Monday, 31 October 2016

Guest Post: Andy Seed - Prankenstein On Tour - Total Write-Off: Fiction vs Non-Fiction (Halloween Day)

Welcome, Andy Seed, to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books to celebrate the publication of the third book in the Prankensteinseries which was published on October 6th by Fat Fox Books. The story sees our hero, Soapy Thompson, having a fun time on a world cruise along with his friends from Estonia, Arvo and Loogi (the 'twince'). All is going well until some modern-day pirates board the ship and kidnap Soapy's mum. 

This is a brilliantly illustrated (Richard Morgan) silly adventure full of fun and trouble aimed at readers 7 years and upwards. Here is Andy's Post Total Write-Off: Fiction vs Non-Fiction.

Most children’s authors write made up stuff and some write true stuff. The made up stuff (i.e. stories) comes under the boring label ‘fiction’ and the true stuff (i.e. fact) has the completely useless title of ‘non-fiction’. If ever there was a phrase to send children to sleep, someone has found it and attached it to a whole sphere of publishing. To make matters worse the label is absurd: how can you define something by what it’s not? ‘Coffee or non-coffee, madam?’ 

I’m one of the few authors who writes both novels and factual books for kids and because they are so perceived to be so different you might think it’s almost like having a split writing personality. With fiction there’s a blank page and the author is the creator of people, places, events – the controller of time, space and, well, everything. With non-fiction there’s a known world out there: a box of information into which you dip and select and then weave into some kind of paper presentation, probably with pictures and diagrams and facts and figures. 

Except that it’s not that simple. Most of the time fiction writers work within the real world and need to do lots of research to ensure that their tale has plausibility and a convincing setting. My most recent novel Prankenstein on Tour may be a funny romp about a prank-playing monster who sends a world cruise into meltdown but it still needed to be set on a ship which reads like a real ocean liner and the characters needed to visit real places with buildings and details described as they really are. 

So, fiction writers must check their facts too, a lot of the time, and therefore blend imagination with reality. Of course if you’re setting a story on Planet Mooku in the year 3028 then it’s a different game although your spacecraft will still have to obey the laws of physics and the galaxy you’re in must make sense to the reader. 

In the case of Prankenstein on Tour, it’s the third book in a series and I really enjoyed the fact that I could re-visit previously created settings and work with established characters, injecting humour and fun into the story. In the book, the central character Soapy Thompson, aged 12, is overjoyed when his dad wins a world cruise for five and even more excited when his best friends, the detective-like Estonian twins Arvo and Loogi can come along too. The problem is cheese. If Soapy eats any he turns into an uncontrollable prank-crazed beast. Normally there’s no cheese at his house but here on a giant cruise ship… 

So, what about writing non-fiction? Well, for a start it doesn’t just cover facts. My own non-fic children’s titles, such as The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff which won the 2015 Blue Peter Best Book with Facts Award is mainly factual but contains jokes, riddles, silly names, poems and lots of other content that was created rather than researched. 

Children sometimes ask me if it’s harder to write fiction and usually I say it is because you have to create a whole world and then make the characters in it take us on a journey which will draw us in powerfully. Yet there’s a huge imaginative process in the writing of factual content too. There are a million ways to do it and more. Take the fact that the tiger is the largest of all cats. How can that be presented? Written in a dull sentence, yes, but a picture would help. A photo? What about a comparison with another animal or a human? A diagram? Some kind of snappy graphic? Instead of telling its weight in kg, how many 5 year-olds might it weigh the same as? (18 using averages) and so on. There’s a different kind of process but it’s still highly creative. 

There are places where the two worlds collide too, of course: biographies and true stories for a start. So maybe fiction and non-fiction aren’t so different. But pleeeeease, let’s have a new label for the latter.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Jeremy de Quidt - The Wrong Train - Blog Tour - What Makes a Great Halloween/Horror Read?

Welcome to the sixth stop, or perhaps we should call it a station, as part of this blog tour. I am delighted to be able to introduce 'What makes a great Halloween/horror read' post by Jeremy. It really is a chilling and cleverly written read. I certainly could feel my anxiety of the outcome beginning to surface as the anxiety and atmosphere intensified. It definitely highlights all of the main elements required in a good horror story - sleep well tonight!

The elderly man in the little bookshop thought for a moment.

‘What makes a great Halloween/horror read?’ he said.

He tapped the ash from his cigarette and leaned forward, leaned so far forward that his face was almost touching mine.

‘Very bad things happen to good people,’ he said. ‘That’s what makes a good Halloween read.’

I waited for him to say something more but he just looked at me.

Is that it? I asked.

He nodded.

‘And atmosphere,’ he said. ‘Lots of anxiety and fear. Do you realise for example that we are the only people in this shop of mine, and that after you came in I closed the door?’

I said that I hadn’t noticed. But I noticed it then, noticed that the card in the window had been turned round so that it said ‘Closed’.

‘Scarier too when you think someone is safe and they aren’t,’ he added.

I’m just wanting a book for Halloween, I said. It’s a present - friend of mine’s not been well.

‘You’ll be wanting a story with high stakes, then. Consequences.’ He had a thin smile, like a knife. ‘You’ll be wanting a story where you’ll like the person in it - maybe they’re doing something nice for someone else - then when the bad things start, you can be really afraid for what’s going to happen to them.’ 

He drew again on his cigarette and glanced up at the wall to where two yellowing newspapers hung in frames. ‘Boy Disappears’ read one. ‘Body found on tow-path’ read the other.

‘And foreshadowing,’ he said. ‘You’ll be looking for a story with foreshadowing. That will ratchet up the fear, give you some time to think about what might happen next.’

He lifted the counter, shuffled past me and reaching up to a switch turned the lights out in the shop. There was some street light from the window, but the narrow shop was all darkness and shadows now. I’ve never liked dark or shadows.

‘Your story will need fears,’ he said. ‘We all have fears. Most people fear death and evil. Lots of room in a Halloween story for evil. I like a nice bit of evil.’

I think I’ll just come back later, I said.

He was standing between me and the door now.

‘Can’t let you go yet, though’ he said.

Why not? I asked.

‘Pacing, you see,’ he said. ‘A good story is all about pacing. All that anxiety, those fears, they’ve got to build to something, got to to lead you on to the inevitable moment.’

Inevitable moment when what? I said.

For a second or two he didn’t say anything. Then he smiled again.

‘When the bad thing happens. We’ll all want to see that scene, won’t we. Won’t be a good Halloween read if we don’t see that.’

Then he turned and opened the door for me, stood to one side and let me pass.

I didn’t hesitate. I went straight through and out onto the street.

But to my discomfort he followed. He closed the door and locking it behind him looped his arm through mine. For all his old age that grip was as firm as iron. 

‘And your story will need a twist to it too. We can talk about that twist while we walk,’ he said.

And it was only then that I realised that the passage beside the shop, the one that he was quietly but ever so firmly leading me down didn’t lead back into town, but to the old canal - to the canal and the tow-path that ran unlit, forgotten and unseen beside it.

Book review Here thanks for reading, have a safe and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: A Halloween Interview with Cameron McAllister - The Demon Undertaker

Cameron McAllister is a British television writer and producer. His first children's book was The Tin Snail, which is a fantastic read inspired by real events of how one little car changed history. 
The Demon Undertaker is his second book, published this September (2016), it is a brilliant read for this time of year. For a spooky atmospheric read that will send your spine a-tingling, please read my book review HERE. 

WELCOME Cameron McAllister to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books.

Let’s talk about writing! How do you want your readers to react when they read the last page of The Demon Undertaker?

“I MUST write a five star review immediately!” Obviously, that would be a great reaction. But more than anything, a writer wants their reader to come away wishing the book hadn’t ended, but at the same time feeling it ended in just the right place. I hope with THE DEMON UNDERTAKER they feel like they’ve been taken on what you called a breathtaking “stagecoach” of a ride. The book is definitely intended to be full of thrills and spills, as well as spooky – not to mention downright gruesome – moments. But I think if that’s all it was it would feel a bit soulless. I always try to find a story with a big human heart, so I hope readers will come away feeling they’ve had their heartstrings plucked a bit too!

Where did you get your spooky inspiration from?

One of my biggest inspirations was the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! I also liked the idea of London being a bit like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, full of secret back alleyways. As well as this, I did a lot of research into grave robbers and surgeons looking for corpses to dissect. The idea for the Undertaker himself sprang from thinking how someone might best disguise themselves if they were snatching victims off the street. It was important to have something visually strong and ghoulish. Something wrapped up in death. I also discovered that the year in which the book is set was the first known use of the term “vampyre.” So I wanted to make my Demon feel supernatural – that way people might think he was the living dead! 

I’d also been wanting to write something for a long time about the real life magistrate Henry Fielding. As well as a famous playwright and author, he was effectively the chief of police and was credited with creating the first prototype for the modern-day police force, the Bow Street Runners. Lots of other books have tackled the Runners, so I wanted a unique angle. Henry Fielding was a bit of a rogue in his youth, so I thought it would be fun if it was his teenage nephew who was really behind the creation of the Runners. What better than London’s first detective agency being manned exclusively by kids! 

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

With this book and my last, THE TIN SNAIL, I used elements of real events and mixed them with a good dose of invention. In THE TIN SNAIL it was the remarkable story of how the 2CV car was invented in secret during WW2 so the Nazis couldn’t steal it. Once I’d found this story it was great fun adding invented characters and stories to flesh it out. Likewise, Henry Fielding, the magistrate in THE DEMON UNDERTAKER, was a real person. I did a lot of research into him and London’s sinister underbelly of crime. It was almost a struggle to fit all the gruesome things I discovered into the book! 

What are the differences between writing a script and writing a book?

The biggest difference is that you generally don’t have to describe things much in a TV or film script – you just write a stage direction saying “Sinister back alley.” If you did that in a book, the reader would rightly feel cheated. The novelist’s job is to conjure up a vivid image in the reader’s head. So describing locations and what characters look like all adds to the flavour and atmosphere. Likewise, in a TV script you rarely describe what the character is thinking inside their head or what they’re feeling – it’s almost always just done in dialogue. After all, the viewer isn’t going to read the script. In a book you have a fantastic advantage – you can describe EVERYTHING your character is experiencing! That way the reader is completely walking in their shoes.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

The best writers make you feel like you’re totally inside the character, feeling and thinking everything they are. “Insight” is a key word – the writer needs to know the character’s innermost thoughts. The more authentic the character and their world feels, the more vivid the reader’s experience will be. As well as this I want a really juicy story. Everyone looks for different ingredients in a book, but I love a really gripping plot that keeps me guessing and, just when I think I know what’s going to happen, there’s a big twist to subvert it. 

Another big ingredient for me is what you might call “heart” – I need to really care about my hero (or anti-hero). People mistakenly think this means that heroes must always be completely “good”. I think this sometimes makes them a bit boring. I prefer my heroes to more realistic – which means they do good AND bad things like the rest of us. The important thing is that they’re INTERESTING and they have a chink in their armour – a way that lets you see into their secret vulnerable side. People who are vulnerable on the inside are often the most interesting to read about because we all identify with people’s fears and insecurities. 

I usually find that if a character is also BRAVE or FUNNY, I can forgive them a multitude of other failings. Hermione in Harry Potter could have been a really boring goody-two-shoes, but she’s so brave you can’t help but love her. Likewise I deliberately made Esther in DEMON UNDERTAKER quite bossy and standoffish. But you soon discover she’s vulnerable and warm on the inside, but also very gutsy. I loved her character so much I’m making the hero in my new book a lot like her!

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?

I’ve just finished a first draft of a new book that’s a bit older. It’s a supernatural thriller about someone who discovers that everything they thought about their life is based on a massive lie. 

What scares you?

One of the shows I’ve written on was a series called PRIMEVAL about dinosaurs coming back from the past. When we were making it I discovered that the best way to scare the living daylights out of children – and adults – is very simple. Just make them think the monster/baddie is about to jump out on the hero at any moment. The longer you sustain this, the more suspense there is. For me, suspense is the most important ingredient. Often, when the monster does jump out, it can be a bit of a let down. That’s why the best scary movies won’t show you what the monster looks like for about an hour. The longer they can keep you in suspense, the more scared you are because NOTHING is ever as scary as what’s in your own head. Except perhaps the monster in ALIEN. Now that what a cool monster. But again, you didn’t see it for AGES!

Funnily enough, the scariest monsters for me are often the simplest. A few horror films stand out way above the others for me – HALLOWEEN, THE GRUDGE and THE RING. The last two are inspired by Japanese ghost stories and use almost no special effects, but they completely terrified me. Just that idea that you think you’re alone and then you catch a glimpse of someone’s foot hidden behind a door and you realise – oh no! - someone’s there! 

HALLOWEEN was one of the first movies I saw where the bogey man simply wore a white mask. But masks are TERRIFYING – simply because you can’t see any human expression or eyes. DOCTOR WHO did a great episode called THE EMPTY CHILD which scared my own children to death even though the bogey man was just a kid! Why? Because the child in question wore a gas mask. It was seriously creepy!

It’s for this reason THE DEMON UNDERTAKER wears a spooky white mask. If you can’t see their face, hell, maybe they don’t have one! Just think how terrifying clowns are!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

MR RIPLEY'S BOOK COVER WARS - THE BATTLE OF THE HORROR - HEAT ONE 2016/17 + BOOK COMPETITION (Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell - Odd and the Frost Giants. )

Oh yes, Mr Ripley's Book Cover Wars is back again for another exciting year and we are looking for a new worthy winner. If you are returning to the site for another year, or you are new to this competition, then I send you a very warm welcome. It is a delight to have your company in the book cover war zonePlease make sure that you vote and enjoy the experience. Don't forget to share this exciting adventure with your friends and followers - everyone is welcome. #Bookcoverwars

For any follower of this site, this is the chance for you to become part of the weekly book cover wars. Each week, starting from today and for the next 4 weeks, I am going to select five book covers for you to vote from. The winner of each heat will then go forward to the final round and get a chance to be crowned as 'Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover Winner 2016/17'.

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Book Cover War Rules:
There will be four weekly heats with five book covers to vote for. All heat winners will make the grand final. However, one more entry will also be entered into the final; this will be the book cover with the most votes from the other four heats as the highest runner up. 

As a voter, not only will you get the chance to choose your favourite book cover, but you will also be in with the chance to win a different special book each week. Therefore, in order to kick off the competition this week we have an amazing book which is a hardback copy, Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell - Odd and the Frost Giants. 

If you are interested then all you need to do is:
  • Vote for your favourite book cover using the poll - HERE
  • Leave a comment through this post or poll - HERE
  • Mention it on Twitter/Facebook any place you like!  #BOOKCOVERWARS 
  • Sit back, watch the voting develop and wait to hear whether you've won (once the poll has closed). Please note that this competition is open to the UK only.
  • This poll will end 2nd November 2016 at midnight UK time. 
So here are the five book covers to vote for this week:

BOOK ONE - Cameron McAllister - The Demon Undertaker - Published by Corgi Children's (1 Sept. 2016) Book Cover artwork by Jeff Nentrup - VOTE HERE

BOOK TWO - Dan Poblocki - The Gathering (Shadow House) - Published by Scholastic Press (August 30, 2016) -  Book Cover by Larry Rostant/Keirsten Geise - VOTE HERE

BOOK THREE - Alexander Gordon Smith - The Devils's Engine: Hellfighters Bk2 - Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (November 1, 2016) Book Cover by Andrew Arnold - VOTE HERE 

BOOK FOUR - Danny Weston - The Haunting of Jessop Rise  - Published by Andersen Press (1 Sept. 2016)  Book Cover by James Fraser - VOTE HERE 

BOOK FIVE - Robin Jarvis - The Devil's Paintbox (The Witching Legacy) - Published by Egmont (9 Mar. 2017) - Book Cover artwork by Nicholas Delort - VOTE HERE

Monday, 24 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Jennifer Bell - The Crooked Sixpence (THE UNCOMMONERS) - Book Review

Dive head first into the world of Lundinor in this magical adventure story for anyone with a Hogwarts-shaped hole in their life.

When their grandmother Sylvie is rushed to hospital, Ivy Sparrow and her annoying big brother Seb cannot imagine what adventure lies in store. Returning to Sylvie’s house, they find it has been ransacked by unknown intruders – before a mysterious feather scratches an ominous message onto the kitchen wall. A very strange policeman turns up on the scene, determined to apprehend them . . . with a toilet brush. Ivy and Seb make their escape – only to find themselves in a completely uncommon world, where ordinary objects have amazing powers. The forces of evil are closing in fast, and Ivy and Seb must get to the bottom of a family secret . . . before it’s too late.

This book cover will catch your eye across a crowded bookshop, so much so, that you will find yourself slowly gravitating towards it for a closer inspection. The brilliant cover image has been illustrated by Karl James Mountford and has been very playfully and artfully produced. It has an amazing use and choice of colours as well as enchanting images that invite the reader in to explore more. As you start to turn the pages, you will enter a world like no other, where nothing is quite as it seems...

The Crooked Sixpence is the first book in The Uncommoners series by Jennifer Bell. She is a bookseller by day at Tales on Moon Lane, London (the real London), and a writer by night. The sequel, The Smoking Hourglass, is coming to a magical bookstore near you in Spring 2017 and I, for one, just can't wait! 

Slowly and seductively you take a journey through this book to an alternative version of London. If you look deep down beneath the streets you might just hear a feint uncommon whisper calling you, the reader, to a place called Lundinor. A journey in an UNCOMMON suitcase will lead you into a world of immense imagination that will set your fantasy brain stirring. Both the setting and the characters come alive page by page. You will love Ivy and Seb, the main characters, who are brother and sister and have a typical brotherly/sisterly relationship. They look out for each other and work together to uncover the mystery of a villainous society that has kidnapped their parents. Ivy is the star of the show; she is a great female character: brave, bold and has hidden talents that will keep the readers on their ordinary toes. 

This is a brilliant book for young people who enjoy magical and mystery adventures. It has a quirky plot that will turn your world upside down, but you will absolutely love it. The story is a creative ensemble of mayhem full of oodles of charm. The idea that ordinary objects can have amazing powers brings excitement such as paper clips turning into handcuffs, candles that make you invisible and lemon squeezers that give light. These are just some of the ingenious ideas that make this read standout. It is creative imagination at its best. 

This fantastic story oozes wickedness. Full of action, you will certainly be whipped into a vortex of weirdness through the pages. It is a great slice of dark fantasy, which is fun to read at all ages, but especially age 9+. This is a book that parents should make a bee-line for, especially reluctant readers as they will be engrossed for hours and hours. It is a cracking debut book with hopefully many more to come in the series. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Interview with Kieran Larwood - Podkin One-Ear (Faber & Faber)

Kieran Larwood's latest book, Podkin One-Ear, is about a legend: a fearsome warrior rabbit whose reputation for cunning and triumph in battle has travelled the ages. It is a magically illustrated fantasy affair that everyone will love, regardless of age. To tempt you all to read it, I have asked the author a range of questions regarding the book and his writing career. I hope that you enjoy this interview and it will grab you enough to pick up this book and read it, unless you have already done so. 

Podkin One-Ear is out now in all good bookshops and has been published by Faber &Faber in October 2016. 

Welcome Kieran Larwood to Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books... 

Tell us a little bit about yourself perhaps something not many people know. 

I live on the Isle of Wight where, as well as writing, I still work as a primary school teacher. I have four children and, just because my life wasn’t hectic enough, have recently adopted the world’s most annoying dog. I won the Times Children’s Fiction prize in 2011 with my first novel, and my second has just been published by Faber. Most people don’t know that my writing started accidentally– I always wanted to be a comic book artist, and I only discovered, while writing the scripts, that I actually enjoyed it more than drawing. 

How would do you sum up Podkin One-Ear to potential readers? 

My favourite comparison so far is ‘Watership Down meets Game of Thrones’. It’s a children’s fantasy set in a world populated by a race of rabbits. A bard arrives at a warren in the depths of winter and begins to tell the real tale behind the legend of Podkin One-Ear: a chieftain’s son who has to fight to save his world from an evil race of armoured rabbits.

In the book Podkin One-Ear is a fearsome warrior rabbit, how did you start to bring his character to life? 
I wanted to explore how legends are made, and what the real people (or rabbits) would be like. So Podkin begins as a spoilt, lazy character who has to grow up very quickly. I also wanted children to be able to identify with him, so he often feels very frightened and vulnerable, but manages to overcome it when he needs to. 

Does your book have a lesson or a moral behind it? 
I didn’t consciously give it a lesson, as I just wanted to focus on making it an epic story, but you could probably draw quite a few morals from it. Mostly that even the smallest, most timid of us can still do amazing things if we try. That and how important your family and friends are. 

What did you edit out of this book? 
I didn’t have to remove very much at all, luckily, but I did change quite a few things from the first draft. Originally, Podkin’s magic dagger spoke (and was very sarcastic) and the Gorm were just a race of invading rabbits, a bit like the Vikings. I was worried about making the story too dark and scary, but my agent told me to go for it, so I did! 

David Wyatt has done a cracking job on the illustrations, what are your personal thoughts about these? Do you have any favourites? 
I literally could not be happier with David’s work. It’s like he has a telepathic link to the world in my head! He is such an incredible artist– it’s an honour to have him illustrating my story. 

I love all of his pictures, but I think the scene of Boneroot, the underground beggars’ city, is my favourite. Every time I look at it, I spot a new detail I haven’t seen before. 

You're hosting a literary dinner party, which authors/illustrators would you invite? 
It would have to be a fantasy-themed one. Guest of honour would be J.R.R.Tolkein, also Terry Pratchett, Arthur Rackham, George R.R.Martin, J.K.Rowling, Robin Hobb, 
Ursula Le Guin, Steph Swainston and China Mieville. I would sit in the corner, too in awe of everyone to even speak. 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? 
Definitely. At least for that first split second when it catches your eye and makes you pick it up. After that, you start flicking through and the writing takes over, but it’s the cover that first reels you in. 

Have you written any other books that have not been published? 
I did write one after Freaks and before Podkin that didn’t get taken up. It’s a Young Adult sci-fi novel that still needs a bit of work, but hopefully might see the light of day at some point.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Favourite Children's Book Picks US Published October 2016 - Post One

E. K. Johnstone - Star Wars Ahsoka - Published by  Disney Lucasfilm Press (October 11, 2016)

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance .

Shaun Tan - The Singing Bones - Published by Arthur A. Levine Books (October 11, 2016)  

Wicked stepmothers, traitorous brothers, cunning foxes, lonely princesses: There is no mistaking the world of the Brothers Grimm and the beloved fairy tales that have captured generations of readers. Now internationally acclaimed artist Shaun Tan shows us the beautiful, terrifying, amusing, and downright peculiar heart of these tales as never before seen.

With a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an introduction by renowned fairy-tale expert Jack Zipes, this stunning gallery of sculptural works will thrill and delight art lovers and fairy-tale aficionados alike.

Diana Wagman - Extraordinary October - Published by Ig Publishing (October 18, 2016)  

October is an ordinary girl. From her plain looks to her average grades, there seems to be nothing special about her. Then, three days before her eighteenth birthday, she develops a strange itch that won't go away, and her life is turned upside down. Suddenly, she can hear dogs talk, make crows fly, and two new and very handsome boys at school are vying for her affections. After she starts "transplanting" herself through solid rock, October learns that she is not ordinary at all, but the daughter of a troll princess and a fairy prince, and a pawn in a deadly war between the trolls and the fairies. Now October will have to use all of her growing powers to save her family, and stop a mysterious evil that threatens to destroy the fairy world.

Anna-Marie McLemore - When the Moon was Ours: A Novel - Published by A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin (October 4, 2016)

Anna-Marie McLemore’s debut novel The Weight of Feathers was greeted with rave reviews, a YALSA Morris Award nomination, and spots on multiple “Best YA Novels” lists. Now, McLemore delivers a second stunning and utterly romantic novel, again tinged with magic.
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. 
Atmospheric, dynamic, and packed with gorgeous prose, When the Moon was Ours is another winner from this talented author.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's/Teen Book Picks UK Published - October 2016 - Part 2

Philip Reeve - Black Light Express - Published by OUP Oxford (6 Oct. 2016)

There was nothing, and then there was a train. A train with two passengers: a petty thief from a dead-end town, and an android girl who could be more human than the rest of us. Join Zen and Nova as they find out what really lies beyond the end of the universe . . . 
Take a ride in Philip Reeve's incredible imagination as he returns with this stellar follow-up to Railhead. Full of extraordinary beings and utterly real, complex characters, of thrills and thoughtful moments, this is a stunning step beyond the universe which will appeal to both sci-fi fans and foes alike.

Garth Nix - Goldenhand (The Old Kingdom) - Published by Hot Key Books (4 Oct. 2016)

Goldenhand is the long-awaited fifth installment of Garth Nix's New York Times bestselling Old Kingdom series Lirael is no longer a shy Second Assistant Librarian. She is the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, with dead creatures to battle and Free Magic entities to bind. She's also a Remembrancer, and wielder of the Dark Mirror.

When Lirael finds Nicholas Sayre lying unconscious after being attacked by a hideous Free Magic creature, she uses her powers to save him. But Nicholas is deeply tainted with Free magic and Lirael must seek help for him at her childhood home, the Clayr's Glacier.
But even as she returns to the Clayr, a messenger is trying to reach Lirael with a dire warning from her long-dead mother, Arielle, about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning?

Moira Young - The Road To Ever After - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (20 Oct. 2016)

Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog called George turns Davy's life upside down just days before Christmas, he sets in motion a chain of events which forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. 
A magical adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey.

Veronica Cossanteli - The Halloweeds - Published by Chicken House Ltd (6 Oct. 2016)

Dan promised he'd look after his siblings, but he hadn't bargained on his scientist parents dying on a jungle research trip. The children decamp to crumbling Daundelyon Hall. Horrible Aunt Eg reigns supreme, tending her mysterious graveyard garden. But why are Aunt Eg and her servants each missing a finger? What are the hungry 'Cabbages' in the greenhouse? As Dan struggles to solve the mystery he encounters one final question: what's the price of everlasting life?

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Netflix Teaser Trailer [HD] (executive producer Daniel Handler)

Netflix announced that its adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events which will premiere on Jan. 13, 2017.
The adaptation — based on the author’s series of dark and depressing young adult (13) novels — has been in production over the past year. Netflix has teased images and Snicket's from the series over the last couple of months, but released the first official teaser trailer for the show. The series is set so far for eight episodes each book in the series would be adapted into two episodes of the series, with the first four books covered in the initial eight episodes.
Watch the first Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events teaser trailer below; Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagement, Family Guy, Seinfeld) plays Snicket, giving a devious, fourth-wall-breaking introduction.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Cameron McAllister - The Demon Undertaker - Book Review

Bolt your doors! Do not dare to sleep! A kidnapper known as ‘The Demon Undertaker’ is on the loose in London!  Yesterday he continued his reign of terror in his most chilling crime yet – kidnapping Lady Grace Davenport from under the very noses of her family!  

A barrage of bullets could not stop the blood-thirsty ghoul from escaping in his black hearse – is he man or vampyre? Young Thomas Fielding, nephew of the Chief Magistrate, stumbled across the villain and gave chase. Can Thomas and his team of Bow Street Detectives save Lady Grace and catch the Demon Undertaker before he snatches his next victim?

If you have ever read 'The Tin Snail' by Cameron McAllister, which is his debut book, you should know that you are in for a real treat with this one. The Demon Undertaker will be his second book to date. It really is pitch perfect for that special time coming up - Halloween - which we all love, isn't that right? 

This book will thrill you and delight you from the very first page to the last. It is a brilliant and captivating read that will transport the reader back in history. You will hurtle back in time to 18th century Georgian London; a period of big social change and some very gruesome goings on. These are described and used to good affect in this fantastic story. 

It is lightening fast, stage coach of a ride. It has a brilliant plot that reluctant readers will love. Packed full of mystery adventure, you will be engaged with London's first ever team of detectives known as the Bow Street Runners; the first professional police force in London. Founded by Henry Fielding, they originally numbered just six men. This is the seed to a plot which is full 
of macabre moments. It is a fantastic detective mystery to uncover, but you should only do this at your peril. 

Every page transports the reader into an enjoyable and fantastical reading experience. The setting is written particularly well and suggests that a lot of research has gone into this book, in order to get the details authentically correct. The characters have a lot of charisma and sparkle. Whilst the hero and heroine will leave you with your heart in your mouth many times throughout the story. As you follow the narrative in this gothically disturbed world, you will give chase in pursuit of a bullet dodging, blood-thirsty ghoul that will have you running round London until the very climatic ending. 

This is a fantastic five star read and is one of my favourite books this year. It has everything that I love and look for in a book. There is a mystery to uncover, which is full of gruesome adventure, facts blended in with fiction, great characters, as well as a detailed and atmospheric gothic type setting. It has a spooky and supernatural undercurrent with a fantastic ending. I'm now hoping for another story to run along side this one from Cameron!