Friday, 29 January 2016

EXCITING NEWS: Usborne has bought the UK/Commonwealth Rights for Will Hill - After the Fire New YA Novel

After the Fire is about a girl who, after growing up in an isolated community, starts to discover that everything she once believed is a lie. 17-year-old girl called Moonbeam. A desert religious cult. Psychiatrists and FBI Agents. Sounds Really good Will!
Hill, who previously wrote the Department 19 series (Harper Collins Children's Books), was inspired by the story of the 1993 Waco siege, which was when the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to raid the property of the Branch Davidians, a religious group in Waco, Texas, resulting in deaths on both sides.
Fiction director Rebecca Hill, who bought the rights from Charlie Campbell at Kingsford Campbell, said: “Will Hill is currently known for his action-packed plots in Department 19, and with After the Fire he will become known for writing a literary novel which is absorbing, truthful, and beautiful too. A story of identity and vulnerability, where freedom is denied at every turn – this book will break your heart and make you question: would I have the strength to act in the same way?”
Publication is scheduled for February 2017.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books Recommendation: James King - Jungle Jim and the Shadows of Kinabalu

I just wanted to highlight this book from last year, as I really loved it and wanted to take this opportunity to recommend it to you all. It has everything required, and more, in an extremely good read. It is:

  • Fast paced;
  • Action packed and non-stop; 
  • A wild jungle and very descriptive; 
  • Superhero, cool characters, monsters and bad villains;
  • Dark, mysterious and engaging plot;
  • Monsters, myths and madness;
  • Middle Grade Read 9+.
It has absolutely everything needed to make this an amazing read, so make sure that you check out the synopsis below.  If it sounds like your kind of book then please track a copy down and help a fantastic debut author on his way. Buy Book Here

‘Jungle’ Jim swings into action in his first exciting adventure, as the superpowered simian tries to shed some light on the mysterious Shadows of Kinabalu. In this hilarious modern spin on the timeless werewolf myth, young ice-hockey star, ‘Jungle’ Jim Regent travels to Borneo looking for lost love and adventure, getting more than he bargained for after he is cursed by a tribe of mysterious Iban Headhunters. Now, whenever the moon turns orange, he transforms into an eight-foot-tall, walking, talking orangutan! He’s not a werewolf, he’s a werangutan. He’s not a monster, but an Ancient Protector of Borneo – and the world beyond.

The cursed Jim now finds himself living the double life of a superhero as he battles the forces of the Shadow Emperor, an evil overlord who has been dragged into our universe by the reckless Dark Matter experiments of the mad scientist Doctor Gila. These diabolical villains command their army of Dark Matter Shadows from the ruins of a top-secret US government laboratory buried deep beneath the mighty Mount Kinabalu. 

But Jim is not alone in his battle against the darkness. Fighting alongside him is an oddball group of friends and colleagues: Rufus McFly, a young academic whose expert knowledge of ancient civilisations is invaluable to Jim; Ruthie Moo, a beautiful and resourceful British Secret Agent, and Jim’s childhood sweetheart, Sengalang, the ancient shaman of the Iban Headhunters; Wira, a highly intelligent baby orangutan fully trained in espionage; and a team of specially trained monkeys!

This band of unlikely heroes must survive a crazy, colourful, ancient, dangerous world, where nothing is what it seems and where everything, from the other-dimensional bad guys to the creepy crawlies, are out to get you. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Danny Wallace (Author) & Jamie Littler (Illustrator) - Hamish and the Neverpeople - Mr Ripley's Book Review

Nobody knows it yet, but the people of Earth are in big, big trouble.
Like - HUGE trouble. Oh, come on, where's your imagination? Double what you're thinking!
And it's all got to do with a shadowy figure, an enormous tower, some sinister monsters, huge clanking and thundering metal oddballs, and people who are just like you… but not like you at all.
Luckily Hamish and the PDF are around to help save the day! Aren't they??

Anything is possible when you read a good book. One minute you can fly to the moon in a hot air balloon made of Swiss cheese. The next, you can sail the seven seas on a floating cracker, whilst wrestling a ten foot long shark. We all can dream the dream and walk the tight rope of fantasy and, in this book, we can also share the laughter with Danny Wallace. This is the second outing for Hamish and the Pause Defence Force who are back again to foil an another evil plan. The PDF gang need to have their whits about them if they are going to succeed.

This is one of my personal favourite ongoing book series. Hamish and the WorldStoppers was a fantastic first book and it was also one of the best selling children's fiction debuts of 2015. The second instalment, Hamish and the Neverpeople is as equally as good as the first book. We still have Jamie Littler (the creator and writer of Cogg and Sprokit) onboard, whose work was serialised in The Phoenix Comics. His fantastic full page and half page illustrations makes the book come alive, as well as the brilliant cover and eye catching graphical endpapers, which will help it fly off the bookshelves once again. 

So what makes this a great book? Well, it makes me grin from ear to ear. It is an expanding ball of silliness, just like a fart, when you are a child. It's infectious and makes you laugh all of the time. The plot is zany and totally crazy. It is a "BIG SECRET" and you, the reader, only know what's going on. Are you ready to face the MEGAPOCALYPSE?  You will have to be brave like Hamish and the gang and turn the pages on a non stop action rollercoaster, which will have you doing a loop de loop of excitement.

It's very cool, very original and is built on big plot ideas and huge amounts of quirky imagination. You will encounter many characters with silly names, visit a strange parallel world and a city like no other! You will travel to Otherearth and locate Scarmarsh, the evil one, and do battle with some sinister crazy monsters. The next minute you will be running away screaming in the face of huge clanking metal oddballs. Only then you will need to rescue the King whilst saving the world. We are actually in HUGE trouble!

It's very action packed, fully immersive and an absolute joy to read. Additionally, it is full of great characters, who are well written and some of whom we only get a tantalising, fleeting glimpse of. King Les the Second is one my favourite characters, as he is unusual and very talkative. He also has a very bizarre fashion sense, so do watch out for him.You will never read a book as quick as this one, in my opinion, it's pure middle grade madness! A great book to pick up for reluctant readers with a true sense of adventure that will brighten your day.  

Published by Simon and Schuster 11th February 2016, get your order in NOW! 


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mr Ripley's Interview with Tamsin Cooke - Author of Cat Burglar - Published by OUP

Welcome Tamsin to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer some questions about your writing career and your latest book Cat Burglar. This is due to hit the shops on 7th January and will be published by OUP. If you would like to read the brilliant first chapter read it Here.  

Who would love reading The Scarlet Files: Cat Burglar, and why? 
I think both girls and boys aged 9+ would love to read Cat Burglar. It’s fast paced and full of adventure and humour. There are daring heists, mystical happenings and exciting characters.

Give us an insight into the main character, Scarlet McCall? 
Scarlet is an ordinary schoolgirl by day (trying to blend into the background, not making friends) but at night she is a trainee cat burglar. She and her father are on a mission to return priceless treasures to their rightful owners. Scarlet is brave and feisty but has huge issues around trust. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, apart from her father. She’s desperate to prove herself to him. 

What tips do you have for a would-be Cat Burglar? 
You need to keep a low profile – you can’t let people get too close in case they learn your secrets. 
You need to be very fit – able to scale walls and run away from guard dogs. 
If you have a fear of heights, you probably shouldn’t go into this line of work! 

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work? 
I’m always on the lookout for stories about heists. And I like seeing how people have managed to get into buildings. Scarlet and her father have poached some of the more elaborate ways to access a house.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 
Whenever I need a break from writing, I go into my kitchen and pull down the blinds. Then I put on my headphones and dance. I’ve been known to dance for an hour non-stop! 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 
How many rubbish cat burglars there are! 
Two men decided to paint masks on their faces with permanent marker rather than wear balaclavas. Funnily enough, the police managed to catch two men covered in fading felt-tip. 

A burglar was upstairs when the family came home. He managed to stay quiet until the husband told a funny joke. The burglar burst out laughing, giving himself away!

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they? 
It took me twelve years to get published. Certain things helped me get better - mainly practice and listening to what professionals had to say. I got so many rejection letters, but luckily they often included gems of advice. The literary agents could see where I was going wrong. When I first got these rejection letters, the temptation was to rage and throw them away. But after I got over the initial devastation, what they told me proved to be invaluable. So I would say - listen to constructive criticism from professionals. 

At the same time – keep believing in yourself. No one can tell your story as well as you can.

What helps you be creative? 
I pay attention to my dreams. I go for dog walks on my own (well - I do take my dog!) and just let my mind wander. If my story isn’t working and I’m stuck going round in circles, I’ll take a shower. I don’t know how it works – but having the hot water drip down my head unlocks ideas. On some days, I am very, very clean! 

What question have you never been asked in an interview? 
Am I writing from experience? Have I ever been a cat burglar? 
Obviously there is no way I can answer that!!!! ;)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Mr Ripley's Favourite Children's/Teenage US Book Picks For February 2016 - Post One

Victoria Scott - Titans - Published by Scholastic Press (February 23, 2016) - Age 11+
Ever since the Titans appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan's world has revolved around the mechanical horses. It's not just the thrill of the race. It's the engineering of the horses themselves and the way they're programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she'll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid's who wager on them.

But when Astrid's offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year's derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it's more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

Kate O'Hearn - Valkyrie - Published by Aladdin (February 2, 2016) Age 8+
Freya is dreading her upcoming birthday when she’ll officially have to take up her duties as a Valkyrie. She doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the legends before her—legends including her mother and sisters. And she certainly doesn’t want anything to do with humans!

Freya thinks humans are cruel, hate-filled creatures, but as she observes their world, she begins to wonder what it would be like to make friends with the girls or laugh with the boys she sees. And what would it be like to live without the fear that she could cause someone’s death with a single touch?

Then when she’s sent on her first mission, she reaps the soul of a fallen soldier with unfinished business…business that sends her on an epic quest to the mortal world. Will Freya find the true meaning of being a human, or will she finally accept the legend she is destined to become?

Pseudonymous Bosch - Bad Luck (The Bad Books) - Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (February 9, 2016) Age 8+
At Earth Ranch, things can get a little magical (some might say strange). Intrepid readers will discover a runaway boy, fishy cruise ship, strange cave paintings, dragon-like footprints, and other mysteries that Clay and his friends need to solve. Danger, adventure, mischief, mystery, llamas, and a delightfully irreverent and hilarious narrator make bestselling author Pseudonymous Bosch's anticipated new novel irresistible.
J. A. White - The Thickety: Well of Witches - Published by Katherine Tegen Books (February 23, 2016) Age 10+
J. A. White’s The Thickety: Well of Witches is an epic quest into an enchanted kingdom with new kinds of magic, an old enemy, and only one way out. Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this third novel in the spectacular and twisty fantasy series that has readers and reviewers raving.
Kara and Taff know that only Grace Stone has the power to reverse her Last Spell on their father, and that in order to save him, they have to rescue their foe from the Well of Witches first. Forgiving Grace should be the hardest part of their journey . . . but soon the children are confronted by creatures called the Faceless, mysteries as old as magic, and an ancient secret that threatens their very lives. Back in the World, a war against magic is brewing that endangers everyone they care about. Can Kara and Taff find Grace and make it back to their father in time?

Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Phoenix Presents: Tamsin and the Deep by Neill Cameron (Author) & Kate Brown (Illustrator) - Graphic Review

"I love The Phoenix. It celebrates that wonderful marriage between words and pictures and its blend of excitement and wit and sheer raucous fun is exactly what readers need today. Philip Pullman. 

The Phoenix Comic launched in 2012 is produced by a small family run business. Released every Friday, it is packed with brilliant non-gender stories by some of the best story writers and illustrative creators in the UK. This for me is the reason why it's going from strength to strength. It's definitely not a market that we dominate in the UK and is a much needed outlet.

It recently celebrated its 200th issue and became the first independent comic in the UK to reach this position for over 40 years. This is an amazing achievement and one that we will, hopefully, continue to enjoy for many more years to come. What is even more fantastic is that each issue is jam packed full of stories, puzzles and perhaps a competition or two, but absolutely no advertisements, which is very rare to find indeed. 

Tamsin and the Deep was featured in the Phoenix on a weekly basis back in 2014. Now we can explore this wonderful adventure in one volume, which is due to be published by David Fickling Books on February 4th. 

As you fling open the cover, you'll find a mesmerising swirl of vibrant colour, so take a deep breath and dive into the bottom of the endless sea. 

When Tamsin washes up on the beach after wiping out her body board, she's surprised to learn that she's been missing for weeks. From the very start you will be asking the following questions: What happened? Why did it happen to her? Where has she been? 

The narrative produced by Neill Cameron/Kate Brown is very clever; it feels like it could have been written for any age. The story will suck you in like a shipwreck; the further you dive the more you will find on board. The book has been inspired by English Folklore, which is very much on show. This, to me, gives it a dark and somewhat grim edge to the whole story. The fantastic illustrations are a perfect marriage to the plot and tone done by Kate Brown/Neill Cameron.In fact they work together in perfect harmony. 

This is a story about a deadly curse inflicted on Tamsin and her family. She is a feisty and courageous teenage female heroine who has a brother Morgan that we don't know that much about. The first depicted images of the characters, to me, look like they are sporting Star-Trek outfits, which actually made me chuckle. Nevertheless, you will encounter a fantastic adventure, a long forgotten world of ancient magic and a fight for Tamsin to save her brother from a grizzly death. The Mermaid from hell will have you running for cover as she lurks with malicious magical intent! You have been warned. 

Tamsin needs to change the course of history to save her brother. Armed with a magic stick and a fist full of courage, you will love the drama as it unfolds. It's brilliantly vivid and super cool; an extravaganza of images and narrative that will explode in your imagination with every page that is turned. Pick up this pocket-sized edition so that you can relive the moments again and again. Watch out for more Tamsin Thomas as she is due to return in 'Tamsin and the Dark', but for now she now needs to save the world.

Other Phoenix book recommendations: 

The Pirates of Pangaea: Book 1 - Dan Hartwell and Neill Cameron 
The Mystery of the Crooked Imp - Conrad Mason and David Wyatt

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Abi Elphinstone - The Shadow Keeper - (Dreamsnatcher) Book Review

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (February 25, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1471122700
  • Age: 9+

Moll Pecksniff and her friends are living as outlaws in a secret cave by the sea, desperate to stay hidden from the Shadowmasks. But further along the coast lies the Amulet of Truth, the only thing powerful enough to force the Shadowmasks back and contain their dark magic. So, together with Gryff, the wildcat that's always by her side, and her best friends Alfie and Sid, Moll must sneak past smugglers, outwit mer creatures and crack secret codes to save the Old Magic. With more at stake than ever before and the dark magic rising fast, can Moll and her friends stop the Shadowmasks before it's too late? 

Abi Elphinstone  is back with the eagerly anticipated sequel to The Dreamsnatcher, which is sporting another cracking book cover illustrated by the talented Thomas Flintham.
After Abi's Norwegian travels she has distilled some of her previous adventurous experiences such as kayaking through the fjords, jumping off cliffs and taming a wild spirit or two. All of these Nordic foraging ingredients shape this story into a fantastic middle grade adventure that I have come to know and love.

We are back once again with Moll and her courageous friends at the Crooked Cave. Armed with a breathtaking story about the sea, it leaves me conjuring up many magical possibilities: spooky shipwrecks, smugglers caves and some nasty pirates, perhaps. This book has all of it covered in a five star reading experience. It has so much more to offer the reader, regardless of age or gender - it's a book that will suit everyone.

As you firmly place your land legs on the first page, the sea breathes quietly and the sprawled landscape is inspiring. It lulls you into a false sense of security.  However, this does not last as the darkness begins to brew within a cauldron of old dark magic, and even darker spirits. Each are lurking with mischievous intent which leads to explosive action and an adventure ready to boil over the reader. It leads you down a thrilling fantasy path of danger and suspense that will leave you gripped to the sandy core.

Moll and her tribe of outlaws have a mystery to crack and secrets to uncover once again. They need to find the Amulet of truth before the evil Shadowmasks find it first. It is a race for time with some new lovable and not so lovable characters which are thrown into the mix. This leads to a heartwarming tale about friendship of standing by and believing what's right and wrong. It is a great story that will leave you feeling good; a plot brimming full of heart, sole and much intrigue.

Every page is like snatching a dream it's so surreal. You'll need to get your catapult ready to fight giant eels and wrestle with marsh spirits. You will also need to ride a Kelpie and riddle with the best Mer ghosts. Take a deep breath as you encounter much more in this epic  adventure including the Bone Murmur's prophecy - will it lead to a fate worse than death?

I loved every minute of this book. It's full of dark magic spells both old and true with a battle of fantasy goodness all played out in the rugged backdrop of the outdoor coast. Full of immersive action and great characters, this book will have you engrossed until the very last page. When you have finished reading it, it will leave you with a tinge of sadness and a yearning for the next book. This is the best sequel I've read for some time, which is not an easy task, so well done Abi. I'll have more of the same please. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Self Published Wednesday #1: Cornelia Funke - Golden Yarn (Reckless Series BK3) - Breathing Books

The third book in Cornelia Funke’s internationally bestselling Reckless series. eBook and Audio Book and Hardback Available Now! 

 Jacob Reckless continues to travel the portal in his father's abandoned study. His name has continued to be famous on the other side of the mirror, as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. His family and friends, from his brother, Will to the shape-shifting vixen, Fox, are on a collision course as the two worlds become connected. Who is driving these two worlds together and why is he always a step ahead?

This new force isn’t limiting its influence to just Jacob’s efforts – it has broadened the horizon within MirrorWorld. Jacob, Will and Fox travel east and into the Russian folklore, to the land of the Baba Yaga, pursued by a new type of being that knows our world all to well.

When he spotted Clara at the bottom of the steps, he nearly stumbled into a tourist who was coming up.

Will? Jacob’s heartbeat was set racing by all the worries he’d tried to keep at bay ever since he sent his brother back through the mirror. It was ridiculous how any unusual gesture or expression he’d not seen on his brother’s face before immediately took him back to those moments in the palace in Vena where Will had nearly killed him. But Clara smiled at him reassuringly, and Jacob slowed so that he wouldn’t stumble over his own feet. If this wasn’t about Will, then what was she doing here?

Yes, what, Jacob? Oh, he could be such a fool. Naive like a puppy, he stumbled straight into the trap. But the face at the bottom of the steps was so familiar. It still reminded him of all they’d been through together. His memory’s soft focus had turned even the Larks’ Water into a pleasant anecdote. He noticed she was wearing leather gloves despite the warmth of this summer morning, but he didn’t think too much of it.

By Cornelia Funke
Release date: December 1, 2015
Breathing Books
978-0-9891656-3-1 (E-BOOK)
978-0-9891656-2-4 (Hardcover)
978-0-399-56890-9 (Audio Download)

Cornelia Funke's MirrorWorld for iOS iPad
MirrorWorld is a compendium of living stories that expand on the fantasy world of best-selling author Cornelia Funke's Reckless and Fearless novels. The app combines cinema, storybook, and interactive elements in 16 different adventures and experiences. Immerse yourself in the tales, the magical panoramas, characters and curiosities, or read them as illustrated stories.
For the first time ever, the MirrorWorld described in Cornelia's fiction can be seen and explored – but only by those willing to take the leap and venture beyond the Mirror....

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Interview with Patrick Samphire - Secrets of the Dragon Tomb

Welcome Patrick Samphire to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your debut book, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, which has been published by Henry Holt in the US. After reading this interview, I hope that you will be excited to read the book just like me. Have a read and see what you think?

Tell us a little bit about SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB?
SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB is a thrilling middle grade adventure story set on Mars in the year 1816. But this is not the Mars you might expect. It's full of strange, clockwork machines, weird, alien creatures, and dinosaurs. In the north, the ancient dragon tombs are packed with incredible devices and technology. 

Our hero, Edward Sullivan, spends his time trying to keep his eccentric family from complete disaster, but when his parents and eldest sister are kidnapped as part of a scheme to loot an undiscovered dragon tomb, he, his other two sisters, and their mysterious cousin set off on a perilous pursuit across the Martian wilderness. Together they must evade the bad guy's minions, battle mechanical nasties, and escape deadly Martian hunting machines. If they can't, they will never uncover the secrets of the dragon tomb and rescue Edward's family.

12-year-old character Edward Sullivan, what is he like as a character? Do you have any similar traits?
All of my characters have some part of me in them, but I definitely sympathise with Edward more than any of the rest of them. All of Edward's family are exceptional in some way. His father is a genius, and his little sister is turning out to be just as clever. His oldest sister is incredibly sweet and beautiful, and his middle sister is very caring and compassionate. Edward, though, is pretty ordinary. He's not a hero or super-intelligent or super-athletic. But what he is is absolutely determined and he refuses to give in. I don't know if that's me or not, but it is the kind of hero I like. I don't think it's much fun when the hero is cleverer or stronger than everyone else, but put someone who is basically ordinary in a terrible situation, and then you've got a story.

Can you describe a mechanical nasty? How do you get your ideas?
I absolutely love coming up with mechanical nasties. There are loads of them in the book. The world of my story is one where there are lots and lots of eccentric inventors with the kind of technology that lets them come up with whatever wild ideas they can. If you can imagine it, someone has made it out of cogs and levers and springs. My favourite ones in this book are the mechanical crabs, which are basically metal crabs with razor-sharp claws that are powered by springs. I don't want to say too much about them because I don't want to give away what happens in the story, but they have a great role to play.

One of my biggest inspirations for this book was old science fiction, particularly science fiction art from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The most important influence was a French artist (and writer) called Albert Robida, who drew incredible, quirky machines. I didn't take any ideas directly from those artists, but what I did do was start each day by flicking through their art to get myself in the right headspace. I also told myself that there was no idea so wild or so ridiculous that I couldn't use it. I think it's really important not to censor your ideas just because you're worried about what someone else might think of them.

What do you think is funny, especially in Middle Grade Writing? 
I must admit I'm not a big fan of cruel humour I don't really like laughing at other people's misfortune. I think there has to be some kindness and warmth in humour, particularly in Middle Grade. Most of the humour in SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB comes from the characters, and that's the kind I like. I like silly situations, but I particularly like the funny things characters do to get out of them. I'm a big fan of PG Wodehouse, and I think his style of humour translates well to Middle Grade.

What tips can you share in writing a believable world/background?
Detail. The key is, you need to know how everything works, even if you don't put it in the book. In fact, as the writer you should know many, many times more than you put in your book. It has to be there in your head. You need to know the whole of your world. Then you can write the story within it. 

When you start off writing, it's tempting to just throw in some random, cool-sounding stuff, but if you don't know your world and you don't know how it all fits in, then it won't be convincing. For example, I have a detailed history for my Mars that goes back thousands of years. I have my own map (which is separate and much more comprehensive than the map that's in SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB). I know a lot about the creatures. I know the history that the characters don't and all the misunderstandings that they have about their past. I know (pretty well) how the weird technology works. And so on. It can be intimidating, but you build it up over time and it makes what could be a ridiculous story into something believable.

What do you think makes a good story?                                                  
The thing that made me want to write when I was a kid was reading books that totally absorbed me and carried me away. The kind of book you could sink into and which felt even more real than the real world. I wanted to write the kind of books that could make someone else feel the same way. That's still what I like reading, and for me, that's a good story. A world and characters that draw you in so far you don't notice your house falling down around you.

What genre of books do you like to read? do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?                                                                                                             

I've always been an enormous fantasy and science fiction fan, and that's what I read most of, but I do love lots of other books too, and I think every writer has to read widely. I've read some great mysteries, romances and literary novels in recent years. And, of course, I try to read as much Middle Grade as I possibly can, of all genres.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?                                                                                                    

Yes, absolutely. Although there are plenty of great book blogs and review sites like Goodreads around, and people hear about books through word of mouth, when most people (including me) go into a bookstore, we don't know what we're going to buy. The thing that makes you pick up a book in the first place before anything else is the cover. I don't think anyone *buys* a book because of the cover, but covers are what draw them in in the first place. Covers have to tell you what kind of book you're getting and what type of story it's telling, they have to stand out from across the store, and they have to make you want to pick the book up. And they have to do it all in a split second. It's only when they manage that that you make the decision to find out what the book is about and maybe read a bit of it. A cover really can make or break a book.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I wanted to be a writer. I went through those stages we all go through of wanting to be an astronaut or a racing driver or a fireman, but the first time I actually knew I really wanted to be something, it was a writer.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us, like new writing projects?                                                                                                 
Right now I'm writing a proposal for a third book in the SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB series. The second book, which will be called THE EMPEROR OF MARS, is going to come out at the beginning of 2017, and I'm going to pitch a third book to my publisher to see if she wants it. I've also started work on a completely unrelated Middle Grade fantasy with wizards, murder, and mystery, set in England in the 1930s. That's still in the early stages, so we'll see where it goes.

Patrick Samphire started writing when he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of getting out of English lessons. It didn’t work, but he kept on writing anyway. He has lived in Zambia, Guyana, Austria and England. He now lives with his wife and two children in Wales, U.K. He has published almost twenty short stories. Secrets of the Dragon Tomb is his first novel.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Christopher Edge - The Many Worlds of Albie Bright - Book Review - Published by Nosy Crow

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nosy Crow (14 Jan. 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 0857636049
  • Age: 9+
When Albie's mum dies, it's natural he should wonder where she's gone. His parents are both scientists and they usually have all the answers. Dad mutters something about Albie's mum being alive and with them in a parallel universe. So Albie finds a box, his mum's computer and a rotting banana, and sends himself through time and space to find her...Quality commercial fiction, well written with real heart and adventure.

Traditionally, January is a very strong month for book releases. I've read so many great books already, especially in the middle grade genre. I've loved every reading minute so far and this book has been no exception. It is another fantastic outing by Christopher Edge; this is his fifth published novel (I believe) and one that resonated with me very much. The book cover is very inviting. Produced by Matt Saunders, it will grab your attention and make you want to read it.

I loved the plot from the very first minute. You are quickly engulfed in a warm embrace as you follow the main character, Albie Bright. He's a gentle boy, who is very lovable and helps to drive the story onwards and forwards to a parallel world and beyond. You never know where he will end up, with his rotting banana, in this exciting standalone novel. It is very cleverly written weaving in some uncommon subjects and emotions.  Albie is trying to come to terms with the grief of loosing his mum from cancer; he would move heaven and earth to see her again. Hurtling through time and space to captivate our hearts, the story explodes into life the more that you read.

This is a book that I really would like to see kids read. It has an engaging story exploring the themes of science and quantum physics; we are given a big dollop of insight into what the Hadron Collider is all about. Did you know it's the most powerful particle collider, and the largest single machine in the world? I did not know this until I read this book. It is educational in a fun and easy way that you don't even realise that you're learning. 

The book has been thoroughly well-researched, which makes it one of the smarter reads to pick up this year. It's a family adventure of a lifetime, full of a lifetime of memoirs. It will make you look at life in a totally different perspective, perhaps from a cardboard box or maybe as you look at the stars on a clear night thinking of Schrodinger's cat. It is a world full of many possibilities, a world of imagination and one that I would recommend to everyone, not just children. 

Check out the recent interview with Christopher on Mr Ripley's blog Here.  Many thanks to Dom and Nosy Crow for sending this book for me to review - it's very much appreciated. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Favourite Book Picks: Children's/Teens - January 2016 - US Published - Post Two (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

James Riley - The Stolen Chapters (Story Thieves) - Published by Aladdin (January 19, 2016)

Owen Conners would never jump into a mystery. There are too many hidden clues, twists that make no sense, and an ending you never see coming. Mysteries are just not Owen’s thing. So how exactly did he end up in one with his memory erased? And that’s far from the only question.

How did Kiel Gnomenfoot, boy magician, lose all of his magic? Where’s Bethany, their half-fictional friend? And who’s the annoying guy wearing the question mark mask and Sherlock Holmes hat, taunting Owen and Kiel that Bethany is in grave danger?

Bethany is trapped in a hidden room that’s slowly filling with water, and she can’t escape until her friends find her. But is she imprisoned by more than just chains and a locked door? What’s she hiding from Owen and Kiel?

Maybe some mysteries just shouldn’t be solved…

Katherine Marsh & Kelly Murphy - The Door by the Staircase - Published by Disney-Hyperion (January 5, 2016)

Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can't stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn't go quite as well as she'd hoped, Mary fears she'll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever. 

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron's all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn't dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z's true identity. If Mary's not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

Award-winning author Katherine Marsh draws from Russian fairytales in this darkly funny middle-grade fantasy novel.

Monica Tesler - Bounders - Published by Aladdin (January 5, 2016)
In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.
Jennifer A. Nielsen - Rise of the Wolf (Mark of the Thief, Book 2) - Published by Scholastic Press (January 26, 2016)
Nic may have escaped enslavement in the mines outside of Rome, but his troubles are far from over. The Praetor War -- the battle to destroy Rome from within -- is in full force, and Nic is caught in the crossfire. The secretive Praetors are determined to unlock a powerful amulet -- one sure to bring the empire to its knees. Worse, the Praetors believe Nic holds the key to finding this amulet, and they will stop at nothing to steal it, even if that means harming the people Nic holds most dear.

When the Praetors capture Nic's mother, Nic knows he must do anything to save her. He challenges the Praetors to a chariot race. If he wins, they will release his mother. But if he loses, he must hand over a magic that will certainly bring about the end of Rome as well as his own life. Can Nic once again harness his magic and gather the strength to defeat his enemies? Or will he lose his mother and bear witness to Rome's destruction?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Favourite Children's/Young Adult Books to Movie Adaptations 2016

    Are you ready for 2016 YA book to movie adaptions? Because they aren’t stopping, 
    what films are you looking forward to watching in 2016?
    The Divergent Series: Allegiant
    2016 film
    Tris must escape with Four and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known in order to find a peaceful solution for their embroiled city. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.
    Release date: March 18, 2016 (United Kingdom)
    Director: Robert Schwentke
    Film series: Divergent Film Series
    Story by: Veronica Roth
    Screenplay: Stephen Chbosky, Noah Oppenheim, Bill Collage, Adam Cooper

      The BFG
      2016 film
      A young girl (Ruby Barnhill), a queen (Penelope Wilton) and the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) must stop an invasion of man-eating giants.
      Initial release: July 1, 2016 (USA)
      Director: Steven Spielberg
      Story by: Roald Dahl
      Music composed by: John Williams
      Production companies: DreamWorks Studios, Walden Media, 

        Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass
        2016 film
        Alice (Mia Wasikowska) travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp).
        Release date: May 27, 2016 (United Kingdom)
        Director: James Bobin
        Film series: Alice in Wonderland
        Music composed by: Danny Elfman
        Producers: Tim Burton, Joe Roth, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd

          Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
          2016 film
          Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) must track down an array of magical creatures in 1926 New York.
          Initial release: November 18, 2016 (USA)
          Director: David Yates
          Film series: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Film Series
          Adapted from: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
          Story by: J. K. Rowling

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