Monday, 31 March 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's Books Published April 2014 - US Post

Andrea Cremer - The Inventor's Secret - Published by Philomel - April 22, 2014

New from Andrea Cremer, the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade novels, comes an action-packed alternate-history steampunk adventure.
In this world, sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth, they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape  or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.
The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery. Perfect for fans of Libba Bray's The Diviners, Cassandra Clare'sClockwork Angel, ScottWesterfeld's Leviathan and Phillip Reeve's Mortal Engines.

Matthew Jobin - The Nethergrim - Published by  Philomel - April 8, 2014

Everyone in Moorvale believes the legend: The brave knight Tristan and the famed wizard Vithric, in an epic battle decades ago, had defeated the evil Nethergrim and his minions. To this day, songs are sung and festivals held in the heroes' honor. Yet now something dark has crept over the village. First animals disappear, their only remains a pile of bones licked clean. Then something worse: children disappear. The whispers begin quietly yet soon turn into a shout: The Nethergrim has returned!

Edmund’s brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell. Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine. They will need to come together--and work apart--in ways that will test every ounce of resolve.

In a story reminiscent of the Ranger’s Apprentice epic and the Chronicles of Narnia, Matthew Jobin weaves reality, magic, and adventure into the next great fantasy phenomenon.

Dianne K. Salerni - The Eighth Day - Published by HarperCollins - April 22, 2014
In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.
When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.
And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.

M.P. Zozlowsky - The Dyerville Tales - Published by Walden Pond Press -
April 22, 2014         
Vince Elgin is an orphan, having lost his mother and father in a fire when he was young. With only a senile grandfather he barely knows to call family, Vince was interned in a group home, dreaming that his father, whose body was never found, might one day return for him. When a letter arrives telling Vince his grandfather has passed away, he is convinced that if his father is still alive, he'll find him at the funeral. He strikes out for the small town of Dyerville carrying only one thing with him: his grandfather's journal. The journal tells a fantastical story of witches and giants and magic, one that can't be true. But as Vince reads on, he finds that his very real adventure may have more in common with his grandfather's than he ever could have known.
Its unique voice and ability to combine creepiness with great story and character development make The Dyerville Tales a real standout middle-grade novel.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Mind Blind by Lari Don - KelpiesTeen

Lari Don's Mind Blind is another offering from the newly formed  KelpiesTeen.  This is a brand new teen fiction imprint showcasing Scottish books with attitude. Launched this March, the publishing company has award-winning authors Roy Gill, Gill Arbuthnott and Lari Don discovering the dark side of Scottish fiction through their spectacular stories.

This is new territory for Lari with her first venture into teenage fiction. This story is told from the perspective of a teenage boy called Ciaran and has been particularly well achieved, in my opinion. The story unfolds inside Ciaran's head and/or when he's inside Lucy head, which might not make sense to you yet but it will once you have read the book.

The opening part of the story is immediately captivating with the opening lines ' I killed a girl today, just after the school bell.' This opener literally drags you into the story head first. Although, I did find the first part of the book a little slow going but it was still very intriguing - I really wanted to know more. After the first two chapters, I soon started to glide along once I had got to grips with the first person perspective of seeing the world through Ciaran's eyes, but also alternating between the two different voices of Lucy's feeling and emotions told through the eyes of Ciaran.

Ciaran Bain is a criminal with a special talent: he can read minds. This also comes at a price, emotionally and physically with gripping consequences that makes for brilliant reading. Ciaran's voice punched away in my head and fuelled  me with adrenalin all the way through this adventure. I felt like I was part of the world that Lari had written.

Lucy Kingston Shaw is another main character. However Lucy's sister is dead - she was killed for a secret that Ciaran's family want to bury.  Both characters are thrown together in an epic voyage of discovery as they journey to uncover the deadly secret between their families. They can run but they can't hide; not even from their own minds.

There is enough in this story to keep every reader hooked. It is told through a realistic setting with no magical scenario involved. It is just the pure concept of mind reading which, in this set of circumstances, is an hereditary skill. The deep family turmoil and unlikely friendship both feed off the strong themes of hate, fear and family loyalty which thread through this book. It is a story that will make you think more deeply than most - this is normally something that I might have run away from, but in this case I absolutely loved it. 

This is a great story that has been published by KelpiesTeen. It is a book with attitude, freshness and a story that teens will relate to very much. It has a memorable and fascinating theme that is unique to other current teen fiction that is around at the moment. There's nowhere to hide when your mind can be read. This is available to purchase  in bookshops now - go and grab yourself a copy now.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Guest Post: Claudia White - Aesop's Secret/ Keys to Kashdune - Published by MP Publishing

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Felix and Melinda Hutton are the main characters in my middle grade fantasy novels and have been with me for a very long time.  Not in their final form which can be found on the pages of Aesop’s Secret and Key to Kashdune but in their concept.  The idea of people who can take the shape of other creatures has held my fascination since childhood. 
For years I had dreamed about writing down my imagined worlds to share with young readers but instead of getting down to work to accomplish that, I used my magical thinking and told everyone that I wanted to write a book.  Sadly, just because I said it did not make it so.  Then something changed and I must credit the (now late) great actor Sir Nigel Hawthorn for the words he shared giving me the push I needed. 

I had never met Sir Nigel Hawthorn but in 2000 he played a very important role on my journey to becoming a published author.  I had just moved to the village of Warborough in England’s Thames valley and was driving home alone for the first time. I was lost…absolutely nothing looked familiar.  Athenites, the shape-shifting characters in my imagination, were usually with me as I conjured up exciting escapades for them using the passing landscape as the backdrop for their adventures, but not on that occasion.  Nervously I flipped through radio stations; it was close to dusk and I hadn’t a clue as to where I was or what “A” road to take and my mobile was dead.  I landed on BBC Radio 4 where an interview with Sir Nigel was just winding up.  It was at the same time that I saw a familiar landmark.  Heavy sigh…I was going in the right direction.
Calmer now, I continued to listen to the interview instead of shifting gears and finding some music to be used as the soundtrack for my Athenite musings.  Sir Nigel’s words held me.  He was talking about his struggles in the early days of his career and ended by saying that he didn’t go into acting because he wanted to but because he needed to.  It took a while to sink in.
Once I realized that my desire to write was a ‘need’ rather than a ‘want’ the rest was simply hard work and discipline, disappointment at rejections and perseverance that led to finally being published.
Hard work aside, the easiest part of writing for me is that my imagination is always on hyper drive.  I am constantly wondering “what if” about this or that:  What if there really were people, like the shape-shifters I held in my imagination?  What if these people looked just like us but their ancestors were actually mythological and fabled beings?   From there it didn’t take long to put all the pieces together and Aesop’s Secret was off to the races.

Everyplace I go I see scenes and scenarios that tickle my imagination.  In subsequent books the characters continue to learn about themselves and the talents that they possess as I let my imagination roam free. Driving in Seattle one summer I took note that the city had its own special music…that led to the realization that other places have unique musical sounds that we associate with them… which led to music in the air…which led to Athenites and animals being able to hear that music on the winds telling them where they are.  The next thing I knew, Melinda and Felix were off on their next adventure in Key to Kashdune

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Monday, 24 March 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Roy Gill - Werewolf Parallel - Published by KelpiesTeen (Plus Book Giveaway)

I first discovered Scotland's dark side when reading Roy Gill's Daemon Parallel about two years ago. This was a truly brilliant read that I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, the book made my list of favourites back in 2012. Since that time I have been eagerly waiting for the sequel and finally it has arrived. 

With the recent launch of Kelpies Teen, this book is one of four due to be released in March. A revamped version of the cover of Daemon Parallel, with it's bright red glowing eyes beaming daemonically at you, is quite different to the original version. This is in-line with the current sequel, Werewolf Parallel, which has a very similar cover style but in green.  Now that the anticipation is over and the book has been read, the question has to be . . . .  was it worth the long wait?

The opportunity to run with the pack again in another heart pumping adventure has been fantastic. I raced through the Parallel world turning the pages like a Daemon riding the Janus express train. The imagination Roy has applied to this instalment left me running wild through the Scottish countryside. Although, the next time that I walk down Princess street or Leith walk, my fantasy side will turn to the adventures in this book. I know that I will be making connections with elements of the story which, to me, shows that the story has really engaged with me on many levels. 

I will be running away from the malevolent beast known as Mr Grey, who has arms that endlessly stretch, as if they are continually growing and not to tickle you with! His fingers are waiting to strike you down whilst his sidekick, Mr Black, watches over you.  They are planning to destroy the Parallel - the realm between worlds which is populated by daemons, dark fantastical creatures, old gods and werewolves - and everyone in it. The sinister plot that is afoot makes for a very interesting and imaginative story. The book definitely reads with a distinctive older feel, as it's now aimed at the teen market. However, I still feel that this book will be loved by younger people as well as the older population, like myself!

This book is action packed with a pulsating adventure. It has a big wolf heart at the very core. Flowing with Scottish charm, this story has everything from spine tingling moments to emotional character enlightenment. It is difficult not to become wrapped up in the whole essence of the story and, before you know it, to be wolfing down each word. 

This is definitely a recommended read. By the light of the full moon, this story is both captivating and thrilling. I am looking forward to reading, what I hope will be, another exciting encounter. 

I will be giving away a copy of the Daemon Parallel on Twitter/ Facebook. All that you need to do is like my new Facebook page and comment on this review post at or retweet and follow me on Twitter,  @Enchantedbooks. Apologies but this is only open to the UK due to postage costs. Closing date is Tuesday 1st April 2014. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's/Teen Books Published in April 2014

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Kimberly Derting - The Taking - Published by Harperteen - 29, April 2014 
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer meets The Fifth Wave in this chilling and explosive new series from author Kimberly Derting.
The last thing Kyra Agnew remembers is a flash of bright light. She awakes to discover that five whole years have passed. Everyone in her life has moved on—her parents divorced, her boyfriend is in college and dating her best friend—but Kyra's still the sixteen-year-old she was when she vanished. She finds herself drawn to Tyler, her boyfriend's kid brother, despite her best efforts to ignore her growing attraction. In order to find out the truth, the two of them decide to retrace her steps from that fateful night. They discover there are others who have been "taken," just like Kyra. Only, Kyra is the first person to have been returned past the forty-eight-hour taken mark. With a determined, secret government agency after her, Kyra desperately tries to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had . . . but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Django Wexler - The Forbidden Library - Published by Doubleday 10, April 2014  - (Book review here:)
Do you remember the first time you climbed into the wardrobe with Lucy and emerged in Narnia? Flew on the back of Falkor the Luck Dragon with Bastian? Followed Alice down the rabbit hole? Welcome to your new favourite adventure.
Late one night Alice Creighton hears her father having an argument with a fairy - a snarling, bald beast with warts and needle-like teeth. It is threatening her father, insisting he accept a mysterious offer, or else.
When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent away to live with distant relative Mr Geryon, owner of a huge, dark library that is off limits to Alice. After meeting a talking cat who is willing to sneak her in, Alice opens a book and suddenly finds herself inside it - and the only way out is by conquering the dangerous creatures within. Alice has stumbled into a world where all of magic is controlled by Readers through books - she must open more books, face increasingly powerful foes, be the lead character in the quest to find a happy ending.

Mindee Arnett - The Nightmare Dilemma - Published by Starscape - 14, April 2014  
he thrilling new fantastical mystery series from YA author Mindee Arnett continues in "The Nightmare Dilemma." Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn't make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school's jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty's as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that's easier asked than done. Eli's dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies. To make matters worse, Dusty's ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty's heart. As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they're connected to something bigger. And there's something very wrong with Eli's dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

Erin Bowman - Frozen (Taken) - Published by Harper Teen - 15, April 2014
The Heists were only the beginning. Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.
Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Mr Ripley's First Look: Charlie Fletcher - The Oversight - First Adult Fantasy Novel

Charlie Fletcher, author of the Stoneheart Trilogy, is about to publish his first fantasy novel for adults, The Oversight, which will be published early 6th, May by Orbit UK. Read the first Sample chapter here.

The House on Wellclose Square

If only she wouldn't struggle so, the damned girl.
If only she wouldn't scream then he wouldn't have had to bind her mouth.
If only she would be quiet and calm and biddable, he would never have had to put her in a sack.
And if only he had not had to put her in a sack, she could have walked and he would not have had to put her over his shoulder and carry her to the Jew.
Bill Ketch was not a brute. Life may have knocked out a few teeth and broken his nose more than once, but it had not yet turned him into an animal: he was man enough to feel bad about what he was doing, and he did not like the way that the girl moaned so loud and wriggled on his shoulder, drawing attention to herself.
Hitting her didn't stop anything. She may have screamed a lot, but she had flint in her eye, something hard and unbreakable, and it was that tough core that had unnerved him and decided him on selling her to the Jew.
That's what the voice in his head told him, the quiet, sly voice that nevertheless was conveniently able to drown out whatever his conscience might try to say.
The street was empty and the fog from the Thames damped the gas lamps into blurs of dull light as he walked past the Seaman's Hostel and turned into Wellclose Square. The flare of a match caught his eye as a big man with a red beard lit a pipe amongst a group standing around a cart stacked with candle-boxes outside the Danish Church. Thankfully they didn't seem to notice him as he slunk speedily along the opposite side of the road, heading for the dark house at the bottom of the square beyond the looming bulk of the sugar refinery, outside which another horse and carriage stood unattended.
He was pleased the square was so quiet at this time of night. The last thing he wanted to do was to have to explain why he was carrying such strange cargo, or where he was heading.
The shaggy travelling man in The Three Cripples had given him directions, and so he ducked in the front gates, avoiding the main door as he edged round the corner and down a flight of slippery stone steps leading to a side-entrance. The dark slit between two houses was lit by a lonely gas globe which fought hard to be seen in murk that was much thicker at this lower end of the square, closer to the Thames.
There were two doors. The outer one, made of iron bars like a prison gate, was open, and held back against the brick wall. The dark oak inner door was closed and studded with a grid of raised nailheads that made it look as if it had been hammered shut for good measure. There was a handle marked "Pull" next to it. He did so, but heard no answering jangle of a bell from inside. He tugged again. Once more silence greeted him. He was about to yank it a third time when there was the sound of metal sliding against metal and a narrow judas hole opened in the door. Two unblinking eyes looked at him from behind a metal grille, but other than them he could see nothing apart from a dim glow from within.
The owner of the eyes said nothing. The only sound was a moaning from the sack on Ketch's shoulder.
The eyes moved from Ketch's face to the sack, and back. There was a sound of someone sniffing, as if the doorman was smelling him.
Ketch cleared his throat.
"This the Jew's house?"
The eyes continued to say nothing, summing him up in a most uncomfortable way.
"Well," swallowed Ketch. "I've got a girl for him. A screaming girl, like what as I been told he favours."
The accompanying smile was intended to ingratiate, but in reality only exposed the stumpy ruins of his teeth.
The eyes added this to the very precise total they were evidently calculating, and then abruptly stepped back and slammed the slit shut. The girl flinched at the noise and Ketch cuffed her, not too hard and not with any real intent to hurt, just on a reflex.
He stared at the blank door. Even though it was now eyeless, it still felt like it was looking back at him. Judging. He was confused. Had he been rejected? Was he being sent away? Had he walked all the way here carrying the girl – who was not getting any lighter – all for nothing? He felt a familiar anger build in his gut, as if all the cheap gin and sour beer it held were beginning to boil, sending heat flushing across his face. His fist bunched and he stepped forward to pound on the studded wood.
He swung angrily, but at the very moment he did so it opened and he staggered inward, following the arc of his blow across the threshold, nearly dumping the girl on the floor in front of him.
"Why–?!" he blurted.
And then stopped short.
He had stumbled into a space the size and shape of a sentry box, with no obvious way forward. He was about to step uneasily back out into the fog, when the wall to his right swung open.
He took a pace into a larger room lined in wooden tongue-and-groove panelling with a table and chairs and a dim oil lamp. The ceiling was also wood, as was the floor. Despite this it didn't smell of wood, or the oil in the lamp. It smelled of wet clay. All in all, and maybe because of the loamy smell, it had a distinctly coffin-like atmosphere. He shivered.
"Go on in," said a calm voice behind him.
"Nah," he swallowed. "Nah, you know what? I think I've made a mistake—"
The hot churn in his guts had gone ice-cold, and he felt the goosebumps rise on his skin: he was suddenly convinced that this was a room he must not enter, because if he did, he might never leave.
He turned fast, banging the girl on the doorpost, her yip of pain lost in the crash as the door slammed shut, barring his escape route with the sound of heavy bolts slamming home.
He pushed against the wood, and then kicked at it. It didn't move. He stood there breathing heavily, then slid the girl from his shoulder and laid her on the floor, holding her in place with a firm hand.
"Stay still or you shall have a kick, my girl," he hissed.
He turned and froze.
There was a man sitting against the back wall of the room, a big man, almost a giant, in the type of caped greatcoat that a coachman might wear. It had an unnaturally high collar, and above it he wore a travel-stained tricorn hat of a style that had not been seen much on London's streets for a generation, not since the early 1800s. The hat jutted over the collar and cast a shadow so deep that Ketch could see nothing of the face beneath. He stared at the man. The man didn't move an inch.
"Hoi," said Ketch, by way of introduction.
The giant remained motionless. Indeed as Ketch stepped towards him he realised that the head was angled slightly away, as if the man wasn't looking at him at all.
"Hoi!" repeated Ketch.
The figure stayed still. Ketch licked his lips and ventured forward another step. Peering under the hat he saw the man was brown-skinned.
"Oi, blackie, I'm a-talking to you," said Ketch, hiding the fact that the giant's stillness and apparent obliviousness to his presence was unnerving him by putting on his best bar-room swagger.
The man might as well be a statue for the amount he moved. In fact—
Ketch reached forward and tipped back the hat, slowly at first.
It wasn't a man at all. It was a mannequin made from clay. He ran his thumb down the side of the face and looked at the brown smear it left on it. Damp clay, unfired and not yet quite set. It was a well made, almost handsome face with high cheekbones and an impressively hooked nose, but the eyes beneath the prominent forehead were empty holes.
"Well, I'll be damned . . ." he whispered, stepping back.
"Yes," said a woman's voice behind him, cold and quiet as a cutthroat razor slicing through silk. "Oh yes. I rather expect you will."

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2014 and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist 2014

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2014 shortlist:
  • All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry (Templar)
  • The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (Puffin)
  • The Child's Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnston (David Fickling Books)
  • Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (Bodley Head)
  • Blood Family by Anne Fine (Double Day)
  • Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber)
  • Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Anderson Press)
  • The Wall by William Sutcliffe (Bloomsbury)

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2014 shortlist:
  • The Paper Dolls by Rebecca Cobb (illustrator) and Julia Donaldson (author) (Macmillan Children's Books)
  • Where My Wellies Take Me by Olivia Gill (illustrator) and Michael Morpurgo and Clare Morpurgo (authors) (Templar)
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers (illustrator) and Drew Daywalt (author) (HarperCollins Children's Books)
  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
  • The Dark by Jon Klassen (illustrator) and Lemony Snicket (author) (Orchard Books)
  • Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf by Dave McKean (illustrator) and David Almond (author) (Walker Books)
  • Oliver by Birgitta Sif (Walker Books)
The 2014 winners for both the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal will be announced on Monday 23rd June 2014 at a lunchtime ceremony at the Unicorn Theatre in London. The winners will each receive £500 worth of books to donate to their local library and the coveted golden Medals. Since 2000, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal has also been awarded the £5,000 Colin Mears Award cash prize. The ceremony will be live-streamed for the first time.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Mr Ripley's New Books Picks: Children's / Teens Published April 2014 - UK Post One

Kelley Armstrong - Sea of Shadows Age of Legends: BK1 - Published by Atom - 8, April 2014 
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed by an ancient evil, Moria and Ashyn must race to warn the empire of a terrifying threat. Accompanied by a dashing thief and a warrior with a dark history, the sisters battle their way across a wasteland filled with reawakened monsters of legend. But there are more sinister enemies waiting for them at court - and a secret that will alter the balance of their world forever.
The first volume in the Age of Legends trilogy, Sea of Shadows is a thrilling dark fantasy where evil hides in every shadow and the deadliest monsters of all come in human form . . .

Bernard Ashley - Shadow of the Zeppelin - Published by Orchard Books - 3, April 2014 
Across Europe, the horror of war is destroying lives and separating families.
Yield or fight?
When tragedy strikes Freddie's family, he and his soldier brother must go on the run, battling for their survival.
Jump or burn?
Without a parachute, that's the choice Ernst knows he will face if his Zeppelin is shot down.
Bravery takes different forms. How far would you go to stand up for what's right?

Emma Pass - The Fearless - Published by Corgi Children's -24, April 2014
The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.
Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother - and when Jory is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.

Anne Blankman - Prisoner of Night and Fog - Published by Headline - 22, April 2014 
An explosive, fast-paced thriller set in Nazi Germany, perfect for readers who enjoyed THE BOOK THIEF. Gretchen Muller has, as best she can, dealt with the horrors of her family's past. Her father, a senior Nazi officer, died to save the life of their leader, Adolf Hitler. And now Germany has the chance to be great once more. Swept up in the excitement and passion of life in Munich in 1931, seventeen-year-old Gretchen has embraced the life laid out for her by that leader, her 'Uncle Dolf'.
But the secrets of the past cannot be silenced forever. When Gretchen receives a letter from an anonymous sender claiming to have more information about her father's death, she becomes swept up in a desperate and dangerous search for the truth. With the full might of the ever-powerful Nazi party on her tail, it is a race that will risk everything she has and change her life forever...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mr Ripley's Book Review: Django Wexler - The Forbidden Library

Django Wexler is a new name in the fantasy realm. His first book, The Thousand Names, was written for older/adult readers and was published by Del Ray in the UK. The follow-up to this book should be published this year, at some point in July. However, this is Django's first foray into the children's market which will be published simultaneously in the UK and the US early April 2014.  The cover above is the UK version, whilst the one below is the US book cover. It's great to see the difference between them - what are your thoughts about these?

My review of this book is taken from the advanced reading copy, which was kindly sent to me by the publisher Doubleday. This version does not have the black and white illustrations that have been drawn by David Wyatt and can be found in the UK copy. I'm not sure if the US edition will have the same illustrations in the final version. However, I have been lucky to see a couple of these already, courtesy of the illustrator, so I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a beautiful finished copy once it has finally been published in April.

This is the type of book that I love to receive - a classic fantasy adventure that is full of magical family moments. The more that you read, the more you become gripped by the brilliant imagination. It's like all your favourite books wrapped into one - a world that houses talking mischievous cats, well dreamt beasts (with warts and all) as well as a fantastic array of characters. Some of these are mysterious whilst others are sweet and nice - just like Alice, the main character, who we follow through the main story.

The vast library is captivating. It is filled with magical secrets, dark shadows and many strange books. I loved the idea of the characters jumping into magical books. With a life of their own, they are reminiscent of the characters in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart books. I hope that I haven't shared a little spoiler here, SORRY. The characters, Mr Geryon and Mr Black, are typical good-old mysterious and nasty adults that will suck you into the story and show a dark-side that may leave you feeling slightly unsettled.

This is a book that everyone will love, in my opinion. It is a great balance of action and fantasy magic which will put a spell on you. Alice is left to battle the world after her father goes down in a shipwreck and she is sent to live with a distant relative who she knows nothing about. Will the quest to find a happy ending be achieved?

At a couple of points, this story didn't quite gel together and felt slightly disjointed in parts. Nevertheless, this is a great debut book as part of a fantastic new series that could hold epic status. Captivating, thoroughly enjoyable and a very entertaining read, I would definitely recommend this book as a read for everyone. The splendid illustrations add to the great storyline and create a fantasy gem. 

Book published by Doubleday UK - 10 April 2014 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Press Release: Patrick Ness - A Monster Calls to be Come a Motion Picture

A motion picture adaptation of Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls is to be made, directed by acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona.
River Road Entertainment, Participant Media, Lionsgate International and Focus Features are to finance the distribution of the film, which is scheduled for release in 2016.
A Monster Calls tells the story of a young boy who deals with his mother's illness and bullying by his classmates by escaping into a fantasy world of monsters and fairytales.
Ness and illustrator Jim Kay won the Carnegie Medal and Greenaway Medal for the novel in 2012.
Director Juan Antonio Bayona's previous work includes The Orphanage and The Impossible; he will be reunited with producer Belen Atienza for his work on A Monster Calls.
"It is an incredible privilege to bring Patrick Ness' exceptional book to the screen and I couldn't have imagined better partners joining me in this endeavour," Mr Bayona commented.
Book Trailer:

Monday, 10 March 2014

Mr Ripley's New Children's Books Published March 2014 - US Post Two

Chuck Black - Cloak of the Light Wars of the Realm - Published by Multnomah Books - 13, March 2014  
Drew is caught in a world of light - just inches away from the dark
What if...there was a world beyond our vision, a world just fingertips beyond our reach? What if...our world wasn’t beyond their influence?
Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn, but college offers Drew a chance to start over—until an accident during a physics experiment leaves him blind and his genius friend, Benjamin Berg, missing.
As his sight miraculously returns, Drew discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to observe fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist?
With help from Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl who offers encouragement through her faith, Drew searches for his missing friend, Ben, who seems to hold the key to unlocking this mystery. As the dark invaders close in, will he find the truth in time?

Carter Roy - The Blood Guard - Published by Two Lions - 4, March 2014
When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove’s seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too?
His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she’s a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive.
Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he’s never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom’s last words of advice: Trust no one.
That’s a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan’s not ordinary at all.

Kassy Tayler - Remnants of Tomorrow - Published by St. Martin's Griffin - 18, March 2014
Wren is in the last place she ever wanted to be: back inside the dome. Held as a prisoner of her father, the Master General Enforcer, she is completely cut off from the outside. After a harrowing escape attempt, and finding Levi trapped in a cell, Wren’s world is further turned upside down at would could be Pace’s ultimate betrayal. Only Pace’s whispered words keep her from losing all hope.  “Things are not always what they seem.”  Those words, along with the sight of yellow-feathered Pip keep Wren fighting for what she knows in her heart is right for everyone.  She must break the glass.

When Wren’s father realizes that his rebellious daughter and her friends are not falling into his plan of complacency, he turns them over to an even darker enemy. While Levi is certain his uncle will save them, the Quest and all their friends outside the dome seem to have disappeared.

The outside world is a brutal place, but Wren will not be beaten. She holds strong to her belief that outside the glass there is the promise of freedom and the hope for love.  Wren must battle the forces that want to enslave her, and the foolish whims of her own heart to free her world and finally find where she belongs.  

Friday, 7 March 2014

Book Review: Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens - By Alex McCall #GiantRobotChickens

This book will surely scramble your brain! The vision that you can see on the front cover is eggs-actly the same vision that is laid out within the story. I love this book cover - it's chicken fantastic in high definition glory A former winner of the fantastic Kelpies prize, this book has delivered a caper that will get you eggs-cited if you dare to read it. If not, then you are, in my opinion, a chicken.

The plot is hysterical and so much fun to read; it left me with a smile on my face and certainly brightened up my week. I really would love to see more outrageous offerings like this in future from other authors. There just aren't enough opportunities in stories for the exploration of humour set within a well imagined world.

This is a brilliantly written family-action read - who could not like this subject matter? Giant laser shooting robots with beaks that can peck through concrete as well as laying eggs-plosive eggs. These chickens are threatening to rule the roost and take control of the world. The streets are empty, the adults have vanished and the children of Aberdeen are running clucking scared. It's no fun living in a chicken apocalypse. It's a yolk of a predicament to find yourself being terrorised by domestic giant robot fowl. Jesse and his friends hatch a plot to stop these chicken fiends and take back their city.

There is an omelette mixture of many things going on here. The story is full of timely action but not everything goes eggs-actly to plan. The plot is very engaging for both younger and older audiences. In my opinion, this is very well written for a debut published book. It's zany, fun and full of many laugh-out-loud moments to keep you on your claws.

This is one of the best chick flick books that I've read. At least this is what I would describe as a chick flick read to be enjoyed. It is cool, easy to read and will transport you to a world of pure fantasy. Colonel Sanders would relish reading this adventure. He would be licking his fingers as he rampaged through the story feeding his appetite. I think he would describe this as 'finger-licking good'.  I think you'll find yourself hungry for more.... are there any sides to go with this?

This book is out now to buy in a chicken coop near you....

Published by Kelpies on the 20th February 2014.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Guest Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver - Published by Hodder & Stoughton - 6, March 2014

Book review written by Sarah from TotalTeenFiction. This book review may contain spoilers. If you would like to read more book offerings from Sarah please check out her wonderful web site: or follow her on twitter.  Thank you Sarah......

It's exciting to finally be writing this review, because it feels like I've been waiting for this book for ever! I love Lauren Oliver and she was one of my first favourite YA authors after she won me over with Before I Fall. Panic follows Heather and Dodge as they take part in the game of Panic, where a group of teenagers are put through a set of dangerous set of tasks until only the bravest survive.
I remember when the novel was first announced people were quick to compare it to The Hunger Games, what with the plot summary detailing a bunch of teenagers competing against each other. Panic is in no way like The Hunger Games and I want to get that out the way quite quickly. It's contemporary/realistic fiction and all the challenges the kids face are extreme versions of high school dares and pranks that have been escalated to dangerous levels, so it is very much placed in the real world.

The book is told from dual points of view from Heather and Dodge's POV. Heather is living in a trailer park with a reckless mother and a younger sister to look after and could really do with the prize money that winning the game of Panic provides. Dodge lives with his wheelchair bound sister and wants revenge for the incident that damaged her legs. Both characters are driven and determined which really powered the story. I found the tone of the book to be quite dark. I loved the way the story took on fear and really made you feel what the characters were going through during those terrifying moments. There were some great twists and turns caused by secrecy and betrayal of trust as well which really shook things up.

I think Lauren Oliver has conjured up the small town vibes really well. The book is set in Carp, a town that doesn't seem to have much going for it yet is pretty tough to get out of. The characters we meet are in quite bleak situations and you can really feel their desperation to win Panic and how many opportunities to escape their current lives that would give them.

As well as Heather and Dodge, we meet Heather's friends Natalie and Bishop, who are both also caught up in the game of Panic. I liked the developing relationships between the four of them and how there's a few romantic tensions thrown in there to amp up the emotional side to things. I was definitely drawn a lot to Dodge. I also loved the scenes with Heather and her younger sister Lily as they try and fight their way out of some pretty miserable circumstances. I always love a good sister relationship!

The only downside for me was that the story jumps in just as the game of Panic is getting underway. I felt it could maybe have done with a bit more build up at the start of the book to get to know the characters before they're forced into these dangerous situations, so I could feel them out and get to know them a little more.

I love Lauren Oliver's beautiful writing and that was no different in Panic. The use of language just blows me away every time. I loved the little bits of foreshadowing throughout the book and how there were still plenty of surprises and plot twists on top of that. I got so invested in the characters and their fates with those intense moments Heather and Dodge go through. If you loved Oliver's previous books then I have no doubt that you'll enjoy this one. 

Overall I was really impressed by Panic. It was different to what I was expecting, but had me hooked to the pages and by the last couple of chapters the adrenaline was really going! It was different to what I was expecting - bleaker is the word I'd use - but it's one of those books that stays with you long after you close the pages which is one of the best complements I can give.