Sunday, 20 December 2015

Favourite Middle Grade Children's Book Reads 2015 Age 9+ Post Two



This is my second post sharing my top 10 favourite Middle Grade Reads this year. It was really hard to shorten the list; this is a very strong age group in 2015. Please check out the first post. Have a really good Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Caleb Krisp - Anyone But Ivy Pocket - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (9 April 2015)
Ivy Pocket is a twelve-year-old maid of no importance, with a very lofty opinion of herself. Dumped in Paris by the Countess Carbunkle, who would rather run away to South America than continue in Ivy's companionship, our young heroine (of sorts) finds herself with no money and no home to go to ... until she is summoned to the bedside of the dying Duchess of Trinity. 
For the princely sum of £500 (enough to buy a carriage, and possibly a monkey), Ivy agrees to courier the Duchess's most precious possession - the Clock Diamond - to England, and to put it around the neck of the revolting Matilda Butterfield on her twelfth birthday. It's not long before Ivy finds herself at the heart of a conspiracy involving mischief, mayhem and murder.
Illustrated in humorous gothic detail by John Kelly, Anyone But Ivy Pocket is just the beginning of one girl's deadly comic journey to discover who she really is ...
Brian Selznick - The Marvels - Published by Scholastic Press (15 Sept. 2015)
In The Marvels, Selznick crafts another remarkable artistic and bookmaking achievement that weaves together two seemingly unrelated stories-one in words, the other in pictures-with spellbinding synergy. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heart-rending beauty, and featuring Selznick's most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story.

Garth Jennings - The Deadly 7 - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (15 Jan. 2015)
Who needs friends when you've got MONSTERS?
Everything was happening so fast and it was all so . . . mad. It was as if someone had taken reality, made it into a jigsaw, thrown the jigsaw on to the floor and then said, "Now, hurry up and put it all together!" as they danced all over the jigsaw pieces in a clown suit, blowing a trumpet.
When Nelson's beloved big sister goes missing on a school trip, Nelson is devastated - he's not that good at making friends and his sister is the only person he can talk to. His parents join the search party and leave Nelson in the care of his mad uncle Pogo. Uncle Pogo is the caretaker of St Paul's Cathedral and it is here that Nelson stumbles across a machine, invented by Christopher Wren and buried for hundreds of years. Designed to extract the 7 deadly sins, the machine had a fault - once extracted, the sins became living, breathing monsters who would then follow the sinner around for eternity (unless they ate him first, in the case of the particularly sinful). Nelson accidentally extracts 7 deadly monsters from his own little soul. Ugly, cantankerous, smelly and often the cause of much embarrassment, Nelson's monsters are the last thing he needed in his life, but at least they're fairly harmless (he's a pretty good kid, on the whole). When he learns of their individual powers he realises the monsters can be put to good use, and together Nelson and the Deadly 7 set out on a quest across the globe to find and rescue his big sister. Somewhere along the way, Nelson realises that he finally has friends, even if they are smelly, lazy friends who like smashing stuff up.
What would YOU do... if the whole world just stopped?
Yes the WHOLE WORLD.
Birds in the air. Planes in the sky. And every single person on the planet - except you!
Because that's what keeps happening to ten-year-old Hamish Ellerby.
And it's being caused by The WorldStoppers and their terrifying friends The Terribles! They have a PLAN! They want to take our world for their own . . . Oh, and they hate children. Especially if you're a child who knows about them. Hang on - You know now, don't you? Oh dear.
Can Hamish save us from The WorldStoppers? Only time will tell!
Chris Riddell - Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (24 Sept. 2015) 
People are flocking to Ghastly-Gorm Hall from far and wide to compete in Lord Goth's Literary Dog Show. The esteemed judges are in place and the contestants are all ready to win. Sir Walter Splott is preparing his Lanarkshire Lurcher, Plain Austen is preening her Hampshire Hound and Homily Dickinson and her Yankee Poodle are raring to go. But there's something strange going on at Ghastly-Gorm - mysterious footprints, howls in the night and some suspiciously chewed shoes. Can Ada, the Attic Club and their new friends the Vicarage sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) work out what's going on before the next full moon?
Goth Girl and The Wuthering Fright is the third beautifully illustrated book in the Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell, sequel to Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse and Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Top Favourite Middle Grade Book Reads 2015 (Part One)


I've had so much pleasure reading books for this age group this year. In fact, I've found it really difficult to leave out so many good books, but I've done my best to pick a selection of books. These are, in my eyes, the best 10 books that shone with fantasy magic and fairy dust during 2015. These are the first five of my favourite reads, can you guess which other books will be in the second post? Have a great festive time everybody!

Rob Stevens - Would the Real Stanley Carrot Please Stand Up? Published by Andersen Press (5 Feb. 2015)
Stanley ‘Carrot’ Harris is ginger, tubby and definitely not cool. And he has a secret: he’s adopted, and this makes him feel like he’s never quite fitted in.
On his thirteenth birthday, he receives the one thing he’s been waiting his whole life for: a card from his long-lost birth mother, asking to meet up. But Stanley isn’t sure: what if he’s a big disappointment to her? So he hatches a plan – and he’s going to need a stand-in Stanley, someone who is handsome, sporty and God’s Gift to Mothers. 
What Stanley doesn’t realise is he’s about to have the most confusing time of his life . . . just who is the real Stanley Carrot?


Ross MacKenzie - The Nowhere Emporium - Published by Kelpies (2 Mar. 2015)

When the mysterious Nowhere Emporium arrives in Glasgow, orphan Daniel Holmes stumbles upon it quite by accident. Before long, the 'shop from nowhere' -- and its owner, Mr Silver -- draw Daniel into a breathtaking world of magic and enchantment. Recruited as Mr Silver's apprentice, Daniel learns the secrets of the Emporium's vast labyrinth of passageways and rooms -- rooms that contain wonders beyond anything Daniel has ever imagined. But when Mr Silver disappears, and a shadow from the past threatens everything, the Emporium and all its wonders begin to crumble. Can Daniel save his home, and his new friends, before the Nowhere Emporium is destroyed forever? 

Jacob Grey - The Crow Talker ( Ferals, Book 1) HarperCollins Children's Books (26 Mar. 2015)

In a city ravaged by crime and corruption, 13-year-old orphan Caw’s only friends are the murder of crows he has lived with since his parents flung him from their house aged only five… Caw lives in a treehouse in an abandoned city park, surviving on scraps of food and only communicating with his three crows. But a jailbreak at the prison forces him into contact with other humans – particularly a girl called Lydia, who is attacked by the escaped prisoners and is saved by Caw. Caw realises that these escaped prisoners have more in common with him than he’d like… they too are FERALS – humans able to communicate with and control an animal species. And they want to bring their evil Feral master, The Spinning Man, back from the Land of the Dead. Only by joining forces with other good Ferals hiding throughout the city can Caw stand a chance of defeating them.

Nicholas Gannon - The Doldrums Bk1- Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (8 Oct. 2015)
Archer B. Helmsley longs for adventure. But how can he have an adventure when he can’t even leave his house?
Archer B. Helmsley has grown up in a house full of oddities and treasures collected by his grandparents, the famous explorers. Archer longs for grand adventures but ever since his grandparents went missing on an iceberg, his mother barely lets him leave the house. So, along with his best friends, Adélaïde L. Belmont and Oliver Grub, Archer forms a plan to get out of the house and set off on a grand adventure with crocodiles and parachutes and danger. It's a good plan. Well, it's not bad, anyway. But nothing goes quite as they expected…

Allan Boroughs - Bloodstone (Legend of Ironheart) - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (1 Jan.2015) 
Apprenticed to notorious tech-hunter Verity Brown, India Bentley has spent the last year travelling the globe, finding and selling long-lost technology and doing her best to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble has a habit of finding her. Accused of an assassination attempt and thrown in jail, India is rescued by scientist-adventurer Professor Moon: a man obsessed with finding the Bloodstone; key to a source of unlimited energy hidden in the lost city of Atlantis. Now Moon wants India and Verity to join his quest.

Pursued by gangsters, lumbered with a stowaway and haunted by the ghosts of her past, India must risk everything to uncover Atlantis's secrets. But the truth comes at a price.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Top Favourite Young Adult Book Reads 2015



It's that time of year yet again. After a very productive year and, as usual, never enough reading time which I blame on social media and too much daydreaming, it's time to reflect on some of my personal favourite and most enjoyable Young Adult reads of 2015. This is just a small snapshot of books, as it's always hard to make a list like this one. However, I'd love to hear what you have enjoyed reading this year, so please get in touch and let me know.... Merry Christmas everybody!

Paul Magrs - Lost on Mars - Published by Firefly Press Ltd (14 May 2015)
With the scale and scope of the great science fiction epics, Lost on Mars tells the story of Lora and her family, third generation human settlers on the red planet who are strugging to survive in incredible circumstances. The family clings to life on a smallholding in the desert landscape, surviving storms and sinister rumours of un- explained disappearances until one night Lora sees the Dancers. When her father and grandmother disappear themselves, Lora's family is driven out to seek a new life across the plains. But none of them are ready for what they find the beautiful, dangerous City Inside.

Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor sharp dialogue, DEMON ROAD kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in...Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.  
Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…

Welcome to Arena 13. Here warriors fight. Death is never far away . . .
Leif has one ambition: to become the best fighter in the notorious Arena 13. Here, punters place wagers on which fighter will draw first blood. And in grudge matches, they bet on which fighter will die.
But the country is terrorized by the creature Hob, an evil being who delights in torturing its people, displaying his devasting power by challenging an Arena 13 combatant in a fight to the death whenever he chooses. And this is exactly what Leif wants . . . 
For he knows Hob's crimes well. and at the heart of his ambition burns the desire for vengeance. Leif is going to take on the monster who destroyed his family. Even if it kills him.

Sally Gardner - The Door That Led to Where - Published by Hot Key Books (1 Jan. 2015)
AJ Flynn has just failed all but one of his GCSEs, and his future is looking far from rosy. So when he is offered a junior position at a London law firm he hopes his life is about to change - but he could never have imagined by how much.

Tidying up the archive one day, AJ finds an old key, mysteriously labelled with his name and date of birth - and he becomes determined to find the door that fits the key. And so begins an amazing journey to a very real and tangible past - 1830, to be precise - where the streets of modern Clerkenwell are replaced with cobbles and carts, and the law can be twisted to suit a villain's means. Although life in 1830 is cheap, AJ and his friends quickly find that their own lives have much more value. They've gone from sad youth statistics to young men with purpose - and at the heart of everything lies a crime that only they can solve. But with enemies all around, can they unravel the mysteries of the past, before it unravels them?

The camera never lies...Darla and her dad are looking for a fresh start. But when they wind up in affluent Saffron Hills, Darla stands no chance of fitting in with the beautiful, selfie-obsessed teens at her new school. Just when she thinks things can't get any worse, she starts having visions. The gruesome snapshots flashing into Darla's mind seem to suggest she's going crazy...until she realizes they're actually a horrifying glimpse into the future. With a killer on the loose, can she make sense of what she's seeing before it's too late?


After his father goes missing in the Great War, Owen is abandoned to live with his cruel aunt, and wishes he could escape his life of drudgery in her small seaside guesthouse. There he meets a mysterious guest, who appears to make his ventriloquist’s dummy speak, even in his sleep.
Soon Owen realises that the dummy, Mr Sparks, can really talk – and he’s looking for a newer, younger puppetmaster. But Mr Sparks has a dark past . . .

Chris Wooding - Velocity - Published by Scholastic Press (2 July 2015)
Cassica and Shiara have grown up in an outback settlement far from anywhere. Life's hard where they live, but these two girls have a dream. They want to take on the Widowmaker: an off-road rally through some of the most dangerous places on Earth. It's their ticket to fame and fortune. But it just might be the death of them...

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: The Red Abbey Chronicles: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff - Book Review


Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.
Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.
Here is another early review to get your literary tastebuds tempted. Originally published in Sweden back in 2013, this is the first time that it has been published in English. Courtesy of Annie Prime, who has beautifully translated the original story for Pushkin children's books, it will be published in all good bookshops on the 14th January 2016.

This is a very magical and inspiring story that will takes you on an amazing ride. It pursues a feminine path, purely because all the characters happen to be female.The author has skilfully written this brilliant story without alienating male readers, in my opinion. It's not overpowering instead it delivers a magical awe of wonder. It's a story about women being powerful, strong, intelligent and treated as equals, and even more importantly, highlighting that they matter and are valued as human beings. It's a good lesson in life and one the author has put across very well.

This is a great contemporary fairy tale which is set in a different world to our own. However, you will be able to relate to it as being a time gone by or a time/place of solitude. This is reminiscent of the author's visit to Mount Athos (an all-male monastic community) which prohibits women from visiting. This was the seed of the story - it takes a similar path, but only in reverse.  

Some of the scenes that play out are very dark and harrowing, which may leave some readers feeling uncomfortable, especially for younger readers under the age of 13. The content makes for a thought provoking ride of enlightenment in the face of a dangerous world. The story is told with courage, bravery and unity; the fantastic characters will capture your heart.

This is a thrilling and mesmerising story of friendship, with a slight religious undertone, that is layered with a fantastic punch of magical fantasy. The amazing backdrop will suck you into an atmospheric world of escapism. You will not be able to put this book down until the very last page has been turned. 

This is a great vivid time capsule of what's to come in the next book - drawing on deep issues and highlighting them to new readers....

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars Final Winner 2015/16 - M. G. Leonard - 'Beetle Boy' Illustrated by Juila Sarda


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

As usual I would like to thank the many people who have supported the
 book cover wars. I hope that you too have had as much fun as I have - either as an observer or a contender.


Altogether 1,550 votes were cast over five weeks, which just highlights the interest that this competition generates. In the final there were 690 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 2015/15' to . . . . . . .  
M. G. Leonard - 'Beetle Boy' illustrated by Juila Sarda

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 
2014/15  - M. G. Harris/Gerry Anderson's - 'Gemini Force One' Black Horizon by Blacksheep. 
The winner of the Asterix and the Missing Scroll by Jean-Yves Ferri
competition is...... Gordon Askew congratulations to you - please get in touch with your postal details. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Guest Post: Talisman by Paul Murdoch - Rebranded, Re-Written and Re-Discovered...‏


Will you be tempted by Talisman?

So, what are The Peck Chronicles? What is Talisman, book 1 in this new fantasy adventure for children, all about? And who is Paul Murdoch?

Well... The Peck family are at the core of the whole series. Cathy Peck is a very direct, no-nonsense mother who says exactly what she thinks without any regard for the consequences. She's fiery, sharp and dangerous. David Peck is a fairly boring dad, but he's missing, presumed - as far away from Cathy as possible. And then there's James Peck, our hero, a boy of ten who's head agrees with the rest of the Villagers in Drumfintley, in that they think, quite understandably, that his dad has 'done a runner'. But James's heart... His heart tells him that something very bad and deeply mysterious has happened to his father. So he is absolutely...almost...fairly sure that everybody else in Drumfintely is completely...possibly...may be wrong.

All this is tricky enough for a ten-year-old boy with asthma, but then he stumbles upon a wizard from another world, banished to Scotland in the form of a tiny goldfish. Mendel, a wizard or scientist, as he prefers to be called, is from a world called Denthan. That world is doomed, as one of its two suns is about explode and annihilate the whole planet. However, an evil Hedra wizard called Dendralon has found a way to save his own race from the holocaust at the expense of all others. Nice! 

But not nice at all, really. So Mendel must get back and stop him. He must find another way to save the planet of Denthan and all the creatures who live there. But he needs a Talisman to do this, and that's where James comes in. Mendel decides to use the boy to perform his magic and he urges/blackmails James into helping him. Mendel's part of the bargain is to find out what's happened the boy's father - David Peck. 

Another 'fly-in-the-ointment' is that no one knows what the Talisman looks like...not Mendel, not James, not anyone.

Is James's missing father and the destruction of Denthan linked? 

Well...I'm not telling. 

But I can say that there's magic, monsters, epic battles, a bad tempered mum, 
and an exploding planet to deal with.  

Soon, most of the villagers in Drumfintley are drawn in to one of the most amazing family adventures ever. 

TALISMAN - book 1 of The Peck Chronicles is out now, published by Strident Publishing. CITADEL - Book 2 and TYRANT - Book 3 - are both coming much sooner than you think.

Ps - Paul Murdoch is just the bloke who took the movie in his head and scribbled it down as quickly as he could before it faded away for ever. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Anna and the Swallow Man - by Gavriel Savit - Book Review - Published by Bodley Head




“Man who try to understand the world without the help of children are like men who try to bake bread without the help of yeast” ― Gavriel Savit

Anna and the Swallow Man is a beautiful and stunning read that will hit the worldwide bookshops in January 2016. This is a very creative debut from an actor normally found on stage at  the Westside Theatre Off-Broadway. In the author's personal time he likes to read many fantastic books including: Neil Gaiman’s 'Sandman' series, Yann Martel’s 'Life of Pi', Lev Grossman’s 'The Magicians' and Susanna Clarke’s 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell'. These books have inspired him to sit down and write a novel that will equally captivate any audience. 

The story depicts an original and unique period within WW2. It captures the time brilliantly in war time Poland, Germany and Russia. In Kraków, 1939, it is no place for a young child to grow up; there are a million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father and suddenly, she finds herself alone but then she meets the Swallow Man. He is mysterious, strange and tall. And like Anna's missing father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgement, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous . . .

The story mixes a lot of creative energy from fairytales, folktales and historical fiction. As a reader, you find yourself on a path of magical realism which will subdue you through some very powerful emotions. The story takes a very odd point of view which might take some readers by surprise. Written with unconventional characters, Anna is still working out how the world really works. This takes on a naivety that is born out of age and experience, which will have an affect on many different readers. The main audience is young adult/adult, but I would happily recommend it to eleven year olds and older rather than younger. 

The swallow man is a very unconventional character like no other that I can recall in a story of this genre. He is very mysterious and interchangeable like his moods and personality. He gives nothing away which really makes the ending of the book difficult to finish. I really wanted a more dramatic and bold end to than it had. In my opinion, this was a slight downfall, but it was still very enjoyable.

This is not an easy book to sum up. It's very unusual but the language is very poetic just like the characters lives. There is a fluent transition between a fantastic plot and limited dialogue which I actually liked. It is an engaging and realistic depiction of wartime countries. The action and the narrative have been brilliantly written within 232 pages. It creeps slowly into your heart just like Morris Gleitzman, Once and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas did. It will carry you on the wind of reflection and hopefully onto the path of freedom and peace.  




Published by Bodley Head (28 Jan. 2016)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Top Five Favourite Winter/Festive Children's Books 2015


Matt Haig and Chris Mould: A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS tells the story of the early years of the world's most beloved hero. It is a gripping adventure set in eighteenth century Finland full of elves, reindeer, kidnapping and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas who isn't afraid to believe in magic.


'Father Christmas is the original super-hero. And Matt Haig, master of big hearted story-telling, is the perfect writer to bring his early years to life. In the utterly brilliant Chris Mould, Matt has found the perfect creative partner. I can see this book lighting up so many faces young and old this Christmas, and for many Christmases to come.


EMMA CARROLL: THE SNOW SISTER, Ever since her sister, Agnes, died, Pearl has a tradition every time it snows. She makes a person out of snow. A snow sister. It makes Christmas feel a little less lonely.
On Christmas Eve, her father receives a letter about a long-lost relative's will. Is their luck about to change? In anticipation of a better Christmas, Pearl goes to beg credit at Mr Noble's grocery to get ingredients for a Christmas pudding. But she is refused, and chased down the street where she is hit by a hansom cab. The snow is falling so hard that they can't take her home. She'll have to stay at Flintfield Manor overnight, in a haunted room... Will Pearl make it home for Christmas?


William Grill: Shackleton's Journey, To celebrate Ernest Shackleton’s departure on “Endurance” across the Antarctic, star illustrator William Grill brings us a detailed visual narrative of this extraordinary and historical expedition.
Grill’s beautiful use of coloured pencils and vibrant hues place him somewhere on the artistic spectrum between Raymond Briggs and David Hockney, and his fastidious cataloguing of every single detail of the expedition is nothing short of a Blackstock collection.

Grill evokes the atmosphere and intrepid excitement that would have surrounded the expedition with his impeccably researched and detailed drawings. Children will love examining the exploded diagrams of the peculiar provision taken or the individual drawings of the sled dogs or pack horses. This book takes the academic and historical information surrounding the expedition and teams it with powerful illustration for all readers to enjoy.
Katherine Rundell: The Wolf Wilder, Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.

Rhoda Levine And Everett Aison: Arthur is a wonderful holiday story about a small bird named Arthur, who lives in New York City.After a fine, green summer in Central Park, all the birds are preparing to fly south. Except for Arthur, that is. Arthur is off playing, gazing into a lake, dreaming of wider seas. And so Arthur is left behind. It begins to get cold. The trees are losing their leaves. Arthur feels uneasy and lonely, especially after his nest is scattered to the winds. Arthur must find a new home, and after he does—he settles down in a statue’s open book—he discovers a new city, where he can play hide-and-seek in the steam from a manhole cover and feast with the pigeons on crumbs, and which soon brings other delightful surprises (and challenges): icicles, a great big sweet-smelling evergreen tree that is all lit up with people gathered around it to sing “Gloria” in the cold night, and snow—a whole winter wonderland! And then the trees begin to bud; the birds come back....

Monday, 30 November 2015

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS GRAND FINAL 2015/16 - PLUS ASTERIX BOOK COMPETITION

Here we go again....
Over the last four weeks, different authors and illustrators have battled for their book covers to be voted into the grand final. As a result, we now have five worthy winners who have the chance to be crowned with the title 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted book cover of the year'. So without any further waiting, let the final battle of Book Cover Wars commence . . . . 

A big thanks to all the authors and illustrators who have got behind their book covers. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your final favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win, Asterix and the Missing Scroll by Jean-Yves Ferri

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - VOTE HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - VOTE HERE
  • Spread the word on Twitter/Facebook #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). 
  • This poll will end midnight 7th December 2015 
So here are the five book covers to vote for:

Book One - Danny Weston - Mr Sparks - Published by Andersen - 1 Oct. 2015 - Book Cover by James Fraser. VOTE HERE 


Book Two: Alwyn Hamilton - Rebel of the Sands - Published by Viking Books for Young Readers (8 Mar. 2016) - Book Cover art by Will Steele - VOTE HERE


Book Three - Darren Shan - Zom-B - Fugitive (US Cover) - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - Sept 22. 2015 - Book Cover by Cliff Nielsen VOTE HERE


Book Four: M. G. Leonard/Juila Sarda - Beetle Boy - Published by Chicken House Ltd (3 Mar. 2016) Book Cover by Julia Sarda - VOTE HERE

Book Five: Alexander Gordon Smith - The Devil's Engine: Hellraisers - Published by  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr) (Dec. 2015) - Book Cover Art by Andrew Arnold - VOTE HERE

Happy Voting, may the best book cover win.....



Thursday, 26 November 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Top Five Favourite Christmas Children's Picture Books


Chris Van Allsburg - The Polar Express
Late one Christmas Eve, a boy boards a mysterious train: The Polar Express bound for the North Pole. Once there, Santa offers the boy any gift he desires. The boy asks for one bell from the harness of a reindeer. The bell is lost. On Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the tree. The boy's mother admires the bell, but laments that it is broken — for you see, only believers can hear the sound of the bell.



Raymond Briggs - The Snowman 
Everyone's favourite snowman, with a sparkly glitter cover and introduction by Raymond Briggs. One winter's night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs' favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic - narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world. In 2012 the 30th anniversary of The Snowman was celebrated with a brand new half-hour animation The Snowman and the Snowdog. It introduced a new adorable character, can you guess who? That's right, a lovable snow puppy!




Janet & Allan Ahlberg - The Jolly Christmas Postman 

The Jolly Postman delivers cards and letters to various fairy-tale characters. He has a letter of apology for the three bears from Goldilocks, a postcard from Jack for the giant, a solicitor's letter on behalf of Little Red Riding-Hood for the wolf who ate grandma, and so on. There are six envelopes in the book, each containing letters, cards, etc.

Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! / Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason." Dr. Seuss's small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time. For 53 years, the Grinch has lived in a cave on the side of a mountain, looming above the Whos in Whoville. The noisy holiday preparations and infernal singing of the happy little citizens below annoy him to no end. The Grinch decides this frivolous merriment must stop. His "wonderful, awful" idea is to don a Santa outfit, strap heavy antlers on his poor, quivering dog Max, construct a makeshift sleigh, head down to Whoville, and strip the chafingly cheerful Whos of their Yuletide glee once and for all.
Clement C. Moore - The Night Before Christmas
As St. Nick and eight tiny reindeer descend through a brilliant night sky onto the roof of a Victorian house in a snowy New England village, the famous Christmas poem begins. The father of the family narrates the words just as Clement Moore wrote them, and artist Jan Brett captures the spirit in brilliant illustrations that reflect this memorable night. Visually she extends this favourite Christmas story for children, who will delight in watching the two mischievous stowaways from the North Pole enthusiastically exploring the sacks of gifts on the roof while St. Nick, unaware, journeys down the chimney... until the toys spill down onto the lawn and he turns with a jerk!

What's your festive favourite picture books?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mr Ripleys Enchanted Books: Derek Landy - Demon Road - Book Review


I've taken that path down the Demon Road.... 

Do you dare? 


The reader will hurtle along on a five star horror experience across the supernatural highways and the black roads of America with this book. It all kicks off when Amber Lamont's parents tried to kill her. Yep, the first page begins with them wanting to eat her. Derek Landy grabs you and slowly pulls you by the scruff of your literary neck down the path of the deepest and darkest parts of hell. He never lets the tempo fall; it's a gratuitous adult young horror shocker that will punch you in the fantasy gut. 

You will plunge across the brooding dark landscape of America on an epic road-trip that will captivate you. The imaginative story is filled with the baddest things imaginable: killer cars straight out of a Stephen King novel, vampires that have a sense of humour and undead serial killers that will haunt you to the bone. Then there is the ruthless family of DEMONS that have made a deal with the Shining Demon and so much more. You really need to read this jam packed book running over 500 pages long. 


Everything this plot has to offer is very bold in comparison to the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I feel that this book has actually taken the author out of his comfy writer's pants as everything needed to be worked out from scratch. In doing so, this book has put the writer back on the horror fantasy map. It's full of wit, action and, best of all, dagger sharp dialogue that oozes from the pores of the main characters.


The story is told from the perspective of Amber who is sixteen years old, smart and spirited. She’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves in more ways than one. Amber is forced to go on the run, hurtling from one threat to another as she reveals a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be… can they be trusted?


Milo is very mysterious and brings a big dollop of back story with him, which I really loved. Glen is very amusing and brought a light-hearted side to the story. He is very likeable and yet, at the same time, both annoying and very reckless. He made me smile on a number of occasions with his advances towards Amber - they were very laughable. I'm still grinning thinking about some of the moments in the story. This is a side of the story that teenagers will connect to as it brought a sense of realism to a crazy mixed up world.


The idea is very bullish in my opinion. The action scenes are written exquisitely; full of inventive imagination that is sadly missed in a lot of older reads. The only gripe that I have is that it felt a little predictable in places for me but, nevertheless, it's only a small gripe. 


My favourite part of the book was meeting Dacre Shanks who sounds more like a toilet seat then a serial killer. He is so creepy and delicious to read about. The atmosphere surrounding the dolls house and the shrunken people was really eery and chilling. It will hook you like a prize fighter on the ropes.


This is definitely an amazing start to a trilogy. It is a fresh new world for the author to play with. The backyard has been set and the expectations on the next book have rocketed with this opener. This is easily one of my favourite action horror YA reads this year; fantastic stuff Mr Landy, I look forward to much more.....