Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Literary Lakes - A Place For Inspiration and Writers Infographic

The Lake District is well-known for its amazing scenery. It’s no surprise the region has formed an inspiration and backdrop to some of our most famous wordsmiths, with the likes of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge writing about the beauty of the area. Their legacy remains today, with countless visitors to the district looking to follow in their footsteps.

The region remains a huge inspiration for all visitors who put pen to paper. Enjoy our literary guide to the all-time greats and here’s to the next generation of Lakeland scribes and poets.


The Literary Lakes by Craig Manor.

This post is shared in conjunction with:- thank's Daisy. 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) September 2017 - US Post

Polly Horvath - The Night Garden - Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 12, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0374304522

From Newbery Honor and National Book  Award–winning author Polly Horvath is this magical middle-grade novel about a garden that grants wishes. It is World War II, and Franny and her parents, Sina and Old Tom, enjoy a quiet life on a farm on Vancouver Island. Franny writes, Sina sculpts, and Old Tom tends to their many gardens―including the ancient, mysterious night garden. Their peaceful life is interrupted when their neighbor, Crying Alice, begs Sina to watch her children while she goes to visit her husband at the military base because she suspects he’s up to no good. Soon after the children move in, letters arrive from their father that suggest he's about to do something to change their lives; and appearances from a stubborn young cook, UFOs, hermits, and ghosts only make life stranger. Can the forbidden night garden that supposedly grants everyone one wish help them all out of trouble? And if so, at what cost? The Night Garden is a poignant and hilarious story from acclaimed children's author Polly Horvath.

Patrick Moody (Author) Graham Carter (Illustrator) The Gravedigger's Son - Published by Sky Pony Press (September 26, 2017) - 

  • ISBN-13: 978-1510710733

“A Digger must not refuse a request from the Dead." —Rule Five of the Gravedigger’s Code 

Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond.

But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. So he reluctantly continues his training under the careful watch of his undead mentor, hoping every day that he’s never Called and carefully avoiding the path that leads into the forbidden woods bordering the cemetery.

Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two thing—to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished, and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves.

Only Ian can stop them. With a little help from his friends. And his long-dead ancestors.

Equal parts spooky and melancholy, funny and heartfelt, The Gravedigger’s Son is a gorgeous debut that will long sit beside Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener.

Alexandra Bracken - The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding - Published by Disney-Hyperion (September 5, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1484778173

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history-that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made-and then broke-a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, eight-hundred-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type. 
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose--to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts to trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his afterlife without a side of eternal servitude, thanks. But with the help of his long-lost uncle, Barnabas, and his daughter, Nell, a witch-in-training, it seems like Prosper has at least a fighting chance of ridding himself of Alastor before the demon escapes and wreaks havoc on his family. 

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor's control over his body grows stronger with each passing night and there's a lot Alastor isn't telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host 

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

Katherine Applegate - Wishtree - Published by Feiwel & Friends (September 26, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1250043221

Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.
You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.
Funny, deep, warm, and nuanced, Wishtree is Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Katherine Applegate at her very best―writing from the heart, and from a completely unexpected point of view.
This book has Common Core connections.

Robert Kondo & Dice Tsutsumi - The Dam Keeper - Published by First Second (September 26, 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1626724266

Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.
Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon―a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.
Based on the Oscar-nominated animated short film of the same name, The Dam Keeper is a lush, vibrantly drawn graphic novel by Tonko House cofounders Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Chris Priestley - Curse of the Werewolf Boy (Maudlin Towers) - Bloomsbury Kids - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

Mildew and Sponge don't think much of Maudlin Towers, the blackened, gloom-laden, gargoyle-infested monstrosity that is their school. But when somebody steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the Christmas holidays until the culprit is found, our heroes must spring into action and solve the crime!
But what starts out as a classic bit of detectivating quickly becomes weirder than they could have imagined. Who is the ghost in the attic? What's their history teacher doing with a time machine? And why do a crazy bunch of Vikings seem to think Mildew is a werewolf?
This is the brand new series from the talented Chris Priestley. The first book, The Curse of the Werewolf Boy, will be published by Bloomsbury and will hit the shops on the 5th October 2017. Book two will soon follow as it is going to be published during the summer of 2018.

You only need amble through the first few pages to see the rising pillars of gloom leading to Maudlin Towers. Here you will enter the weird and wonderful world and meet the unlikely heroes, Mildew and Sponge. 

This amazing adventure is illustrated throughout by the talented author. The pen and ink style complements the gothic appeal perfectly. The black and white illustrations provide an extra dimension to the story and certainly develop the atmosphere. They will definitely appeal to the younger audience.

Chris Priestley welcomes the reader to the weird and wonderful world and delivers a fantastic spooky narrative by bringing together a range of quirky characters. The muddled and varied humour makes for an interesting and funny read. The character gallery is entertaining just by itself, as it introduces each character profile and personality. 

There is a crime to be solved at Maudlin Towers. It is down to Mildew and Sponge to detect who has stolen the school spoon. It is imperative that they catch the thief otherwise the school Christmas holidays will be cancelled. Together they unravel the mysteries, but rather weird events also unfold such as ghosts in the attic, a teacher with a time machine, werewolves and a group of Vikings in the school perhaps. 

This is a hugely engaging and easy going gothic story which is full of action-packed twists and turns, mayhem, madness, and nonsense. It is perfect for readers of 8+. Fans of Lemony Snickett and Chris Riddell will love this book. The mystery adventure has a bit of bite and some atmospheric realism which will captivate readers of all ages. There's never a dull moment at Maudlin Towers so grab a copy now - it is a perfect autumnal read. 

Chris Priestley lives in Cambridge with his wife and son. His novels are brilliantly original additions to a long tradition of horror stories by authors such as M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe. Chris wrote one of the World Book Day books for 2011 and has been shortlisted for a variety of prestigious children's book awards. Catch up with Chris at

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) September 2017 - UK Post Two

Chris Riddell - Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (7 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1447277941

There are musical goings-on at Ghastly-Gorm Hall and another spooky mystery for Ada Goth to solve in the fourth book in the Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell, Children's Laureate 2015-2017.
Lord Goth is throwing a music festival at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, with performances from the finest composers in the land. Ada can't wait, but it's quite distracting when her grandmother is trying to find her father a fashionable new wife, there's a faun living in her wardrobe and Maltravers is up to his old tricks. Ada must make sure everything goes to plan, and luckily help is at hand from a very interesting house guest . . .

Kieran Larwood (Author) David Wyatt (Illustrator) - The Five Realms: The Gift of Dark Hollow - Published by Faber & Faber (7 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0571328413

 The bard tiptoes out of his room, the crow-dream still echoing in his head, making him twitch at imaginary creaks of iron wings.

The bard must leave Thornbury. It is not safe for him to stay. Rue, his new apprentice, travels with him - keen to learn his trade - and hear the next installment in the legend of Podkin One-Ear . . . 
Podkin and his fellow rabbits have been sheltering in Dark Hollow after their battle with Scramashank. Paz tends to the rabbits with sleeping sickness; Crom meets with the war council . . . Podkin has nothing to do! Frustrated, Podkin goes exploring and discovers an abandoned underground chamber! Armed with the Gift of Dark Hollow, Podkin learns to moonstride, and Paz is rewarded with a magical gift of her own . . .

Jonathan Stroud - Lockwood & Co: The Empty Grave - Published by Corgi Childrens (21 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0552575799

Want to hear a ghost story? That's good. I know a few . . . After their recent adventures, the Lockwood & Co team deserve a well-earned break . . . so naturally they decide to risk their lives breaking into a heavily-guarded crypt. A building full of unsettled souls, it's also the final resting place of Marissa Fittes, the legendary and (supposedly) long-dead ghost hunter - though the team have their suspicions about just how dead she might be. What they discover changes everything. Pitched into a desperate race to get to the truth behind the country's ghost epidemic, the team ignite a final, epic battle against the Fittes agency. A battle that will force them to journey to the Other Side, and face the most terrifying enemy they have ever known. Can everyone make it out alive? 

Sue Purkiss - Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley - Alma Books (28 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1846884283

An orphan child full of mischief, Jack lives with his crotchety widow aunt in eighteenth-century England. His naughtiness knows no limits, and when one day he goes a step too far, Aunt Constance decides that she s had enough: from now on, his bachelor uncle can take care of him. Uncle Edmund is in no way prepared for a boy with boundless energy and an impish streak and anyway, he s off to the Himalayas to search for rare plants! But Aunt Constance is absolutely determined, and Jack's uncle has no choice he will have to take the boy with him. What follows is a terrific adventure that will see Jack and his uncle the most unlikely of all expedition teams sail to India, cross the jungle and reach their mountainous destination, before returning to London to present their findings to the Royal Society. Along the way, Jack will finally come to terms with the great loss that has blighted his childhood years and discover, quite unexpectedly, that he and his late father have much in common.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Barry Hutchison - Spectre Collectors: Too Ghoul for School (Nosy Crow) - Book Review (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

Denzel is having no luck with his maths homework. First, it's too difficult, then there's a terrifying mess of smoky black tendrils that wants to kill him, then two teenagers explode through his window holding guns and throwing magic. They are the Spectre Collectors, and spooky is their speciality. Realising that Denzel has a special gift, they sweep him off to their headquarters for training. Tested with awesome weapons and ancient magic, Denzel realises just how little he knows. But there's a serious problem on its way from the Spectral Realm, so Denzel has a lot to learn. FAST.

Spectre Collectors: Too Ghoul for School is the first book in a supernatural adventure series from author, Barry Hutchison. Published 7th September 2017 by Nosy Crow 

This is a very funny book that even adults will find humorous. For me, it was like being transported back to my childhood. If only this type of book had been written when I was younger then what fun I would have had reading it. How fortunate we are now, having so much choice and with so many talented authors gracing our bookshelves. 

Denzel, the main character, is very endearing and might not be classed as your average hero character. However, Smithy (his sidekick) is my favourite character. He is full of sarcastic wit and is very laid back. They make a comedy pair like no other. "What would you rather fight?" Smithy began. 
"Go ON" said Denzel. "A zombie with the brain of an evil genius, or an evil genius with the brain of a zombie?" The questions and the replies will make you laugh and also make you think, this goes on all the way through the book and I really loved this. Interestingly, what would you choose? 

The story has a snappy narrative that will really help reluctant readers engage in the story. It is really easy to read. I found myself so engaged that I ended up reading it in just one sitting. It is written in an all-out action comic book style. Nosy Crow, yet again, have adapted this really well just as they have in so many of their previously published books. Some of the action sequences are 'too cool for school' but will certainly engage your magical socks right off your literal feet. 

The book is very imaginative and has a real punch of a twist later on. It is full of magical mayhem, fire power and some very nasty monsters. I particularly loved the RUBBISH-MONSTER classic caper narrative gold. However, I think I would have loved a little more detail weaved into some parts of the story, but this might be from an older readers perspective. It would also have been interesting to have included more of the amazingly detailed illustrations by Rob Biddulph, who also did My Evil Twin is a Supervillain by David Solomons. He really is a fantastic illustrator.

This is a great start to a new series. It is a gadget, supernatural, monster action-fest that has a fantastic immersive feel which 8-12-year-old readers will love to read, as well as big kids like me. I for one am certainly looking forward to the next book.

About the Author

Barry Hutchison, author of over eighty books for children and teenagers, and adults who never properly grew up. I live in Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland with my wife, two children, and very annoying dog.

As well as books, I also write comics like The Beano, DC Super Hero Girls, Angry Birds and Supermansion.
I also write animation, including all six episodes of Dreamworks TV’s upcoming ‘Kip Van Creepy: Delivery Boy’ and an episode of ‘Supermansion’ starring Bryan Cranston and Chris Pine.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Children's Middle-Grade Book Picks (9-12yrs) September 2017 - UK Post One

R . M . Romero - The Dollmaker of Krakow - Published by Walker Books (5 Oct. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1406375633

A timeless fantasy set in the Second World War that weaves together magic, folklore and history, perfect for fans of The Book ThiefThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Goodnight Mister Tom
One night a little doll named Karolina comes to life in a toyshop in Krakow, Poland, in 1939 and changes the life of the gruff, broken-hearted Dollmaker. And when the darkness of the Nazi occupation sweeps over the city, Karolina and the Dollmaker must bravely use their magic to save their Jewish friends from a terrible danger, no matter what the risks. This powerful story is about finding friendship in the darkest of places and the importance of love in times of great pain.

Mira Bartok - The Wonderling - Published by Walker Books (28 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1406370645

In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name ― a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck ― it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name ― Arthur, like the good king in the old stories ― and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.

Frances Hardinge - A Skinful of Shadows - Published by Macmillan (21 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1509837540

When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide. 
Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding.
Makepeace, a courageous girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her. Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment.
And now there's a ghost inside her.
The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear. As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession – or death.

Kim Ventrella (Author), Victoria Assanelli (Illustrator)Skeleton Tree - Published by Macmillan Children's Books (21 Sept. 2017) - ISBN-13: 978-1509828678
When Stanley Stanwright finds a bone poking out of the earth in his back garden, he is determined to take a picture of it and send it to the Young Discoverer's Competition, thinking it will help bring his dad back home. But the bone begins to grow, reaching up out of the ground until it turns into a skeleton - a skeleton with an unusual interest in his unwell younger sister Miren.
As time wears on, Miren's condition worsens, and the only time she is truly at peace is when she is playing with the skeleton. But Stanley is wary of him, especially when he finally manages to get a picture, and spots a scythe at the skeleton's feet. . .

A whimsical, heartfelt story about a boy who finds a friend in Death with the help of an unusual tree growing in his back garden. With black line illustrations throughout by Victoria Assanelli.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Guest Post - Father Figures By Jeff Norton - Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books (Stomp School)

It's great to have one of my favourite authors on the blog today. With back to school looming, it's time to get the lovely picture books out to share with your kids or 'little monsters'. Jeff has already published a fantastic series, that I loved, which was in the futuristic world of 'MetaWars'. However, he has now turned his written hand into entertaining the younger ones with a fantastic picture book called "STOMP SCHOOL". It's a fantastically endearing story about a set of MONSTERS. 

You will meet Rikki, the little kaiju who just loves to build things. Find out what happens on his first day at Stomp School - he is in for a few surprises! It's a very bright and colourful book which is full of humour and fun specifically aimed at children from the age of 3 to 6. Jeff has written a guest post to give us some insight behind this book, which was published early August 2017 by Caterpillar Books.

It’s fair to say I’m a feminist. 

I believe that when women have equal access to opportunity we are all better off. One of the things that’s struck me since becoming a father is how pervasive gender stereotypes are in our society, starting with the very first exposure to pop culture that children encounter: picture books.

As the father of two young boys, I’ve been a voracious consumer and reader of picture books for seven years now. And I’ve noticed an assumed sexism in many of the books whereby mothers hold down the household and dads hold down an out-of-home job. Surely this normalises role expectations for much later in life. My major observation of parenting couples is that typically the man “klutzes out” of domestic duties while the woman is forced to be more competent in order to compensate. Thus, the burden of domestic life falls largely on female shoulders.

In the UK, the myth of the “useless husband” is so dominant, that’s a widely accepted norm that allows chaps to be let off the hook from domestic roles ranging from changing nappies to reading bedtime stories. But the useless husband myth holds back young women from achieving their potential because there is an often-unstated expectation that upon becoming mothers they will take on well over 50% of the domestic tasks. It’s an in-built sexism that stifles achievement and, I believe, economic potential. If dudes stepped up at home, Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t have to urge women to ‘lean in’ at work. 

So, in moving from writing YA and middle-grade book to mounting my first picture book, I wanted to present a father figure who was engaged in the child’s life and pulling his own Godzilla-scale share of the domestic duties. 

The daddy kaiju in the book readies Rikki for school and pushes the pram. He still stomps off to Tokyo on a professional rampage, but then he’s back in time to for school pick up.

How does he do it?
He probably works late, after the kaiju kids have gone to bed. Maybe he “hides” the school run from his boss by tacking it onto an out-of-office meeting with King Kong? But his commitment to the kids allows his spouse to also have a fulfilling and important career decimating San Francisco. As a two-career kaiju family, daddio pulls his weight so that his partner can soar. 

It may not be a lot, but my hope is that since Stomp School portrays a father who is engaged and competent, we can start to make that role the norm.

Jeff Norton is the author of numerous books for older readers including the award-winning METAWARS series, the laugh-out-loud MEMOIRS OF A NEUROTIC ZOMBIE books, and is the creator and co-author of the best-selling PRINCESS PONIES chapter books (together with Julie Sykes, writing as “Chloe Ryder”). STOMP SCHOOL is his first picture book, which is brilliantly illustrated by artist Leo Antolini. Jeff is the father of two young boys, who inspired STOMP SCHOOL. 
Jeff is on the web at and social media as: @thejeffnorton.