Sunday, 28 April 2013

Will Hill - Animated Department 19 Comic Strips by Tom Percival

The first and second instalment so far for the animated Department 19 comic strips which has just been released recently - written by Will Hill, everything else has been brilliantly done by Tom Percival. Includes weapons, vehicles, the inside of the Loop, and remarkably high levels of awesome... Hope enjoy them, as they are super cool....

Friday, 26 April 2013

Mr Ripley's One to Watch: Aesop's Secret By Claudia White - May 2013

At the age of ten, Melinda Hutton enjoys a dreamy world where she imagines transforming into animals. Her brother, serious minded, twelve-year old Felix scoffs when their mother, Elaine, explains that to transform is normal for Athenites. She explains that their ancestry is often disguised in stories and fables, but it isn’t until their father Jake demonstrates this talent that they begin to understand that their ancestry is anything but mythical…
 Felix looked horrified as he stared at the wolf in his father’s clothing. While Melinda had greeted her father’s transformation with delight, Felix had turned a ghostly white and his mouth hung open as he gasped for breath. He looked like he might faint, throw up or both. Instead, he stood up,
moved backwards then ran out of the room and out of the house.
Understanding their heritage is only one of the challenges that Melinda and Felix must contend as they discover that treachery and greed impact their family’s lives. Melinda uses the skills of her ancestors (with strange and less than perfect results) to uncover Professor Horace Stumpworthy’s frightening plans…
Melinda panted under the heavy fabric of her bed clothes. She was dizzy after the quickest transformation of her life, leaving her feeling the way she might have having plummeted down in an elevator after the cable snapped. Her heart was racing as the floor vibrated while the professor walked closer. An involuntary shiver rippled along the length of her rabbit-shaped body and a single droplet of sweat trickled down her tiny freckled human face. She knew that if he turned on the lights he would see the pile of clothing and it would take only a second or two to discover her underneath.
Professor Stumpworthy’s brilliance in using his Athenite skills has made him a rich and powerful man. He had exploited humans, as well as his own kind, with ease until the Huttons got in the way…
Feeling the professor go limp, Melinda released her grip and leapt free while Felix leaned closer to the professor’s prone body. “There you go Professor…Burungo, the strongest sedative known to modern science.” But the professor didn’t stay quiet for long. His body writhed and shrank; white hairs exploded out of his skin, covering his entire body. Felix pushed backwards as the professor melted into a furry mass. Seconds later all that was left of him was a small white animal now occupying the space where he had fallen. It was only then that Felix noticed Joe kneeling alongside. Joe smiled as he held up a tiny syringe. “So it really does work,” he said in amazement. “Let that be a lesson to all of us to stay as far away from Wolfbane as we possibly can.”
 Publisher: MP Publishing (14 May 2013)

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Book Review: Rick Yancey - The 5th Wave - Published by Puffin - May 2013


The 1st Wave: a power cut and the world is in complete darkness
The 2nd Wave: a tidal wave wipes out three billion people and only the lucky escape 
The 3rd Wave: a deadly virus clears a further four billion - only the unlucky survive 
The 4th Wave: the few remaining survivors begin killing each other. Only one rule applies: trust no one
The 5th Wave: No one knows. But it is coming......

With the hype mounting and the movie rights already sold, will this book deliver a Hollywood blockbuster? Riding on the success of 'The Hunger Games' and 'I Am Number Four' this genre is really hot at the moment and this book is definitely seeking a slice of the action. Rick Yancey's terrifying dystopian vision is a great story. It is one that I feel people will love and say great things about. Even though I actually had a couple of issues with the book, but I will say more about this soon.

The start of the book felt a little bit slow going to me, although I was still able to really enjoy what I was reading. The story has all of the key ingredients that I love to read about. A dystopian setting and a terrifying alien invasion with a sting in its tale. All of this is set in a well-written and well imagined sci-fi setting which has a bleak outlook and an even bleaker future. It's scary, it's violent and it's psychologically gripping - this story is brilliant. It is full of originality and full of big time heroics as the characters fight for survival - the underlying theme in this story is what it means to be human. 

However, at this point, the plot then came crashing down for me. The middle part of the story just stopped and I found myself wading deeper and deeper into the character emotions and feelings of Cassie. These ran strongly between trust and despair, defiance and surrender and between life and death etc. It was far too deep for me and became rather annoying. It felt as if the story was only based around two or three characters in the book, but it really could have been so much more than that. In my opinion, this section really just took the fantastic edge of a great story.  

The book did recover towards the end. All of the story segments were expertly woven together to make it a particularly intense and epic ending. It is an action-packed story which is full of great ideas. However these are wrapped up in with some rather big surprises. I was definitely superglued to the final outcome, which made the whole reading experience enjoyable and captivating. This was the ending that I was hoping for - the author delivered this in a really big way. It is an outstanding finish which, in my opinion, made up for the middle section.

This book is the first part of a trilogy. It is a story, in my opinion, which should work well as a movie. The book is due to be published on the 7th of May by Puffin. With a UK author tour confirmed in early June, this is definitely an opportunity worth looking out for. I look forward to your comments, as always.
Here is the book trailer....

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Guest Post By Teresa Flavin - Behind the Cover - The Shadow Lantern

Behind the Cover: The Shadow Lantern

By Teresa Flavin

I’m very pleased to be a guest on Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books, especially because Mr R hosts the ever exciting ‘Book Cover Wars’ feature where readers vote for their favourite design of the year. I’m always impressed, but not surprised, with how many people register their opinions. Book covers can inspire delight, disdain, awe and even controversy. They are analysed, categorised and compared. We may pick up a book just because we like the cover – and avoid a book for the same reason. And that’s why book cover design is such a tricky and important business. 

When Templar Publishing acquired The Blackhope Enigma, my fantasy-adventure novel about a magical Renaissance painting, one of the things I thought about most was how the cover would look. It felt a bit odd (but good) to know that a designer was creating a look for my debut book, deciding what elements to highlight and which font would catch the reader’s eye. When I saw the design for the first time, it was as if my story had been distilled into a gorgeous, mysterious image and reflected back at me. The Parish, the design consultancy that created the cover, had most definitely ‘got’ it. Everything from the ravens to the thorny border to the fragments of the painting in the background worked for me. And it was extra nice to have my labyrinth drawing included.

With The Crimson Shard, the second book in the trilogy, The Parish cooked up an even darker look to go along with the story’s setting in an eighteenth-century London underworld of art forgery, alchemy and body-snatching. I provided the illustration of the shard and the designer made it into a creepy silhouette. 

So it was with great anticipation that I waited to see what The Parish would make of The Shadow Lantern, which will be published in the UK on 1 May. In the final story, it’s Halloween and my two teenage characters, Sunni and Blaise, are pulled back to the Scottish castle where their adventures began. They encounter a strange old oil lantern that projects painted slides made by artist-magician Fausto Corvo - and there is far more to these projections than the eye can see. Sunni and Blaise must decipher the cryptic messages hidden inside these images, but enemies, alive and dead, are watching their every move. 

I couldn’t have asked for a more striking cover to end the trilogy. As soon as it was revealed, I received enthusiastic comments about the dancing skeleton under the full moon. And, as is often the case, I was asked whether I designed the cover since many people know about my background as an illustrator. I always answer no and that I am happy to have design wizards like The Parish take my stories and work their magic with them, especially when they let me draw the skeleton!

I guess the only big unanswered question is whether The Shadow Lantern has a chance in Mr Ripley’s Book Cover Wars. But that, dear readers, is up to him and to you! 

Thank you so much to Teresa for taking the time to write this post. I hope that this has piqued your interest to read the series. As for the book cover, if I get five or more comments stating that it should be in this years Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Wars 13. Then it may find itself being added to a heat - what do you think?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

New Children's Fantasy Books: Published In May 2013 - US Post


Viviane Schwarz - The Sleepwalkers - Published by Candlewick (May 14, 2013) - Age 7+ 
Nightmares are turned around with the help of The Sleepwalkers, a dreamlike graphic-novel adventure by Vivane Schwarz. When you are afraid to fall asleep, when all your dreams are nightmares, write us a letter, put it under your pillow, we will rescue you...It is almost time for the old and tired Sleepwalkers to return to the waking world. But before they go, they must conjure and train three new replacements. Who else will look after the Sleepwalking House and be there to answer the call of a child frozen with fear, trapped in a nightmare? Faced with a series of cliff-hanging dream predicaments, the three brave new heroes tackle the weird and the wild in this tale about pulling together as a team and having the confidence to stand up to your fears.

Marianne - Malone - The Pirate's Coin: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure - published by Random House Books for Young Readers (May 28, 2013) -Age 8+

Fans of magic, mystery, and adventure will love the third The Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure—a perfect next step for kids who love the Magic Tree House seriesand just right for readers who love Chasing Vermeer, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Wonderstruck. Sixth Graders Ruthie and Jack return to the Art Institute of Chicago's magical Thorne Rooms. During a school presentation, Ruthie and Jack discover that their classmate Kendra is descended from Phoebe Monroe, the young slave they befriended when they traveled to 19th-century South Carolina. Kendra tells them that long ago her family lost their good name and their business selling herbal remedies when mobsters accused them of stealing the recipes! Only Ruthie and Jack know the truth--because only they know about the secret ledger that Phoebe wrote the recipes in long ago! Ruthie and Jack's mission to clear Kendra's name takes them back to the Thorne Rooms, where a mysterious old coin leads them to 1753 Cape Cod and to Jack's own ancestor . . . the pirate Jack Norfleet! But playing with history can be dangerous! Suddenly, Jack's very existence is in jeopardy! Can Ruthie and Jack find the proof they need to help Kendra? And can they fix the past and save Jack's future . . . before it's too late?

Anne Nesbit - A Box Of Gargoyles -  Published by HarperCollins (May 14, 2013) - Age 8+
In this sequel to The Cabinet of Earths, twelve-year-old Maya is feeling more at home in Paris, a city filled with old magic. Her little brother, James, is safe, and the terrible man with purple eyes is gone. At least Maya believed he was until a person-sized column of dust and leaves with hints of purple where its eyes should be begins following her.
Maya suspects the strange, shadowy column is what’s left of the purple-eyed man, and that it—he—is behind the eerie changes in Paris, including the appearance of flying, talking stone gargoyles. She’s right. Worse, he has bound Maya to make him whole again, even if it kills her.


Anne Cameron The Lightning Catcher - Published by Greenwillow Books (May 7, 2013) - Age 8+
The Lightning Catcher, the first in a funny four-book fantasy / adventure series by Anne Cameron, is a must-read for middle-grade fans of The Underland Chronicles series and the Savvy books.
Any kid who has dreamed of having magical powers will want to follow the thrilling story of eleven-year-old Angus, an ordinary boy who discovers he is a Storm Prophet. That means Angus can predict and control extreme weather! While learning about his powers at the Perilous Exploratorium for Weather and Vicious Storms on the island of Imbur, Angus finds out his parents are also far from ordinary. His mom and dad are Lightening Catchers—and they’ve been kidnapped.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Andrew Lane - Lost Worlds - Chapter One Preview......


I was hoping to post all of chapter one onto my blog. Unfortunately, blogger will not allow me to publish the PDF file that I was sent. Therefore this is the start of chapter one for you to enjoy. If you would like to read the rest of this chapter then please click on the link at the end of the post.  I hope that you all enjoy this little taster and that it will encourage you to buy a copy of the book, once it has been published on the 25th April. Please also read my review for it HERE

You can also check out the great new website at (

Calum Challenger gazed in awe at the image on the computer screen. Well, to be fair, he gazed in awe at the image on the central one of the ten screens that hung, at different heights, suspended from articulated arms, in front of his work desk. The image was blurred and grainy, but that wasn’t the screen’s fault. His multi-screen, high- definition, hex-core computer system was the best that money could buy – and despite the fact that he was only sixteen he had access to a lot of money. An awful lot of money. No, the image was blurred and grainy because it had been blown up from a photograph taken with a mobile phone camera at long range while the subject was moving. Even so, he could just about see what it was.

He leaned back in his chair. Five years he’d been waiting for an image like this to turn up. Five years. Now it was here, captured in colour on his computer screen, he wasn’t sure how he should react.
A cold breeze from the darkened expanse of the warehouse behind him caressed the hairs on the back of his neck. He didn’t turn around. He knew that it was just a random gust of wind through a ventilation grille – the alarm systems would have gone off if anyone had actually broken in to the warehouse. He was, as he almost always was these days, alone. 

The screen showed a figure against a background of grass, bushes and rocks. Judging by the figure’s shadow the background was slanted – perhaps a hillside or a slope. The interesting thing – the thing that had made Calum catch his breath in wonder – was that the figure didn’t look human. 
It was difficult to tell its size, with only the heights of the bushes to compare it with, but Calum got the impression that it was about the size of a large man. It was stooped, with rounded shoulders and bowed arms that dangled in front of it. Its skin seemed to be covered with short, red hair, with the exception of pale lines up its spine, down the inside of its forearms and beneath its jaw. He could have been looking at a big, hairy man with a stoop, except that the face was different. A thick ridge of brow pushed out over the eyes, like a chimpanzee, and the teeth and jaw were pushed out slightly, but a distinct nose projected out beneath the eyes. Chimpanzees didn’t have noses.

He drew a box around the figure’s right hand with a couple of clicks of his trackball, and flicked the section of image inside the box to another of his screens. The result was pixelated almost to the point of incoherence, but he could just make out what looked like a thumb that was separate from the rest of the fingers, and angled so that it could close against them. An opposable thumb – that was another thing that ruled out the possibility that it was a chimpanzee. Calum knew that their thumbs were much shorter than the rest of their fingers, making it easier for them to climb trees. Gorillas had opposable thumbs, but this wasn’t anything like a gorilla. Some Old World monkeys, like mandrills, also had opposable thumbs, but they were all small – the size of a dog – and there was no way they could be mistaken for human. No, this thing was unique.

He ran his fingers through his long hair and interlaced them at the back of his neck. He supposed it could be a man in a mask and a hairy suit – like that 1967 footage taken in California which was supposed to show an ape- like creature locally known as the sasquatch but which had turned out to be a hoax. That was the problem with these blurry photographs or jerky video clips – they could so easily be hoaxes. And yet . . . its forearms seemed longer in proportion to its upper arms, and to the rest of its body. Reduced to a silhouette, it just didn’t look human. If the creature was a hoax then it was a very well constructed one.

The creature. He laughed suddenly, and the laughter echoed back to his ears from the cold brick walls of the warehouse. He was already thinking of it as the creature. Just a few moments ago it had been the figure. Somewhere in his mind, it seemed that he had already made a decision about the photograph’s likely authenticity.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted: Fab Four Books - Published in May 2013 - UK


Holly Black - Doll Bones - Published by Doubleday Children's 9 May 2013
Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that's what his father thinks. But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good. There's one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl.
The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It's time to grow up.

Isobelle Carmody - Metro Winds - Published by Allen & Unwin - 2 May 2013
Enter a universe of yearning and transformation. Herein, find a girl who seeks a lost sister in a park where winter lasts forever, and another sent across the world to discover her destiny in the dark tunnels of the Metro; a young man who travels to meet a woman in place of a man who has died, and a mother who works magic to summon a true Princess for her son; a man who seeks an ending to his story, and an old man who travels in search of his shadow…

Metro Winds reflects Isobelle's own exotic, adventurous life, and features stories set in Paris, Sydney, Venice, Prague and the Greek Islands. Ideal for transporting readers away from everyday life into a world where anything is possible, these stories are glimpses into a world we inhabit and recognise, but with a beguiling magical twist. They explore the interface between old cultures and new, innocence and wisdom, danger, adventure and coming home, the natural world and the dark beating heart of wise women and shape-shifters. Anything is possible.

Carmody's stories are rooted in the present, but have a medieval atmosphere. They wind their way through cityscapes, familiar and not, simultaneously revealing and concealing the characters and their fates. Metro Winds is fantasy as metaphor – sensuous, gritty, sometimes dark though seldom bleak. The stories are redemptive, journeys leading to metamorphosis and transformation.


Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Watcher in the Shadows - Published by Orion Children's - 9 May 2013
A mysterious toymaker who lives as a recluse in an old mansion, surrounded by the mechanical beings he has created... an enigma surrounding strange lights that shine through the mists that envelop the small island on which the old lighthouse stands... a shadowy creature that hides deep in the woods... these are the elements of a mystery that bind 14-year-old Irene to Ismael during one magical summer spent in the Blue Bay. Irene's mother has taken a job as a housekeeper for the toymaker, Lazarus, but his house contains more secrets than Irene and Ishmael have bargained for.


Chris Wooding - Silver - Published by Scholastic - 2 May 2013 
Perfect for fans of Michael Grant and Charlie Higson, this thrilling novel about a mysterious virus spreading through a boarding school is like 28 DAYS LATER meets ASSAULT ON PRECINCT THIRTEEN. Who will turn silver next? When a boy is bitten by a strange silver beetle, he becomes the first victim of a mysterious infection. But this is no ordinary virus. It turns flesh into metal, and pupils into machines. As the virus spreads and more terrifying, blood-thirsty machines appear, a small group manage to barricade themselves inside the school Can they keep the machines at bay long enough for help to arrive? Is help even coming? Meanwhile the virus is spreading and its vctims are changing... evolving... becoming stronger... The world as our heroes know it is turning silver. Will any of them survive?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Michael Grant's - Gone Online - Will Be Gone...... Plus Light Book Trailer

One week of play left in the game based on Michael Grant’s best-selling series of books, GONE

There is just one week to go until the prize-winning period of Gone Online comes to an end. The game is based on the bestselling GONE series by Michael Grant and celebrates LIGHT, the sixth and final book in the series, which was published on 28 March.  It has already topped the bestseller lists in both the UK and Ireland.
So far the game has been a hit with over 2,000 people playing more than 35,000 games between them, since the launch on 11 March.  People are playing Gone Online all over the world, from the UK and Ireland to the Ukraine and Uganda. To date, players are based in just under 70 countries.

Over 200 players have already won prizes, including limited-edition wrist bands, book tokens and full sets of the books.  However, the final prize, an Apple iPad and the chance to meet Michael Grant in a private capsule on the EDF Energy London Eye on 4 May, is still up for grabs.  The winner will be the highest scorer when the game finishes, on 22 April.

Gone Online comprises a series of mini-games released on a weekly basis and inspired by content from the books.  Some of the games test knowledge of the books while others can be played by anyone – and they can be highly addictive!  To date, players have clocked up over 500 hours of game play.  Gone Online is available on all devices and incorporates the latest in location-based marketing and social sharing, with players picking up extra points by checking in with their smart phones at specific locations – libraries and bookshops - and sharing the game with their friends.

After the 22 April, fans of Gone Online can continue to play, though no prizes will be available.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Book Review: Andrew Lane - Lost Worlds - Published by Macmillan Children's


Arthur Conan Doyle has been a great influence on many writers both past and present, but none more so than on Andrew Lane, who was greatly inspired to write his first series for children entitled "Young Sherlock Holmes". This has now been published in thirty seven different languages - highlighting the ever increasing popularity of the series with over 200,000 copies having been sold so far. Book six, "Knife Edge", is due to be published in the UK in September, so it is certainly not the end of this brilliant series.

Andrew has kept the Conan Doyle connection alive in spirit through his new epic adventure series. The main character in the book, Calum Challenger, is the grandson of Doyle's protagonist, Professor George Edward Challenger. He is featured in a similarly titled book 'The Lost World' hence a new name is born. It is certainly a fantastic opening book which I'm sure you will all be eager to read - just like I was.

Calum's character is very stereotypical in many ways apart from the fact that he is paralysed. The author portrays Calum in a rather unique and endearing way as a teenage boy coping with a disability. Whilst this is featured as only a small part of the story, it certainly added an unexpected outlook. Calum Challenger is on a quest to find a cure to help him walk again and to live a normal life. His mission is to track down the supposedly mythological creatures that are so rare, that most people don't believe that they even exist. However Calum does. It is imperative that he finds them for two reasons: to take their DNA to use it to help protect these species and also to search for a cure for his paralysis. The only problem is that he's confined to the high-tech virtual world where he lives on his own in a converted warehouse. 

As the story unfolds, the solution literally falls from the sky as Calum finds an unlikely team of friends. He finds some by luck and others by circumstance. There is a goth computer hacker, a freerunner, an ex-marine and a girl with a chip on her shoulder. Together they set off on an expedition to the Caucasus Mountains in search of a mysterious creature, which has supposedly been sited. However, when a pharmaceutical corporation called Nemor have conflicting interests, the team find themselves both under pressure and in danger. Can they locate the mysterious creature first and stay one step ahead of their enemy.

This is a fast-paced, high-tech story full of great characters that teenagers will easily engage with and relate to. Gecko was easily my favourite character in the book. He certainly brought a new dimension to the story with his free running - this is a really cool sport to watch if you ever get the chance to do so. 

In my head, I was confidently certain that I knew how this story would end. Surprisingly, it took a very different route. A turn of events proved to be very unpredictable and kept me guessing right up until the very end.

I found this a very refreshing story to read. Both the ideas and the creativity transpose well into the story. They keep the reader hooked in a fantastic bubble of action and plot line. The literary influence of Willard Price, in my opinion, helped to lead the author to deliver a slice of both factual and historical writing which again made the story shine out proud like a host of golden daffodils.   

I absolutely loved this book - it is a brilliant and enjoyable read. Full of old-style action, within a hi-tech world, it is hair raising (just like the cover!) You can check this out with the free app that you can download. This book has easily sky rocketed to being my favourite book of the year so far. It is an amazing start to a fantastic new series......... I'm lost now for any further words! 

An extract of the first chapter, will be also be available to read later this week. Thanks for reading all.
Published by Macmillan Children's Books; 25 April 2013

Thursday, 11 April 2013

NEW BOOK COVER REVEALE: Sarah J. Maas - Crown of Midnight - A Throne Of Glass Novel - Bloomsbury


If you haven’t already seen it, take a look at the stunning UK and US covers for Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. The highly anticipated fantasy sequel to the Throne of Glass. The book will be published by Bloomsbury Children's on the 15 Aug 2013. 

What do we think readers, which cover do you like?

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mr Ripley's New Books UK - Published May 2013 - Post One - (Children's and YA)


Brandon Sanderson - The Rithmatist - Published by Orion Children's (23 May 2013)
Joel is fascinated by the magical art of Rithmatics, but unfortunately only a chosen few have the necessary gift and Joel is not one of them. Undaunted, Joel persuades Professor Fitch to teach him Rithmatic theory - and soon finds that his knowledge is put to the test when someone starts murdering the top Rithmatic students at his school.
But can Joel work out the identity of the killer and stop them before they realize just what a threat Joel actually is?


Alexia Casale - The Bone Dragon - Published by Faber and Faber (2 May 2013)
Evie's shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed - the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength.
Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.

As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can't fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.
This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can't talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.

A blend of psychological thriller and fairytale,The Bone Dragon explores the fragile boundaries between real life and fantasy, and the darkest corners of the human mind.

Michelle Lovric - The Fate in the Box - Published Orion Children's (2 May 2013)

Fogfinger rules Venice. His Fog Squad and spies are everywhere. The Venetians fear him and obey him. Every year one of their children is lost in a grisly Lambing ceremony. The child must climb the bell tower and let the Fate in the Box decide their destiny. Most end their days in the jaws of the primeval Crocodile that lurks in the lagoon. Or so Fogfinger tells them. But a chance meeting by a green apricot tree between Amneris and Tockle may be the beginning of the end for Fogfinger.

Silk and sewing, a magical glass kaleidoscope, mermaids and misunderstood Sea-Saurs, talking statues and winged cats, blue glass sea-horses, a spoiled rich girl and a secret society are just some of the ingredients in Michelle Lovric's exquisitely imagined and superbly plotted fourth fantasy set in Venice.


Allen Zadoff - Boy Nobody - Published by Orchard (23 May 2013)
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target. 

When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.

Monday, 8 April 2013

UK Book Cover Revealed: Neil Gaiman's - Fortunately, The Milk, - Illustrated by Chris Riddell - Bloomsbury


Neil Gaiman revealed the UK jacket of his new children’s book online today.

Head to for a pint-sized insight to the new book and a video of Neil talking about the book.


Illustrated by Chris Riddell, the cover features the book’s hero, a stegosaurus professor and the eponymous milk flying through time and space in a very special machine.

Fortunately, the Milk is an adventure for both young readers and those young at heart. It features aliens, dinosaurs, volcano gods and a pint of milk that saves the universe! The book will be illustrated throughout by Chris Riddell, and will be the third Neil Gaiman project that Chris Riddell has worked on. Chris has previously illustrated the tenth anniversary edition of Coraline and The Graveyard Book, for which he was Kate Greenaway Medal shortlisted.


Fortunately, the Milk is published in hardback by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 17th September 2013, £10.99 - Get your order in now!

Inside artwork examples (credit to Chris Riddell) Press release care of Ian Lamb  (Head of Children's Publicity Bloomsbury.) All images subject to copyright.

Book Review: Veronica Cossanteli - The Extincts


The front cover perfectly represents the book through it's quirky, funny and bright illustrative features. It will certainly entice any younger reader to be instantly interested and engaged. They will not be disappointed once they open the book as the internal illustrations easily interact with the reader and enhance the story. The illustrator, Steve Wells, has perfectly captured the essence and charm throughout the whole book.

I have to admit that I haven't read or reviewed many books for this particular audience (7+). However, I was both pleasantly surprised and immediately engaged with the storyline. It is very funny and highly imaginative. It was liking taking a stroll down the fantasy/humorous path of Roald Dahl's very own stories. 

The Extincts is brought to life through a brilliantly written character, George Drake, who has the greatest fortune of finding a scattering of money on the wet pavement. As a result, he decides to treat himself to a bag full of sweets. Unfortunately his luck appears to soon run out when his bike is stolen whilst he is purchasing his sweets and through a rather challenging time for his family. However the adventure soon unfolds when something unusual starts to happen in Wyvern Chase Woods . . . . . 

Without wanting to give too much away at this stage, the story is developed around mysterious circumstances involving unexpected and mythical-type creatures. Many of which we've never heard of or seen before, but they certainly appear to be realistic. Highly imaginative and creative these add to the drama and tension of the story. Unfortunately Diamond Pye (evil step mother of another character) also appreciates these fantastical and amazing creatures, but not in a positive way. Her motive is to capture the creatures and to use her taxidermy skills in order to win the Golden Brain Spoon. I hear you all asking why would she want to win this? I'm surprised with you all . . . . . . 'it's for spooning out brains, of course!'

I think that by now you'll be able to gather that this is a very funny story that is a great family read. It has been very well written - the story certainly flows well and is very engaging. It is a book that will be enjoyed by both boys and girls and certainly a good book for sharing out loud. In three words, I would sum this book as being wild, wonderful and perhaps slightly bizarre. This is a very entertaining book that has been written by a debut author - one to be watched in the future, I think.

Book published by Chicken House - 2nd May 2013 - ISBN: 9781908435453 - PB

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Book Review: Fraser's Voices by Jack Hastie


On receiving this book, courtesy of the publisher - Matador Publishing, I made a couple of snap judgments based on the appearance of the book and also the synopsis. Initially it appeared as if the book might be a little bit exaggerated due to both the book cover and also the discovery that the main character is able to speak to animals. Both of these aspects didn't really sit comfortably with me. In fact at some point in the past this would have really put me off reading the book. However, knowing the track record of books that have been published by this company, I was more than prepared to give this book a chance and . . . . I'm so glad that I did.

This story is beautifully written. Set in Argyll, the West Highlands of Scotland, Fraser tells the story of a ten year old boy who sudenly discovers that he can speak to animals. This gift is associated with a rare and mysterious illness known as "Tumblings of the Mind". However, once in remission, then this unusual ability fades.

The onset of Fraser's recurring illness and some of the tragic events that unfold are immensely tough on the heart strings. One moment the story is full of happiness; the next it's full of sadness. It's a natural roller-coaster of rural life which is depicted brilliantly. I really enjoyed the dialogue between Fraser and the animals - this was particularly engrossing and also educational. Full of factual information, it will definitely have you hooked. 

Delivered in five short sections, each section is part of a bigger tale, all breathtaking and gripping to read. The author's understanding of animals, the countryside and the natural surroundings of the Scottish Highlands is stunning. It really makes this book for me - I felt like I was back on the Isle of Mull re-living my holiday. I certainly felt like I was able to visualise the adventure being played out in front of my eyes . . . I could almost touch it with my bare hands. One-eyed fox, Nephesh the owl and Barook the badger are literally the stars of the show and help Fraser to solve some rather puzzling mysteries in a unique and special way.

The author aimed to be true to the psychology of the animals, which he has achieved. He has also achieved a very engaging story which is original and not at all cliched. He has managed to set a magical fantasy world in the Scottish Highlands - this is a very exciting and interesting prospect for readers of all ages from 10+. This is a particularly memorable and touching traditionally told tale. I have no hesitation in awarding this book full marks - I'm so glad that I was not influenced by my initial thoughts. 

  • Published by Matador (28 Feb 2013)