Monday, 30 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Q&A Interview with Nick Tankard - Illustrator


How did you become an illustrator?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an illustrator. I drew all the time when I was a kid, everything else was boring, I just wanted to draw. I couldn’t wait to leave school and enrol onto a course in Art & Design at Bradford College and then an Illustration course at Middlesbrough College.
I was fortunate to have some great tutors including the illustrator Chris Mould who was a great source of support and encouragement and has remained so in the years since I completed my further education. It was Chris who gave me a nudge in the right direction (or kick up the backside!) just when I needed it most. I was beginning to think I might not make it as an illustrator but Chris encouraged me to continue sending work to publishers and hey presto, it paid off when Helen Boyle (then at Templar Publishing) commissioned me to illustrate the ‘Henry Hunter’ books. I couldn’t have been happier and I’m eternally grateful to them both.



Do you think an illustrator needs a style?
I think it helps Editors and Art Directors to commission illustrators who work in a particular style, however I think it’s good to be adaptable and willing to attempt new methods and to push yourself. Some of my favourite illustrators have the ability to produce work that is very recognizably their own but they also adapt and develop it to move in new directions. A good example would be someone like Shaun Tan who has a very distinguishable style, but with every new book he seems to push and challenge himself to produce new and unique illustrations.


Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?
For me it’s a process that comes about through experimentation and channelling influences. It took me a good while to find a method of working that was comfortable and felt like my own. I’m influenced by something new everyday and forever pondering how it was
produced. By experimenting it’s possible to integrate certain aspects of those influences into your work and little by little you develop your own style, it should be a natural, on-going process.




What is your favourite medium to draw/paint with?
Initially I’ll sketch roughs and final compositions in pencil and then crack on with the good part…inking-in. I use a Micron 01 black fine line pen and work in a crosshatch style. The technique is a painstaking process and one which does my eyes no good at all! With the fine line pen I make a tiny mark in one direction and then turn the image around and add another layer in another direction to create shade and depth or leave bits out to hint at light and space. The image might turn ten to twenty times until it’s finished. It’s a very enjoyable process but a bit mindboggling at times.




Could you tell us a bit about any of your upcoming projects?
I’m really excited about my plans for this summer. I have the third book in Charlie Fletcher’s ‘Dragon Shield’ trilogy to illustrate for Hodder, it’s been a fantastic series to work on, a real privilege. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring London and it’s statues through Charlie’s eyes, I’ll see London in a different way from now on.

I’ve been working in my black & white crosshatching style quite a lot these past couple of years so I’m really looking forward to doing some experimenting with colour techniques. I really like the little pots of ‘Magic Colour Acrylic Ink’ as you can fill the empty cartridges of Rotring pens with them and this enables me to do- wait for it…colour crosshatching! It’s something I’ve been hoping to play about with so I can’t wait to get cracking.

I’ve also got a couple of ideas for Picture books rolling around in my head. Writing and illustrating my own books is something I haven’t attempted yet but the ideas are up
there somewhere and they’re refusing to go away so I’m going to finally put pen to paper to see what comes out. I’d love to illustrate a picture book, it’s a long held ambition so I’ve got my fingers crossed.




Who are your favourite illustrators and why?
There are three illustrators/authors whose books inspired my own ambitions to become an illustrator; they are Raymond Briggs, Tove Jansson and Maurice Sendak. Their work made a huge impression on me when I was a kid to the point where even now looking at the books they made brings back thoughts and feelings I had about them as a child. They were a little bit unsettling, frightening even. Stripy monsters, mysterious islands, lighthouses and bogeymen populate my childhood memories, it explains a lot! Aside from being scared witless I could also see the beauty in these books and I return to them again & again.

A contemporary illustration hero of mine is Shaun Tan. His illustrations have the same ability to unsettle, fascinate and inspire me much the same as Raymond, Tove and Maurice did in my childhood. I think his work will stand the test of time; ‘The Red Tree’ ‘The Arrival’ and ‘The Lost Thing’ already feel like Classics.
There are lots of other artists, authors and illustrators whose work I love and take inspiration from; Levi Pinfold, Jim Kay, David Roberts, Neil Gaiman, Jon Klassen, Aardman Animation, Carson Ellis, Gustave Dore, Faye Hanson, Philip Pullman, Chris Riddell, Alan Lee, Heath Robinson, my old tutor Chris Mould and tons more.




What helps you to be more creative?
I love listening to audiobooks when I’m in the middle of a project. I’ll work in silence when I’m sketching the initial roughs and ideas (for me that’s the worst part, agonizing!) but when it comes to inking-in the final illustrations give me a long night, tea and an audiobook and I’m a happy man. I know I need to get out more!


Where should a person start if they want to pursue a career in illustration?
Ooh that’s quite a difficult one and I guess I can only speak from experience. As I said, it took me quite a few years to achieve my ambition of becoming a published illustrator with a few wrong turns along the way. Persistence and self-motivation are good strengths to have. Editors and agents are the folks you need to approach but they’re very busy people so you need to try and stand out. Sending emails with loads of jpegs probably wont get you very far. There are so many hugely talented illustrators out there all trying to get published so we have to use our imaginations to make an impression. If it seems you aren’t getting anywhere don’t give up (like I almost did) just keep trying.


What do you read for pleasure?
Unfortunately I don’t get much time to read nowadays, that’s where audiobooks come in useful. I quite like ghost stories on audiobook, ‘Dark Matter’ by Michelle Paver is a favourite as is ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad’ by M.R. James. Both are great on a dark and stormy night. Other favourites include ‘Watership Down’ and ‘The Box of Delights’.
I haven’t read the ‘Harry Potter’ series yet but I’m clearing a space in my diary for the forthcoming new editions which are being illustrated by Jim Kay, it looks like he’s done an amazing job from what I’ve seen so far.

All images on this post subject to copyright.....

Web Site: http://nicktankard.co.uk/
Twitter:  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: New Middle Grade Children's Book Picks - April 2015 UK Post Two.



Piers Torday - The Wild Beyond (Last Wild Trilogy 3) - Published by Quercus Children's Books (2 April 2015)
The final heart-stopping instalment of the bestselling, award-winning The Last Wild trilogy.
This is the story of a boy named Kester. He has brought the animals of his world back from the brink of disaster, and he believes there is hope on the other side. And, he might just be right, because:

1. The last blue whale on the planet is calling to him.

2. His animal allies are ready for one last fight.

3. Out there, somewhere, a brave mouse holds the key to the future…



Victoria Scott - Salt & Stone - (Fire & Flood) - Published by Chicken House Ltd (2 April 2015)
One hundred and twenty-two began. Only forty-one remain. Tella's made it through the first terrains of the Brimstone Bleed - but the contest isn't over yet. If she wants to save her brother, she must face oceans and icy mountains, all for the chance of winning the Cure. And even if Tella survives these deadly places, the greatest threat will still be her fellow Contenders - even the ones she trusts the most.


Melissa Grey - The Girl at Midnight - Published by Atom (28 April 2015)
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.
But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.


Alan Snow - Worse Things Happen at Sea - Published by OUP Oxford (2 April 2015)
The people of Ratbridge are going crazy for the amazing miracle medicine, Black Jollop. But disaster strikes when it looks as though the powerful pick-me-up is running out! It's up to Arthur and his friends on board the Nautical Laundry to journey afar to gather the secret ingredient.  It's excitement ahoy in this madcap story, full of hilarious and outrageous characters, including the loveable Boxtrolls who are now the stars of a major film The Boxtrolls.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Guest Post by Ian Beck - The Disappearance of Tom Pile


The Disappearance of Tom Pile
Volume one of The Casebooks of Captain Holloway - Happy Publication Today! 

I had the first shadow of the idea for The Disappearance of Tom Pile in 1978. In fact I remember clearly it was New Year’s day. I was staying at my parents in law’s house in the same remote part of West Dorset featured in the book. We had stood out the night before in the cold churchyard with my Father in law, my brother in law and an Oxford Don from All Souls. It was very near midnight. The sky was clear and the stars looked particularly bright unaffected as they were by any light pollution. The church stands half way up the steep hill that surmounts the village of Litton Cheney in the Bride valley. My wife’s family had lived in the village since the early 1950s.. Their house was The Old Rectory. It sat close by the church and the graves just as its fictional counterpart does in my story.



We stood marvelling that night at the clarity of the stars and the intensity of the winter night sky . There were philosophical mutterings about the terrifying infinity of space and so on. A great bank of cloud rolled in just on midnight. The church bells rang in the new year. When we went back into the house the first flakes of snow were already falling. By morning the snow was banked up to the top of the hedgerows. We were effectively snowed in. We spent a happy day looking through the family photograph albums. My Mother in Law, Janet Stone, was a keen photographer. Among the many portraits and images in her albums were photographs of their old gardener from the 1950s. His name was Tom Pile. He was a Noah like figure, with a big white beard. He wore collarless shirts, wide braces and farmer’s corduroys. They said the only time he left the village was to go and fight in the First World War. Later that afternoon moved by the beauty of the night sky from the night before I wrote
down a few hasty notes about a boy in the same village in the early 20th c who witnesses strange lights in the sky and sets out to investigate. This was long before I had made any books for children at all (my first wasn’t until 1982). I was at that time a freelance commercial illustrator.


Even as an art student I had the itch to write. When I moved to London A few years later I attended creative writing classes at the City Lit. The tutor was very much an avant garde novelist. There was little encouragement of what you might call traditional narrative . This effectively put me off and I think stopped me writing anything for a while. It was only after making several picture books that I was encouraged to write my own stories to illustrate by my then editor David Fickling. I cut my teeth so to speak writing and illustrating many picture books. Then I began to think that perhaps I could attempt the longer form. I started and abandoned things for a while. I had no real sense of urgency, I was busy and had a young family to support. I toyed with ideas, including attempting a few more pages of the lights in the sky in 1900s Dorset story. All were put firmly away in a plans chest drawer.

Then in 2003 a very close friend died. It concentrated my mind. I was older than him. My time really could be limited. If I was going to do it I had better get going. So one of my many ideas Tom Trueheart was the first item out of the drawer, and he grew unexpectedly into three books. Other stories followed, some for older readers such as Pastworld, and some for younger like The Haunting of Charity Delafield and The Hidden Kingdom. Finally I saw a way to revive and write the Dorset based ‘lights in the sky’ story. I took the name of the real Tom Pile from the photo album and gave him a whole new alternate life and strange adventure.



I set the whole thing in the context of a fictional investigative bureau of the unexplained in World War 2. This gave me a chance to introduce extra characters, Jack Carmody the
cockney savant and the kindly Captain Holloway keeper of the secrets. I always liked these kinds of stories when I was a young reader. However I would always feel short changed if there was a tedious rational explanation to the weird or supernatural events; ie it was crooks pretending to be ghosts and so on. I wanted real ghosts.

I hope I have avoided any such dull rationality in this first book about Tom Pile. I have more or less completed the second book now. It is called The Miraculous Return of Annick Garel, you can read the opening chapter as an addendum at the end of the first book. The action has moved forward a year or so and mostly happens in Brittany in occupied France. I have no idea at the moment if there will be a third book. I would like to think that the characters have at least one more story in them. I suspect we shall have to wait and see if Tom Pile gathers any readers.  

Ian Beck March 2015 - Ian Beck Wordpress Website
Published by Corgi Children's (26 Mar. 2015)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Caleb Krisp by Anyone But Ivy Pocket - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)


Book Synopsis: 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.

Who can you rely on to deliver a priceless diamond to a revolting aristocrat?
Book Review: You'll never feel the same again once you've read this book. Following the unfortunate events of Ivy Pocket will surely leave you feeling unhinged in a rather odd way. Miss Exaggeration is a feisty twelve-year-old full of grand delusions on a massive scale. I still can't help thinking about her days and days after I've finished reading the book. She is certainly a one of a kind character; her exuberant personality is very infectious. I think that all of these attributes may make her one of my favourite new characters of the moment. 
The story is pure mayhem containing a rip cord of crazy events that will skip by you in a blur of pure imagination and great storytelling. This book is full of mild violence which is timely interspaced with some bizarre action moments.You will find yourself laughing one minute at the absurd things Ivy Pocket says and does. The next thing you will be cringing at her brutal honesty and bitter words. However, this creates brilliant reading and is really engaging.

It's very whimsical - full of irony and wicked intentions. I loved the gothic feel that came through which is very reminiscent to Lemony Snicket. Fans of these books will surely love reading this one as well. 

This is a very quirky read and will surely be a future bestseller. It's already been scooped up by many publishers up and down the country. I loved every page of this book. It is a journey full of self discovery both for the characters and readers alike. 
In my opinion, this is a book that any reluctant reader will sink their teeth into and enjoy. The finished copy includes a superb collection of illustrated images by the talented illustrator John Kelly, which adds to this book to create an overall great reading experience. 

  • UK Hardcover:
     
    320 pages - Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (9 April 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1408858630 Age: 8-12 yrs

Monday, 23 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: New Middle Grade Children's Book Picks - April 2015 UK Post One.


Joe Ducie - Crystal Force - Published by Hot Key Books (2 April 2015)
On the run after escaping from what was supposed to be the world's most secure juvenile facility (and blowing it up in the process), Will Drake knows it's only a matter of time before the sinister Alliance catches up with him. But Drake is in need of an alliance of his own - knowing who to trust is becoming increasingly difficult, and after having been exposed to the highly unstable (and potentially deadly) Crystal-X whilst fleeing from the Rig, it looks like time might be running out for him all together. His arm has started to mutate into an impenetrable black crystal, and although it gives him a superhuman-like ability to fight, it might also be causing him to lose his mind. Surrounded by enemies and desperate for help, Drake and his escapee comrades are forced to form an uneasy partnership with a mysterious group who also claim to have been exposed to Crystal-X. They say they know how to use its powers for good - but can Drake really keep running forever? And who should he trust more - his supposed friends, or the voices in his head...?


Julie Hunt - Song for a Scarlet Runner - Published by Allen & Unwin Children's Books (9 April 2015)
Peat is on the run - forced to flee for her life when she's blamed for bringing bad luck to her village. She heads for the endless marshes, where she's caught by an old healer-woman who makes Peat her apprentice and teaches her the skill of storytelling. But a story can be a dangerous thing. It can take you out of one world and leave you stranded in another - and Peat finds herself trapped in an eerie place beyond the Silver River where time stands still. Her only friends are a 900-year-old boy and his ghost hound, plus a small and slippery sleek a cunning creature that might sink his teeth into your leg one minute, and save your life the next.


Django Wexler - The Mad Apprentice (Forbidden Library 2)  - Published by Corgi Childrens (7 May 2015)
Old Readers are supposed to live for ever, magically inhabiting the spaces between stories. They’re not supposed to die. But they can be murdered. When an ancient Reader is killed, seemingly by his own apprentice, the hierarchy of the magical world tumbles and its spider web of alliances begin to unravel.
Now it’s up to Alice and the remaining apprentices to sort out the mess and catch the murderer. But the world is changing all around them. Things are not as they seem. It’s almost as if they are trapped in a strange sort of labyrinth . . .

Sam Gayton - Hercufleas - Published by Andersen Press (2 April 2015)
Greta is a girl on a mission: to venture to Avalon and bring back a hero who can save her home from destruction by the monstrous giant Yuk. Many heroes have tried before now. Many have failed. What Greta needs is a hero whose courage and self-belief are greater than himself. She needs HercufleasThe only problem: he is a flea, no bigger than a raisin. But the smallest person might just have the biggest effect . . .

Friday, 20 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: M . G. Harris - Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force 1: Black Horizon - Book Review


GERRY ANDERSON’S GEMINI FORCE ONE is soon to be published by Orion Children’s Books in April 2015. After a fantastic Kickstarter campaign, 600 loyal Anderson fans made this project a reality. The material remained untouched, but not forgotten, after the sad death of Gerry Anderson in 2012 until Jamie and his family approached M.G. Harris. She was tasked to continue the fictional world of rescue writing. As a result, the vision of Gerry Anderson's creations have been brought back to modern day life.

This has to be the one of the most anticipated books this year. Gemini Force is the first book in a trilogy to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first broadcast of THUNDERBIRDS. There are two more books to come: 'Ghost Mine' in September 2015 and the final book in Spring 2016. Hopefully the book will be turned into a screen project, so that Anderson's legendary and iconic pioneering skills are shared with the world once more. 

GF1 is a fantastic mix of new and old. M.G. Harris has done an amazing job developing Anderson's trademark formula of ADVENTURE and RESCUE to inspire a new generation of fans. Whilst also enabling old fans like me to buzz back to my childhood days. It has everything that you would want and expect from a five star book. You'll soon find yourself rocketing to Tracey Island once you start this epic adventure. 

Ben Carrington is a 16 year old boy who is coming to terms with the death of his father. His grief propels him into the biggest adventure that a boy could ever imagine. In my opinion, the main character is written quite vaguely and may need to be further established in the next book. 

Gemini Force is an elite organisation that has been established by a rich entrepreneur. It is secret organisation with the key aim of providing rescue services. Ben is determined to become part of that team, but he needs to prove to his mother first that he has got what it takes. 

The story arc in the first book is true to Anderson's magical ethics in every way. There is ACTION and drama in abundance. The cool technology is written particularly well and contains lots of detailed information. In other books this can sometimes be missed out or only briefly mentioned, but M. G. Harris utilises the opportunity to enhance the story effectively. 

The other quirky characters find themselves in a race against the clock - human limits are pushed through many exhilarating missions. The author holds no punches in the plot; things don't always go well and happy endings are not necessarily guaranteed. However, this is what makes this book so good - don't expect the expected! 

This series will definitely appeal to readers who love fast-paced action. Readers of the Young James Bond series and Alex Rider series should definitely search out this book. Older readers will find themselves reminiscing about the brilliant creations from Stingray, Captain Scarlet, UFO and the Terrahawks. I remember watching and enjoying all of these many years ago; each still have a little part to play in the book, but with a modern day update. This book will keep you on all of your toes as it full of many nail biting moments.  

LET THE ACTION GO....

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Guest Post by Cecilia Busby - Deep Amber/Frogspell (David Wyatt)

The Importance of Great-Aunts…

I have a bit of a thing for great-aunts. My nan was one of three sisters, so I had two great-aunts of my own – Auntie Joan and Auntie Joyce. They were a constant of my childhood – when my sister and I went to stay with my nan, which we did frequently, the visit was never complete without an afternoon round at one or the other aunt’s house, playing cards for small change, having sweet milky cups of tea and sticky gingerbread, going for a walk down to the parade of shops to buy an ice-cream or some sweets. Or just listening to the soothing sound of my nan and her two sisters reminiscing about growing up in India or complaining about the world in general and the inadequacies of men in particular.
As a teenager, long after those visits had ceased, I discovered P.G. Wodehouse and his endless parade of great-aunts.



Bertie Wooster had two very particular ones: Aunt Agatha (always on Bertie’s case and not to be crossed at any price) and Aunt Dahlia (a little more good natured but still requiring endless running around from Bertie that inevitably got him into sticky situations). I discovered on recent re-reading that they were strictly speaking aunts, rather than great-aunts, but, perhaps because they reminded me very strongly of my own great-aunts, that’s what I remember them being.
I hadn’t realised the extent to which great-aunts were lurking in my sub-conscious till I started writing my own books. In my first series, set in Arthurian England, the plot requires that the hero, Max, be given a very special cauldron.



And who should appear in the story to give it to him but a great-aunt – in this case, Great-Aunt Wilhelmina, who is an ancient dragon with a hoard of cauldrons. (Wilhelmina was the name of my own great-aunts’ great-aunt, who helped bring their mother up when both her parents died of cholera in India.)

Great-Aunt Wilhelmina was a fabulous character to have in the story – wise, very powerful, generally helpful but not above giving my child characters a stern talking to when they needed it. She also had the privilege that vast age brings, of being able to give even the more powerful adult characters (such as Merlin) a ticking off – always good for a bit of comic light relief!



But it was when another great-aunt forced her way into my next series that I realised I was very slightly obsessed… In this case, a powerful amber jewel, left in a box in Great-Aunt Irene’s house, causes siblings Cat and Simon all sorts of trouble when they move there after their great-aunt’s death.



Small objects keep disappearing – a pair of swimming goggles, a camera, a DS – and then a rather large object suddenly appears. A shining long-sword, in the middle of the stairs. No sooner has it arrived, than trouble – in the shape of two black-suited men called Mr Smith and Mr Jones – comes to the door. Cat and Simon have to try and work out what’s going on, and why they are attracting the interest of these two rather menacing officials. At the same time, in another world – one with magic and castles – apprentice witch Dora and kitchen boy Jem are trying to work out where the plastic goggles and picture-box have appeared from. When Cat and Simon finally track down the amber jewel and open the box it’s in, they discover they have another problem to deal with – the ghost of their great-aunt, trapped in the box with the amber.

Great-Aunt Irene is sarcastic, irascible, impatient and able to make herself alternately solid enough to throw vases at people’s heads, and immaterial enough to pass through walls. She chivvies and encourages the children through the difficult and dangerous tasks they find themselves involved in, as they try to find four magical pieces of amber and, more importantly, keep them out of the hands of the dark and sinister Lord Ravenglass. She may not be able to do much directly – she’s a ghost, after all – but she keeps everyone on their toes, and never lets them despair of finally winning out.



I’ve just written the last of the trilogy, The Amber Crown. At the end, Great-Aunt Irene has done her job, and she moves on. I felt genuinely tearful as I
wrote her farewells. Just like the characters in the book, I will miss her – as I still miss my own great-aunts. But I don’t suppose she’ll be the last great-aunt that finds her way into one of my books…




Cecilia Busby writes fantasy for children aged 7-12 as C.J. Busby.
“Great fun – made me chortle” – Diana Wynne Jones on Frogspell
“A rift-hopping romp with real charm, wit and pace” – Frances Hardinge on Deep Amber www.cjbusby.co.uk
Twitter: @ceciliabusby

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks - April 2015 - US Post Two


Holly Grant - The League of Beastly Dreadfuls - Published by Random House Books for Young Readers (April 28, 2015)


A creepy Victorian house, secretive aunties, and a great escape combine in this debut that is part Mysterious Benedict Society, part Roald Dahl, and all quirky, smart, hilarious storytelling. Join the League. . . .
 
Anastasia is a completely average almost-eleven-year-old. That is, UNTIL her parents die in a tragic vacuum-cleaner accident. UNTIL she’s rescued by two long-lost great-aunties. And UNTIL she’s taken to their delightful and, er, “authentic” Victorian home, St. Agony’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

But something strange is going on at the asylum. Anastasia soon begins to suspect that her aunties are not who they say they are. So when she meets Ollie and Quentin, two mysterious brothers, the three join together to plot their great escape!




Kate Hannigan - The Detective's Assistant - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 7, 2015) 
The incredible tale of America's first ever female detective and her spirited niece!
Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt's doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it's the miserable Home for the Friendless.

Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate...and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present.

Based on the extraordinary true story of Kate Warne, this fast-paced adventure recounts feats of daring and danger...including saving the life of Abraham Lincoln!



Stuart Gibbs - Evil Spy School - Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 21, 2015)
When Ben gets kicked out of the CIA’s spy school, he enrolls with the enemy. This companion to Spy School and Spy Camp is rife with action, adventure, and espionage.During a spy school game of Capture the Flag, twelve-year-old Ben Ripley somehow accidentally shoots a live mortar into the principal’s office—and immediately gets himself expelled. Not long after going back to the boring old real world, Ben gets recruited by evil crime organization SPYDER.

And he accepts.

As a new student in SPYDER’s evil spy school, which trains kids to become bad guys with classes like Counter Counterespionage and Laying Low 101, Ben does some secret spying of his own. He’s acting as unofficial undercover agent, and it becomes quickly apparent that SPYDER is planning something very big—and very evil.

Ben can tell he’s a key part of the plan, but he’s not quite sure what the plan is. Can Ben figure out what SPYDER is up to—and get word to the good guys without getting caught—before it’s too late?




Fonda Lee - Zeroboxer - Published by Flux (April 8, 2015) AGE 12+
A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.
As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices put everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Mark Ryan - Tremor - Book Review



  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Britain's Next Bestseller (22 September 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1906954836
  • Age: 12+

  • Book Synopsis: life William knew has gone. His world has been left devastated by the Fossil War. All major governments have been wiped out and the land is now under the control of the company Terrafall. Although Terrafall's intentions seem honest, William wonders if the company will live up to its promises and stop the tremors, which have been plaguing the Earth since the end of the war. And can Terrafall really find out who is behind the recent wave of abductions? 
 When someone close to William disappears, he decides it's time to take      matters into his own hands. But in a land that is on the verge of tearing itself apart, is it a life worth fighting for? If your world was falling apart, how far would YOU go to save it?

Book Review: Is this Britain's next bestseller? In my opinion, yes it is. This is an exciting opener to a great new series known as The Tremor Cycle. It's a haunting dystopian dream that will have you hooked from the very first page. The storyline works really well; immersed in a world filled with devastating tremors and a futuristic vision of climate change bringing the world crashing down around it. 

Politically the world has changed forever. Real food is very scarce with some humans resorting to a cannibalism; this creates a rather unsettling ride. You'll follow the well-written characters on a journey to find more about Terrafall, the company which controls the country after the ravages of a Fossil war. 

This book is a compelling read and will keep you up all night. It's also very thought provoking - it makes you think more and more as you uncover the mysteries to what is really happening in the ever changing world. Crumbling into oblivion, the tag line on the front of the book is: If your world was falling apart, how far would you go to save it? Is life worth fighting for?

This is a great debut book; it has all the right ingredients. William, the main character, is particularly well written. His thoughts, feelings and emotions resonated with me. I instantly liked him and wanted the very best for him. The plot is very well constructed and organised in my opinion. It is full of action and includes some very chilling and dark moments. Whilst a feeling of originality also runs through different parts of the storyline. The more that I read, the more I felt I was in the shoes of the different characters. 

I would really love to see this book do really well. As a younger read, it is bang on trend and shows a future that could become reality if we continued to make bad choices. I'm very pleased to say that when you've finished the last page and finally get your breath back from the climactic ending, it will surely leave you wanting more.....