Monday, 29 January 2018

Fiona Shaw - Outwalkers - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Book Review (David Fickling)

The border's closed, Jake said. No one can get into Scotland, just like no one can cross the Channel . . .This is England and it's no longer a free country. The Government can track anyone, anywhere, from a chip implanted at birth. But Jake has escaped from his Academy orphanage, and he's got to get to Scotland with his dog, Jet. When the Outwalkers gang grabs him, they go off-grid while the Government hunts for them. The closer they get to Scotland, the more dangerous it is. Because now, it's not only their own lives that are at stake . . .

Outwalkers, by my local author Fiona Shaw, will walk out into the literary wilderness on the 1st February 2018. This is another fantastic book published by David Fickling and the team featuring a brilliant book jacket illustrated by Levi Pinfold. The story expertly explores a fantasy dystopian world that could become a scary reality in years to come. It is a book which is certainly very topical and on trend at the moment.  

My imagination was captured from the very first page. Jake (main character) finds himself living in an Academy orphanage after his parents die in a tragic car accident. Unfortunately, the orphanage is a home of loss, loneliness and regimental regime. There is no love present and it is certainly not a place for any child. However, Jack dares to break out in the dark of night, in a daring escape to reach Scotland and find his grandparents. The only problem is that the government officials will be able to track his every move and chase him down. It definitely makes a very emotive and thrilling start to the book. 

The more that you read, the more you are sucked into a thrilling futuristic world featuring a manipulative government. In fact, a big wall has been built to segregate England from Scotland. The actions and reactions of the characters really resonated with me. They appear to be written with such delicate ease as you follow the group of children in a fight for survival and freedom. I particularly loved two scenes in the book involving the London underground, which I have a fascination with anyway, and John Lewis, the retailer. I don't want to say any more about these, but I think you'll understand what I mean when you read the book. 

I did have one minor issue with the book and that was the ending. I felt that it went a little too far in content and that it could have ended sooner. I wonder if part of the ending could have been incorporated into another book as too many unanswered questions remained unsolved by the end.

Nevertheless, this happens to be one of the best Young Adult (YA) contemporary books that I've read for some time. There were large elements of the story that took me back to my childhood. The story certainly takes no prisoners instilling a dark and bleak pursuit across a country in crisis, whilst also delivering an explosive amount of high octane action as the characters try to evade capture. 

This is a thrilling, yet chilling, creative ride that will stay with me for some time. It is a heart-stomping story that I felt, loved and survived on so many levels. Thanks again David Fickling and the team for nurturing and publishing this little fantasy gold nugget. Please let there be another book sometime soon.


Friday, 26 January 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks - February 2018 - UK Post One

Padraig Kenny - Tin - Published by Chicken House Ltd (1 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1911077657
Christopher is 'Proper': a real boy with a real soul, orphaned in a fire. He works for an engineer, a maker of the eccentric, loyal and totally individual mechanicals who are Christopher's best friends. But after a devastating accident, a secret is revealed and Christopher's world is changed forever ... What follows is a remarkable adventure, as Christopher discovers who he really is, and what it means to be human.
Juliette Forrest - Twister - Published by Scholastic (1 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1407185118
Twister's father has gone missing and as she's searching for him she stumbles across a witch living in the woods. She is given a magical necklace that holds the souls of living things and can turn the wearer into a wolf, or a rushing river, or a rainstorm. But there's a dark foe on the hunt for this necklace, a baddie who wears a coat crawling with creatures and who might have something to do with her father's sudden disappearance...

Sinéad O’Hart - The Eye of the North - Published by Stripes Publishing (8 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1847159410 (Book Review Here)

Emmeline Widget has never left Widget Manor – and that’s the way she likes it. But when her scientist parents mysteriously disappear, she finds herself being packed off on a ship to France, heading for a safe house in Paris. Onboard she is befriended by an urchin stowaway called Thing. But before she can reach her destination she is kidnapped by the sinister Dr Siegfried Bauer.

Dr Bauer is bound for the ice fields of Greenland to summon a legendary monster from the deep. And he isn’t the only one determined to unleash the creature. The Northwitch has laid claim to the beast, too. 

Can Emmeline and Thing stop their fiendish plans and save the world?

Steven Butler (Author), Steven Lenton (Illustrator) - The Nothing to See Here Hotel - Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK (22 Feb. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1471163838


Welcome to The Nothing to See Here Hotel! A hotel for magical creatures, where weird is normal for Frankie Banister and his parents who run the hotel.

When a goblin messenger arrives at The Nothing to See Here Hotel, announcing the imminent arrival of the goblin prince Grogbah, Frankie and his family rush into action to get ready for their important guest. But it soon becomes obvious that the Banister family are going to have their work cut out with the demanding prince and his never-ending entourage, especially when it turns out the rude little prince is hiding a secret...

The first book in a fabulously funny series by bestselling author Steven Butler, with a host of whacky characters brought to life with illustrations from the wonderful Steven Lenton

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Sarah Todd Taylor (Author),‎ Nicola Kinnear (Illustrator) - Max the Theatre Cat and the Disappearing Diva (Max the Detective Cat) - Book Review (Nosy Crow)

Max, chief mouse-hunter at the Theatre Royal, is up to his whiskers in his first mystery! Max is a pampered cat, used to the finer things in life, until a fun mouse chase goes badly wrong and he finds himself scruffy and alone and hiding out at the Theatre Royal. It's here that Max takes on his first case as a detective cat when he notices that famous singer Madame Emerald is acting strangely. Why is her maid so terrified? And what kind of singer doesn't like to sing in public? Soon Max is trapped in a complicated web of crime, dashing round dancers' legs and over the rooftops of London in a race to catch a clever thief... 

Move over Sherlock Holmes, we have a new super sleuth in town. This book is the first in a new series by Sarah Todd Taylor. It's a lovely illustrated affair produced by the talented illustrator, Nicola Kinnear. Full of lively black and white illustrations throughout the book, it is laden with character and irresistible charm. The book will leap from the rooftops and land in the shops on the 1st of March 2018 and will be published by Nosy Crow.

This a fantastic little story for animal lovers and wannabe actors. It's a great detective story told from the perspective of a pampered, yet lovable, cat called Max. The story will entice younger readers from the age of five upwards into a vivid world of the Theatre Royal in London. The story starts out with Max, the cat, living the life of royalty eating salmon souffle and receiving tummy tickles aplenty, whilst living in the most fashionable townhouse in London. 

Unfortunately, things soon go rapidly wrong for Max. His life changes from souffle to rats in a blink of an eye. Abandoned and left on the streets of London, Max sniffs out an adventure that may involve the purr-fect crime. He paws his way into the Theatre Royal to uncover a fiendish plot that is very imaginative and highly captivating. The crime-busting puss has to solve a mystery to save his new theatrical friends from being tricked and deceived. 

The theatrical scenes in the book are very engaging. In fact, they are inspired by the author's love of the theatre and acting. I loved the ensemble of eccentric characters in this book and Max's newest friend, a street wise cat called Oscar. They relive the events from the rooftops which enables Max to think and work things through. It really is a great family read which captures theatre life, especially that of the backstage. 

This is a lovely and endearing plot that will make you chuckle regardless of age. You will love the craziness and mayhem that ensues and be hooked right until the last page has been turned. It is a brilliant start to a series and a fantastic read, especially for young readers. In my opinion, this can be a really difficult age range in which to find great engaging reads. Especially those that light up young children's fantasy imaginations and keep them reading, so many congratulations for such a great book. I'm really looking forward to the next act and hope the performance will continue to be so enthralling. 

Monday, 22 January 2018

Becka Moor - Children's Book Illustrator - Q&A Interview - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books

Welcome readers.... 
What a wonderful way to start the new year. I have a fantastic interview with children's book illustrator Becka Moor - I have a lot of respect for our unsung hero of the children's illustration world. It's always amazing when an illustrator finds time out of their busy schedule to answer some questions regarding their profession, so thank you very muchly. This is a particularly good post as the questions bring out the personality of the illustrator and give's us a brilliant insight into her typical working week.

If you would like to know more about Becka Moor and see some of her recent work then please check out her website:   or catch up with her on twitter: @BeckaMoor 

How did you become an illustrator? 
I was taking a course in Graphic Design and found myself doodling characters on scraps of paper and in sketchbooks any chance I got. I realised that I wanted to give these characters a story, a setting, a format for them to explore. I wasn’t very good but I was passionate about it and decided to go to University and study ‘Illustration for Children’s Publishing.’ I signed with an agent just before I graduated which was very exciting, and the rest as' they say, is history! 

Do you think an illustrator needs a style? 

It depends on what sort of illustration career you want, I think. If you want to have an impact on the market in your own way then your style is your biggest asset. Better to have one style that is unique and that you’ve honed and nurtured and are known for, especially if you’re an illustrator working in publishing. It’s a very tough industry to get into with a lot of competition, so you want to stand out. But it’s each to their own!

What is your favourite medium to draw/paint with? 

I work purely digitally on a Wacom Cintiq which helps to bridge that gap between traditional and digital artwork. I try to retain a sense of traditional media as much as possible by using textured brushes and am working on adapting my style to reflect that even more as I go. I do still love sitting with my coloured pencils and doodling in a sketchbook, though. 

Describe your typical working week? 

I’m an early riser so I get up around 6.30-7am, go for a walk, attempt to make myself look presentable, have breakfast, hop in my car and drive to work. I decided in late 2016 that I’d had enough of working from home on my own so now rent a desk in a co-working office full of other creatives. Once I get to work, I undertake the most important task of the day which is to make a brew. 

I aim to be sat at my desk by 9am at the latest, switch on my computer, check emails, have a natter and then get stuck into work. I typically spend a couple of hours on one project and then maybe switch to something else to break things up. I take lunch at 12ish depending on how busy I am. I sometimes go for another walk just to clear away the cobwebs and escape my desk for half an hour. We have a little ‘break out’ area in the corner of the office where we hangout and eat. 

I usually sit there looking at my own homemade lunch whilst yearning after somebody else’s who bought something tasty from the shop. The afternoon is spent cracking on with more work until I get to the point where I need a break/change of scenery. Sometimes I just need a time out and to carry on again once I get home where I can mutter to myself and pace without judgement. I try my best to keep ‘office hours’ but inspiration comes and goes as it pleases. Rinse and repeat Monday to Friday. 

Could you tell us a bit about any of your upcoming projects? 

Of course! I have just finished a picture book called ‘Sir Boris and the Tall Tales Princess’ written by Marc Starbuck and publishing with Egmont very soon. It’s all about a brave knight and a badly-behaved princess who causes a lot of mayhem and mischief that our poor hero has to deal with! 

I am currently working on a handful of fiction projects, the last in the ‘Violet’ series which is very bitter-sweet, also the last in the ‘Goodly and Grave’ series and getting ready to start the fourth ‘St Grizzles’ book. I’ve also just started work on a new picture book and have a non-fiction brief popping into my inbox any day, so I’m fairly busy! 

What helps you be more creative? 

Reading as much as possible, going for a walk, working with other creative folk, listening to loud music, looking at how other people create. Being curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and a sketchbook. Having re-runs of cheesy tv series on in the background. Watching cartoons. 

What kind of illustration projects are you most interested in? 

Anything that I can relate to and feel passionate about. I really love detail and researching different time periods, so I always get a little flutter when something comes up where I get the chance to do that. If I don’t like it and don’t feel I can do it justice, I will pass on it. I’m more known for my fiction work and that is my comfort zone, however, it’s always a lot of fun when a picture book brief hits the desk as I see it as both a challenge and as an opportunity to think differently which can be exciting.

What would you consider to be a good design or illustration? Could you give us an example? 

This is such a tough question! There are so many examples of great design out there, but I thought I’d stick to what I know – book covers. I love, love, love this cover for ‘Wildwood’ written by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis. The balance is perfect. The typography is gorgeous. The details are just stunning. I can’t say enough great things about it. I remember seeing it on a shelf when it first published and I took it straight to the till and bought it. I didn’t know what it was about at that point, but the cover and the design sold it to me. 

What is a favourite piece of work that you have produced? 

This is mega boring but I don’t have a favourite. I feel like my style is currently going through a transitional period as I’m growing as a person and as an artist and realising the direction that I’d like to head next. Plus, I’ve never been able to make a direct decision in my life. Why start now? ;) 

Who are your favourite illustrators and why? 

Sara Fanelli. She’s quirky, bold, fun and has been a huge inspiration to me. Chris Riddell is a firm favourite. I first read one of his books (Muddle Earth) when I was a child and decided then that I wanted to do what he did. I just didn’t know it was a possibility! Shane Prigmore. His character designs are amazing. The late, great Jill Barklem has been a huge inspiration as well. Her attention to detail is outstanding and many hours have been spent getting lost in her beautiful illustrations.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Katy Birchall - Secrets of a Teenage Heiress - Book Review (Egmont Publishing)

Flick's family have owned The Royale – one of London's most prestigious hotels – for generations. But Flick isn't that interested. She is interested in the newest guest – superstar celebrity Skylar Chase, and Sky's mega-famous group of friends, including dreamy YouTube star, Ethan Duke. But just as Flick gets the chance to join their glittering squad, she gets grounded following an unfortunate incident involving a prince, a wardrobe and a selfie stick (it could have happened to anyone!). With only her Instagram star pet dachshund, Fritz, for company, will Flick find a way to escape The Royale and join the fame game?

This is a book that puts me as a reader/reviewer out of my comfort READING zone. However, this year is all about me pushing my reading boundaries and trying anything that has been sent to me. Last year I would have taken one look at this book, read the synopsis and then thought that this sounded like it was not for me. However, on this occasion, I would have been very wrong. Secrets of a Teenage Heiress was recently published by Egmont Publishing on the 11th January 2018. The authors recent 'The it Girl' series has found the heart of teenage readers and their funny bone to great acclaim.  

Get your selfie sticks ready and come and read this book. As soon as you turn the pages you will fly into the world of Flick and Fritz (the dog). Flick's life involves living in the world famous hotel 'The Royale'. The reason I loved it so much is that the narrative instantly transported me into the book. Plus, the main characters actually felt like real people. The descriptive backdrop felt like The Ritz in London, which was possibly one of the inspirations for this book. 

This book takes a look at the celebrity side of life with Sklar Chase. It shows that being famous does not stop you from being human and having normal feelings. The book also covers and focuses on teenage girls who look up to famous people and want to emulate them. Looking good, having millions of Instagram followers and the need for media attention is a huge topic at the moment. This book cuts through to reality and shows the high stakes involved. In the end, the story highlights that family and true friendship are actually more important than anything else. 

I really loved reading about the hotel and the inner workings of it. It really made you want to walk around and investigate the rooms and hotel-life, just like the characters in the book. It made you feel slightly dreamy which was rather cool. 

This is definitely a book that teenagers will relate to. It explores a vivid world of glamour that people will love to read about. It's funny in some parts and yet quite moving in others. There is a great cast of characters, all of which are easy to read. The story has a happy, feel-good ending which makes you want to read the next book in the series. For those of you interested, the next book is called Dramas of a Teenage Heiress and will be out at the end of this year. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Dan Smith - Below Zero - The Big Idea - UK Blog Tour (Chicken House Books)

It's a pleasure to be the fourth stop on the Dan Smith Below Zero blog tour. He will be visiting some great bloggers along the way, so make sure you check them all out. The blog tour list is in the top right-hand corner of the blog. 

Dan Smith's Below Zero was published by Chicken House books on the 4th of January 2018. I have also recently reviewed the book, please check that out here if you fancy doing so. 

All stories need a good idea to start the process of writing a book. When the book is finished that idea might not be the same path you thought the story might take. This is Dan's guest post how the idea for Below Zero was formed and involves food and Barry Cunningham. Enjoy people. Bon appétit!

Some time ago, I was having dinner with my publisher and he mentioned that he’d been reading about the Mars One project. I hadn’t heard of it until then, but he told me just enough to spark my interest. ‘Could be a story in there somewhere,’ he said. Or, that’s how I remember it anyway. And when Barry Cunningham says there might be a story in it, it’s a good idea to take note!

So, Mars One is all about sending people to live on Mars. People from all over the world have applied to be in with the chance of travelling in groups of four on a one-way mission to colonise the red planet. It would take about a year to get there, and the plan is that they will never return to earth.

I’ll let you think about that for a moment. They will NEVER. Return to Earth. 

Sounds completely crazy-bonkers, but Mars One claims that over 200,000 people have applied. That’s 200,000 people who want to leave earth and never come back. 

Yep, there had to be a story in there somewhere. People leaving families behind, maybe? Someone running from something and getting as far away from it as possible? Survival in space? It needed investigation. 

It turned out that these crazy-bonkers people would train in Antarctica, where conditions are the closest we have living on Mars. It’s tough there. Harsh. Isolated. Cold. Temperatures can drop as low as -90C, which is cold enough to freeze fuel and prevent planes from flying. At the coldest time of year, there’s no getting in or out, and most research bases are evacuated. There are abnormal day and night cycles, extremely dry air (did you know that Antarctica is our planet’s largest desert?) low oxygen levels, limited supplies, no variation in the environment, and parts of Antarctica are in continuous darkness for months on end. 

Scary. Maybe even scarier than going into space? 

Then I read about a 200km crack in the ice - ice that can be as thick as 4km in places - and I started wondering what might be down there. Waiting for us. And how long has it been there? Millions of years? Billions? So I began writing. I put my characters - Zak Reeves, his sister May, and his mum and dad - in a small plane, in the middle of the worst storm to hit Antarctica in years. When they finally reach Outpost Zero in one piece – a base where 32 people are training for a mission to live on Mars – they find it empty. Everybody has disappeared. The electricity is out, the communications are gone, and they face the prospect of being stuck there for six months in the cold darkness. As they search for the missing 32 people, strange things begin to happen with the machinery in the base; some of it seems to have a life of its own. And Zak begins to get visions, as if something out there, below the ice, is trying to contact him, trying to get inside his head. Something OLD. Something that has been waiting 
. . . 

BELOW ZERO by Dan Smith out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House). Find out more at and connect with Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor

About Dan Smith

Growing up, Dan Smith lived three lives: the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil, and in a world of his own, making up stories.
Dan's Chicken House novels include My Friend the EnemyMy Brother's Secret and Big Game, the latter of which is now a major movie starring Samuel L. Jackson. His fourth novel for Chicken House, Boy X, published in 2016, and his newest novel Below Zero is publishing January 2018.

Dan lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) January 2018 - US Post Two

Michael Dante DiMartino - Warrior Genius (Rebel Geniuses) - Published by Roaring Brook Press (January 2, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1626723375

In Warrior Genius, author Michael Dante DiMartino delivers rich settings, memorable characters, and edge-of-your-seat action, just as he did in his hit animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fans will be thrilled with this new adventure!
For years, Supreme Creator Nerezza has used fear and violence to rule her empire, seeking to eradicate anyone with a Genius. Then, twelve-year-old Giacomo emerged from hiding and joined a young generation of fellow artists paired with Geniuses. Together, they began a rebellion against her.
Now, Giacomo has something Nerezza desperately wants―the Compass, one of three powerful objects known as the Sacred Tools. Possessing all three would allow Nerezza to spread her tyranny worldwide.
After a near-fatal showdown, Giacomo and his friends escape to the empire of Rachana, a society long feared for its mighty warriors and their horse-Geniuses. But a dark and ancient force threatens the horse-Geniuses with extinction, and Giacomo discovers he is the only one who can stop it.
With the help of his Genius and great friends, Giacomo struggles to keep the Sacred Tools from falling into the wrong hands and find a way to protect the Rachanan people―before Nerezza finds him.

MarcyKate Connolly - Shadow Weaver - Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (January 2, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1492649953

Fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and The Night Gardener will devour Shadow Weaver, the first in a dark middle-grade fantasy duology that's filled with shadows, danger, magic, and has the feel of a new classic. 
Emmeline's gift of controlling shadows has isolated her from the rest of the world, but she's grown to be content, hidden away in her mansion with Dar, her own shadow, as her only company. 
Disaster strikes when a noble family visits their home and offers to take Emmeline away and cure her of magic. Desperate not to lose her shadows, she turns to Dar who proposes a deal: Dar will change the noble's mind, if Emmeline will help her become flesh as she once was. Emmeline agrees but the next morning the man in charge is in a coma and all that the witness saw was a long shadow with no one nearby to cast it. Scared to face punishment, Emmeline and Dar run away. 
With the noble's guards on her trail, Emmeline's only hope of clearing her name is to escape capture and perform the ritual that will set Dar free. But Emmeline's not sure she can trust Dar anymore, and it's hard to keep secrets from someone who can never leave your side.

Frank L. Cole - The Eternity Elixir (Potion Masters)  - Published by Shadow Mountain (January 2, 2018) -  ISBN-13: 978-1629723587

Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy's mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making.

Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.

One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as ''The Eternity Elixir.'' In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It's up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.
Abby Rosser - Believe - Published by WordCrafts Press (January 3, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0999647530

Always travel SE.
Never touch the ground.
And above all,
Do Not Forget!

Dooley Creed was a nobody in Boston. He’s even more of a nobody now that his family has moved to Peacock Valley, Minnesota.

Dooley Creed is no genius. Dooley Creed is no hero. There is absolutely nothing special about Dooley Creed. At least, that’s what Dooley Creed believes.

Then he meets his next-door neighbors, the Mulligans – the weirdest family in Peacock Valley - and embarks on the strangest adventure of all time. Hybrid creatures, ancient curses, Vikings and Valkyries? It’s up to Dooley Creed to save the day!

But first Dooley must learn to...Believe.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Philip Caveney - The Slithers - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review (Fledgling Press)

After the death of his mother and the end of his father s high-powered career, Zach and his Dad have come to the north of Scotland to live rent-free in Grandfather Alistair s cliff-top cottage. Dad asks Zach to clean out the old garden pond, a rotting nightmare where not even a tadpole can survive. But when he drains the pond, he unearths something unexpected a trapdoor leading down into darkness... He ventures down there and discovers something amazing a glowing egg-shaped stone. Once brought back to the surface, Zach s run of bad luck seems to change entirely. Suddenly, he can't seem to stop winning and even Dad s career is unexpectedly back on track. But good luck can't last forever... The stone belongs to a race of ancient creatures that dwell deep beneath the ground - and they want it back. Pretty soon, unspeakable things begin to claw their way to the surface in search of the stone and for Zach and his new friend, Pepper, there's one all-important question. Can they stay alive until morning?

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books will be ten years young this year. When I started blogging many years ago, Philip Caveney was the standout author for me in 2008. I absolutely loved all of his books, especially the Sebastian Darke series which particularly made me laugh. Every book since, I have absolutely loved and enjoyed with equal measure. So Danny Weston, watch your self. 

On a recent trip to Edinburgh, I tracked down a copy of his recent book "The Slithers" which is published by an independent Edinburgh publisher called Fledgling Press. This is the sixth, fully-fledged book, by this publisher excluding e-books. It certainly has one of the most memorable book covers which has been fantastically illustrated by Kylie Tesdale. The big red glowing eye helps you find it very easily on the bookshelves which is just what you want in a world full of books.

Beyond the book cover, you'll find a fantastic story waiting to be unleashed by the reader. The story starts with Zach and his Dad's background history. It's a sad one, but for some people in this world, it might be a shared reality. The connection between the main characters, Zach and Pepper, is brilliantly written - it really helps to explain both of the characters past. The further you dip into the fantasy sweety jar the more the story unwraps itself. The chocolate coating soon dissolves into a genuine scary nightmare for both the characters and readers alike. 

Everyone should be able to relate to one or more of the characters in this book. There will be a character in this book with similar traits to yourself that you will be able to relate to, regardless of age. The fantastic mix of personalities brings out conflicting interests between the characters which will keep readers hooked. These include the feelings and inner personal workings of Grandad Alistair or Jerry, Beefy or even the funny misfortunes of Cheryl.

Set in Scotland, the landscape is a big feature of the story. It is bleak and desolate which heightens the Gothic horror element of the story really well. Philip uses his surroundings, local tradition, Norse mythology, and a big dollop of reality to carve out his stories. It leaves little ripples of fantasy magic inside your fantasy brain. This book becomes a horror montage, at times, but it also provided an element of pleasure to read. It has a pacey plotline, no-nonsense character dialogue and just the right amount of ingredients to eat with your haggis on a Sunday afternoon.

This has to be one of my favourite books by Philip Caveney. If I had read it last year, then it would have slithered into my top ten reads of the year. I loved every page of this book. It was very atmospheric, which gave it a great classical B movie feel. I loved the depiction of Scottish coastal village-life with a strange past and a great mind-blowing secret. I also loved the scenes that centered around the arcade and, subsequently, Tazer (the arcade owner), who has a delightful and very engaging end. This is a brilliant book, an effortless read and one that I would urgently recommend that you track down.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Anna Day - The Fandom - UK Blog Tour 2018 (Book Extract + Book Covers) Chicken House Books

(Chicken House - UK Book Cover)

Hello Everybody! Welcome to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books and the Anna Day with The Fandom UK blog tour. To celebrate the publication of this book, which was published by Chicken House Books (4th Jan, 2018), Anna Day is taking us on an internet travelling experience. We accompany here through the week visiting some fantastic bloggers and websites. This should really give you a comprehensive insight into this brilliant book and the author. Please check out all the #jointhefandom stops, which are shown in the right-hand corner of my blog, to join this amazing journey. 

This is a brilliant Young Adult (YA) read. To find out more then read my book review Here. My post, as part of this tour, is to share an extract of the book, so there is a little taster for you to sample at the bottom of this post. 

I thought I would also add a little bit of fun and some interaction to this post by sharing some of the book cover examples from around the world. I have installed a poll so that you can vote for your personal favourite in the top right-hand corner of the blog.

German Book Cover 
It's fantastic to see the different translations from around the world for the same book. All four book covers are so different that you might actually think you were looking at a different book.

Italian Book Cover - I think that this is my least favourite book cover. It doesn't engage me as a male reader, even though it's a fantastic book which will appeal to and engage all readers. That's my opinion anyway. 

This is the US Book Cover which is very eye-catching. I love the butterfly. 

Which one do you like?  If YOU fancy voting at the top of the blog then why not do so. It's very easy - you just need one click. I am very interested to hear your thoughts and to see which cover you vote for. 

Here is the book extract for you to read. A little taster to the Start of The Fandom.

Portugal Book Cover - New one for today!

About Anna Day
Anna grew up and still lives in the North East of England. She was raised by a guitar-obsessed father and a mother with amazing cooking skills, and she still loves all things music and food related. She studied Psychology at university and worked for several years as an Assistant Psychologist. She then gained a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2009 and has since worked as a Clinical Psychologist with people with disabilities. She has always loved creative writing; even as a little girl she would staple pieces of paper together and write stories for her parents to read. However, she only started writing seriously a few years ago and was noticed by the Chicken House team when she was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition in 2015. Her greatest love is her children -- a little girl and a little boy, who provide her with constant entertainment and inspiration. You can find her on twitter: @annadayauthor 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) January 2018 - US Post One

Paul Durham - The Last Gargoyle - Published by Crown Books for Young Readers (9 Jan. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1524700201

Fans of Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener and Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book will tremble with delight for this haunting tale about a lonely gargoyle who isn't alone at all.
Penhallow is the last of his kind. The stone gargoyle--he'd prefer you call him a grotesque--fearlessly protects his Boston building from the spirits who haunt the night. But even he is outmatched when Hetty, his newest ward, nearly falls victim to the Boneless King, the ruler of the underworld.

Then there's Viola, the mysterious girl who keeps turning up at the most unlikely times. In a world where nightmares come to life, Viola could be just the ally Penhallow needs. But can he trust her when every shadow hides another secret? Can he afford not to?

Kate Davies - The Crims - Published by HarperCollins (25 Jan. 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-0062494092

The Addams Family meets Despicable Me in the first book of this new trilogy, perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch!

The Crim family is full of notorious criminals. Notoriously inept, that is. Uncle Knuckles once tried to steal a carnival. Great-Uncle Bernard held himself hostage by accident. Aunt Drusilla died slipping on a banana peel. But Imogen is different. She was born with a skill for scandal. A knack for the nefarious. A mastery of misdemeanors.
Despite her natural talent for all things unlawful, Imogen got out of the family business years ago. But when the rest of the Crims are accused of pulling off a major heist—which seems doubtful, to say the least—Imogen is forced to step in to clear their names. Because only a truly skilled criminal can prove the bumbling family’s innocence….

Ben Guterson (Author) Chloe Bristol (Illustrator) -  Winterhouse - Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (January 2, 2018) - 

  • ISBN-13: 978-1250123886
Orphan Elizabeth Somers’s malevolent aunt and uncle ship her off to the ominous Winterhouse Hotel, owned by the peculiar Norbridge Falls. Upon arrival, Elizabeth quickly discovers that Winterhouse has many charms―most notably its massive library. It’s not long before she locates a magical book of puzzles that will unlock a mystery involving Norbridge and his sinister family. But the deeper she delves into the hotel’s secrets, the more Elizabeth starts to realize that she is somehow connected to Winterhouse. As fate would have it, Elizabeth is the only person who can break the hotel’s curse and solve the mystery. But will it be at the cost of losing the people she has come to car for, and even Winterhouse itself? 
Mystery, adventure, and beautiful writing combine in this exciting debut richly set in a hotel full of secrets.

Melissa Albert - The Hazel Wood: A Novel - Published by Flatiron Books (January 30, 2018) - ISBN-13: 978-1250147905

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Dan Smith - Below Zero - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books - Book Review (Chicken House)

When Zak's plane crash-lands on Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base in one of the most isolated places on Earth, he discovers a cold, dark nightmare. The power's out and the people who live there have disappeared. Worse, as he searches for answers, bizarre visions suggest a link to something else - deep beneath the ice - which only he can understand. 

Published by Chicken House, 4 January 2018, Paperback, £6.99, Ages 10 +

Why do we read for pleasure? The main reason for me is to escape into another world that is so far removed from my own. The Best books and the books I love do that for me - they stop time and transport the readers into the story and beyond. Dan Smith, for me, is an author who does just that in so many ways. He makes ME into an armchair adventurer and a fantasy warrior. In this story, he brings the outdoor Antarctic to Life and creates an imaginative and believable setting that will make you want to read every page from the start to the end.     

You will plough through the white wilderness with an eerie pace that will leave you on the seat of your thermal pants. This is a seasonal adventure full of horrors, mayhem and, madness. One moment you are running from creepy mechanical spiders (tick-tack, tick-tack) as they scuttle across Outpost Zero. The next moment you uncover events that challenge the characters' perspectives Which make you think about our existence on Earth. This will deliver a creative and thought-provoking punch that drives an unexpected narrative that will leave you exploring and thinking in equal measure. 

This is a clever, imaginative story that twists the perspective of the characters as they uncover trapped creatures deep underneath the arctic ice. The mystery unfurls in a vortex of bugs and insects that will leave the reader filled with dread and wonder. The book explores artificial intelligence in a world of technology and the possibilities of what a future might look like in years to come. There is also a Zombie element to this book without giving too much away, which I really loved. 

This book has everything you would Expect from Dan Smith. EXCITEMENT - it is a high octane thriller that will leave you exhilarated and satisfied. It is a book that boys and girls will love for different reasons. Nevertheless, everyone will be able to Relate to the characters and the ending. So put on some warm clothes, grab a hot drink and turn the pages if you dare. This is a distinctive read that will have you chilled to the fantasy core. JOIN US, JOIN US....

About the Author

Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say he still lives most of the time.

Now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two children, Dan writes books to share with both adults and children.