Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Guest Post #5: Andrew Beasley - Five Favourite Reads - "The Something of Something” Adventures!


I have loved books all my life, but I am now in the very wonderful position where I am sometimes asked to make recommendations. I have chosen these five books especially for Mr Ripley. Only one of them is a direct inspiration, but each has special links with my own book; The Battles of Ben Kingdom: The Claws of Evil. Happy reading, folks!

On my tours I freely acknowledge the debt I owe to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was these stories that set my young imagination on fire. I am writing Victorian fantasy now because I have never been able to escape the mystery and the wonder of those fog-bound, cobbled streets. The character of Holmes himself continues to be one of the milestones of literature, and my tribute to the Great Detective comes in the shape of my character, Jago Moon. If Holmes was old, shaven-headed, blind and played by Ray Winstone, then you’d have Mr. Moon.


Wolf in Shadow by David Gemmell continues to be one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. The character of Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man, is a brilliant tragic hero; in a post-apocalyptic wasteland he finds the wreck of the Titanic and believes it is the Biblical Noah’s Ark. Gemmell had a knack, not just for breath-taking action but for believable motivation; his evil devil worshippers here are so reasonable in their own understanding of the world. I hope that the Watchers and the Legion in my stories are equally honest.


Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz makes my list for all sorts of reasons. Amazing characters again, and a seamless blend of fantasy and reality. Most of all I have to include Dean Koontz because it is impossible to read one of his books slowly. Koontz is a master of the page- turner and I try to keep my pace as whip-crack fast as his.

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell is a poignant and beautifully written zombie holocaust noir. I love it because Bell is brave enough to make incredibly daring editorial choices. I’ve tried to be just as bold in my second Ben Kingdom story, The Feast of Ravens. All I’m saying is, no one is safe.


And finally, Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds is the most recent book on the list, but I include it because it returns me to my childhood love. Like so many writers that I meet, Doctor Who has been a lifelong companion. This new story is the literary equivalent of sticky toffee pudding – Jon Pertwee’s dandy Doctor, UNIT, the Brigadier, and the Master – comfort food for the mind. My title The Claws of Evil is a tribute to 70’s Who. Find a list somewhere and check out those brilliant “The Something of Something” adventures!   

My book review for Andrew Beasley's - The Claws of Evil (The Battles of Ben Kingdom) 
here: http://mrripleysenchantedbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/book-review-andrew-beasley-battles-of.html

Friday, 26 July 2013

Neil Gaiman reveals the inspiration behind his new children's book FORTUNATELY THE MILK - Bloomsbury

Neil Gaiman reveals the inspiration behind his exciting new children’s book in this brand new video for Bloomsbury.
 See below a specially recorded message from Neil Gaiman.

Packed with globby green aliens, intergalactic dinosaur police, pirates and a
time-travelling dinosaur Fortunately, the Milk is Neil Gaiman’s silliest story yet.

Be swept along on an adventure that will have children of all ages (and lots of childish grown-ups)
laughing with glee as Dad tries to get the milk home...and possibly save the universe along the way.

Fortunately, the Milk is published by Bloomsbury in hardback, 17th September 2013, £10:99

Press Release: Michelle Paver - Short Story Challenge - Gods and Warriors: The Burning Shadow - Puffin Books

Michelle Paver invites youngsters to ‘Write for the Gods’
Gods and Warriors: The Burning Shadow released 1st August

Young people with a talent for spinning an adventurous yarn are being invited to take part in a unique writing challenge by bestselling novelist Michelle Paver.

To mark the release of her new book, Gods and Warriors: The Burning Shadow, the award-winning children’s author is launching ‘Write for the Gods’, a short story contest offering youngsters of all ages the chance to show off their storytelling skills and scoop some money-can’t-buy prizes.

The Burning Shadow is the second instalment in an epic five-part series transporting readers back to the Mediterranean Bronze Age, most of the research for which was done first hand with Michelle climbing volcanoes and meeting animals – dolphins, falcons and lions – that feature in the stories.

Now the author is calling on young wannabe writers to take inspiration from her books and adventures and submit their own original tale of up to 450 words.

The ten most imaginative and exciting stories – as selected by Michelle herself – will be published online as part of an official Write for the Gods page on social media platform Tumblr, and appear on the new Gods and Warriors website.

Winning entrants will also receive signed copies of The Burning Shadow, as well as a copy of the first book in the Gods and Warriors series, The Outsiders.

Taking part is simple. Just visit http://www.writeforthegods.tumblr.com where you will find some opening lines written by Michelle to get your entry started, along with step by step instructions for sending in your finished story. The first two winners will be revealed on 26 July, with two more unveiled every week until 23 August 2013.

If you’re stuck for a brainwave, Michelle’s top writing tips should come in handy:
Ask yourself: who is my main character? What do they like, hate or fear? Most importantly, what do they want? To escape a lion? Pass a test? Get to safety?
Next, ask: what gets in their way of achieving their aim? An enemy? A blizzard? Self doubt? Putting an obstacle in your character’s way, then deciding how they deal with it, will give you the basis of a story
Now make your story real. If it’s set in a forest, take a walk in one and pretend to be your character. Take notes on whatever strikes you, using all five senses
Then, start writing. Just get something down. (You can either write on paper first, or straight onto a computer, whatever feels right for you.)
Now read your story through as if you were a new reader. Is anything unclear? A bit boring, wordy or unnecessary? Change it! You can rewrite anything. It’s your story. You’re in charge.
Finally, reading your story out loud can really help, especially in writing natural-sounding dialogue

Gods and Warriors: The Burning Shadow is published in Puffin hardback on 1st August 2013. Follow on Twitter @PuffinBooks.

Thursday, 25 July 2013



Masks: Real & Fictional Collections

I own several masks, and I'm still trying to understand them. Masks are odd and contradictory things. They let us hide who we are and pretend to be something we're not, but they're also more than disguises, more than just lies carved into face-like shapes. Masks allow us try on new qualities and possibilities. They help us decide what we might want to become. 

The acting troupe in Goblin Secrets owns a vast collection of masks. Here's a glimpse of it:

The masks covered both the upstream and the downstream walls. Rownie saw heroes and ladies, villains and charmers, nursemaids and gentry. He saw animal masks made of fur, feathers, and scaly lizard skins bristling with teeth. Most had been carved out of wood or shaped in paster, but he also saw masks made of tin and polished copper, gleaming in the lantern light. He saw thin, translucent masks made of beetles' wings and carapaces. He saw long-nosed tricksters and ghoulish false faces. Hundreds and hundreds of masks hung from nails by lengths of string, and every one of them seemed to be watching Rownie as he watched them.
Goblin Secrets, Act III, Scene ii
I keep my smaller collection in my office. Ara, the Mali embodiment of water, sits above a messier, papier-mâché water droplet made by a local puppet theatre company. Momo from The Last Airbender sits directly on top of a demon from Deli. I'm not sure why Momo ended up there, but he did. 


I also have a fox mask by Jeff Semmerling and an unfinished Ko-Omoto by the Noh master Bidou Yamaguchi. Both Jeff and Bidou were hugely helpful with my mask-making research, and both have masks named after them inside the book. A finished Noh mask can change expressions without moving; just tilting the angle turns a smile into a thoughtful frown. The leather fox mask might be my favourite, and one of my favourite bookstores made a great, big, paper version of it the last time I read there.

["WillFox" — Photographer by Teri Fullerton]

["Unfinished" & "KoOmoto" —the finished version, and the photo of it, are both by Bidou Yamaguchi]


["RumpusFox" —Photograph by Laura Given]

Online I have a much larger collection. Students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design made them for me, and each one can be printed, colored-in, and worn with string. 


Treat them well when you put them on.....

Check out the book review Here

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Book Review: William Alexander - Goblin Secrets - UK Post - Published by Much-in-Little


I bought this book purely on the book cover as you probably know that I'm a sucker for a good front cover. In fact I was drawn in purely on this alone..... Perhaps a question that might be asked is did the cover live up to the story within? I have to say that it did ...

I didn't know anything about the author or the book before I started reading. Therefore, I was very interested to see how it would read. The first thing that I noticed from the start was its cast of colourful characters that leapt off the page. They were very interesting to read and intriguing to follow. 

The author soon sets out his stall in building a great setting. I immediately became immersed and lost within it. I have not read many books this year that will come close to establishing such a great setting. The author has skilfully dreamt up a place of awe and one that I enjoyed visiting and being apart of very much. 

Equally, I loved the unique and original ideas - these are becoming harder to find as so many books are now being published. However, they really worked within this story. The distinctive language had a style of its own that flowed through the pages. This perhaps holds similarities with the great writer, Catherynne M Valente, who also has a similar style of writing. Every page you read makes you think and evaluate the story. The heart of the book is very complex and at times I wasn't sure whether I was grasping what the author was intending. Therefore, I found myself revisiting certain parts of the book, but it was a good for me to do this as I did not want to miss anything by rushing through the pages.

I was really intrigued by the masks coming to life - this section was fascinating to read as it gave the story a real fantasy element. Look out for the great guest post I have coming up by the author, Thursday 25 July 2013 "The Importance of Masks" which might help you pick up a copy and give it a try.  

The idea of the inhabitants of Zombay running around with clock work parts, gears and sprockets to fix the human body was a particularly cool concept. It injected the story with a slight steampunk theme, and one that I really loved reading. 

There is a lot going on within so few pages. In fact once the story comes to an end, you will want to start the book all over again. This book is like a clockwork automaton as it runs on its very own magic right up to the end. This is a book for the reader who enjoys the power of words and a great story. A recommended book for definite, now published in the UK.

  • Publisher: Much-in-Little (18 July 2013)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Children's Book Picks August 2013 - UK Post


Michelle Paver - The Burning Shadow (Gods and Warriors Book 2) - Published by Puffin - 1 August 2013

If an Outsider wields the blade, the House of Koronos burns...'
A boy on the run.
A deadly prophecy.
A race against time.
Hylas the Outsider is captured by slavers. Set to work in the terrible underground mines of Thalakrea, he learns to his horror that he's now closer than ever to his murderous enemies, the Crows. He has to escape before they find out he's here.
Pirra, the daughter of the High Priestess, is also on the run. When Fate reunites her with Hylas, their survival depends on ancient magic and an orphaned lion cub - unless the Gods have other plans...


F. E. Higgins - THE PHENOMENALS: A GAME OF GHOULS - Published by Macmillan - 1 August 2013

An earthquake has rumbled through the twisted city of Degringolade, stopping the town Kronometer and the infamous Phenomenals in their tracks. Legend has it that if the ancient clock stops ticking a terrible fate will befall the people of Degringolade, and there's no denying that the super-mundane entities of the tar-pits are behaving strangely.

They know something that the townspeople don't: deep below the city, something has woken up. And it's hungry . . .

Jenny Nimmo - Leopards' Gold (The Secret Kingdom) - Published by Egmont Books - 29 August 2013 
In the conclusion to this beautifully crafted trilogy, bestselling author Jenny Nimmo takes her readers on an extraordinary journey that will enthral any fan of magical fantasy. From the author of the Charlie Bone series and The Snow Spider. Fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Angie Sage's Septimus Heap will love the Red King's adventures. In the conclusion to this beautifully crafted trilogy, bestselling author Jenny Nimmo takes her readers on an extraordinary journey that will enthral any fan of magical fantasy. From the author of the Charlie Bone series and The Snow Spider. Fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Angie Sage's Septimus Heap will love the Red King's adventures. Many years have passed since King Timoken settled in Britain, and his majestic home is protected by the wizards Llyr and Eri, whose powerful enchantments make the great Red Castle and its people invisible whenever danger threatens. Then the castle bellman disappears. A trace of blood on the stairs is the only clue as to his fate. Could there be a traitor in their midst? Petrello and Tolomeo, the most inquisitive of Timoken's nine children, are determined to solve the mystery.


Chris Northrop & Jeff Stokely - The Reason for Dragons - Published by Archaia Entertainment - 6 August 2013 

Wendell is a high school outcast who lives a lonely, suburban existence, losing himself in books in order to avoid his distant, motorcycle-riding stepfather, Ted. When the school bullies convince Wendell to venture into the forest around their neighborhood and explore the long-abandoned Renaissance Faire grounds they all believe to be haunted, Wendell is surprised to find a man living in the barn - and even more surprised by the man himself. His new acquaintance seems the definition of crackpot, believing himself to be a medieval knight named Sir Habersham, tasked with the duty of slaying the dragon he insists is wandering the woods. But when Wendell starts hearing rumblings - and listening to Habersham's stories - he starts to wonder if, perhaps, it could all be true. In a heartfelt coming-of age story, Wendell must defy logic in order to follow his heart.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Book Review - Brandon Sanderson - The Rithmatist

This book is based on an original idea that the author had around Spring 2007. At this time, Brandon's initial penned title was known as the 'Scribbler' and was based around the world that he aptly calls "gearpunk". However, due to other commitments, he was unable to fix the 'major flaws' (his acknowledgement) that he had encountered until more recently. Thank goodness he did find the time to revisit this book as the overall finished product is definitely worth all of the time and effort that he has invested in it.

In fact, in my opinion, these are perhaps some of the reasons as to why this book is so brilliant. It has had time to mature, just like all things classical. I'm sure that the plot has undertaken many changes and transformations along the way in order to make it the story that we are reading today. This is the book that should put Brandon Sanderson on the UK map as a great young adult fiction writer as well as an epic and well established adult fantasy writer.

This book is a rapid fantasy ride that will grip you. It's very complex and perhaps one of the most imaginative reads that I have come across in quite a long time. The core of the story is based around the Rithmatists, who draw pictures in chalk on the ground. However these take on mysterious and magical powers. You could be mistaken into thinking that this seems quite harmless, but these chalklings can be instructed to injure people . . . especially the wild chalklings. 

The Rithmatists find themselves protecting the Isles from deadly forces until one day they start to mysteriously disappear. A killer is on the loose. It takes Joel (non-Rithmatistand his unlikely friends to save the day.  This is a breathtaking read with a fantastic storyline. It is full of mystery and suspense that will leave the reader wanting more - much more.

This is quite easily one of the best concepts that I have read in a long time. I was really immersed in the complex structure, which is depicted in detailed diagrams throughout the book, and give an in depth insight into the author's vision. In following this fantastic adventure, many chilling turn of events are introduced.

This book is up with the best fantasy reads this year. The ideas and the development of the setting are very well thought out and detailed. The enjoyable characters, who all add to the sense of mystery, create twists and turns within the story. The fast-paced nature of events and the great injection of "gearpunk", which some might identify as Steampunk, make this book tick all of the right boxes. The ending ties up all of the loose ends in a good way and leaves a teasing glance as to what may come next.

This is definitely a book for your summer reading list if you haven't already read it. If you already have, then I would love to hear what you think.

I'm hoping that time now passes by very quickly until the publishing of the next book in the series. I hope that I'm not going to have to wait another six years............!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Guest Post #4: Fleur Hitchcock - My Favourite Reads - Middle Grade - Past and Present


Twitter:   - One of the judges of the 9-12 section of the Hot Key Young Writer’s prize, people might like to take note of my middle grade choices!!!

Favourite books for young people?  I couldn’t possibly, I thought, how can you pick one?

Well I couldn’t, but I’m a middle grade author, and we’re often overlooked in favour of young adult, so I thought I’d try and hold up the flag for a few of my middle grade faves, some of which I read to my children and some I enjoyed as a child, but all of which I have read recently, 
Night Birds on Nantucket.  I was devastated when I finished reading this aged 8, and even though I read Joan Aiken’s other stories and enjoyed them, they couldn’t deliver quite the terror and excitement of Nightbirds. Maybe it was the first Dido Twite book that I read, and so the novelty of the inventive slang and the rich descriptions had greater resonance or maybe I was exactly the right age.  It wasn’t the first in the series, and the series is very loosely linked, but I still think it’s the best of her very good books, all of which I’d recommend.

Holes.  I read this one hot summer and felt every scrap of Stanley Yelnats’ discomfort.  Probably the most beautifully constructed book I’ve ever read, it tells the story of wrongly convicted Stanley, and his incredibly roundabout release from the awful Camp Green Lake.  Apart from being funny, and scary, and so, so neat, it also has one of the best first lines ever: ‘there is no lake at camp green lake’, and one of the most unpleasant villains in children’s literature.  This is a middle grade book, but I can’t think any adult wouldn’t enjoy it.

The Secret Henhouse Theatre.  It’s a common tale, children get together to raise the money to save the farm, although it doesn’t quite come out that way and Helen Peters steers away from the Enid Blyton path, by making the book harder, and more bruising than the books of my childhood.  It’s well written and emotionally close up, so that the central character is sitting on the reader’s shoulder all the way through, and the words play out like you’ve slipped into a movie so that although you should probably linger, it’s a really quick read.

National Velvet – worth reading just for the prose.  Exquisite writing.
The Mouse and His Child – again, beautifully written, a strange poetic journey, about the tiny mechanical mouse attached to the tin mouseling.  The creatures they meet that both help and hinder them are vividly painted and their adventures full of peril. I loved it when I was a child, and when I read it again recently, I was amazed by Russell Hoban’s use of language.


Framed.  This book makes me laugh but underneath the humour and misunderstanding lies great warmth and heart.  I don’t think anyone else gets near Frank Cottrell Boyce’s love for his characters, and the way he fuses hope with the misery of things beyond a child’s control still really impresses me.
The Graveyard Book: Of course it’s a favourite, but I do like the cemetery so much more than the fantasy scenes. 

Artichoke Hearts.  This is on the edge of YA – but strays into that place between childhood and teenage with huge sensitivity.  Absolutely the best children’s book I’d read in ages.
 Sky Hawk:  Written by my contemporary from Bath Spa on the Writing for Young People MA – I saw the very beginnings of this book, and Gill’s passion for her subject infuses the writing, but not at the expense of characterisation or atmosphere. It’s a cracking read and yet full of carefully considered description.  And it makes me cry, which is always a plus. 
And, And And..... But I’ve run out of words. 

About the Author

Born in Chobham and raised outside Winchester, Fleur Hitchcock grew up as the youngest child of three. She spent her smallest years reading Tintin and Batman, and searching for King Alfred's treasure. She grew up a little, went away to school near Farnham, studied English in Wales, and, for the next twenty years, sold Applied Art in the city of Bath. When her younger child was seven, she embarked on the Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa and graduated with a distinction. Now living outside Bath, between parenting and writing, Fleur works with her husband, a toymaker, looks after other people's gardens and tries to grow vegetables.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Author Guest Post #3: Dan Smith - Favourite Reads Past or Present


Favourite Reads – Past or Present by Dan Smith

I don’t really remember reading a lot of children’s books when I was growing up – as a 10/11 year old I had already started on the likes of Jack Higgins and Alistair Maclean (‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and ‘Where Eagles Dare’ were firm favourites), but there is one book from my childhood that sticks in my mind. I loved ‘The Runaways’ by Victor Canning. There was something about the main character, Smiler, being accused of a crime he didn’t commit, that stirred something in me. Oh, and I loved ‘Danny, Champion of The World’ by Roald Dahl – all those ingenious ways of catching pheasants! 

‘Lord of The Flies’ by William Golding is a book that grabbed me when I read it at school. The isolation, the darkness, the savagery and, of course, The Beast. I’ve now read this book more times than I can remember and it never gets boring. It’s the ultimate survival story . . . or is it? You see, when I was twelve years old, I was introduced to the film of The Old Man and The Sea, and decided I had to read the book. I was mesmerised by it and still am. I once recommended the book to someone who returned it saying, ‘it’s about a bloke who catches a fish’. Well, yes, but it’s the best book ever written about a bloke who catches a fish. It’s also about so many other things, like friendship, tenacity, pride, loss, courage, struggle, human nature . . . you get the idea.

‘The Go-Between’ by LP Hartley is another favourite. It might seem an unlikely choice with its genteel Edwardian setting, but when I read it as a teenager, it was the dark underbelly of the society that intrigued me. The lies and deception. I also love that the narrator only really knows what happened when he is much older and able to understand it all. 

Oh, and don’t get me started on ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy! What a beautifully grim book that is. In fact, I love McCarthy’s writing and could re-read many of his books – as long as there’s time to read Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke. What else, what else . . ? ‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks was a huge inspiration for me to start writing, as was pretty much anything Stephen King wrote in the eighties. I love ‘True Grit’ by Charles Portis, ‘Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess, ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk, ‘Game of Thrones’ has had me gripped and ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar is brilliant – read it now if you haven’t already – and . . . phew, I should probably stop now. 

Well, I don’t read anywhere near as much as I would like to. When I’m writing a first draft of a new novel, reading someone else’s work is fine, but when I’m editing, it sometimes feels a bit too much like work. In those circumstances, I often turn to another overlooked form of storytelling – the graphic novel. So here’s a list of my favourite gra . . . oh? You’ve heard enough? Well why are you still here, then? Go and read a book or something. 

About the Author

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. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and two children. My Friend the Enemy is his debut children's novel.
Dan Smith reads from his novel My Friend The Enemy (Chicken House Publishing) Published on 4 July 2013

Friday, 12 July 2013

Author Guest Post #2: C. J. Busby - My Favourite Read - Eight Days of Luke’, by Diana Wynne Jones


Twitter:              Website: http://www.frogspell.co.uk/

‘Eight Days of Luke’, by Diana Wynne Jones

I first read Eight Days of Luke when I was about nine, not long after it had come out. It was just about the best book I had ever read, and from that point on and on the basis of that book only, Diana Wynne Jones was my favourite author. I checked every library or bookshop I entered for other books by Diana Wynne Jones. Never being quite sure whether I would find her under ‘W’ for Wynne, or ‘J’ for Jones meant that the disappointment of finding no trace of her was always delayed till I had thoroughly checked both places, as well as the letters either side in case a book had got misplaced. But although I did find Charmed Life (quickly another favourite), there was generally no sign of her. So I read Eight days of Luke again. And again. I probably got it out of our library at least ten times (why on earth didn’t my parents buy it for me? But somehow books seemed too expensive in those days to actually own!) It’s not hard, even now, to recapture that sense I had as I read it that here was something completely out of the ordinary – utterly compelling and magical. It’s the particular combination of the ordinary everyday world with the world of myth that marks out a Diana Wynne Jones book – rarely are her books completely set in a fantasy realm, and even when they are, there is a kind of matter-of-factness at the heart of what happens. 

David, the protagonist of Eight Days of Luke, is an ordinary schoolboy, in the horrible situation of being dumped with a whole bunch of rather selfish and unpleasant relatives in the school holidays because his parents are dead. One particular holiday, thoroughly miserable and angry, David decides to curse them. His curse, all made-up words and emotional release, suddenly takes on a life of its own, a combination of ‘fierce terrible words’ that ‘asked to be said’. As he finishes declaiming them, the garden wall comes crashing down around him, and a strange, red-haired boy appears in the ruins – Luke. From then on, David’s life changes, immensely for the better, although Luke gets him into all sorts of scrapes, and draws the attention of some very mysterious and powerful people: Mr Chew, Mr Wedding, Mr Fry. It soon becomes clear that David isn’t the only one with difficult relatives – these people are after Luke for something terrible he’s done, and only David can save him, by somehow finding the ‘object’ that Luke stole, without knowing what it is. 

Anyone who is familiar with the Norse legends – and when I first read the book, I had thoroughly absorbed Roger Lancelyn Green’s magnificent Myths of the Norsemen – realises quite quickly that Luke is the Norse trickster god, Loki, master of fire and mischief. It follows that Mr Chew is Tyr, Mr Wedding, Woden, and Mr Fry, Frey. Suddenly, it’s as if you are reading the book with double vision: the ordinary and the mythological, the mundane and the magical, side by side – and it’s this, I think, that makes Diana Wynne Jones’s books get under your skin in such a thorough way. It’s impossible, after that, not to have the sense that only a thin veil separates your everyday life from the world of magic and myth. Any time, any day, you might just enter an amusement arcade and find yourself in Valhalla, or cross a bridge and realise it was an echo, a ghost, of Bifrost. Unlike with Harry Potter, ordinary people are not forever walled off from the magical world as unknowing Muggles – they are always just one step away from diving into or being caught up in the magical or mythological.  The effect of this revelation at the age of nine was a completely exhilarating ‘extra sense’ of magical possibilities in the everyday world that has never left me. For me (as for Neil Gaiman) it makes Diana Wynne Jones simply the best writer of magic for children there is. And although I have now managed to find and read (and re-read, frequently!) almost everything she’s ever written, Eight Days of Luke is probably still my favourite book.

About the Author

C. J. Busby was brought up on boats and in caravans in the southeast of England and north Wales. She lived in south India for a year for her PhD, and then taught Social Anthropology at universities in Edinburgh, London and Kent. She lives in Devon and has three children and currently works on environmental issues with schools, and is a copyeditor for an academic press. Her first picture book text, The Thing, was shortlisted for the Nickelodeon Jr national Write a Bedtime Story competition. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Joseph Delaney's - Seventh Son - New Movie Trailer - Official Warner Bros. UK

This film is released in February 2014!  It is based on Joseph Delaney's Wardstone Chronicles (Spook's Apprentice) books.  This shows Jeff Bridges facing down a dragon in the Seventh Son official movie trailer and looks absolutely amazing.... what do you all think?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Author Guest Post #1: Nigel McDowell - Five Favourite Books


Five Favourite Books.........

The Witches by Roald Dahl
Devouring anything by Dahl was an obsessions for all small boys in my Primary School, but of all his books, The Witches was the one I returned to time and again, and still do.  He begins simply, startlingly, by telling the reader that witches really do exist.  As a child this was a revelation, and a terror...but keep reading: he tells all we need to know about witches, how to recognise them, and how (hopefully) to outwit them.  Dahl is famous for his grisly humour, his resistance to comfort or patronise.  But what he does wonderfully is to acknowledge a child’s worst fears (a psychopathic Headmistress, creatures trying to turn children into mice by feeding them potion-laced chocolate) and at the same time indulges their wildest dreams (an extraordinary chocolate factory, an escape from a cruel life on a giant peach, learning the power to overthrow that deranged Headmistress).  He tells children that the world can be a dark place, yes, but says too that if you search hard enough, you can discover some magic to light the way.  

Z for Zachariah Robert C. O’Brien
When I wonder about how to begin a novel, these words often return to me: ‘I am afraid.  Someone is coming.’  This is how Z for Zachariah begins, and once started it is impossible to put down.  I read this novel, like many others, as a teenager.   It was part of High School English; we studied it for an entire term, but even that couldn’t weary it.  It pre-dates Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and the tide of recent books about apocalypse and disaster, and in clear, lucid prose tells an intimate story about a girl, Ann Burden, fighting for her survival.  Her battle to succeed against loneliness, isolation, but also against someone who would attempt to destroy her.  It is claustrophobic, desolate, frightening, and a book I hope teenagers still read (and, if they must, study).

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Simply put - the novel that made me want to write.  At sixteen, this book (intended, I was told, for girls) was something moving, poetic, witty, sharp, beautiful.  It is still all those things to me, and more.  I read it when I want to be reminded of what I’m aiming for. 

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Margo Lanagan is an Australian YA author, and one of the best.  She has written many wonderful short stories; reminiscent of Angela Carter, with her lyrical prose and macabre imagination.  But if you haven’t yet read her work then her dark gem of a novel, Tender Morsels, is the place to begin.  Set in a dark fantasy world so vivid and vile that you can almost smell its reek in your nostrils as you read, feel the filth gathering under your fingernails, it is a fable about how brutality and love can (and must) live alongside one another in the world.

NW by Zadie Smith

I wanted to include something recent; something not just contemporary but that (in the current climate of historical fiction) is also determinedly modern, and attempts to deal with and make sense of the “now”.  Zadie Smith’s newest novel is, I think, her best.  As in her previous work, her dialogue is keen and seductive; her portrait of London detailed and vivid, and her observations on class and guilt, marriage and motherhood, and melancholy - faultless.  But this is also a bold exercise in style.  A modern (or post-modern?) masterpiece.

About the Author

Nigel grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of his time battling boredom, looking for adventure - crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with his brother and sister, and reading. His favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl. After graduating with a degree in English (and having no clue what to do with it!), he decided to go off on another adventure, spending almost two years living and working in Australia and New Zealand. With him he took a small notebook containing notes about a boy called "Bruno Atlas", and a seaside town called "Pitch End". When he returned to Ireland after his travels, one notebook had multiplied into many, and eventually his notes for Tall Tales from Pitch End filled a large cardboard box... Nigel now lives in London. He has written articles on film and literature for a number of websites.He is always on the hunt for books about folklore and fairytale. He wishes he had more time to climb trees. Tall Tales from Pitch End is Nigel's debut novel.

Monday, 8 July 2013

New Children's/Teens Books: Published August 2013 - US Post


Greg Ruth - The Lost Boy - Published by GRAPHIX - 27, August 2013 - Age 8+
Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone.
Nate's not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, he's thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.

Matthew J. Kirby - The Lost Kingdom - Published by Scholastic Press - 27, August 2013 - Age 8+
In this extraordinary adventure story, Billy Bartram, his father, and a secret society of philosophers and scientists venture into the American wilderness in search of the lost people of the Welsh Prince Madoc, seeking aid in the coming war against the French. Traveling in a flying airship, the members of the expedition find their lives frequently endangered in the untamed American West by terrifying creatures, a party of French soldiers hot on their trail, and the constant threat of traitors and spies. Billy will face hazards greater than he can ever imagine as, together with his father, he gets caught up in the fight for the biggest prize of all: America.
THE LOST KINGDOM is an epic journey filled with marvelous exploits, courage and intrigue, and a bold reimagining of a mythical America. Matthew J. Kirby brings his signature storytelling prowess and superb craft to this astonishing story of fathers and sons, the beginnings of a nation, and wonder-filled adventure.

Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons - the Secret Service - Published by Marvel - 27, August 2013 - Age 13+
From the writer of Kick-Ass and the artist of Watchmen comes a collaboration decades in the making! The world's greatest secret agent is on the most exciting case of his career. But will the end of the world as know it take a back seat to training his street-punk nephew to be the next James Bond? meanwhile, what's the secret link between a series of kidnapped sci-fi stars, the murder of an entire town, and a dark secret from inside Mount Everest? Under Uncle Jack's supervision, Gary's spy skills and confidence blossom--but when the duo learn what's behind the celebrity kidnappings, the knowledge comes at a price. The conspiracy begins to unravel, but who can be trusted when so many prominent figures seem to be involved? It's a must-be-seen-to-be-believed action spectacle!

Madeleine Roux - Asylum - Published by HarperCollins - 20, August 2013 - Age 13+
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Jonathan Friesen - Aquifer - Published by Zondervan - 6, August 2013 - Age 13+
Only He Can Bring What They Needed to Survive. In 2250, water is scarce, and those who control it control everything. And they'll do anything to maintain their power---deceiving, dividing families, banning love ... even killing those who oppose them. But above all, they seek to control knowledge and communication---ensuring the truth that will bring their downfall will never be known. But one person verges on discovering it all. Sixteen-year-old Paki becomes the Deliverer, the only one allowed to contact the people called 'Water Rats,' who mine the essential water deep underground and bring it to the 'Toppers' who desperately need it above. But when he meets a Water Rat who captures his heart and leads him to secrets---secrets about a vast conspiracy, and about himself---the net around him tightens. Paki and those around him must uncover and share the truth needed to overthrow tyranny---even as they fight for their lives.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Mr Ripley's New Children's Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Published August 2013 - UK Post


Kass Morgan - The 100 - Published by Hodder - 29, August 2013
No one has set foot on Earth in centuries - until now.
Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents - considered expendable by society - are being sent on a dangerous mission: to re-colonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves - but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.


Diana Wynne Jones - The Dark Lord of Derkholm - Published by HarperCollins - 29, August 2013
A hilarious adventure about a fantasy world in danger of destruction from that most vile of threats… tourism .Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 1999.
A humorous fantasy from Diana Wynne Jones. In a world next door to ours, the tourist industry is devastating the population by its desire to experience all the fantasy clichés - Dark Lords, impoverished villages, dragons etc.
The Head of the University resolves to shut the tours down; the only problem being the ruthless tour-master - and his all-powerful demons. To save them all, the incompetent wizard Derk is appointed as Dark Lord in the hope that he will ruin the tours, and sure enough proceeds to fail at everything due to his general uselessness. But can failing at everything lead to a win this time?

Kim Curran - Control - Published by Strange Chemistry - 6, August 2013
Scott Tyler is not like other teenagers. With a single thought he can alter reality around him. And he can stop anyone else from doing the same.
That's why he's so important to ARES, the secret government agency that regulates other kids like him: Shifters.They've sent him on a mission. To track down the enigmatic Frank Anderson. An ex-Shifter who runs a project for unusual kids - as if the ability to change your every decision wasn't unusual enough. But Anderson and the kids have a dark secret. One that Scott is determined to discover.As his obsession with discovering the truth takes him further away from anyone he cares about, his grip on reality starts to weaken. Scott realises if he can't control his choices, they'll control him.

Sarah J Mass - Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass) Published by Bloomsbury - 15, August 2013 
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.
Love or loathe Celaena, she will slice open your heart with her dagger and leave you bleeding long after the last page of the highly anticipated sequel in what is undeniably THE hottest new fantasy series.