Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - US Post

Patricia Forde - The List - Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1492647966

You are The Wordsmith now. Are you ready for the challenge?
The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth. To make sure humans are able to survive, everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words.
Everyone that is, except Letta. 
As apprentice to the Wordsmith, Letta can read all the words that have ever existed. Forbidden words like freedom, music, and even pineapple tell her about a world she's never known. 
One day her master disappears and the leaders of Ark tell Letta she is the new Wordsmith and must shorten List to fewer and fewer words. Then Letta meets a teenage boy who somehow knows all the words that have been banned. Letta's faced with a dangerous choice: sit idly by and watch language slowly slip away or follow a stranger on a path to freedom . . . or banishment.

Ronald Kidd - Room of Shadows - Published by Albert Whitman & Company (August 1, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0807568057

Ever since his dad left, David Cray has had anger issues. So after he beats up school bully Jake Bragg, his mom grounds him in their creepy new house. Bored, David discovers a secret room with an old-fashioned desk, a chest, and a carving of a raven. Suddenly he's having strange dreams about the room and the house, and violence seems to follow him wherever he goes. Who is the Raven who is taking responsibility for these violent pranks? And why do the pranks resemble Poe's?

Frank L. Cole - The World's Greatest Adventure Machine - Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 8, 2017) 

ISBN-13: 978-0399552823

An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park!
    CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World’s Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it. 
    There’s Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There’s Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika’s wealthy grandfather isn’t too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he’ll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius. 
    The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.
    Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

Joel Ross - Beast & Crown - Published by HarperCollins Children's (August 22, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0062484598

A thrilling new middle-grade fantasy from Texas Bluebonnet award winner Joel Ross, author of The Fog DiverPacked with adventure and humor and filled with goblins, royals, and magic, this is a tale of unlikely heroes who embark on a daring quest.
Boot boy Ji is tired of scrubbing soles and untangling shoelaces. He doesn’t want to bow and scrape. All he wants is freedom—for himself and his friends.
He decides to risk everything for a chance to accompany a young nobleman to the Diadem Rite, a magical ritual that chooses the heir to the Summer Crown. Ji doesn’t care about crowns or ceremonies, but he vows that this trip will grant him and his friends new lives, far away from boots and bowing. What Ji doesn’t know is that he and his friends have a dangerous part to play in the Diadem Rite. One that will change them forever.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Den Patrick - Witchsign - Signs New Three Book Deal In The Ashen Empire Series ( HarperVoyger)

Natasha Bardon, Publishing Director at HarperVoyager has bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to three books including WITCHSIGN by Den Patrick from Julie Crisp Literary Agency. WITCHSIGN will be the first of three books in The Ashen Empire series.

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and magic was ended. Out of the ashes, the Solmindre Empire was born. Since then the tyrannical rulers have worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane from existence. However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as ‘witchsign’. Vigilants of the Synod are sent out across the continent to find and capture all those bearing the mark.

No one knows when they’ll will appear and enforce the Empire’s laws.

But they’re coming. And gods help those who bear the sign of the witch.

Natasha Bardon said: ‘I’m delighted to welcome Den Patrick to the list. Den is a gifted writer and this new trilogy is packed full of the fantastically complicated and deep characters that readers have come to expect from Den’s work.’

Den Patrick is the author of the Erebus Sequence, published in 2014. The first installment, The Boy Who Wept Blood, was longlisted for British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer in 2015. He lives in London with his fiancée and their two cats.

Den Patrick says:  'I am delighted to sign with Harper Voyager and introduce readers to a world of Vinterkveld, with its many dangers, adventures, and surprises.'

Julie Crisp said: 'With all the grit and imagination fantasy readers of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence love, Den's series is a perfect fit for Voyager. We're very excited to be working with Natasha and the team there.'

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview With A.P. Winter - The Boy Who Went Magic

Today, it's great to be interviewing A. P. Winter, debut author of The Boy Who Went Magic, to find out more about him and his writing. This is an amazing magical read that was recently published by Chicken House in June 2017.  I send a very warm welcome to A. P Winter - thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Let's talk about writing! How do you want your readers to react when they read the first and last page of The Boy Who Went Magic?
Really good question. I wanted the opening to tap into the excitement I always felt opening up an adventure story as a kid - that sense that anything might happen - and at the ending. I hope the reader feels they've been on a journey with Bert, with all the bittersweet feelings the end of a good journey brings. 

This is your debut book. What did you learn from writing it? 
It is my debut 9-12 novel. I think the most important thing I learned how useful it is to have a good bad guy. Prince Voss didn't exist in early drafts, but once he came to life, it really made a lot of things fall into place.  

I hear you have a discerning palette for chocolate, does this help you write a good story for children? 
I don't know about palette, but there are some complementary skills. Chocolate tasting relies heavily on a good memory, specifically a good memory for sensory experiences, and I think that does cross over with what you tap into when you're trying to create an evocative world. 

Can you remember an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I remember making a teacher cry with one of the earliest stories I wrote. It was about a ghost porpoise who'd had a sad life. I actually thought this meant I was in trouble until she explained it was a good thing. 

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don't really think about it. All my main characters are an amalgamation of people I know and aspects of myself, so I never consider writing 'a woman' or 'a man' - it's more about figuring out who they are and what they want on a character by character basis. 

What did you edit out of this book?
Honest answer - tonnes of stuff. I take editing pretty seriously, and there was a lot that got cut and changed to become the novel it is now. My saddest omission was the pirate island. There was a whole middle section of the book where they hang out with some pirates and get into scrapes, but unfortunately, everything that happened there always felt like filler instead of an essential part of the story, and the pirates had to go. The last remnant of them is a couple of comments about how flamboyantly the crew dress on the Professor's ship (they were glam pirates). I miss those guys.

Has the city of York inspired any part of this book?
I don't want to spoil too much, but York has about two miles of medieval wall that is part of my regular running route -  descriptions of one of the key locations in the book are based on the feeling of running there when it's foggy, and you feel like you're up in the clouds. I mean, I said I wasn't going to spoil anything, but that doesn't take much detective work to piece together. There's a castle in the clouds. It's ace. That was York. 

I love the cover for The Boy Who Went Magic. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely (it also just occurred to me that the castle in the clouds is on the cover, so I don't know what I was thinking there). I was so grateful for Manual Sumberac's art on that cover. I work part-time in a bookshop, so I know how big a difference it makes to stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to impulse buys - I don't think there's anything like that cover on the shelves. 

You're hosting a literary dinner party, which particular authors/illustrators would you invite and why? 
I tend to avoid writers like the plague in real life (obviously with the exception of the lovely people at Chickenhouse, or anyone else I follow on twitter, or work with, or anyone else I may have offended there), but I guess it would be fun to hang out with Cervantes. I love his Don Quixote, and he did a lot of prison time, so I'm pretty sure he'd be excited about whatever I cooked. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tony Mitton - Potter's Boy - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Tony Mitton is an award winning poet who lives in Cambridge. He has previously delighted children and adults alike with his lyrical and narrative verse which was featured in the brilliant book Wayland. This is a beautifully told tale reinventing the northern legend of Wayland the Blacksmith. It was fantastically decorated with lovely images by the talented John Lawrence and is a must-have book to track down and read.

Potter's Boy is Tony's first ever novel and will be published at the start of November (2017) by David Fickling Books. I'm sorry for the early review, but this is such a fantastic story that I couldn't stop myself from reviewing it. It is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year. I can't help but think that this book is based on Tony's childhood and his upbringing, from living in places like North Africa and Hong Kong. His dad served in the British army and Potter's Boy is heavenly influenced by Buddhism and the arts/traditions of China and Japan; it really makes this story special and a real joy to read. 

The story is a poignant one. It is told from the older perspective of the main character Ryo, now aging in life, who tells the story of his former young self and reflects on the journey that he set out on so many years ago. The story cascades through a picture of tranquility and an idyllic village life in medieval times. As a potter's son, he's destiny to take up his father's noble trade, but this all changes when Ryo witnesses a stranger scare a set of bandits away from the remote village. The mystery man moves so deftly and swiftly that he actually dances his way to tackling the brigands and scaring them away. Ryo is so mesmerized by this display that he wants to train to become a warrior and a hero. 

Leaving the safety of his family, and the sleepy village in the mountains of Chazan, he goes in search of his dreams. This path leads him on a journey to find his own way in the world and a deadly path of self-discovery. Three important encounters change his life forever and make this an epic fantasy filled adventureThe story reflects a way of life and traditions in a deep and rich Asian culture that you will soon become immersed in.

The historical reality has a deeper meaning that the reader will pick up on. It is an exciting and thrilling journey to the heart and soul; a book that will make you think and listen. I really loved the landscape the author has painted, not with brush strokes, but with beautifully artistic words. The narrative is molded like a vase that turns into a vision of a potter's son and the adventure that he took in finding the meaning of life. 

This is a traditional tale that I would really recommend to anyone and everyone to read. It is a very well-written story that flows like poetry and washes over the reader in so many ways. Get this on your reading list. It is published in November 2017 as a beautiful hardback book - you will not be disappointed. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Summer Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) August 2017 - UK Post Two

Mark Powers (Author) Tim Wesson (Illustrator) - Spy Toys: Out of Control! - Published by Bloomsbury Childrens (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408870884

Toy Story meets James Bond in the second book in this incredible action-packed series!
Fresh from the success of their first mission, our heroes the Spy Toys - Dan the Snugaliffic Cuddlestar bear, Arabella the Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll and Flax the custom-made police robot rabbit - are ready for their next task. This time, the secret code that controls every Snaztacular Ultrafun toy has been stolen and all over the world toys are revolting and turning against the children who own them. 
Can Arabella disguise herself as a super-sweet little doll in order to find out more from the daughter of Snaztacular's top scientist? Can Dan and Flax chase down Jade the Jigsaw, the puzzling prime suspect for the robbery? And can they save the day before the mind-controlled toys forget what it means to play nice?
Featuring hilarious illustrations by Tim Wesson throughout, this series is perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart and David Solomons' My Brother is a Superhero.

Lari Don - The Witch's Guide to Magical Combat (Kelpies) - Published by Kelpies (17 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1782503071

Molly's shape-shifting curse is getting stronger and more unpredictable. Becoming a hare she could cope with. At least she could run... fast. But now she's turning into the prey of any predator she hears. Life's pretty dangerous if you become a worm whenever you hear a bird tweet. As Molly and her friends search for a stone that can curb the Promise Keeper's powers, and each one of them must face their own monster, Molly is forced to choose: is she prepared to use dark magic to break her curse? Will she become a witch and enter into magical combat? And if she does, will she lose the friendships she most cares about? In this third and final thrilling installment of the breathtaking Spellchasers trilogy the team faces a blizzard of powerful threats. Can they bring balance to the magical world, defeat the creatures that pursue them and finally break Molly's curse? Or will darkness triumph over friendship?

Maz Evans - Simply the Quest (Who Let the Gods Out?) - Published by Chicken House (3 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1910655511

Elliot Hooper's troubles are far from over: his mum's health worsens, he's struggling at school, and a bunch of anarchic Greek immortals have moved into his home - including teen goddess Virgo, who's in trouble with the Zodiac. What's more, death-daemon Thanatos and his scary mum are at large. As even more immortal allies and enemies emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes ...

Katherine Rundell (Author) Hannah Horn (Illustrator) - The Explorer - Published by Bloomsbury Children's (10 Aug. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1408854877

From his seat in the tiny aeroplane, Fred watches as the mysteries of the Amazon jungle pass by below him. He has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of making history and of reading his name amongst the lists of great discoveries. If only he could land and look about him.
As the plane crashes into the canopy, Fred is suddenly left without a choice. He and the three other children may be alive, but the jungle is a vast, untamed place. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home feels impossibly small.
Except, it seems, someone has been there before them.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Pam Smy - THORNHILL - Published by David Fickling - Book Review by Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines - Mary's through intimate diary entries and Ella's in bold, striking art - Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This will be one of the most impressive and eye catching books that you will see this year. It is set to be published by David Fickling Books in the UK on the 24th August 2017 and published in the US by Roaring Book Press on the 29th August 2017. Graphically, it is comparable to the work of Brian Selznick, but with a unique and dark, ghostly twist which is laced with edgy realism.
 A wonderful book crafted from an exciting voice of narratives.

This is the first book to be both written and illustrated by Pam Smy. It was developed out of an opportunity from her publisher, which resulted in the cultivation of her own ideas into this amazing book. Inspired by a walk around Cambridge in England, where the author/illustrator lives, she stumbled on an unusual abandoned house with a wall around it and a "KEEP OUT" sign. Armed with her sketch pad and brilliant imagination, this became the seed for the story.

On opening the book, the images and the words are outstandingly provocative and beautiful. The black and white illustrations lead the readers into a dark and fantasy parallel wonderland. The first diary entry is from the 8th February 1982 and begins with "I knew it was too good to last. She is back". From this moment we are gripped, as we turn the pages to a centerpiece of blackness with a brooding building providing an indication of the eerie ride that is to come. The magnificent feast of black and white illustrations (about half of the book) pop out at you and tell one part of the story which will plunge you into an atmospheric world of dark secrets, loss, loneliness, friendship and the lasting damage brought on by bullying and neglect.

This is an amazing story with a disturbing twin narrative that will glue you to the pages of two girls separated by 30 years who gravitate to one place, THORNHILL. This is an old institution for children with a hidden past that will leave you entranced and slightly disturbed. This is visually one of the best books you will find for the young (10+) as well as old. It's chilling, gripping and really makes you think.

The fantastic and unusual format will encourage and captivate children whilst the strange, and rather spine chilling story tackles everyday issues. It is beautifully expressive and commands the reader's attention throughout. I was instantly transported to this world. My fantasy mind was floating through a visual landscape that made me want to explore the house and the grounds, it was an absolute delight. The thought process and the amount of work that has gone into this book is incredible. You will look at it on the bookshelves and think WOW. It is definitely a book to cherish and keep.

I would love to see more books like this one being published. Many congratulations to Pam Smy and the David Fickling Team - I truly believe that this is a future classic.