Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Book Cover Wars is back again for the fourth year and is looking for another worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another exciting year or are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zone. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome.

For any follower of this site, then this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week (for the next 4 weeks) I am going to select four book covers for you to vote for. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2012/13'.

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week, we have an amazing collectable book which is a signed, lined and dated hardback copy of the new Joseph Delaney (Book Eleven) Spook's: Slither's Tale. This is a great read and a fantastic book for you to win.

If you are interested then all you need to do is:

  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll (see top of the page)
  • Leave a comment through this post
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open Worldwide.
So here are the four book covers to vote for this week:

Book One - Andrew Smith - Passenger - Published by Feiwel & Friends - October 2, 2012 Cover By Gary Spector/Rich Deas


Book Two - Will Hill - Department 19: Battle Lines - Published by Harper Collins -  March 28, 2012 Cover By Bose. Collins. London


Book Three - Roy Gill - The Daemon Parallel  - Published By Kelpies - April 1, 2012  Cover By  Paul Alexander Mudie

The Daemon Parallel - © Paul Mudie

Book Four - Che Golden - The Unicorn Hunter (The Feral Child) - Published By Quercus - January 31, 2013 - Cover  By James Fraser

book cover of 

The Unicorn Hunter 

 (Feral Child, book 2)


Che Golden
Happy voting and let the best "Book Cover" Win.  Don't forget to leave a comment to win the signed, lined and dated Joseph Delaney book. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Book Review: Daniela Sacerdoti - Really Weird Removals.com - Published By Floris Books (Kelpies)

book cover of 

Really Weird Removals.Com 


Daniela Sacerdoti
Whatever your supernatural dilemma, call the Really Weird Removals company!

If you don't live in Scotland or anywhere near then there is a good chance that you may not have found or discovered this book yet. However, never fear, as I'm going to point you in the right direction once I've told you how good it is! This novel is a product of the annual Kelpies Prize and was shortlisted back in 2011. Some time on, it's now finally being published for all of us good beasties to read.

This is a great family read, both for the grown ups who want to be transported back to their childhood, or for the child having it read aloud on a dark winter's evening. It could even work as a book to share with a class - many children could be engaged and involved in this story.

The book is narrated by a brother and sister (Luca and Valtentina) who really do present themselves as real children rather than characters. When Uncle Alistair turns up out of the blue, the children soon find themselves on an adventure of a life time. Uncle Alistair has a strange line of business (pest control) but he doesn't really get rid of rats or other pests. Instead, the 'Really Weird Removals Company' catches supernatural creatures, and features a fantastic array of memorable creatures such as the Zeuglodon, stone fairies, Selkies and a singing troll! It's a full scale assault of the paranormal in a world full of danger and secrets.

The story is told amazing well - it will have your imagination stretched to the very fullest. Each chapter of the book has an entry from the Paranormal Database which leads very skillfully into the next section. The story is both funny and poignant. It is brimming with the full flavour of a  Scottish adventure. It has a host of likeable characters, all of whom are set in a fantastical back drop of Eilean, an Island off the West Coast of Scotland.

My favourite part of the story was when the children were attacked by malicious kelpies and hungry vampires. This made for great reading especially under-the-blankets reading when it's well past bedtime!

Family life and folklore all collide into one memorable story. I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed both aspects very much. The fast paced story and character driven plot will have you wanting much much more.  

Published by Floris Books of Edinburgh. Check out the brilliant book trailer.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mr Ripley's: Horror Book Reads - For A Great Halloween

Robert Westall - The Scarecrows - Published by Bodley Head Children's - March , 1981
There were three people, standing in the darkest place, watching him.
Simon is outraged that his Mum plans to remarry. He can't bear her new fiancé or the way his mother and sister seem to have forgotten his late father. Overwhelmed by hatred and anger he seeks solace in a nearby abandoned water mill. But another, powerful hatred lingers within its walls. And it is about to be unleashed...

Westall's immense talent is evident from the opening line - Simon's anger and unhappiness are tangible, and the Scarecrows' ill-intentions terrifying.

Clive Barker - The Thief Of Always - Published by HarperCollins 5,Nov 1992
Mr Hood’s Holiday House has stood for a thousand years, welcoming countless children into its embrace. It is a place of miracles, a blissful round of treats and seasons, where every childish whim may be satisfied.
There is a price to be paid, of course, but young Harvey Swick, bored with his life and beguiled by Mr Hood’s wonders, does not stop to discover the consequences. It is only when the House shows its darker face – when Harvey discovers the pitiful creatures that dwell in its shadow – that he comes to doubt Mr Hood’s philanthropy.
The house and its mysterious architect are not about to release their captive without a battle, however. Mr Hood has ambitions for his new guest, for Harvey’s soul burns brighter than any soul he has encountered for a thousand years…
“A dashingly produced fantasy with powerful drawings by the author”

R.l. Stine - The Sitter - Published by Ballantine Books - 31 July, 2003
Ellie Saks is dying to escape the city. She’s sick of dead-end jobs, her mother’s disapproval, her loser ex-boyfriend, Clay, who won’t take a hint, and the memories of a terrible incident that occurred years ago. When her best friend suggests a summer in the Hamptons, full of glitzy parties, cool cocktails, and hot dates, Ellie’s on the first Jitney out. To fund all this glamour, Ellie takes a job as a nanny.
From the outside, the family’s beachfront home is perfect. But then Ellie meets four-year-old Brandon, who hasn’t spoken for months. The boy’s icy stare and demonic laughter make clear to Ellie that he is troubled, haunted by something too horrible for words. She begins to receive threatening messages and disturbing gifts. But it’s not until she barely escapes a harrowing experience that she realizes her life may depend on figuring out who’s behind it: Clay? Brandon? And why? And every once in a while, in a crowd, she sees a face she hasn’t seen in seven years—the face of a boy who died long ago. It would seem that Ellie’s summer of fun has turned into a summer of horror—one she’ll never forget . . . if she survives it at all.

book cover of 

Lord Loss 

 (Demonata, book 1)


Darren Shan

Darren Shan - Lord Loss (Book one of the Demonata) - Published by HarperCollins - 6 June , 2005
“The door feels red hot, as though a fire is burning behind it. I press an ear to the wood – but there's no crackle. No smoke. Just deep, heavy breathing… and a curious dripping sound. My hand's on the door knob. Inside the room, somebody giggles – low, throaty, sadistic. There's a ripping sound, followed by snaps and crunches.
My hand turns. The door opens. Hell is revealed.”
When Grubbs Grady first encounters Lord Loss and his evil minions, he learns three things:

Charlie Higson - The Enemy - Published by Puffin 3 Sep , 2009
They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?


Marcus Sedgwick - White Crow - Published by Orion Children's 7 April, 2011
It's summer. Rebecca is an unwilling visitor to Winterfold - taken from the buzz of London and her friends and what she thinks is the start of a promising romance. Ferelith already lives in Winterfold - it's a place that doesn't like to let you go, and she knows it inside out - the beach, the crumbling cliff paths, the village streets, the woods, the deserted churches and ruined graveyards, year by year being swallowed by the sea. Against her better judgement, Rebecca and Ferelith become friends, and during that long, hot, claustrophobic summer they discover more about each other and about Winterfold than either of them really want to, uncovering frightening secrets that would be best left long forgotten. Interwoven with Rebecca and Ferelith's stories is that of the seventeenth century Rector and Dr Barrieux, master of Winterfold Hall, whose bizarre and bloody experiments into the after-life might make angels weep, and the devil crow.

book cover of 

Mister Creecher 


Chris Priestley
Chris Priestley - Mister Creecher - Published by Bloomsbury - 2 Oct, 2011
Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mister Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target . . . Victor Frankenstein.

Darren Shan - Zom-B - Published By Simon & Schuster - 27 Sep 2012
Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, "It's a big, sprawling, vicious tale...a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!"

Sunday, 21 October 2012

S.A. Bodeen - The Raft - Book Review

book cover of 

The Raft 


S A Bodeen

After reading S.A. Bodeen's initial two books (The Compound and The Gardner), both of which I enjoyed immensely, I felt that it was time to read her third. As a result, I ordered this on the strength of thinking that this book would probably end up going in the same direction as the other books. Therefore I  never looked at the synopsis, but I did get an idea from the book cover and the title of what I may encounter. However it soon arrived and I got quickly around to reading it but with quite some surprise!

This is the synopsis that I never read.

Robie is an experienced traveler. She’s taken the flight from Honolulu to the Midway Atoll, a group of Pacific islands where her parents live, many times. When she has to get to Midway in a hurry after a visit with her aunt in Hawaii, she gets on the next cargo flight at the last minute. She knows the pilot, but on this flight, there’s a new co-pilot named Max. All systems are go until a storm hits during the flight. The only passenger, Robie doesn’t panic until the engine suddenly cuts out and Max shouts at her to put on a life jacket. They are over miles of Pacific Ocean. She sees Max struggle with a raft.

And then . . . she’s in the water. Fighting for her life. Max pulls her onto the raft, and that’s when the real terror begins. They have no water. Their only food is a bag of Skittles. There are sharks. There is an island. But there’s no sign of help on the way.

I can definitely state that if I had read the synopsis first then I would never have entertained reading this book. After all, where are the guns, blood, action and the secret underground base full of spies? I hear you asking me as to whether I have taken leave of my senses but . . . . I really did enjoy it.  I know that as a result of this admission, I may find that a few of my followers may disappear. However don't leave ME . . .  I probably need you more than ever now!

The first thing that I really noticed in this story was the lack of characters. The main character is Robie and the story is told from her point of view. I'm sure that this would be particularly engaging and meaningful from a female teenage reader's perspective, as I feel they'll be able to perhaps relate to the character on so many more levels than I did.

I did follow the journey, from the beginning to the end, knowing that it was going to be predictable. However that's the only negative  thing that I can say about this book. This was a very gripping read which was told in a very fast and engaging way. It managed to pull off the realism of the situation; being able to portray the right mind set of a person who unfortunately found themselves in such circumstances. It felt like the story was written by a survivor.

The book was eaten up in no time at all - about three hours in total to travel through the 220 pages or so.  

Whilst this is a great little read, I'm still looking forward to more books along the lines and style of The Gardener!

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends; 1 edition (21 Aug 2012) - Age: 12+

Friday, 19 October 2012

UNDER MY HAT edited by Jonathan Strahen - (Tips for writing short stories post) From Hot Key Books.

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron
Publishing date: 4 October 2012 - Hot Key Books - Something for Halloween perhaps?

25% Spider Silk, 25% Eye of Newt, 25% SnakeVenom,25% BlackMoss

Eighteen spellbinding tales from top fantasy authors, brewed together for the witching hour
A stellar cast of acclaimed fantasy writers weave spellbinding tales that bring the world of witches to life. Boasting over 70 awards between them, including a Newbery Medal, five Hugo Awards and a Carnegie Medal, the authors delve into the realms of magic to explore all things witchy...
From familiars that talk, to covens that offer dark secrets to explore, these are tales to tickle the hair on the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine.

Be truly spooked by these stunning stories by Diana Peterfreund, Frances Hardinge, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Patricia A. McKillip, Tim Pratt, M. Rickert, Isobelle Carmody, Jane Yolen, Jim Butcher, Peter S. Beagle and Margo Lanagan.

By Jonathan Strahen

Five Writing Tips, or How to Write a Great Short Story by Someone Who Never Has.

So you want to write a short story? A great one? When I was first asked to provide a list of tips on how to write a terrific short story I drew a blank. I’ve not written a short story since high school, so I’m no expert. I’ve not even thought about writing a short story. But then I realised that, like you, I read. I read a lot. And what I mostly read is short fiction. So, it’s possible I might have picked up an idea or two.

  • Write
This might seem obvious, but no one has ever finished a short story without sitting down and actually writing.  I have a folder full of stops and starts on a handful of short stories and novels, but none of them are finished. So, do that. Write. Write every day and finish what you start. 

  • Re-write
I know you think you’re finished when you write “The End” at the end of your newly minted short story. You probably are. But it’s possible, just possible, that there’s still a little bit of work left to do. Put it in a drawer for a week, and come back to it fresh. Suddenly you’ll see, if you’re at all like me when I write anything, all sorts of problems with it. You might also let a trusted reader see it. Get their feedback, try to listen to it with an open mind, and be willing to re-write.

  • Read
The only way to learn how to write a great short story is to read great short stories. Read them a lot and think about them. Try to work out how they work and why. Pick a writer whose work you love and see how their stories work. If you love witch stories, try the work of Roald Dahl or Diana Wynne Jones, and see if you can unpick their stories. They knew what they were doing.  

  • Keep it short
We are talking about writing short stories after all, so keep it short. You probably only want a single plot line (the story) and a single point of view character (the person whose eyes we’re seeing the story though). Longer stories, novellas and short novels, can sometimes have subplots and more than one point of view character, but basically you only need one.

  • Make your story work
I don’t mean make it great. Of course you’re going to do that. What I mean is make your words count. Everything you write in a short story should do more than one thing. Setting builds character, voice advances plot, and so on. Look very carefully at each scene in your story. You won’t have many of them – this is short after all – so make sure each scene does more than one thing. Each scene should build setting, develop character and move the story forward.  Avoid scenes that only do one thing. You want to avoid your story being dull (which it was never going to be, but you know what I mean) and making sure your scenes are doing the heavy lifting helps.

If you’ve already written a great short story you probably know all of this stuff, and possibly far more. If you’re just starting out, though, it might help. And if you are starting out keep going. You’ll probably write some stinkers. You’ll possibly write some stories that are almost exactly like stories written by people whose work you love. That’s fine. That’s what you should be doing. You have to write through that so you can get to the stories that only you can tell, the ones that are definitely going to be great. And when you do, send them to me. I love great short stories.  – Jonathan Strahan

Thanks for Hot Key books for sending this over.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Kate Cann - Witch Crag - Book Review

book cover of 

Witch Crag 


Kate Cann
Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic (4 Oct 2012)
  • Age: 12+
  • ISBN-10: 140710702X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407107028

In a world where 'elite' men rule and women and 'weak' men are second class, Kita and her friends must make a choice: to remain with tribes and accept arranged marriages and being treated with less value than sheep, or escape and journey to the place that even the strongest men fear with their lives - the witch crag.

The first thing that you'll notice about this book is that it is very easy to read which I actually really enjoyed. The writing is not particularly over the top which, I think, really helps to navigate the story with ease. The Dystopian setting has been written very well - it felt fresh and original which kept me reading right up to the very last page.

The story revolves around four tribes: the sheepmen, the horsemen, the farmers and the witches. All who live a basic life of survival within their own communities. 

Kita, the leading character of the book, finds herself seeking a better life after being treated with less value than a sheep. She embarks on a journey that will change the four tribes forever. However, the tribes must somehow overcome their prejudices and join together, especially after facing the evil threat from the people from the city. 

I found the city to be a particularly interesting part of the story. It was really sinister and yet still enchanting. I would have liked to have read more as it set my imagination on fire. Nevertheless I was soon quickly drawn to the characters of the city - Geegaw and The Manager. They might have only played a small part in the story, but I feel that one of them will certainly have a greater part to play in further adventures. I feel that there will be more to come but I'm really not sure what the author's intentions are.  

The book brings about some timely interventions - mild violence/adult themes that help the adventure to flow with ease and bring it to life. I felt that I was able to engage with all of the characters. The friendships and the romantic theme that the author built in may have been slightly predictable in my opinion, but I can live with that.

The ending built into a climax although it was, at times, rather vague. Nevertheless it was still very gripping to read. The final battle scene was graphically very well written and concluded the story admirably.

This is an enjoyable read from an author that I've not heard of or read before. I will certainly look out for more of her books or maybe the next part to this book . . . . if  there is going to be one. One to pick up and have a go.........

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Mr Ripley's Enchanted New Book/Choice Picks: November 2012

J . Barton Mitchell - Midnight City (Conquered Earth) - Published by St Martin's Griffin - 13 Nov, 2012
Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone - a powerful, telekinetic super-signal broadcast across the planet, which has reduced them to a state of complete subservience. But the tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach twenty-one or twenty-two years old. This means that there is one group left to fight. Teens. Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, a treasure seeker who has escaped from Midnight City after being sentenced to death. It's not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn't something for which Holt bargained. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after he captures Mira. Venturing inside the ship, despite the tied-up Mira's objections, Holt finds a young girl who can't remember anything except her name: Zoey. The three soon begin an adventure through alien-conquered North America, encountering young freedom fighters, powerful artefacts of strange science that seem like magic, pirates and brigands, and frightening mutated creatures of the night, all while trying to stay one step ahead of the Assembly. Zoey, in the meantime, starts to exhibit amazing powers while Holt and Mira begin to realize that this young girl just may be the key to stopping the alien invaders.
                                        book cover of 

Behind the Bookcase 


Mark Steensland
Mark Steensland - Behind The Book Case - Published by Random House     International - 20 Nov 2012
A girl stumbles into a fantastic world in this tale perfect for fans of Coraline, Alice in Wonderland, and The Twilight Zone.
Spending the summer at her grandmother's house is the last thing Sarah wants to do—especially now that Grandma Winnie has died—but she has no choice. Her parents have to fix the place up before they can sell it, and Sarah and her brother, Billy, have to help. But the tedious work turns into a thrilling mystery when Sarah discovers an unfinished letter her grandmother wrote: Strange things are happening behind the bookcase. . . . 

Sarah's mother dismisses the letter as one of Grandma Winnie's crazy stories, but Sarah does some investigating and makes a remarkable discovery: behind the bookcase is a doorway into Scotopia, the land where shadows come from. With a talking cat named Balthazat as her guide, Sarah begins an unforgettable adventure into a world filled with countless dangers. Who can she trust? And can she face her fears, not only in Scotopia, but also back at Grandma Winnie's house, where more secrets and strange goings-on await her?

                                          book cover of 

Crow Boy 


Philip Caveney

Philip Caveney - Crow Boy - Published by Fledgling Press - 8 Nov 1012
Young Tom Afflick has never felt so alone. His parents have split up and his mother has relocated him, hundreds of miles away from his home in Manchester to the unfamiliar city of Edinburgh. At his new school, Tom is simply known as 'The Manc' - a blow-in, an outsider. On a routine school trip to the historic site of Mary King's Close, Tom follows the ghostly figure of a young girl - only to find himself transported back in time to 1645, the year of the Edinburgh plague. Apprenticed against his will to a violent plague doctor, Tom needs to use all of his modern-day skills in order to survive, while he desperately searches for a way back to his own time. This children's historical novel is a departure for Philip Caveney - acclaimed author of the Sebastian Darke thrillers for children and the Alec Devlin mysteries - and is sure to be a hit with them.
                                        book cover of 


 (Elemental, book 1)


Antony John

Antony John - Elemental - Published By Dial Book - 21 Nov 2012
In the near future, most of the population of the United States has been destroyed by the plague. The few remaining survivors live in colonies on the barrier islands off the East Coast. In one colony near Cape Hatteras, almost all the members have elemental powers and can control wind, water, earth, and fire. All but sixteen-year-old Thomas. When the Guardians, the powerful adult leaders, are kidnapped by pirates seeking to take over their colony, it is up to Thomas and a small group of teens to save them and preserve the mysteries of the island.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Press Release: HarperCollins Launch New David Walliams Website


HarperCollins are pleased to announce a brand new, fabulous website for the current NUMBER ONE children’s bestselling author, David Walliams!

We have created the World of Walliams around a street scene which includes Raj’s shop, as Raj is a consistent character through the books. As you’ll see, we have a game per book that David has written, and if you sign in, once you have played all the games you will have a complete ‘Raj’s loyalty card’ and you win a virtual whoopee cushion which you can play as many times as you like! You can see a video of David introducing his new website here.

The site holds plenty of information about David and his books, reports on past and future events, all the latest news and plenty of space for more content to come, including a Q&A facility. You can also sign up to a newsletter to get the latest Walliams information direct to your inbox.

David Walliams is this week’s bestselling children’s author for the second week in a row, taking the number one spot with his hilarious and revolting new book Ratburger. The book was launched with a premiere event at Cadogan Hall two weeks ago, a film of which can be viewed here.

To celebrate the new website we’d like to offer you the chance to win one of our brilliant Ratburger goody bags, containing a t shirt, sweeties, stickers, bookmarks and badge. To win, simply get playing the games on the website! Be sure that you sign up with a username resembling your own name or blog name so we can recognise you – whoever makes it onto the leader board when we check on Friday 12th October will win a goody bag. So get yourself down to Raj’s shop and have a play! Be warned, you’ll be addicted in no time...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Mr Ripley's Book Choice: Gobbolino, The Witch's Cat,70th Anniversary - Ursula Moray Williams illustrated by Catherine Rayner

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books (11 Oct 2012)
The 70th anniversary edition of this classic and timeless tale
No one could mistake Gobbolino for a simple kitchen cat, with his sparky whiskers and magic tricks, but that’s just what the witch’s kitten wants to be. Instead of learning how to turn mice into toads for the witch’s brew, Gobbolino sets out on an adventure to find a family and a home of his own.

Reissued for its 70th anniversary with illustrations by the award-winning Catherine Rayner, this classic tale has been loved by generations of children.