Thursday, 18 August 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Teens/Children's Book Picks US Published August 2016 - Post One




Kelly Barnhill - The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Published by Algonquin Young Readers (August 9, 2016)

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge--with dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Deadly birds with uncertain intentions flock nearby. A volcano, quiet for centuries, rumbles just beneath the earth’s surface. And the woman with the Tiger’s heart is on the prowl . . .

The author of the highly acclaimed, award-winning novel The Witch’s Boy has written an epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to be a modern classic.

Wendy Mass - The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase -  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 2, 2016)
The highly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Candymakers by beloved author Wendy Mass

It has been a few months since the nationwide New Candy Contest, and Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy have returned to their regular lives. But when the winning candy bar comes down the conveyor belt at the Life is Sweet candy factory, Logan realizes something's very wrong....

When the Candymaker announces that they will be going on tour to introduce the new candy bar, the four friends see this as an opportunity to make things right. But with a fifty-year-old secret revealed and stakes higher for each of them than they ever imagined, they will have to trust one another--and themselves--in order to face what lies ahead. 

In this action-packed sequel to the bestselling novel The Candymakers, prepare to embark on a journey full of hidden treasures, secret worlds, and candy.

LOTS and LOTS of candy.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez - Moving Target - Published by Scholastic Press August 30, 2016)

Cassie Arroyo, an American studying in Rome, has her world ripped apart when someone tries to kill her father, an art history professor at an Italian university. Is she their next target?

Cassie sets out to uncover what is happening, only to learn that she is a member of an ancient bloodline that enables her to use the Spear of Destiny--a legendary object that can shape the future. Now running from a secret organization intent on killing those from her bloodline, Cassie must--with the help of some friends--decipher the clues that will lead her to the Spear. Her life--and the fate of the world--depends on it.

Christina Diaz Gonzalez has created a fast-paced thrill-ride of a book, rich with riddles and myth, that young readers will not be able to put down.

Kate Milford (Author), Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator) - The Left-Handed Fate - Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (August 23, 2016)

Return to Nagspeake for a new fantasy adventure from the bestselling author of National Book Award nominee Greenglass House.
Lucy Bluecrowne and Maxwell Ault are on a mission: find the three pieces of a strange and arcane engine they believe can stop the endless war raging between their home country of England and Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. During the search, however, their ship, the famous privateer the Left-Handed Fate, is taken by the Americans, who have just declared war on England, too. The Fate (and with it, Lucy and Max) is put under the command of new midshipman Oliver Dexter . . . who’s only just turned twelve.
But Lucy and Max aren’t the only ones trying to assemble the engine; the French are after it, as well as the crew of a mysterious vessel that seems able to appear out of thin air. When Oliver discovers what his prisoners are really up to―and how dangerous the device could be if it falls into the wrong hands―he is faced with a choice: Help Lucy and Max even if it makes him a traitor to his own country? Or follow orders and risk endangering countless lives, including those of the enemies who have somehow become his friends?

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Steve Cole (Author) Jim Filed (Illustrator) Invisible Inc. (Magic Ink 4) - Book Review


Noah’s mum’s new invention can zap ANYTHING into a ghost of its former self. It’s still there, but you can’t see it. You can’t touch it.

When the sinister ‘Seerblight Solutions’ steal her invention, Noah is zapped – and finds he’s not the first to have been turned ‘invisible’ through the ages. With all humankind in terrible danger, Earth’s last line is defence is one you’ve never seen or heard of: Invisible Inc.

A medieval knight. A Victorian inventor. A poetic pony. And an ordinary boy. Saving the world? THEY’LL SEE TO IT!

Step Away From The Television, flip over the book cover and turn the pages of a hilarious read from the bestselling author, Steve Cole. He has written some of the best inventive reads and delighted large audiences with cracking, ingenious worlds such as Astrosaurs and Magic Ink as well as his older series the Young Bond books.

This is another brilliant book which has been illustrated by the talented Jim Field. The black and white images enhance the craziness by giving an atmospheric and fiendish feel creating a world of mayhem and chaos. Every page that you turn will make you giggle like a new born baby. Be warned though as the book is full of advice that you should ignore and definitely not follow! 

You will find yourself running a monster battling gauntlet with the main character Noah Deer, an ordinary boy, who needs to save the world against the force of Seerblight. This character is a dangerous 1000-year old bad guy, who is accompanied by his unpleasant sidekick, Mr Butt. Fortunately, Noah has backup in the form of the singing medieval knight, Sir Guy de Yupp, who has a knack of bursting both into trouble and tuneless yelling. 
Here is a ditty from Sir Guy: 

"I asked my mama what will I be 
When I am five times taller than your knee. 
BE A HERO! said she.  
SMITE YOUR ENEMY!
With A SWORD AND MACE,
YOU CAN SMASH HIM
IN THE FACE!
OHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

Also within this inventive escapade, you will meet the inventor, Trudi Deer, a teacher and a scientist who is always working on amazing projects. She is a lover of baked beans or perhaps not! You will also be enchanted by Maloney the Phony the poetic pony and Lady Jemima Smyth who will pull the strings. She has retired from Invisible inc, as a battler of ninjas and is the fire power against some hypnotising chickens. 

You will really be engrossed in this frantic explosion of action and adventure. It is a cracking book to pluck off the shelves for the younger reader, especially reluctant boys. The humour and the jokes come thick and fast; they hit the mark for all ages and genders. Throughout this fantastic story, you won't be able to stop yourself from reading this book out aloud with funny accents as you snort with laughter at the ensuing wizardry madness. 

This is another outstanding performance from Steve Cole that will provide a smile on your face and lead you into a wold of pure escapism. It is a fantastic choice for a family read and thoroughly recommended. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

HarperCollins Children's Books: BIG NEW BOOK DEAL FOR DAVID BADDIEL ANNOUNCED


HarperCollins Children’s Books, home of the blockbuster fiction brands, looks to the long-term with new multi-book deal for David Baddiel publishing to 2019.


With their proven track record of publishing the biggest names in the children’s market, Children’s Publisher of the Year HarperCollins Children’s Books is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new multi-book deal with David Baddielthe author, screenwriter, stand-up comedian, and now bestselling children’s author. The first under the new deal, AniMalcolm, will publish on the 29th September 2016, with simultaneous e-book and audiobook launches.  The audiobook will be read by David himself.  

World Rights were acquired by Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher at HarperCollins Children’s books, from Georgia Garrett at RCW. Roald Dahl Funny Prize-winning illustrator, Jim Field, will continue to illustrate the books, having worked on both of David’s previous titles.


Supported by a global publishing vision and long-term growth strategy, David has celebrated unprecedented commercial and critical success since he debuted into the world of children’s literature in 2014. 

Combined sell-through across all formats for his two novels, The Parent Agency & The Person Controller stands at over 220,000 copies in the UK. Including sales of his World Book Day £1 story The Boy Who Could Do What He Liked, David’s books have now reached over 300,000 readers in the UK alone*. On the global stage, translation rights have been secured across 21 international territories and Fox 2000 recently announced it had acquired film rights to The Parent Agency in a major deal.


Described by the Guardian as, “Funny, sometimes moving, always engaging”, The Parent Agency was the biggest hardback middle grade debut of 2014 and won the inaugural LOLLIES Award for favourite laugh-out-loud book in the 9 – 13 category in June 2016.

Hardback sales of the follow-up title, The Person Controller (published Oct 15), surpassed those of its predecessor by more than 33%. The recently published paperback version has sold a staggering 47,000 copies through TCM since March* – a standout performance in the children’s fiction market.

Delighting readers with his high concept, wish-fulfilment adventures, David has captured the imaginations of children and garnered the power of the playground buzz. This is set to continue with David’s next novel AniMalcolm, the story of a boy who really doesn’t wish for what happens to him.  A cinematic adventure with all the laugh-out-loud humour and real heart of David’s brilliant storytelling, this is the tale of Malcolm, a boy whose upbringing in a pet-mad family has somewhat turned him off animals… which is why it’s so challenging when a magic goat transforms him into a series of them.  

David Baddiel has taken the children's book world by storm! He combines his incredible literary talent with audacious and original storytelling for kids which together with his high octane humour have made his books a massive hit with his growing band of young Baddiel fans”, commented Executive Publisher, Ann-Janine Murtagh. His latest novel is a testament to that - a hugely imaginative adventure with a Home Alone meets Animal Farm twist! We are truly delighted to have signed David for three more books which sets us up for brilliant publishing in the years ahead and is destined to make David Baddiel a major children's author brand in the future.”

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - August 2016 - Post Two


Lari Don - The Beginner's Guide to Curses: Spellchasers 1 - Published by Kelpies (18 Aug. 2016)  - Book Review Here
Molly Drummond is cursed: whenever a dog barks, she turns into a hare -- which can make life quite dangerous...So she does the sensible thing and attends a curse-lifting workshop, run by a local witch. She tumbles into a world of magical beings, all desperate to reverse their curses. But will the power that feeds on the curses prevent them from returning to their normal lives? By the author of the bestselling Fabled Beasts Chronicles series, this is the dramatic first installment in the brand new, long-awaited Spellchasers trilogy. Lari Don has once again created a world of brilliant magic, dark danger and extraordinary friendship which will enchant children of upper primary age. 
Matt Ralphs - Fire Witch (Fire Girl 2) - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (25 Aug. 2016)
Hazel Hooper is no ordinary girl. She is a Fire Witch, and she is furious. Ever since her mother, Hecate, sacrificed herself to the demon world in order to stop a demonic invasion, Hazel has been determined to get her back, regardless of the cost.
Hazel's only chance to find Hecate is to seek advice from Nicolas Murrell, the Order of Witch Hunters most-prized prisoner, and the very same man responsible for Hecate's loss. With only Bramley, her grumpy dormouse familiar for company, Hazel must disguise herself as a boy and infiltrate the black heart of the Order of Witch Hunters to gain an audience with Murrell. But can he be trusted? 
Or will Murrell reveal to his captors that their newest apprentice is actually . . . a witch?
Fire Witch is the fantastic sequel to Fire Girl by Matt Ralphs - perfect for young readers with a taste for the extraordinary!

Sharon Creech - Moo - Published by HarperCollins (30 Aug. 2016) 
Fans of Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech s Love That Dog and Hate That Cat will love her newest tween novel, Moo. This uplifting tale reminds us that if we re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.
When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn t know what to expect. She s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents volunteer Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna and that stubborn cow, Zora.
This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives."

S. E. Grove - Golden Specific, The (Mapmakers Trilogy) - Published by Puffin Books (13 Aug. 2016)

The events of The Glass Sentence transformed the world, as well as the life of fourteen year old Sophia Tims. Since then she's continued searching for clues to her parents' disappearance, combing Boston's archives and libraries. Across the country, her friend Theo is searching, too. When Sophia learns that her mother's diary and the story of her parents" fate is in a distant archive, she makes a split second decision and sets off with an almost complete stranger on a sea voyage to a place where she knows no one. Weeks later, Theo returns to Boston and immediately sets off on a new voyage of his own. This book is written in alternating voices, studded with extracts from Minna Time's diary, and filled with all manner of wonders, including startlingly new kinds of maps.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Karen McCombie - The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall (Scholastic Press)


I'm really pleased to be sharing with you the following interview with Karen McCombie. Her latest novel, The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall, was published by Scholastic in June 2016. It's a magical story with an up lifting feeling and a real sense of hope. I hope that this interview piques your interest and encourages you to purchase a copy to read.

The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall is your latest book, what is it about?
Ellis's mum Sadie is a hair & make-up artist, whose jobs normally consist of powdering the sweaty foreheads of actors in ads for car insurance and toilet rolls! Then one day Sadie works on a music video, and after a whirlwind romance with the singer in the band, thirteen-year-old Ellis finds herself with a rock star for a step-dad and a deserted, dilapidated mansion in the Highlands of Scotland for a home. Already struggling with bouts of anxiety, the Whole New Life thing leaves Ellis reeling, till one day she hears whispers in the walls... and finds herself slipping back in time to the busy, bustling 1912 heyday of Wilderwood Hall. Thanks to the one person who can see Ellis - Flora the fourteen-year-old housemaid - life takes a turn for the better. But will the past be the sanctuary Ellis hopes for, or is danger lurking in its warm, gas-lit corners?

You have written over 70 books what are the major themes of your work?
I've just done a head-count and 'The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall' is actually my 84th published book! (I'm writing no. 87 at the moment...) As for themes, family and friendship is at the heart of everything, whether I'm writing with my funny hat on, or leaning more towards history and mystery. 

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work?
There's very much a story "ripped from the headlines' in 'The Whispers of Wilderwood Hall',  though it concerns a historical event that made big news. It weaves itself into the twist at the end, so I can't tell you what it is, even if you threaten me with a Chinese burn...

Do you use your own experiences?
All the time. Or I nick 'em from my friends and family. I recycle everyone's experiences and stories - ha! The profession of Ellis's mum Sadie is a straight steal from my friend and neighbour Emily, though last time I looked, she was still living four doors up, and hadn't married anyone famous and moved to the Highlands! As for Wilderwood Hall, it's based on an old, deserted mansion house I stumbled upon years and years ago with a film student friend who was scouting for locations. The house we snuck into was derelict and vandalised, but eerily beautiful. It's always stayed with me, and it's mutated into Wilderwood...

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
For the time I'm writing a novel I'm ALWAYS the main character, seeing the world through their eyes, feeling all the angst, embarrassment, nervousness and joy that they do. If I make myself cry at some point in the story, I know I'm doing it right.

If you were running the 100 yard dash with a new writer. What writing, publishing wisdom would you bestow upon him/her before you reached the 100 yards?
I'm a rubbish runner, but you will regularly find me stomping over the parklands of Alexandra Palace in North London, which is practically my back garden! So I'd invite a new writer for a meander in the greenery, with its great views over London, and I'd tell that every writer would give them different advice! Mine would be to plan, plan, plan out your story, so you don't get lost and lose heart half-way through. Though other authors would say the opposite, telling you to just write, and see where a story and character takes you. (NB The idea of doing that gives me the heebie-jeebies. *Eek!*) 

What are your current projects?
Deep breath... I've just finished writing something young and funny and school-related for Stripes, something historical and VERY close to my heart for Nosy Crow, and am in the middle of a dual-aspect novel for Scholastic. After that, I'll have a bit of a break. Er, no I won't! I've got the follow-ups to the Stripes and Nosy Crow books to write, plus a quick-read book for inclusive publishers Barrington Stoke.   

How important are stories to you? What do you like to read?
Stories are everything to me, whether that's in a book, a film or a conversation with a friend. Stories are all around, they make you think, understand and share. Stories make us better at being human. As for what I like to read...? I'm not so keen on fantasy and crime; I find the extraordinary stories of ordinary people much more fascinating.

If you found a time travel machine where would you go and what would you do?
Can I be whisked to The Great Exhibition, please? I'd like to marvel at the glinting Crystal Palace and all the wonders of the world and science inside it. Though I've heard they didn't built enough WCs for the visiting throngs of Victorian visitors, so that could be a problem. In other words, I'd better not have too many drinks in the tea-room.

Last question, what five things would you take on a desert Island and why? 
Five boxes; one full of my TBR pile of books (obvz), one with squashy cushions to recline on (mmm...), one full of packets of crisps (nom), and one full of kittens (#allthecute). Oh, and the last one could contain my daughter Milly, as she's excellent company.   


Best-selling author Karen McCombie has had more than 80 books published, and her latest novel is 'The Whispers Of Wilderwood Hall' (out June 2016, Scholastic).
The quirky humour and endearing characters in her novels have been inspired by her previous career as a journalist on teenage girls' magazines, her collection of childhood diaries AND a bad habit of listening in to conversations on buses when school is coming out...
Her hobbies include scribbling random observations in notebooks, brushing cat hair from the keyboard of her laptop and posting nonsense on Instagram.


Author Website: http://www.karenmccombie.com
Twitter: @KarenMcCombie 
Instagram:  

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Sarah Baker - Through the Mirror Door Book Cover - Concept Designed by Will Steele and Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle


This is one of my favourite book covers this year. It is from "Through the Mirror Door" which has been illustrated by the talented Jessica Courtney-Tickle. I recently read this book and really loved it; (review here) it got me thinking about having the right book cover image that reflects the story inside. The overall book cover is very important as it needs to attract potential buyers and make them pick up the book. It needs to appeal to as many readers as possible. This one encapsulates the story really well, in my opinion, and gives an air of mystery about the plot; gently tickling the brain into thinking about what is behind the cover. 

The above image and the two below are progress shots which were produced by the illustrator. 


This is the second progress illustration which shows a close up of the house from the first illustration. This is similar perspective to the final book cover.


This is a stripped back version of the above illustration. It is missing the character and a lot of the foreground detail. This allows the illustrator and Will Steele to begin to think about the positioning of the title and the layout of the final cover.


The above image shows a different colour palette in order to investigate which colours will work best for the final cover.


In the image above you will see the perspective has somewhat changed and the colour palette has transformed yet again fantastically. The tweaks and changes that have been applied might possibly be due to the partnership of Will Steele and the illustrator playing around with the concept of the image. It works really well for me as it is crisper, clearer and more focused and the colour palette works really well on this. 


This image shows a swirling calligraphic font which was probably disregarded as this was not used in the final selection.


This is the final version of the book cover. I hope that you agree with me that this is a fantastic final production. A lot of thought has obviously gone into the process of such an amazing cover and, in my opinion, it has definitely been worth it. 

If you love the illustrations as much as I do please check out other work by Jessica on her website here: http://jessica-tickle.squarespace.com

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Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - August 2016 - Post One

Michelle Paver - Warrior Bronze (Gods and Warriors Book 5) - Published by Puffin (4 Aug. 2016) 

Michelle Paver's superb Bronze Age epic reaches its dramatic, spine-tingling conclusion.
Hylas and Pirra return to Akea for their final confrontation with their arch-enemies, the Crows. They must recover the dagger of Koronos if they are to end the warriors' brutal rule. Only if old and new friends join forces can they hope to triumph - but the price of victory may be higher than either Hylas or Pirra has dreamed . . .

Nicole Burstein - Wonderboy - Published by Andersen Press (4 Aug. 2016) 

A funny and frank superhero story set in the world of Othergirl
Joseph ‘Wilco’ Wilkes is one of life’s losers – he’s picked on, pushed around, and bullied by the rugby boys at the posh private school he attends on a scholarship. But his life is about to change: Wilco learns he can move things with his mind. Will this be his chance to play the hero, get the girl and finally stand up for himself? Or are things just going to come crashing down around his head? Becoming a proper hero will be quite the leap of faith...

Jo Cotterill (Author) Cathy Brett (Illustrator) - Electrigirl and the Deadly Swarm - Published by OUP Oxford (4 Aug. 2016)
Fully charged and ready for action.
The second title in an explosive new series, with a unique mix of stunning comic book style visuals, and action-packed prose. 
Holly Sparkes was just your average 12-year-old, that was, until a bolt of lightning crashed into her. Now Holly Sparkes is ELECTRIGIRL!  
After honing her superpowers, rescuing her best friend, and defeating the evil Professor Macavity - a holiday is just what Holly needs.  
But there's much more than sun, sea, and sand on offer in the sleepy town of Polcarrow - and when a mysterious and deadly swarm attack there's only one person that can save the day . . . ELECTRIGIRL!  

A new and exciting take on the classic superhero story - told from the original perspective of a 12-year-old girl. Part comic, part text, perfect for fiction and comic book fans alike. This accessible, fast-paced read is truly electrifying!

Louis de Bernières - Blue Dog - Published by Harvill Secker (4 Aug. 2016)
From the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the spellbinding story of a young boy and his dog adventuring through the outback.

When a family tragedy means Mick is sent to the outback to live with his Granpa, it looks as if he has a lonely life ahead of him. The cattle station is a tough place for a child, where nature is brutal and the men must work hard in the heat and dust. However, after a cyclone hits, things change for Mick. Exploring the floodwaters, he finds a lost puppy covered in mud and half-drowned. Mick and his dog immediately become inseparable as they take on the adventures offered by their unusual home, and the business of growing up, together. 

In this charming prequel to the much-loved Red Dog, Louis de Bernières tells the moving story of a young boy and his Granpa, and the charismatic and entertaining dog who so many readers hold close to their hearts.

With illustrations by Alan Baker

Monday, 1 August 2016

Michelle Harrison - The Other Alice - Blog Tour (Five Characters I'd Wish Into Real Life . . . and Five Villains I Wouldn't)


It's a great pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for Michelle Harrison's latest book, The Other Alice. It was recently published by Simon & Schuster on the 28th July. This is a fantastically magical book which is very spooky and absolutely thrilling to read. To find out more please check out my book review HERE.  

This blog tour will stop by some of the best book bloggers, so please check the list above and pop along to each of these. I would like to thank Michelle for this brilliant post about Characters and Villains. I wonder . . . . what would yours be? 

Finally, please check my book give away on twitter @Enchantedbooks which is starting today. All you have to do is RT and Follow. I'm afraid that this competition is open to the UK only. 

Five Characters I'd Wish Into Real Life 
. . . and Five Villains I Wouldn't  By Michelle Harrison 

My latest novel, The Other Alice, is about a writer whose characters come to life if she is unable to finish their stories. I've often wished I could bring some of my own characters into the real world, and I've definitely created a few that I'd never want to meet. Here are my top five in each category, from my own books and those by other authors. 




1. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen 
In the original version this 'poor unfortunate soul' ends up as sea foam after she fails to win the prince's love. If she came to life, I'd use her three days as a human to show her a good time. On day one I'd deck her out with some party feet for her painful tootsies, then take her out for a girly night of cocktails. Day two, we'd recover with a fry up and watch DVDs in our PJs (probably Bridget Jones rather than Splash). Day three we'd go through all my folklore and spell books and find a way to outwit the sea witch. Girl power! 



2. Turpin – One Wish by Michelle Harrison 
Of all the fairies I've created, Turpin is probably my favourite. She's artful, cheeky and a kleptomaniac, but also fiercely loyal and brave. Life would be a lot of fun with her around, provided you don't mind handling stolen goods. 



3. Gobbolino the Witch's Cat – Ursula Moray Williams 
As a child I was enchanted by stories of the little black cat, Gobbolino and his wicked sister, Sootica. Born with one white paw (and so not deemed a 'proper' witch's cat) Gobbolino is cast out by the witch and goes in search of his forever home. As a mad cat lady with a penchant for black cats, there'd always be a place by my fire and a bowl of GoCat for him (and probably Sootica, too) although they'd have to get past my top cat, Pepper, first . . . 




4. Sara Crewe – A little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
One of my all time book heroines. Going from riches to rags she manages to stay positive and enrich the lives of all around her with the power of her imagination and love of stories. Not only that but she'd never interrupt you when you're reading, because it's one of her pet hates. Top girl. 



5. Jon Snow – A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin 
No, really. I wouldn't choose the bad guys like Jaime Lannister, or Mr Willoughby. Or James Bond. Nope, no dashing literary ratbags for me. Honestly. WHAT? 


And now for the baddies . . . 




1. Kevin Katchadourian – We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver 
One seriously messed up little creep who is the perpetrator of a high school massacre. In addition he steals a dead person's glass eye, and wears nappies until the age of six just to make his mother's life difficult. A horribly compelling character in one of the best but most disturbing books I've read. But being a monster isn't the only reason I'd never want Kevin to be real. He knows he's unwanted by his mother, and he's so joyless I'd just never wish a human like him into existence. 

2. Jennet Humfrye – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 
One of the most malevolent and threatening characters I've ever encountered, the ghost of Jennet Humfrye with her wasted face haunts the town of Crythin Gifford. Having pined away after the death of her son, sightings of her result in the inevitable death of a child. The book, stage play and film have each played on my mind when the lights are out. *Shudder* 


3. Asinastra – Poison by Chris Wooding 
If you're not a fan of spiders, you really won't like Asinastra, the Lady of Cobwebs. A pregnant half-woman, half-spider, she peers up through her tangle of hair and speaks to your mind telepathically. I've never hoovered up a spider but I'd make an exception for this one if there was a Dyson big enough. 


4. Cruella de Vil – The Hundred and One Dalmations by Dodie Smith 
'If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will . . .' Not much else to say about this would-be puppy killer except that I'd love to have thought her up myself. If I was ever unlucky enough to meet her I like to think I'd be brave enough to chuck a box of Nice 'n' Easy her way before scarpering. 



5. Annie Wilkes – Misery by Stephen King 
Every writer's nightmare: 'Your number one fan!' A deranged devotee of Stephen King's author Paul Sheldon, Annie is enraged that he killed off her favourite character, Misery Chastain. Not content with imprisoning and torturing him, she forces him to write a new book bringing Misery back from the dead. I can't help but grimace whenever I get an email from someone claiming to be my 'number one fan' . . .