Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Middle-Grade Book Picks March 2017 - US Published Post One

Raymond Arroyo - Will Wilder #2: The Lost Staff of Wonders - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (March 7, 2017)

Twelve-year-old Will Wilder is back to protect the town of Perilous Falls from another ancient evil—the fearsome demon, Amon.
When the storied Staff of Moses—responsible for summoning the plagues of ancient Egypt—vanishes from the museum in Perilous Falls, Will Wilder is suspect number one. Desperate to prove his innocence and stop the thief from unleashing terrors upon the town of Perilous Falls, Will must use his supernatural gift to locate the beast—but it’s nowhere to be found.
As the river runs with blood, sharp-toothed frogs surround his home, and clouds of swarming gnats choke the streets, Will must rely on his supernatural ability, everything he learned from his training, and help from his friends, siblings, and Great-Aunt Lucille to find the missing staff and unmask the hidden evil before time runs out for all of them. 

Scott Westerfeld - Horizon (Horizon, Book 1) - Published by Scholastic, (March 28, 2017) 

This harrowing tale of supernatural suspense kicks off a new series from the visionary mind of #1 New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld.

When a plane crash-lands in the arctic, eight young survivors step from the wreckage expecting to see nothing but ice and snow. Instead they find themselves lost in a strange jungle with no way to get home and little hope of rescue.

Food is running out. Water is scarce. And the jungle is full of threats unlike anything the survivors have ever seen before -- from razor-beaked shredder birds to carnivorous vines and much, much worse.

With danger at every turn, these eight kids must learn to work together to survive. But cliques and rivalries threaten to tear them apart. And not everyone will make it out of the jungle alive.

BONUS! In the Horizon multi platform experience, you're not just reading about the castaways, you're one of them. Join the race for survival in the FREE game, available on your browser and as an app.

Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller - Shadow Run - Published by Delacorte Press (March 21, 2017)

Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew. 

Tania Del Rio (Author) Will Staehle (Illustrator) - Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel - Published by Quirk Books (March 21, 2017)

Warren the 13th is back in another lushly illustrated middle grade adventure.
In the spirit of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, this fast-paced and beautifully-designed sequel to Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is packed with nonstop action, adventure, and mystery for middle-grade readers. Twelve-year-old Warren has learned that his belove

d hotel can walk, and now it’s ferrying guests around the countryside, transporting tourists to strange and foreign destinations. But when an unexpected detour brings everyone into the dark and sinister Malwoods, Warren finds himself separated from his hotel and his friends—and racing after them on foot through a forest teeming with witches, snakes, talking trees, and mind-boggling riddles, all accompanied by stunning illustrations and gorgeous design from Will Staehle on every page.

Friday, 17 March 2017

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

Janine Beacham - Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 (Rose Raventhorpe Investigates) - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (9 Mar. 2017)

The Clockwork Sparrow meets Downton Abbey
When Rose Raventhorpe's beloved butler is found (gasp!) murdered in the hallway of her own house, she's determined to uncover the culprit. Especially since he's the third butler to die in a week! 
Rose's investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city's ancient feline guardians. 
Knives aren't just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know . . .

Guy Bass (Author) Lee Robinson (Illustrator) Goldenclaw (Spynosaur) - Published by Stripes Publishing (9 Mar. 2017)

From a land before time comes a hero for today … Spynosaur - he’s going to make crime extinct! 

A hilarious new series from award-winning author Guy Bass, perfect for fans of My Brother is a SuperheroThe Astounding Broccoli BoyDarkmouth and Hamish and the Worldstoppers

When Spynosaur locks up the last of the world’s worst criminal masterminds, all that’s left are a string of disappointingly undemanding novelty villains. With no one worthy of his super-spy skills, Amber’s worried that Spynosaur might give up spying altogether. Even Goldentoe, their last hope of a dastardly villain, admits to only pretending to be evil to win the heart of Shady Lady. Frantic that her dad has lost the will to spy, Amber convinces Goldentoe to make himself a more desirably dangerous suitor. With the help of the Science Ray and a sample of Spynosaur’s DNA, Goldentoe transforms himself into Goldenclaw, a formidable half-man, half dinosaur far more powerful than Spynosaur, and intent on a spot of world-ending asteroid flinging...

Christopher Edge - The Jamie Drake Equation - Published by Nosy Crow Ltd (2 Mar. 2017) - Book Cover by Matt Saunders  - Check out my book review HERE AND Worldday Guest post HERE

How amazing would it be to have a dad who's an astronaut? Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake's dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it's cool but he just really misses him...Hanging out at his local observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad's mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he's a hero too? A cosmic adventure for anyone who's ever looked at the stars, from the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. Cover illustration by Matt Saunders.

Justine Windsor - Goodly and Grave in A Bad Case of Kidnap - Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (9 Mar. 2017)

An archly funny, classic mystery adventure with a magic twist!
Lucy Goodly is the new boot girl at Grave Hall, working for the cold, aloof Lord Grave. The other staff – Vonk the Butler, Mrs Crawley the cook and Violet the scullery maid – all seem friendly but Lucy soon notices that strange things are afoot in her new home – and not just Mrs Crawley’s experimental anchovy omelettes. There are moving statues, magical books and Lord Grave has a secret. Meanwhile, all over the country, children are vanishing. Could the mystery of the missing children be linked to the strange goings-on? Lucy is determined to find out…

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Abi Elphinstone - The Night Spinner (Dreamsnatcher 3) - Book Review

In a ruined monastery in the northern wilderness, a Shadowmask called Wormhook sits in front of a spinning wheel. He is spinning a quilt of darkness known as the Veil. A masked figure then carries the Veil across the lands, slipping it through the windows of children’s bedrooms to poison their minds...

Meanwhile deep within Tanglefern Forest, Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, are waiting for a sign from the Old Magic before they continue their quest to find the last Amulet of Truth and free their world from the Shadowmasks’ terrible magic.
Still missing fellow Tribe member, Alfie, and armed only with a mysterious set of clues, Moll sets out on an adventure across the northern wilderness with Gryff and her friend Siddy at her side. They must brave the Lost Isles, scale the Barbed Peaks and face witches, goblins and giants who lurk at every turn . . . while the Shadowmasks draw ever closer.
Can Moll, Siddy and Gryff find the friend they think they have lost? And do the Tribe have what it takes to defeat the Dark magic once and for all?

We started out this little adventure back in book one, "The Dreamsnatcher", where we fell in love with the charming and endearing characters instantly. We followed them on a course of action and adventure; through a babbling brook of time towards a path of dark magic which ended in a cascading waterfall of evil mayhem and destruction. In book two, "The Shadow Keeper", we experienced an amazing flight of fantasy and imagination. We soared and dipped amongst the dizzy heights before finally ending up in an all-out action finale full of twists, turns and heart-stopping moments.

The path we undertook in this enduring story continues into the very last book with a breath of fresh Scottish air. As soon as you turn the first page, you will be instantly transported back to Tanglefern Forest, the safe place called home. Moll and her wildcat, Gryff, will need to set out once again in an all-out race against time in an epic battle to defeat the perils of dark magic. 

Instantly, you will travel the narrative to the rugged wind-swept landscape of Scotland, which was inspired by Abi's visits as a young child. You will smell the peaty bogs, shake your hands with the veil of evil and meet extraordinary characters like Frank (the ferret) who will make you laugh at every given opportunity. 

However, beware as the light might not be enduring for long as the swirling darkness consumes you in a brooding storm. It will eat your soul up in a piano chord of witches tinkling full of malice whilst shaking the cobwebs of your mind. You will journey upon a Kraken that will awake from slumber by an evil presence and the mountain gods who will roar and shake the senses in this non-stop action flight of fantasy. All of this is told with the great skill of a storyteller. It is very descriptive, deliciously imaginative and borne out of a combination of childhood dreams and sparkling fizz. 

You will be introduced to more supporting characters in this book. Some are particularly well written such as Bruce. With his mixed up dialogue and quirky mannerisms, you will be drawn to his great character and personality. However, some of the other characters are a bit vague in description, but perhaps this is due to the shortness of page count and story life. 

This is a fantastic but sad conclusion to a brilliant trilogy. Every page is a joy and a pleasure to read. Expect some thrills, spills, and sadness along the way, so get ready to hold your breath and experience the final episode of this fantastic series unfold. I am looking forward to new journeys and adventures ahead from this great author.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

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

Danny Wallace (Author) Jamie Littler (Illustrator) - Hamish and the GravityBurp (Hamish 3) - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (9 Mar. 2017)

Another hilarious adventure from bestselling author Danny Wallace, perfect for fans of David Walliams, Roald Dahl, David Baddiel and David Solomons! 

This may look like just a completely and utterly ordinary book. But it’s not. This book knows something terrifying: that the people of Earth face their gravest, grimmest threat yet!
When Hamish arrives home to find his mum and his brother lying flat on their backs ON THE CEILING, he knows there’s something seriously wrong (again) in the town of Starkley. What is the strange burping noise he keeps hearing? Why are weird seeds suddenly falling from the sky? And should he be worried about the odd woman with a cone around her neck?
All Hamish and his gang the PDF can be sure of is that an adventure is coming. And that means two things:

  1. You have to be prepared
  2. You have to prepare a sandwich

Jack Cheng - See You in the Cosmos - Published by Puffin (2 Mar. 2017) (See book review here)


All eleven-year old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other lifeforms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like.
But for a boy with a long-dead dad, a troubled mum, and a mostly-not-around brother, Alex struggles with the big questions. 
Where do I come from? Who's out there? And, above all, How can I be brave?
Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down . . .
For fans of Wonder and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Jack Cheng's debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.

Ali Sparkes - Thunderstruck - Published by OUP Oxford (2 Mar. 2017) 

What if your new best friend was a ghost?  
Getting struck by lightning whilst huddling under a tree isn't exactly the way Alisha and Theo would have chosen to get out of sports day . . .  
Surviving the strike makes them see life differently. It also makes them notice Doug and Lizzie. Struck by lightning under that same tree on the common in 1975, the two teenagers have been hanging out there ever since. 
Doug and Lizzie are funny, clever, brave - and quite happy about making friends with a pair of ten-year-olds. OK, fair point, they are dead, and Doug's trousers are worryingly flared. But you can't have everything. 
But something sinister is going on at school - although only Theo and Alisha seem to be able to see it. What can it mean when ragged faceless entities keep staring in through the windows? Not all ghosts are friendly like Doug and Lizzie . . . but are these phantoms really the harbingers of doom for all the kids at Beechwood Junior? 

Robin Jarvis - The Devil's Paintbox (The Witching Legacy) - Published by Egmont (9 Mar. 2017)

Legend of supernatural fantasy Robin Jarvis is back with his spellbinding sequel to The Power of Dark. 
Lil and Verne may think they have quelled the Dark forces that tried to destroy Whitby, but they have no idea that the powers they’ve been meddling with are about to turn on them. Despite Lil’s crucial role in saving her home from destruction, she notices that the townsfolk have become wary of her – even fear her. More than ever she needs the support of best friend Verne and the witch Cherry Cerise, but they are preoccupied by their attempts to uncover more secrets of the golden Nimius.
When Lil finds an antique box of watercolour paints she welcomes the diversion, little realising that every time she uses it something nasty escapes. But it is while they are distracted an old enemy finds a path to their door . . .

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Guest Post by Oliver Thiermann - What Changes Await Self-Published Authors in 2017?

What Changes Await Self-Published Authors in 2017? 

It seems like everyone has a story to tell these days, doesn’t it? It’s great for the art, don't get me wrong, but with all the crazy competition out there, getting published has become a literal nightmare. With the traditional route of securing a book deal almost out of the question, self-publishing has become a great option. This tends to be especially true, for new and upcoming authors. Also, the whole self-publishing process is getting easier and easier, with the passing of each year. We are at the point now where there is so much help out there, that it’s become almost counterproductive not to give self-publishing a try. 

Just look at the success some indie sci-fi and fantasy authors have had in recent years. Andy Weir's “The Martian” hit it out of the park with his movie adaptation. Recently, Ridley Scott also bought the rights to the self-published sci-fi novel, Wool, by Hugh C. Howey. And how could I miss Amanda Hocking, who made millions from her self-published fantasy series? Trust me there are a lot of stories like these. I guess the point I’m trying to make, is that self-publishing can end up being a great option for indie authors. 

Some will say the picture might not as pretty as the one I’ve painted for you however. According to Nielsen, e-book sales dropped by almost 16% last year. Also, over the last two years, we’ve seen some big players in the self-publishing arena such as Oyster, close their doors. 

And yet, there’s some good news. Many established self-publishing trends continued their rise. The line between traditional and self-publishing keeps getting thinner and thinner. Last year saw tremendous growth in the numbers of 'hybrid' authors who explored both sides. Not only that, but many writers who took publishing deals returned to self-publishing. Hybrid authors tend to earn the most money as well. According to a survey by Digital Book world, the median income of a hybrid author was between $7,500 to $9,999. (£6,200 to £8.200). This was better than both traditional or indie authors. Hence, the notion that traditional publishing is only way to make significant sales, continues to lose ground. 

                                        Predictions for 2017 

There were a lot of new things that happened in the self-publishing industry during the last year, however the formula for success seems to have remained mostly unchanged. One strategy that continues to effective, is the pre-order strategy. Although most authors fail to take advantage of this, it continues to be effective. 

Another trend that is predicted to be robust, is the popularity of targeted subgenres. Average ebook prices are also expected to hold steady with many of the top self-published titles costing between 2.50 – 5.00. Additionally, quite a few authors, especially in the fantasy genre, continue build their respective audiences by giving out the first book in a series for free.

Most people these days also read on their phones or tablets, where short pieces tend to work better. Data from Wattpad confirmed this trend. They found that almost 90% of their users engaged with the site, via their mobile phones. 

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited will also probably continue to expand in the coming year. It’s value to authors however is questionable, and many bestselling titles will continue not to enroll in the program. 

One very big change that could prove to be a boon for self-published authors is Amazon’s decision to move into the traditional brick and mortar space. The effect that this will have on the self-publishing space however, has yet to be seen. Many of Amazon’s brick and mortar stores have yet to integrate any kind indie presence in their catalog of physical titles (excluding of course big name authors who have gone the hybrid route). That being said, these stores could become a godsend for indie authors, if Amazon ever does decide to dedicate shelf space to self-published writers. Amazon opened its first store in Seattle, in November of 2015 and many stores are expected to follow.

Getting exposure will continue to be a big challenge for indie authors. 

Let’s face it, while the self-publishing business is full of opportunity, it is also becoming a very crowded space. As a result, exposure, and audience development are going to be the some of the biggest challenges to confront new and emerging authors. Now more than ever, authors will have to start connecting with their readership early on. In addition to this, authors will also need to continue to go out of their way to engage with their readers. Expect to see polls, forums and newsletters, become key elements in the modern author's arsenal. But keep in mind with these challenges, come new opportunities. Polls and forums can just as easily be used to validate key story ideas and book cover decisions. Also by giving their audience the opportunity to shape or influence a story arc, authors can drive up reader loyalty, and keep their audience engaged during the writing process. 

One thing’s for sure, while self-publishing is filled with its fair share of pitfalls, it also comes with its rewards. It’s because of those rewards, that many experts believe the industry is going to grow in the coming years. Some of the effects of this growth can already be seen. Every day, self-published indie authors continue to win over skeptics, and the legitimacy of self-publishing will continue to be recognized by more readers as time goes on.

Thank you for a great post, this is a very interesting and inciteful read. Oliver Thiermann is the founder and CEO at theArcShapeR. Team leader by day and content creator by night, he always keeps an eye out for innovative ways to bring readers and writers together. Ollie is also an epic nerd, who hungers for all things Fantasy and Sci-Fi related.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Robert J. Harris - Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club (Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries) - Book Review

One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. While sneaking out to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard by night, Artie and his best friend Ham spot a ghostly lady in grey and discover the footprints of a gigantic hound. Could the two mysteries be connected? These strange clues lead them to a series of robberies carried out the sinister Gravediggers' Club and soon they find themselves pitted against the villainous Colonel Braxton Dash. Will Artie survive his encounters with graveyards and ghosts in the foggy streets of nineteenth century Edinburgh -- or will his first case be his last?

Robert J. Harris, author of the brilliant The World Goes Loki series, has now exploded onto the middle-grade fantasy scene with another new series entitled Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries. The first book in the series is "The Gravediggers' Club" which was published by Floris books on the 16th February 2017. As soon as you turn the page, you find yourself instantly transported back to 19th century Edinburgh, where it is swirling with fog, danger and a slight hint of bagpipes playing in the background. 

Welcome Artie Conan Doyle onto the stage with his friend and sidekick in tow, Ham.You will love Ham's laid back character and the way he deals with the danger and on-going adventure. He would rather be somewhere else where it is warm, safe and allows him to eat cakes, rather than a spooky graveyard late at night with a howling beast or a spooky apparition scaring him witless! As you'll be able to tell, he is very reluctant to engage in the mystery that suddenly smacks them in the face. 

The adventure follows Artie's suspicions around the young trainee doctor lodging at their house who is up to no good. It's a very easy-going story to follow with a mystery to solve. It is full of action and brings together an eclectic cast of characters to give it some Scottish charm. It reflects the time and period very well through the reality of sickness/poverty and the hardships family faced at that period in time. The setting and backdrop are very well written. They enable you to recognise aspects of the city as well as get a brilliant feel for the story. 

The villain of the story, Colonel Braxton Dash, has a great name but he did not quite live up to his reputation. In my opinion, he needed more dark deeds to heighten the tension and develop his character. A little extra side story would have turned this into a dark macabre story and made the reader sit up a little more and take notice. 

This is a very enjoyable detective story consisting of some brilliant dialogue. It has a fantastic ending which makes a good impression for the rest of the series.  

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Christopher Edge: Guest Post - Top 3 Inspirations Behind The Jamie Drake Equation - #WorldBookDay Post

Happy World Book Day everybody. Today will also see the publication of Christopher Edge's latest novel The Jamie Drake Equation. It will spread its wings and fly off, courtesy of Nosy Crow, and can be found in all good book shops today. I recently read and reviewed this book and really loved it, so see what I had to say about this book in my review HERE. Anyway, I would like to welcome Christopher to Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books blog to talk about the inspiration behind his book. 

No book tumbles from the mind of its author without a spark of inspiration to send it on its way. Here are the top 3 inspirations behind my new book, The Jamie Drake Equation. 


The Jamie Drake Equation is about a ten-year-old boy called Jamie whose dad is an astronaut on the International Space Station getting ready to launch humanity’s first interstellar mission in search of alien life. Perhaps the most-famous fictional alien ever created is Steven Spielberg’s E.T. I remember my older brother taking me to watch this movie at our local cinema and craning my neck from our front-row seats as this spellbinding film of first contact unfolded on the screen. But more than being just a film about aliens, E.T. is a story about friendship, family and the impact of his parents’ divorce on Elliot. And in The Jamie Drake Equation, Jamie’s encounter with a strange message from the stars is the start of his realisation that his family life isn’t as perfect as he thought.


Last year I had the honour of hearing the Canadian astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield, speak at the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. He spoke about his childhood dreams, of humanity’s greatest achievements, the wonders of the universe and the power of inspiration. “It begins with the spark of an idea,” he said, “It begins with literature.” Powerful words for any author to hear!

I saw for myself the inspiration that space exploration can spark when my son and daughter both rushed home from primary school, buzzing with excitement after taking part in the Cosmic Classroom live link with Commander Tim Peake onboard the International Space Station. And as we sat together to watch the ISS soar through the night sky, the story of The Jamie Drake Equation started to take shape in my mind. 

David Bowie 

I first heard David Bowie’s music on a mixtape that a friend made for me when I was seventeen, ‘Life on Mars’ nestling between Syd Barrett and the Smiths. And from the moment the piano intro played and Bowie started singing of the girl with the mousy hair, I was entranced. Working as a Saturday boy in Our Price Music, I quickly schooled myself in David Bowie’s back catalogue: Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Low, Let’s Dance... until the record-buying public of Bolton rose up in protest and demanded I started playing Right Said Fred instead. 

From Space Oddity to Blackstar, David Bowie’s music has always been written in the stars, his lyrics slipping free from Earth’s gravity to explore science fiction themes, loving the alien and giving a voice to the alienated. David Bowie died while I was writing The Jamie Drake Equation, but in my mind his music was the soundtrack for key scenes in the story. I talked about the book soundtrack I created for The Jamie Drake Equation with Chris Hawkins on BBC 6 Music and you can listen to the interview Here. And if you’d like to see which scenes Bowie’s songs soundtracked, you can listen to the chapter-by-chapter soundtrack Here. 

So these are a few of the inspirations behind The Jamie Drake Equation: aliens, astronauts and a singer made of stardust.

Synopsis: How amazing would it be to have a dad who's an astronaut? Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero! Jamie Drake's dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station and Jamie ought to think it's cool but he just really misses him...Hanging out at his local observatory, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad's mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he's a hero too? A cosmic adventure for anyone who's ever looked at the stars, from the author of The Many Worlds of Albie Bright. Cover illustration by Matt Saunders.