading year. 
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite reads of 2014. 

The below books are in order of the publishing date and not in order of merit as I loved them all for different reasons. 

So here is the list.....

1) Simon Mason - Running Girl - Published by David Fickling - Jan 2014
The solving of the crime takes a fresh and non-stereotypical approach to keep you on your toes.

2) David Gilman - Monkey and Me - Published by Templar Publishing -  Feb 2014
There were times when I laughed out loud and times when I was on the verge of tears in this warm and moving tale. It would be a great read for youngsters however it does work very well on more than one level. 

3) Howard Sargent -  The Forgotten War - Published by Book Guild - Feb 2104 - (Adult Book)
This book is coming together like a cauldron full of magic; it's all binding together like a witches spell..... The ingredients are rapidly coming to boil as we plough further into the story. The action has intensified and a shock death in one of the many plots has slightly shocked me. As I progress further into the story it now feels like a well worn shoe. I love the complex structure of the story, it is very clever and must have taken some time to map out. 

4) Sophia McDougall - Mars Evacuees - Published by Egmont - March 2014
What you will find is a fresh, fast-paced space romp. A group of children fighting to save themselves from themselves in order to rescue the galaxy. This is science fiction where children rule. This book, in my opinion is one of the best reads for me this year and one of the most exciting books that you will find for both boys and girls.

5) Cameron McAllister - The Tin Snail - Published by Corgi Children's -  May 2014
In my opinion, this is a beautifully written story. I loved every minute that I spent reading this book. It is easily set to be a classic hit this summer. A fantastic family read; this is a story with a big heart based on an amazing idea. A poignant tale filled full of warmth, great characters and the coming together for the common good. 

6) Steve Feasey - Mutant City - Published by Bloomsbury Children's - May 2014
This is the best read in the teenage horror genre that I have read for some time. It will make you hair turn green. It has got everything that I look for in a story and more. It's very cool and one that boys will love and girls will come to love. In my humble opinion, this is a really well delivered story set in a fantastically dark and futuristic world with imagination and creativity at the height of the genre. This is amazing stuff; I am really looking forward to the next instalment.

7) Eoin Colfer - W.A.R.P - The Hangman's Revolution - Published by Puffin - June 2014
I warped with full speed into the story; my mental agility soon reached overload. From the very first page, the reader is flung straight into the action following young FBI agent Chevie bags-of-attitude Savano. Trapped in a nightmare future, she needs to return to 19th century London to change the course of history. Can she do it? Well, that you will have to find out.  

8) David Barnett - Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon - Published by Snowbooks - Sep 2014 - (Adult Book) 
This is a first class piece of literature. It depicts a highly imaginative world where the sense of adventure is written in abundance. The story is filled with adult humour and colourful language.  The characters are full of life and explode of every page. They are cocky, sharp, intense and very witty; a fantastic balance for a story of this nature. 

9) Garth Nix - Clariel - Published by Hot Key Books - October 2014
I have been looking forward to this: the latest of Garth Nix’ Old kingdom novels and I wasn’t disappointed. Five star fantasy entertainment.

10) Danny Weston - The Piper - Published by Andersen - October 2014
Just like the Pied Piper and the town rats, you are soon hypnotically drawn into the mysterious past. It is like an eerie melody that plays repetitively and alluringly until you finally wake up. Be aware though, as you might not be in the same place that you were before you started reading. It is a spooky fantasy that will hit you full in the face the more that you read 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all (readers, authors, illustrators and publishers) for your support in 2014. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful start to the New Year.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Recommended: Minecraft Blockopedia Hardcover


Blockopedia is the ultimate reference guide, featuring information on every single block that makes up the Minecraft world. The world of Minecraft is made entirely of blocks. Some help you build, some help you stay alive. Every block you discover opens up new possibilities and exciting adventures.




This hexagonal book is a 'comprehensive reference tool for beginners and more experienced players alike', written by former Edge editor Alex Wiltshire and is accurate up to the latest 1.8 game update.
“Working closely with Mojang, we wanted to make sure this encyclopaedia was so much more than just an ordinary reference book, so it could truly reflect both the richness of the world and iconic visual identity of the game," said Sarah Bates, publishing director for licensed character books, Egmont Publishing.
"Blockopedia pushes the boundaries of what we expect a book to be. It’s totally unique and we’re extremely proud to be bringing such an innovative product to market."
Blockopedia is out on December 4th from all good book retailers, with an RRP of £30.
Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - The perfect present for any Minecraft addict. Full of tips to help with the game. Hours of addictive fun for all the family. Once you start, you will not be able to stop. Recommended purchase this christmas. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Danny Weston - The Piper - Book Review


'Please,' he whispers as he thrust a copy of his book at me. 'Read this,' the strange man grunts at me. He leaves me with no choice as he quickly vaporises into thin air; I can still feel the prickly sensation from the strange encounter on that unusual day in November. To be brutally honest, that surreal vision kept me up all night as I read 'The Piper' by Danny Weston. Could he be the vision and the voice that I heard? Ah well, we will perhaps never know.

This story landed in the hands of a reader who loved every minute spent reading each page. It's the best spine-tingling, atmospheric tale that I've read for some time - I really love to read good books like this. Just of late, I feel that this genre is becoming quite scarce to find. It is a good old-fashioned campfire ghost story, but with a twist to the tale.....

The story is set on the eve of World War Two. At this time, children were evacuated from busy cities to the safer countryside. Peter and Daisy are two such children who have been sent to a rather strange farmhouse in the middle of a desolate landscape. The house and the family have a dark secret. From the moment they arrive, they are aware that something evil and mysterious haunts the place.

Just like the Pied Piper and the town rats, you are soon hypnotically drawn into the mysterious past. It is like an eerie melody that plays repetitively and alluringly until you finally wake up. Be aware though, as you might not be in the same place that you were before you started reading. It is a spooky fantasy that will hit you full in the face the more that you read. Watch out for the floating cold hands that drag down weary people into the murky waters and children vanishing on mass.  Peter's sister finds herself in terrible danger; her last breath may soon become her final scream.

I thought that the plot was very well written and cleverly executed. It is a classic blend of Pied Piper meets The Machine Gunners. I read the whole book in one night as I couldn't put it down. The bleak sensation of war mixed with a hidden dark family history pulls you in to a vice-like grip. The loose ends are tied together in a satisfying climax that will stay with you for some time. If you like the ghost horror genre, then this book is a recommended read. Warning: be prepared to be up all night.

This book is out in all good book shops now ready to buy for the festive season.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars Final Winner 2014/15 - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's - Gemini Force One


Mr Ripley's book cover wars final has now come to an end. After four exciting heats, we now have a worthy winner.......

As usual I would like to thank the many people who have supported the
 book cover wars. Although this idea is now in its sixth year I still find the whole process tremendously exciting! I hope that you too have had as much fun as I have - either as an observer or a contender.

Altogether 1,800 votes were cast over five weeks, which just highlights the interest that this competition generates. In the final there were 918 votes in total, amazing. Thank you all once again.

Without further ado I'd like to award the title of 'Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars - Book Cover of the year 2014/15' to . . . . . . .  M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force One - Black Horizon - Cover by Blacksheep.
M.G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's book cover will be placed in the Ripley's Hall of Fame where it will accompany the following past winners:

2009/10 - Jon Mayhew 'Mortlock' 
2010/11 - Darren Shan 'Birth of a Killer' illustrated by David Wyatt
2011/12 - Curtis Jobling ''Werewolf: Shadow of the Hawk' illustrated by Andrew Farley
2012/13 - Thomas Taylor - 'Haunters' illustrated by Steve Wells 
2013/14 - Niel Bushnell - 'Timesmith' - illustrated by James Fraser & Kate Grove
2014/15  - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's - 'Gemini Force One Black Horizon' - Cover by Blacksheep.

The winner of the signed Nick Park - Wallace and Gromit postcard competition is...... Lu Hersey. Congratulations to you - please get in touch with your postal details.